Monday, 8 August 2011

Cosmetics through the Ages

I was flicking through the very fascinating book entitled 'Reader's Digest Book of Facts', when I stumbled across a timeline of events for 'Cosmetics through the Ages'. It was really interesting to discover older methods of using makeup and how similar they are too what we use today. So I thought that I would share it with you!

7500 BC Egyptian shepards and hunters in the Nile valley used oil crushed from castor beans to protect their skin from the skin.

3500 BC Women in Egypt and Mesopotamia used henna dyes to colour their feet and hands. Eye shadow called kohl, maade from lead ore, antimony and malachite, was believed to drive away danger.

1370 BC Queen Nefertiti of Egypt painted her fingernails and toenails ruby red- a colour forbidden to all but royalty.

750 BC Greek women dyed their hair black and whitened thier skins with lead powder.

150 BC Romans, new masters of the Mediterranean, painted gold from saffron around their eyes and used wood ash to blacken their eyelids.

50 BC Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, rouged her cheeks with red ochre; she also painted her upper eyelids blue-black and lower lids green.

AD 10 Ovid, the Roman poet, wrote the first book on cosmetics. He recommended a face pack of barley-bean, egg and mashed narcissus bulbs to promote smooth skin.

65 The Roman emporer Nero and his wife, Poppaea, used lead and chalk to whiten their faces, rouged their cheeks and put kohl around their eyes.

200 The Greek physician Galen mixed water, beeswax and olive oil into a cream. When rubbed on the face, the water evaporated, cooling the skin. Modern cold cream is virtually the same mixture.

1580 Queen Elizabeth dyed her hair red, plucked her eyebrows and whitened her face. She was the first English queen to see herself in a clear glass mirror. She banned mirrors from the court as she aged.

1660 In Restoration England, women painted their faces and decorated them with black patches shaped as stars, crescents and suns. The fashion grew from a trick used by the Duchess of Newcastle to cover her blotches.

1700 Powder rooms were creted for fashionable British men and women. They applied powder to their hair, wigs and faces. Smooth skin was rage. In bed, women put oiled cloths on their foreheads and wore gloves to prevent wrinkles.

1840 Make-up went out of fashion in Britain. The Victorian ideal demanded peaches-and-cream skin and a small, pink mouth.

1886 David McConnell went knocking on doors in the USA to sell anthologies of Shakespeare...and accidentally launched the cosemetics industry. His gimmick was  a giveaway bottle of perfume, but McConnell found that customers preferred it to Shakespeare. McConnell began making cosmetics and used housewives as a sales force. Fifty-three years later he changed the name of his Caifornian Perfume Company to Avon, after the home-town river of the English playwright!

1916 Liquid nail polish was introduced in the USA, followed by mass-produced, bright red lipstick.

1920 The cinema age was launched in Hollywood and the studio make-up teams created the celluloid beauties every Western girl set out to copy. Arched eyebrows, cupid-bow lips and bright colours were the rage.

I hope you found this fascinating to read as I did!

Lots of Love,

Isabella x

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