Beauty – what is this fascinating and ever elusive quality that has inspired so many artists, writers and poets such as Baudelaire and his Hymn to Beauty?
Books have been written, statues carved and portraits painted and still it.
To the ancient Greeks and Romans it was symmetry and exactness.
Aristotle believed that there it wasn't an absolute, but was based on perception
The Greeks perceived it as interchangeable with excellence, perfection and satisfaction.
Nonetheless, it has ruled the lives of women and of men and cosmetics have been used by both men and women for centuries.
Some of the earliest evidence of modern beauty equipment was found in the ruins of Babylon including tools such as tweezers, brow brushes, and toothpicks. Both the men and women of Babylon curled their hair and made up their eyes with shadow, eyeliner, and eyelash and brow enhancers. They frequently painted their faces with white lead and used henna to colour their nails.
It was the Egyptians who first manufactured beauty products on a large scale and the preparations they used are surprisingly similar to those of today.
Egyptian women lined
their eyes with dusty kohl and their eyelids were shaded with turquoise powder
from green copper and lead ore. The kohl eyeliner they used was only a bit heavier
than the eye makeup used today. Lips and cheeks were rouged with powdered red
clay while henna was used on feet and toes.
Both Egyptian men and women applied makeup; rouge and lip ointments were considered essentials, and henna was used to give the nails a red tinge. Women traced the veins in their temples and breasts with blue paint and tipped their nipples with liquid gold.
Eye shadow was important to both sexes; it was usually green and applied to both the top and the bottom lids. Eyelash and brow enhancers consisting of carbon, black oxide, and other (often toxic) substances were also applied to give wearers that dark, painted–on look so associated with the culture.
During the French Restoration in the 18th century, red rouge and lipstick were the rage and implied a healthy, fun-loving spirit. But in the Victorian era makeup was frowned upon as being a sign of immoral character and cosmetics had to be applied discreetly.
When makeup regained acceptance in the late 19th century, it was with natural tones so that the healthy, pink-cheeked look could be achieved without giving in to the moral decadence of full makeup, which was still seen as sinful.
The Victorian face was in fashion until mass makeup marketing arrived in the 1920s. American women gained the vote, and the newly liberated woman showed how free she was by displaying her right to speak out — red lipstick practically became a social necessity.
From the 1930s through the 1950s, various movie stars defined vogue, from Mary Pickford's baby-doll face to Audrey Hepburn's cat-eyes eyeliner.
The '60s brought a whole new look to makeup, from white lips and Egyptian-style eyeliner to fantasy images like butterflies painted on faces at fashion shows. The heavy eyeliner look remained throughout the late '70s and '80s, along with an extensive range of colours for the eyes.
Makeup of today's Western world is a mixture of past styles with a new emphasis on the natural look—a natural look that took centuries of painting faces to achieve and has now become became a part of every woman’s lifestyle.