Looking your best and “the pursuit of happiness” are legitimate desires.
In order to enhance their beauty or minimize small imperfections, all through history, women have been motivated to find new ways, at times subjecting themselves to painful procedures with sometimes grave consequences; make-up was born.
The ancient world was dominated by the culture of the Egyptians and Cleopatra’s obsession with beauty is still regarded as an inspiration for many women today. She used kohl to darken her eye lids and bee wax to make her eyelashes fuller. A sticky solution of water, sugar and lemon juice was used to remove unwanted hair; she was bathing in milk to keep the skin soft and rinsed her hair with apple vinegar. Pumice was used to clean the teeth and honey to enhance the complexion. Essential oils derived from lavender and sage added a pleasant fragrance to the body and luster to the hair. Red vegetable dyes were used to stain the lips and cheeks and lemon juice drops to brighten the eyes. At the same time, in Persia, women were using walnut leaves tea to rinse their dark hair stained by henna and to add shine to it, while Greek women were using vermilion to their lips and cheeks for rosy color.
In Europe the standards of beauty were different and a paler complexion was regarded as preferable; chalk was used for whitening the face and the hair was treated with lemon juice and exposed to sun for bleaching. Another method of hair lightening was the use of saffron or onion skin dye, as well as chamomile tea. The French courtesan went to extremes in order to make herself more appealing; lead and mercury were used to lighten the complexion, belladonna drops to brighten the eyes. The ultimate price of beauty was often agonizing pain and frequently death. During the Baroque period (characterized by overwhelming excess), the hairdos got taller and taller; a solution of water, sugar and lemon juice was used as hair spray to keep the elaborate coiffure in place. Perfumes were used abundantly by man and women alike to mask the unpleasant odors developed by luck of hygiene
At the turn of the century, make-up becomes more than an art; it became an industry. Max Factor and Helen Rubinstein introduced foundation, powder, mascara and nail polish to millions of women in “pursuit of happiness."
The trends are continuously changing; the era of the ’30-40 Hollywood divas accentuated the very red lips and extremely thin eyebrows, creating a romantic, dreamy look. The hippie rebellion of the ‘60-70 period put emphasis on the dark, heavy eyes, and the fashion was dominated by the unstructured clothing that will allow freedom of movement.
As women claimed their space into the business world and entered the political field, a more professional and sophisticated look was developed. The ’90 required well cut, quality clothing and minimal make-up applied with a light hand and plenty of knowledge.
The way we perceive beauty and the methods of accomplishing such effects may change with time and trends, but the desire of achieving a great look will never change; make-up is here to stay.