Beauty rituals have existed for thousands of years around the world. And, throughout history, the ideal beauty look has changed drastically. From the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Geishas in Japan and to modern times, we have seen it all – bronze skin, pale porcelain skin, tanning oil, sunscreen, thick and bold prominent eyebrows, pencil-thin eyebrows… the list goes on. Every culture around the world has established beauty rituals that have heavily influenced what is done today. Let’s take a look at the beautiful evolution of beauty.
MAKEUP THROUGH THE AGES
Makeup enhances facial features and masks imperfections, creating the illusion of symmetry, proportion, flawless skin, and even youth. The ancient Greeks and Romans started it all with crushed mulberries and wine mixed with clay, olive oil, or beeswax to create lipstick and cheek stains. For the Romans’, pale skin was a sign of the upper class and was the most important feature of Roman beauty. In Egypt, lip color was made with purple and red dyes from seaweed and iodine and has it is even been reported that Cleopatra used lipstick made from ground carmine beetles.
The Egyptians also started the eyeliner trend to adorn their eyes. Kohl, a lead mineral, was used to draw thick, black lines, giving the eyes an almond shape. It represented wealth and class, shielded the eyes from the sun, and was considered holy because it was a way to ward off the evil eye. It was the inspiration for the modern-day cat eye look. In Japan, it was the striking makeup of the Geishas that turned heads. They used lipstick made from crushed safflower petals to paint their eyebrows and lips and rice powder for the face.
BEAUTY IN THE 20th AND 21st CENTURY
History shows that standards of beauty are constantly changing. Fast forward to the 20th Century and two of history’s most famous beauty icons and rivals are Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. Their combative relationship spawned some famous cosmetic breakthroughs including waterproof mascara and the iconic red lipstick. Max Factor, founder of the cosmetics giant Max Factor & Company, famously said, “You are not born glamorous, glamour is created.”
The nearly 100-year obsession with tanning began in 1920 when Coco Chanel, fashion icon, popularized the idea of tanning, and the sun started to represent pleasure and relaxation as well as health. Once tans became popular, sunburn was inevitable and, in 1938, the search began for a product that would allow burn-free tanning. Soon, self-tanning products were invented in 1950.
Today, in the 21st century, it is all about great skin and looking decades younger than one’s actual age by making sure skin is hydrated and exfoliated. It is all about glowing, natural skin, perfecting the no-makeup look. Women and even men around the world are better educated when it comes to maintaining their skin’s health and preserving youth. Consumers are paying more attention to the basics, like wearing sunscreen, getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating balanced meals and scheduling routine facials.
It is clear that current-day beauty trends date back to ancient times. History’s methods still continue to influence and inspire the industry thousands of years later. But, as any makeup artist will say, in order to have flawless coverage, the key is healthy skin