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LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT MAKEUP

Most women I know wear makeup of some sort on a regular basis. Even if you’re “low maintenance,” you probably own more than a few products. Of course, we’re lucky we live in this modern era, because women of the past sure had a different experience with their cosmetics. Please be seated for a little history lesson, and learn just how significant makeup really is.



Lipstick used to be made with crushed jewels


Giving a whole new spin to the term “luxury lip color,” it is said that ancient Mesopotamian women used to crush semi-precious jewels and use them to decorate their lips. Since then, lipsticks have been made with everything from red beetles to fish scales.


In the 1400s, “Beauty is pain” had a whole different meaning


Pale, untouched-by-the-sun skin was all the rage for the women of the 15th century. If women weren’t naturally gifted with a porcelain complexion, they’d do everything from using leeches to “blood-letting,” a dubious medical practice of withdrawing a small quantity of blood to cure or prevent illness. Some women even used a white lead product called Venetian ceruse, which caused hair loss and, in some cases, death. Yikes.


The trend of tanned, golden skin was an accident


In the 1920s, fashion designer Coco Chanel accidentally got a sunburn while visiting the French Riviera. When she arrived back home, the sunburn had faded into a tan. Her fans started adopting this look, hoping to emulate the luxurious lifestyle of this chic and stylish woman. 



Red lipstick used to signify class


During the Medieval period, lipstick was used to distinguish social classes in Europe. For instance, wearing a bright pink lip color signified a high class while red tones meant you were of an inferior social standing. 


Wearing expensive makeup used to be against the law. “Lex Oppia” was a law established in Roman times that restricted not only a woman’s wealth, but her displays of wealth — and this included any expensive “designer” makeup items and fragrances imported from China, Germany and Gaul. Thankfully, it was abolished 20 years later.

Fragrance was used as a disinfectant 


Long before your fragrance was used in a way to make you smell sweet and fresh before walking out of the house, in ancient China it was used for disinfection. Some believed that perfume was so powerful it could help rid a room of disease. 


Neon nail polish is illegal in the United States.


Love sporting shockingly bright polish on your digits? You (and your nails) might be in for a surprise: Neon nail polish is actually illegal in the US. So if your polishes are labeled as “Neon,” they are most likely imported or not truly made with neon colorants. The reason? It’s less dramatic than you would think: Neon colorants have simply never been officially registered with the FDA.

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© 2020 by Mona Youren

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