Three thousand years B.C., the Egyptians were wearing green eye-show and lining their eyes with kohl. Persian women put henna on their faces and bodies to “summon the majesty of the earth.” In the Middle Ages, women would bleed themselves so they could look fashionably pale. Lead, mercury and arsenic were common make-up ingredients, and I don’t even want to tell you what they did with cat dung and mouse skin. Rouge was all the rage in the Regency. Victorians put a stop to all that fun and frivolity, and it was the bare face that reigned until the 1920s, when mass-market make-up made it possible for everyone to be as glamorous as the new movie stars.
It is always a jolt to see Hollywood’s version of history. It takes a brave actress to go natural in front of the camera, but I’m pleased to see most period dramas today eschew the eye make-up and lipstick of the past.
How about you? Are you a sucker for the “free gift with purchase” at the Clinique counter? Are your heroines natural beauties or are they dusting their face with rice powder and rouging their nipples?
A woman without paint is like food without salt. ~Plautus (254-184 B.C.)