Thought Catalog
February 16, 2015

25 Little-Known Facts About Makeup

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Flickr, Faint Sanity
Flickr, Faint Sanity

Most girls 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.

1. The patent for nail polish dates back to 1919. It was light pink.

2. Roman women used belladonna drops to make their pupils look larger and sexier. Of course, belladonna is a poison so this practice didn’t last too long.

3. The Aztecs used beetles to make red lipstick.

4. Elizabeth Taylor allegedly banned other women on-set from wearing red lipstick.

5. Depending on when and where you were at the time, use of makeup either designated your wealth or your poor morals – it’s changed many, many times over the course of history.

6. Cleopatra was said to have soaked her ship sails in perfume so everyone could smell her arrival. Talk about having a signature scent.

7. Apparently, women spend about $15,000 in their lifetime on cosmetics.

8. Feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton wore lipstick as a symbol of freedom from oppression when they marched for the right to vote.

9. More women began to shave their underarm hair after seeing a model with shaved armpits in a fashion ad in 1915.

10. Women have often made their own beauty marks with patches of black velvet.

11. MAC was founded by two men named Frank in 1985.

12. The first mass-market hairspray hit the shelves in 1960.

13. Coco Chanel popularized the suntan in the ‘20s. Prior to that, a tan meant you were a low-class field worker.

14. The first deodorant appeared on the market in 1889.

15. Women in the Elizabethan era resorted to crazy methods to appear beautiful, from shaving their foreheads to using arsenic and lead to keep their skin looking super-pale. They also believed lipstick had magical powers, and Queen Elizabeth was wearing lipstick when she died.

16. Elizabethan-era women also used coal tar as mascara and liner; many of them went blind.

17. Another way to keep your skin looking super-pale? LEECHES. Women were “bled” with leeches to keep their skin pale.

18. The FDA approves cosmetics in the U.S. One of their big NOs is using neon in nail polish, so while we may have neon-colored polishes, they’re not officially “neon.” You have to go to other countries for that.

19. A “geisha facial” includes a special ingredient to fight wrinkles – nightingale poop.

20. While the Greeks get credit for the origins of the word “cosmetics,” the ancient Egyptians were the first to use makeup.

21. The Egyptians also get credit for creating perfume, which they used cosmetically and also medically.

22. Women of the past have used all sorts of crazy ingredients to “cure” things like freckles, from fresh urine to crocodile fat.

23. A woman named Hazel Bishop developed the first long-lasting lipstick in the late ‘40s.

24. Estee Lauder was said to have “accidentally” dropped a bottle of her perfume on the floor of a department store so women would smell it and demand to know what it was, therefore creating a customer base for her products.

25. The beauty industry generates around $170 billion worldwide. TC mark

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