Makeup has been used for centuries to enhance beauty, by highlighting features and covering imperfections. But sometimes in the past makeup served other purposes, too. Artifacts indicate that ancient Egyptians, both men and women, and from all social classes, accentuated their eyes with a thick application of black and green powders. Researchers believe that wearers used these lead-based compounds to ward off evil, as well as infections. Ancient Romans used a variety of ingredients to achieve a paler complexion, meant to denote a wealthier lifestyle lived indoors, rather than a laborer’s life spent outdoors in the sun. These whiteners included chalk, a white lead derivative called ceruse, and even crocodile dung. Romans also colored their cheeks and lips with red ochre, darkened their eyebrows with lamp soot, and moisturized their skin with a combination of beeswax, olive oil, and rosewater.
Japan’s geishas use makeup to disguise their identities and transform themselves into the embodiment of the perfect woman. A profession that originated in the 1600s, geishas are trained to entertain powerful men with art, conversation, dance, literature, and music. A geisha’s makeup is meticulously applied, and she resembles an exquisite painted doll when finished. The face is covered in a white foundation. Once made from white lead, its toxicity led to the use of rice powder instead. Eyes were outlined in charcoal and traditionally, the red juice from the sallflower was employed to tint the eyebrows, highlight the eyes, and color the lips to look like a flower bud. The Australian Aboriginal people continue to use makeup to designate their position within the family and community, as well as communicate spiritual beliefs and stories. Customarily, pigments were created from clay and ochre, and then mixed with animal fat to be painted on the face and body. The colors chosen are specific to a tribe and region.
Today, consumers have a vast array of choices when it comes to cosmetics. For those with skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation or scarring, makeup can serve as a concealer. For those with sensitive skin, there are makeup options that are free of parabens, allergens, dyes, and silicones to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction. There is makeup to suit each season, from ultra-hydrating formulas intended for the drier winter months to sunscreen-enhanced cosmetics for the summertime. Those interested in organic makeup now have their pick of products, often featuring beneficial botanicals from around the world. And those with sagging skin and wrinkles can turn to anti-aging makeup, to firm the face and minimize lines for a more youthful appearance.
Makeup is intended for three main areas: the face, the eyes, and the lips.
Makeup for the face helps to improve the look of the complexion while simultaneously preparing it for later color applications. A primer evens the skin’s surface by filling in fine lines and pores, and smoothing its overall texture. It’s available in different tints to cover minor discolorations or to correct reddened or sallow complexions. Additionally, a primer may contain sunscreen to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. If there are breakouts or darker marks on the face, a concealer can be applied to those spots to hide the blemishes. Some concealers contain healing ingredients. A foundation, or base coat, can be added after the primer and concealer. It provides complete coverage and should match the skin tone for the most natural look. Foundations come in cream, liquid, and powder formulations. Contour makeup, when it’s a few shades darker than the skin tone, can narrow a nose or slim a face. To set the foundation and soak up shine throughout the day, face powder can be applied using a brush, pad, or sponge. And to define the cheekbones and give a healthy-looking glow to the face, reach for rouge.
When it comes to the eyes, there is a myriad of makeup options. Creams and serums that are specially designed for the delicate eye area help to minimize crow’s feet, reduce puffiness, and diminish dark circles. Eye pencils can emphasize the shape of eyes, or make them appear wider or more dramatic. Eye shadows come in a rainbow of colors and finishes, from sheer, for a hint of hue, to shimmer, for metallic embellishments. Mascara not only lengthens and thickens lashes, but some formulas condition as well. Eyebrow gels keep stray hairs in place, while eyebrow pencils and powders can fill in sparse brows and darken them to help frame the eyes.
Before applying lipstick, treat lips to a conditioning balm that will smooth and hydrate the skin. For a fuller pout, apply a lip plumper. A lip liner comes in pencil form and is used to define the shape of the mouth, or to make it bigger or smaller. To cover the lip in color, choose from a range of glosses, stains, sticks, and tints. Many may include moisturizers and sunscreens for added protection.
Additional makeup information: