Weird and Wonderful Makeup Looks Throughout History

Weird and Wonderful Makeup Looks Throughout History
SF Gate

If you think ombré lips and halo brows are strange makeup fads, you'll be happy you're alive today and not hundreds of years ago. Makeup has been used to highlight features and draw the eye for the past 6000 years. Basically every society that has ever inhabited this planet has had some form of cosmetics. Each style of makeup throughout the centuries, has had both beautiful and less-than-beautiful looks, and, more often than not, questionable ingredients. These trends span the years and the globe, and who knows? Maybe we'll be seeing them pop up again soon.


Image Source: Vazzle Dazzle

The reign of Queen Elizabeth I was a wild time for England. Shakespeare was making it big, wars were being waged, and women were shaving their heads. That's right, the hottest look of the time was a high forehead with no eyebrows, deathly white skin, and red lips. The way the ladies achieved this definitely wouldn't be FDA approved today. A lead and vinegar mixture was used on the skin, leeches were used to suck out blood for further paleness, and tar was applied as mascara. Unsurprisinly, many women suffered injuries and even death from their cosmetics. "Beauty is pain" was definitely the motto for this era.

Ancient Egyptian

Image Source: Ancient Egyptian Facts

As we can see from hieroglyphics and the treasures they left behind, the royals of ancient Egypt knew luxury. As such, these rich kids had access to the top makeup products of the day. Both men and women would adorn their eyes with copper ore, soot, or kohl made of lead sulfur. Other plants and minerals were ground up for different colors and mixed with goose fat to create old school eyeshadows. Ancient Egyptians also deserve our thanks for their invention of perfume. While we use a few spritzes before a night out, the Egyptians would drink their perfume to cure themselves of whatever ailed them. Maybe don't try that one at home.

Pre-Revolution France

Image Source: Jane Austen's World

Marie Antoinette is the most famous woman out of this era, and for good reason. The Austrian-born queen lived an extravagant life at Versailles, where the women of the court all had powdered hair to the sky. To increase height and volume, coiffeurs would add hairpieces to ladies' natural hair and would keep them in for days at a time. (Weaves, anyone?) A completely unnatural makeup look of extremely pink cheeks on top of white face paint. Many would even draw blue lines on top of the paint to emphasize their utter paleness! Of course, the piece de resistance of this look were the velvet beauty marks of all shapes and sizes that lords and ladies used to set themselves apart from the rest.

Ancient Greece

Image Source: Daily Life

The women of Ancient Greece were into an eyebrow shape that would never fly in today's world: the unibrow. Unibrows were so desirable back then that women who couldn't grow them would place fur patches between their brows. The dark haired Ancient Greek's also loved blonde hair. Women wanted to be blonde so badly they used arsenic! That sure makes bleaching your hair seem like a conditioning treatment by comparison.

Old Hollywood

Image Source: The Gloss

When we think glamour, we often think back to Old Hollywood. The screen sirens of the time certainly knew how to serve face, but it sometimes came with a cost. Rita Hayworth had her hairline moved back through a painful electrolysis procedure. Clara Bow (pictured above) plucked off all her eyebrows before redrawing them, thin and past the outer corner of her eyes. Other popular tricks of the day included a lot of countering for looking your best in black and white, heart-shaped lips with a pointed cupid's bow, and bobbed hair.

Heian Japan

Image Source: Jeanne Pompadour

Hair was king in Japan from 794 - 1185 AD. Women were expected to grow their hair down to the floor and wear it completely loose and straight. While white teeth are highly sought after today, the Japanese thought they were ugly and turned their teeth black with tea mixtures instead. Just like Elizabethan women, Heian women shaved their eyebrows. But they would draw them back on, close to their hairlines, with smudgy black powder. Women used rice powder to achieve pale faces. A hint of red on their cheeks and over-exaggerated red lips completed the look.

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