Oldest Evidence of Makeup
The first evidence of makeup appeared in ancient Egypt in about 4,000 BC. Apparently Egyptian makeup served to protect against the weather and to better their looks. They used uguent to moisturize the skin and kohl to highlight their eye features. One can see from surviving paintings and busts that both men and women used makeup with special attention being paid to the eyes.
So important was makeup to the Egyptians that people were buried with their makeup equipment when they died. Excavations have revealed makeup kits stored in leather pouches, shells or jars in the tombs of rich and poor alike. Of course the latter had much simpler paraphernalia.
Materials Used in Egyptian Makeup
Two different kinds of material were used to make up the eyes: udje made from malachite and mesdemet of lead ore. These were powdered and then mixed with animal fat so it would hold to the skin. Egyptian makeup could not only improve one’s looks. They also had health benefits necessary for life in the harsh desert. Kohl or galena is a disinfectant and an insect repellant. Mesdemet on the other hand, was used to cure various eye problems.
Significance of Makeup
In ancient times plants, animals and minerals were connected with different gods. And this may have added to the importance of makeup. Green malachite, from which udje was made, was sacred to Hathor. Kohl was special to North Africian people and Moslems, who likened it to sacred black stone in Mecca.
Another reason why the Egyptians used eye makeup so much was they believed it had magical powers. Painting around the eyes was supposed to protect oneself from the “evil eye.”
Egyptian Makeup Today
Being the ones who invented the first makeup, it’s not surprising the Egyptians are still selling the same product thousands of years later. You can buy kohl at the marketplaces for cheap. A genuine kohl container includes a stick with a rounded tip and the powder itself. Care should be taken to buy only authentic Egyptian makeup since counterfeits may harm the eyes. A little practice will let you apply the makeup to your eyes quite easily.
Another old type of cosmetic is nail polish. The Chinese made theirs using bees wax, gelatin and other substances. The Egyptians used henna at around the same time. In China, special attention was given to color. Only royalty could wear the imperial colors silver and gold. Whoever violated this law was put to death.