Christina Wolfgram
November 06, 2015 6:13 am

British beauty guru Lisa Eldridge recently published a book about the history of makeup called Face Paint: The Story of Makeup. Her studies reach far beyond the last 100 years when makeup has been sold commercially, covering eyeliner in Ancient Egypt and lip balm in Medieval England. It turns out decorating your face is no new practice!

Lisa gives brief glimpses into some of the trends of different time periods in a video on her YouTube channel called “Best and Worst Makeup Moments in History.” In the intro, she explains, “When I was researching my book, this idea of if I was to have a time machine, where and when would I want to be transported back to?” She then demonstrates cosmetic fads throughout the ages, and … wow. Personally, I’m really glad we are not living in the Medieval Era where the Bubonic Plague was more common than lipstick because makeup was considered “deceitful.” Yikes.

Surprisingly, the kind and amount of makeup that was popular during each century reflects the kind and amount of rights women had at the time. In Ancient Egypt, women were allowed to own and inherit land, run businesses, sue men, and wear as much liquid eyeliner as they wanted. Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, women had to sneak color onto their faces with strawberries because altering their faces might indicate a lack of virtuousness.

The video is packed with amazing trivia. For instance, some of the makeup that represented wealth and prestige, like the white cake foundation we often associate with Marie Antoinette, was actually super poisonous. Because women were applying the toxic sludge to their face daily, their skin got worse and worse, which lead to them using more and more to cover up their blemishes. Doesn’t that inspire you to go through your makeup bag right this second and throw away anything that gives you even the slightest face itch?

Seeing the many many makeup trends from the past few decades — Twiggy’s classic 60’s eyes, vibrant eyeshadows, the Kardashian contour and highlight — reminded me that I’m very glad to live in a world where I can slather on as much or as little makeup as I want before leaving the house to run my own business and buy as much land as I want. Take that, men of Ancient Greece.

Watch the full video here:

(Images via YouTube, YouTube, and YouTube.)

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