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!
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