20 Facts About MakeUp and Cosmetics: Fun and Unique Stories Throughout History

20 Facts About MakeUp and Cosmetics: Fun and Unique Stories Throughout History

Make-up is worn by girls and boys on a regular basis. Even those who call themselves “low-maintenance” will surely have a few products on their pouch. While some people still are experimental on how they use makeup and cosmetics on their face and skin, we are more fortunate now to have a safer experience when it comes to cosmetics. The use of beauty products can be traced down to ancient Egypt and there is an interesting deal of stories about it. So while you’re putting on some colors on your cheek, let’s get to know some of the juicy facts about makeup and find out how significant it is in history.

Here are 20 Facts about Makeup

It All Started in Egypt

Not everyone is aware of the practice or the history of the products they use. When it comes to cosmetics, most of the practice can be traced down to ancient Egypt. It was a major part of the people’s routine as creams and oils were used as protection against the sun. They used ground ochre mixed with water as blush and lipstick.

Some of the earliest records show that the use of makeup and cosmetics started in the 1st Dynasty of Egypt, around 3100 BC. Historians found unguent jars containing scented concoctions from the tombs in this era.  The most notable thing that Egyptians were known for in the cosmetic industry is the cat-eye or winged eyeliner made famous by Cleopatra.

Makeup is Not Just for Women

The use of makeup is not just limited to women. Throughout history, men have a long-standing history with the beauty industry. Ancient Romans painted their heads to mask balding signs and men of the French Revolution-era powdered their faces to show their status.

Nail Polish Distinguished the Wealthy

Painting fingernails with nail polish is a common practice of the ancient Chinese ruling class to set them apart from the others. Back then, various materials were used from egg whites, beeswax, and powers with various colors. Despite being practiced for centuries, the first nail polish was patented in 1919 and the first color was pale pink.

Additionally, neon-colored nail polishes are not allowed in the US. Though there are neon-colored shades, these products do not contain real neon materials because it is not approved by the FDA.

Mascara Was A Challenge

We all know the facts about makeup when it comes to the challenges that people had to go through to use cosmetics in the ancient days. Women had a hard time using the first mascaras compared to how easy it is to apply it now. Back then, coal tar was used and they need to dip a small brush in hot water, then dip it in a mixture of pigments and soap. The brush must be rubbed onto a paper to remove excess mixture before it is applied to the lashes.

The Queen Commissioned Her Own Lipstick Color

In the early 1950’s, Queen Elizabeth asked a cosmetic company to create a lipstick color that matches her coronation gown. The product was tagged as the “The Balmoral Lipstick” and it features a red-blue tinge created by Clarins.

Avoid Testing Makeup on Your Hand

Most people try out makeup before buying them, and if you are like most people, you must have tried it on your hand too? When testing products like concealers or foundation in a beauty store, you won’t get the proper shade when you test it using your hands. It is because it has a different color than your face. Hands are more exposed to the sun thus it normally has a darker tone. To get the proper color, try to match it with the color of your neck or chest. You want your foundation to look as close to the skin tone of the rest of your skin and matching it with the tone of your chest is a seamless choice. This is because the face and the upper chest area receive the same amount of sun thus, they have the closest skin tone.

The Period of No Makeup

During the 19th century, there was a phase when people did not wear makeup because it was deemed unacceptable to use. No heavy makeup or perfumes were used because it was thought to be immoral. Light creams and faint floral scents were the only ones deemed appropriate to use.

Avoid Pumping Your Mascara Bottle

A common misconception in makeup is that you should pump the mascara wand in the tube to get more mascara on it. However, this is false. Pumping the wand actually dries out the mascara by pushing air into the tube, causing flakes when applying.

The First Lipsticks Were Made of Gems

The first recorded use of lipsticks was from Mesopotamia, around 5,000 years ago. This ancient lipstick was made up of crushed gems that were turned into a fine dust. It is used by pressing the powder into the lips. In the 1950s, shimmer in red lipstick was achieved by adding fish scales in the mixture.

The Age of Beauty Spots

Moles or skin spots were once frowned upon, but these days, they are considered a sign of beauty. Popular celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe brought this blemish spot into the limelight and encouraged women to embrace it. But even in the Victorian era, some women would create fake beauty spots as it is so desired during the time.

Weird Makeup Laws

A certain place in Pennsylvania has a weird law requiring women to get a permit so they could wear makeup. It is a real law and it has not repealed to this day. But it is not really enforced now.

A Blemish-Free Period

People today try to soften blemishes with light makeup. However, ancient Romans took covering up to the extreme. During that period, blemishes such as freckles, sunspots, or wrinkles were not favored. They used donkey milk or swan fat to soften wrinkles and treated freckles with snail ashes.

Hairless Beauties

There was also a period when women find it beautiful to be hairless. In the 1400s up to the 1500s, women liked shaving their heads or fake the look by covering their brows with make-up. This is the same period when the famous Mona Lisa painting was commissioned.

Fake and Real Tanning

Women have started obsessing about the suntanned look as early as 1920s during the popularity of Coco Chanel. She was accidentally sunburned while on a cruise and started a trend that continues until this day. After that, the beauty industry started creating tanning oils and other products to help women achieve that sun-kissed glow. Tanning machines and beds were also created to make the process quicker and easier. At present, women may now use self-tanning lotions or sprays to achieve a flawless suntanned look anytime without the need to bake in the sun.

The Super-Pale Fad

During the Elizabethan era, women resorted to various things to achieve what they believe is beautiful. One of these trends is looking really pale, and some women were “bled” using leeches so that they would look super-pale.

Perfumed Ships

It was also believed that Cleopatra ordered her ships’ sails to be soaked in perfume so that the smell can reach Rome even if they are still miles away.

Women Went Blind Due to Coal Tar Makeup

Coal tar was once used as eyeliner and mascara during the Elizabethan era. And because of this, many women became blind.

Nightingale Pool for the Geisha Look

Geisha makeup is also very intriguing and it also contains some weird stuff including nightingale poop.

The Estee Lauder Perfume Accident

It is also said that cosmetic maker Estee Lauder once “dropped” her perfume bottle on a department store and women who are shopping got a whiff of its scent. They demanded to know what it is, thus, she created a customer base for her perfume products.

The Largest and Oldest Cosmetic Companies

At present, the largest cosmetic company in the world is L’Oreal – it is currently run by the founder’s daughter Liliane Bettencourt, while the oldest cosmetic company is the Japanese brand Shiseido.


There you have it, the 20 facts about makeup that every makeup user needs to know. The use of cosmetics has evolved many times and has adapted to the demands of society, religion, and history. Although it is initially used to cover up flaws, makeup has been a tool that helped people boost their confidence and find a solution to their skin issues. Cosmetics were also used to present status in society. Fortunately, makeup can now be used by women around the world without restraint. So whether you’re covering up some blemish, you simply want to look good – try on some nice makeup and enjoy it!


Stefanie is the owner of ThankYourSkin. A self-proclaimed beauty and skincare junkie, she is all about helping people find the best products for their skin.

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