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Egyptians began using makeup thousands of years ago.

Makeup: Origin and Evolution of cosmetics through history

Have you ever wondered how the concept and development of makeup came to be? According to, we will have to travel back in time approximately 12 thousand years ago when the Egyptians discovered the healing abilities of scented oils. After the discovery of scented oils, the cosmetic industry rose higher until it eventually became common practice to use cosmetics for religious purposes.

Even though some of the ingredients they used for cosmetic purposes were poisonous, this did not lessen the allure of cosmetics for the Egyptians.

While things were mostly sailing smoothly for the Egyptians regarding cosmetics, once they reached Greece and Rome there was resistance. Many from Greece and Rome viewed cosmetics as extravagant, or unnecessary.

Even though most citizens in Rome viewed makeup as unnecessary, there was a period where women were not considered beautiful when they did not wear cosmetics. This sentiment led to an inflation of prices, which resulted in few wealthy women gambling for large fortunes of cosmetics from India and the Middle East.

The inflation of prices for cosmetics caused the Roman Senate to declare a short-lived law, decreeing that public exhibitions of cosmetics and extravagant female clothing was prohibited.

According to, the Chinese would stain their fingernails with a variety of items such as gelatin or egg. The color of nail polish worn by a person was representative of social class: Chou dynasty officials wore gold or silver, subsequent royals wore black or red. The lower classes were forbidden to wear bright-colored nail polish.

In other cultures, cosmetics also received similar treatment time and time again. For example, in China commoners were executed for wearing nail polish because it was a privilege of the wealthy.

During the European Dark Ages, makeup nearly completely disappeared from public knowledge. For a long time, cosmetics were abandoned by most Europeans because of the practice of prostitutes using excessive amounts of makeup to hide their age and exaggerate their beauty.

According to, due to European prostitutes using excessive amounts of cosmetics, Kings and Queens made public statements claiming that wearing makeup was indecent. Even church officials spread the belief that cosmetics were only used by heathens and devil worshipers.

What changed for people across the globe to accept and even use makeup? For a very long time, cosmetics were not widely accepted. According to, only in the early 20th century did cosmetics make their comeback due to countless innovations of technology.

International fashion started moving rapidly after the 1930s and introduced new styles with each passing decade.

It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that people started to depart from traditional styles. Many new styles were introduced including punk (dark makeup aimed to shock) and glam styles (extravagant and colorful).

Two decades after in the 1990s, animal testing for cosmetics continued to be a hot topic. According to, Avon became the first major cosmetics company to announce a permanent end to animal testing on its products, including testing’s done in outside laboratories. For the next decade, other companies follow Avon’s lead, resulting in a combined effort to develop and gain governmental approval for alternative methods to substantiate product safety.

In our current period almost everyone knows what makeup is, but do they know what to use and how to use it? There is no wrong or right way to use makeup, however there are right and wrong products for certain people.

For example a student of UCC I interviewed, Samantha Stevens, enjoys makeup. Samantha includes foundation, a brown brow pencil, eyeliner, and mascara in her makeup routine. When asked about her favorite makeup brand, Samantha chose two classics: Maybelline and Covergirl. These two makeup brands can be found all over the United States, typically in a Walmart or Fred Meyer’s. Samantha also watches a famous beauty influencer, known as James Charles. James has been in quite a few controversies, but his makeup is astounding.

Also, people with chemical sensitivities must be careful when choosing cosmetic products., a company in the cosmetic industry, has cosmetics that they claim are certified natural, 100% gluten free, cruelty free, and all at attractive prices. A delve into their website shows that most of their products are under $40.

Writer’s column: Hello all reading this. I am planning on writing a makeup column about Ulta and/or makeup looks to try out for different seasons, which was my reason for writing this article on the history of makeup from beginning to current. Please contact me with any questions, advice, or tips that relate to makeup. Thank you for reading.

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