The Evolution Of Cosmetics In America

evolution of makeup

The cosmetic industry has surely changed significantly over the last few centuries and while other continents have strived hard to leave a mark, the United State of America has surely left no stone unturned when it came to cosmetics. This 4th of July lets take a tour back into history and decode America’s makeup revolution.

17th Century

  • With the Native American’s painting their bodies for protecting against insects and cold, the makeup revolution began spreading its roots from here.
  •  The indentured servants were banned from donning ‘marks’ of gentleman or woman like rouge, perfume and hair powder
  • Homemade cosmetics became a huge remedy at hiding body imperfections. The usage of egg shells mixed with toilet water to create face powder and sucking lemons for redder lips are just a couple of things that got the consideration of numerous fashionistas

18th Century

  • American dandy owned dressing boxes that had scented bottles, Rouge, and face powder to name a few & men wore gummed silk patched to cover blemishes
  • Flour was used for powdering hair wigs for soldiers for a neat white appearance
  • Ladies would also wear night gloves filled with almonds and spermaceti to whiten and soften their hands

19th Century

  • The usage of makeup declined in this era since men thought cosmetics to be effeminate.  However, cosmetics for hairdressing was still very widely used
  • During the Civil War, Northern Profiteers started powdering their hair with silver & gold dust
  • 1866 was when zinc oxide was discovered as a base for face powder since it held its colour and was cheap
  • During 1880 and 1900, cosmetics were least fashionable. The true mark of beauty was her untouched and natural appearance

20th Century To The Present

  • The Marcel Wave took over! Parisian hairdresser Marcel Grateau curled hair in equal waves with a special iron which then led to the birth of the curling iron
  • Many innovations rocked this century – lipsticks, powder boxes in silver & gold cases (known as compacts), eye shadows, eyebrow pencils and nail lacquer were found
  • More emphasis was laid on male beauty products to lure men to buy more and more products – aftershave, anti-wrinkle creams, shampoos, colognes, bath foams and hair colour restorer (hair colours) were marketed
  • The attention then shifted to skin treatments and facial products – moisturisers, lotions and cream

Although clothing and makeup practices from the yesteryear seem old-fashioned today, perhaps that’s how our future generation will view the current 21st Century cosmetic industry!