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Makeup Trends Throughout History
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Makeup Trends Throughout History

When you talk about the makeup industry in Singapore, it is not exclusive to the manufacturers only, but also include the practices of the makeup stylists. Even the word ‘cosmetic’ does not just refer to the colorants your beautician applies on your face, but to perfumes, body oils/ointments/creams, nail polish, and hair coloring. It means that before the makeup artist in recent years specialized in enhancing facial features, cosmetics were for the different parts of the body.

History of Cosmetics

The history of makeup has not always been beautiful. Before the advent of the modern cosmetic industry in the 20th century, most of the makeup were produced through experimentation not just by chemists but beauticians, fashion designers, and even religious leaders. The standards of beauty and trends in fashion also affected the evolution of makeup, which means that everything your makeup stylist knows is the accumulation of techniques of more than 2,000 years.

Ancient Beauticians

The earliest recorded use of makeup was in ancient Egypt where the use of oils and colorants were documented. That means that the job of the makeup artist then, if that was what they were called, was not to make their clients beautiful, but to promote good health, mask body odor, enhance the skin condition, protect the skin from the elements, and appease gods through rituals. Perfumes in particular, were highly valued and most of them already used ingredients common to us today, such as lavender, rose, aloe, olive oil, and chamomile. The Egyptians were also the first to use eyeshadow pallets, mascara and liners by applying different colors around the eyes, lashes, and upper lids.

Weird Experiments

The use of makeup persisted until the time of the Romans when the philosopher Plautus famously declared that “A woman without paint is like food without salt.” By this time, depilatories were used to remove unwanted hair and pumice was used to whiten the teeth. Women also wore chalk and white lead on their faces, a practice that will horrify almost all makeup artist in Singapore today. It got even worse during the Middle Ages when people went to such extremes as bleeding themselves to have pale skin or applying egg whites on their faces to achieve a glazed look.

The winners, however, are those with low hairline who used bandages with cat dung and vinegar. Makeup also became a symbol of one’s station in life and people wore them even if the ingredients such as arsenic, mercury, and white lead were harmful. Among women, rouge (red lipstick) was very popular, as well as hair dyeing and the blackening of the eyebrows.

The Art of Copying

Most of the cosmetics even in the 1800s were made not by makeup artists but by apothecaries who were aware that nitric acid and coal tar were poisonous. Talk about dying beautifully. But this was also the century when men were free to wear makeup and not get ridiculed. Why? The royalty wore them, and the kings and queens were the standard of fashion that everyone wanted to imitate.

It was well-known that George IV for example, had a collection of scents, powders, and cold creams that would beggar most of today’s modern makeup kit. The 19th century brought cosmetics into the spotlight, because it was the time when anyone who called herself a lady should wear lipstick, eyeshadow, and nail polish. Makeup persisted, but was not yet openly accepted by all sectors in society. Beauty salons, run by a specialist called makeup artist, started to pop up, but were still viewed by most people as vulgar.

Years of Glamour

For the past 100 years, makeup trends have changed a lot, and not just in the preparation of the products, but also in the way people perceive cosmetics in general. Makeup became acceptable to most people in the early 1900s and some of the big names in the industry were established during this time. In the 1920s, the makeup became a symbol of a woman’s changing role in the society and most women chose to wear makeup to reflect their own style. The use of makeup in 1930s was popularized by the celebrities, who also served as the models for most of the women.

The 1940s popularized the neutral look, while the 1950s was all about glamour. From the 1960s to 1980s, it was all about heavy eye makeup, vivid colors, glitters, and big hair. The 1990s, however, gave birth to different trends that existed all at the same time, such as the supermodel look, goth, and punk. By the 2000s, more than a dozen makeup trends that come and go every year. Now, it’s a lot easier to apply makeup and find products that will work for every skin tone and type.

The Beginner’s Makeup Kit

Most people’s issue with makeup is no longer about dying from the chemicals that you place on your skin, but how to pick from so many choices in the markets in Singapore. Perhaps most of you have asked—what’s inside the kit of a professional makeup stylist?

Here are some of the basic items you will need for your own makeup kit.

1. Bag with several pockets and compartments or a makeup kit
2. Skin care or skin prep items like facial wash, cleanser, toner, creams, and moisturizer
3. Foundation (pick a universal palette), corrector or concealer, and face/body foundation
4. Powders (both pressed and loose forms)
5. Blush and bronzer
6. Eyeshadow palette
7. Eyeliner and eyebrow pencil or palette or gel, eyebrow stencil and pencil sharpener
8. Mascara, tweezers, eyelash curler, false eyelashes and adhesive
9. Lip balm, lip liner, lip gloss, and an assortment of lipsticks
10. Brushes and other makeup tools for application, contouring, and cleaning