I have written about different "killer fashions" on this blog before:
Recently I finally got my hands on a small book I have been wanting for quite some time:
Killer Fashion by Jennifer Wright. I went down to my local used book store (go green!) and found they had a copy! I have been eyeing this book as it blends together two of my favorite "odd" loves; Edward Gorey style art/poems and deadly fashion facts. This little 55 page book is a joy at every page turn.
It has also given me some more deadly fashion topic ideas to research. For instance, did you know in the 1920s some women would manicure their nails with radium to make their nails glow and sparkle in the low light of the night clubs?! Maybe I need to make an addendum to my nail polish history post.
1950s acrylic nails were invented by a dentist! Using his dental acrylic after breaking a nail at work, he created a pretty great fake nail. Later in the 1970's the French Manicure was created in Paris. The manicure didn't clash with the various costume changes models need to do during fashion shows.
1980s Essie nail polish becomes a household name. With fun polish names like "miss fancy pants" it is no wonder why many nail painters use this brand.
From 100 layer nail polish challenges to pierced nail jewelry there are so many different ways to create a unique expression today.
A Fascinating History of Nail Polish-Mental Floss
Nail Polish Facts-Weird History of Nail Polish-Good Housekeeping
The History of the Flapper Part2-Smithsonian
Vintage Nail Art to Inspire Your Next Mani- Modcloth
As with most "Sample Pack" articles we start with the Egyptians. Although they are most well known for their "kohl" eye makeup, the Egyptians also used lip stain. (See the beet juice stain and cheek stain from the previous "Sample Pack Makeup History" article) Cleopatra was thought to use a lipstick made from carmine beetles and fish scales to create a shimmery look.
Roman men and women also tinted their lips with, you guessed it lead...when will they ever learn? In China lip color was mixed with beeswax to help with application. Lip stain was also added to small sheets of paper, dried, and applied to the lips (see here). The Chinese also added essential oils to their beeswax and lipstick paper.
Solid lipstick wasn't really around until the Islamic Golden Age when a surgeon and chemist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi perfected a solid lipstick formula. Thanks to him we have the solid lipsticks found on makeup shops today! (Al-Zaharwi is considered one of the Middle Age's best surgeons.) Cosmetics and makeup was considered a branch of medicine. This makes sense as the Egyptians and Chinese were also thought to use makeup for medicinal reasons.
Lip color was banned by many religious groups during the European Middle Ages. It was considered a connection with the devil and reserved for the lowest class, prostitutes.
In the UK during Elizabethan times, lipstick became popular for a short time. Lipstick was made of red stain and beeswax and only actors and high class women could wear it. After it's short stint in the spotlight during Elizabeth I's reign, lipstick fell out of favor. Only actors and prostitutes wore it until it gained popularity when the French perfumeries began producing it. The lipstick during this time was not in the twist or push up tube we know today. It was usually applied with a brush.
Lipstick really hit its stride at the turn of the 20th century. New inventions allowed the makeup to be widely used such as the swivel tube which was patented in the 1920's.
In the 1950's the first long lasting lipstick was created by American chemist Hazel Bishop. Actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor popularized the vivid red lipstick we associate with the 50's.
After the early 1960's bright red lipstick was replaced by a variety of paler colors. The eyes were more important. Following this in the very late 1970's bright lipstick regained it's spot in makeup bags coming in more colors than just shades of red and pink. In the 1990's lining your lips with a darker shade than your lipstick became a fad and could be seen on celebrities like Madonna.
As we have learned with most makeup we have covered so far, lipstick has been made out of some deadly ingredients. There's lead again, but this time it's not just back in the Roman era. As late as 2009 the FDA found traces of lead in nearly every sample of lipstick that it tested! This is extra alarming as it has been estimated that those of us who wear lipstick regularly accidentally eat about 4 pounds of the stuff in our lifetime! Be a safe shopper and do your own research on your favorite brands.
Rouge (aka blush) is the longest-standing makeup item in existence. It not only was put on cheeks, but also lips (not to be confused with lipstick). As we did with eyeliner, we are starting with the Egyptians. As the Egyptians were sophisticated chemists, they blended ingredients such as red ochre, or chocineal (small red bugs) with animal or vegetable fats to create sticks of rouge. You can imagine the green eye shadow and black kohl liner from the previous article in the series mixed with a deep rouge made for a strong and striking face.
Roman men and women also wore blush. They used lead paint. Silly Roman's, lead poisons you! They also would have a servant spit into their cheek powder before applying to make sure it was the correct level of pasty.
In places like Japan and China rouge was used in Kabuki and opera. The red stood out against the white faces painted on the performers.
In Western Europe, during the reign of Elizabeth I, once you had applied your pale white lead (lead again?!) to your face you rouged your cheeks with a daub of red. You couldn't smile after applying your white and red or else the hardened makeup would crack. I wonder if that is where "to crack a smile" came from...
The Northern Renaissance makeup wearers not only put deadly eye drops in their eyes (if you forgot read here) but they also put mercuric salts on their cheeks. These came from mercury. All you need to remember is lead and mercury are bad. Don't put them on or in you, ever!
In the Directoire period some men known as Incroyables used rouge to heighten their color. Besides this most makeup was seen as "improper". Any obvious sign of rouge during the Romantic Period was seen as "painting" and shunned.
During the Crinoline Period makeup was still seen as "improper" so women would pinch their cheeks to cause more blood flow to their cheeks, making them redder for a short time. Watch "Gone with the Wind" it happens in that movie a lot.
Not until the 1920's did rouge come back into fashion. Flappers not only rouged their cheeks, but some would also rouge their knees; think Chicago.
Following decades brought different shades of rouge, some bright red, other subdued choral. Each decade had a different view of makeup. 1960's and 1980's were bright and bold, while the 1970's celebrated a more "natural" makeup look.
Throughout history blush/rouge came in many forms. It has been a powder, a stick, greasy, or a stain. Sometimes it has been made of ochre, bugs, or beet juice. Today some celebrities such as Shailene Woodley use beet juice as lip stain, but you can also use it as cheek stain! Here is an article and recipe from Bustle.
Welcome to the first part of a small series I created called "Sample Pack Makeup History". In it I strive to give an abridged over view of different makeups used in theater and our everyday lives. My reference materials will be included at the end along with a few videos or articles I find along the way. Enjoy!
Some archaeologists believe these two forms of eye makeup were not only used as decoration, but to protect the eyes from the sun's glare- similar to a baseball or football player's eye black today. There are known medical records prescribing eye paint. Others also believe that eye painting helped represent the god Horus and was considered a powerful charm.
Another ancient society that used eye makeup was the Romans (both men and women here too). Unlike the Egyptians, the Romans wanted lightened eyebrows so they used lead to whiten them as well as ash, saffron, or powdered antimony (another word for "KOHL") to create eye shadows.
The people of Western Europe during the Middle Ages gave up whitening their brows and just plucked them! That's one way to cut down on your beauty routine.
During the Northern Renaissance, Puritans railed against the "evil practices" of makeup wearing. They believed that men and women would pay in the afterlife for their vanity. Those who disagreed and loved to spend time on makeup sometimes used "Bella-donna eye drops". These eye drops make your eyes dilate and sparkle. The catch? They were made from deadly nightshade and were highly poisonous to the wearer over time.
Moving on to a more flamboyant time, during the Baroque and Rococo eras, women and men liked darker eyebrows again, they achieved this by using lead combs (lead is poisonous in case you haven't read all the lead paint health announcements...).
An image you may have seen floating around the internet illustrates the difference between black and white film makeup and color film makeup. The side by sides are so different!
(The article I found the image in can be read here)
After this time most makeup was considered "uncouth" or "improper", especially any eye makeups. It wasn't until the 1920's that makeup hit its stride again. Women shaped their eyebrows, had pallets of eyeliner with small brushes, etc. The introduction of silent films also created a market for makeup as women wanted to emulate the heroines in the movies.
Those of you who use an eyelash curler will be happy to know the very first one was invented/introduced to the public in the 1920's as well. It was very time consuming, taking at least ten minutes per eye!
During WWII, eye liner was used unconventionally to create the illusion of a stocking "seam line" on the backs of women's legs. Talk about make due and mend!
In the 1950's eye makeup really hit it big time. Women preferred pronounced eyes and used eye liner, mascara, and vivid eye shadows they began to see in fashion magazines. Paris fashion models were wearing eye makeup with their street clothes, which caused the "biggest beauty news since lipstick" according to Life magazine.
In the 1960's false eyelashes were introduced along with mascara and eyeliner in colors such as lavender, blue, green, and yellow. These fun colors became more muted in favor of a "natural" look in the 1970's. But, by the 1980's bright makeup trends were back in full force.
I hope you enjoyed the first installment of "Sample Pack Makeup History". It is short and sweet. If you are interested in more in depth history check out the resources above! If you are more of a visual learner check out these YouTube videos about the history of eye makeup! There are so many more than these, go explore!