The History of Media Make-up
Make-up was traditionallwhite powdered wigs with curls on the side and a pony tail in bay used by men as opposed to women. Thinking back to paintings done in the 18th and 19th centuries, our own George Washington and his contemporaries wore ck, as well as white powder on their faces and red rouge on their cheeks and lips. European royalty including King Louis the fourteenth of France and King George the third of England set the fashion. After smallpox swept through Europe and left many people with pox marks, the French elite covered these scars by painting large, black beauty marks over them. Some even painted the symbols of hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds in red or black over the scars, as playing cards was the main social event in the evenings. This was considered extremely fashionable at the time as electricity had not yet been invented, so there was no television or radio to provide entertainment on long, dark evenings.
After the French revolution, as society turned to a more utilitarian way of life with less distinction between the classes, excessive make- up went out of fashion, especially with men. It symbolized decadence and that had been overthrown. Then, just after the turn of the twentieth century the motion picture industry began.
It was discovered that with the powerful lights they used at that time, the actors looked washed out and drab. Therefore, make-up had to be created for male and female actors to even out the skin tone, add color, enhance features and create drama. And then like now the general public idolized movie stars and wanted to emulate them. This created a retail need for cosmetics and the beginning of what is today one of the largest earning sectors in market history. Women are continually fascinated by cosmetics and the promise they hold and can't seem to get enough of them. It's understandable, as for the price of a tube of lipstick they are buying the hope of glamor and excitement. And for about $12 that dream is cheap at the price.
The 'bright young things' of the 1920's flaunted short bobs, pale skin and red lips in the shape of cupid's bows. In the late 1920s and 1930s the eyebrows were often shaved off and painted on again with an eyebrow pencil in a half moon shape. The fashion for the wealthy was pale skin, to show that you didn't work outside. Only the working classes and outside laborers got tan. From the 1960s on it was the opposite. Pale skin indicated people who worked inside in offices or factories whereas, a suntan showed you were wealthy enough to vacation and jet set for most of the year. Of course when it was discovered that excessive exposure to the sun caused premature aging and skin cancer, the dark tan look faded from popularity.
The days of Fred Estaire and Ginger Rogers dancing their way around glamorous nightclubs came to an end with the onset of World War II. Men went to war and women took over their jobs in factories, to keep the country going. Women no longer had the time or money to spend on fancy make-up, so the natural look became popular. In the 1940s eyebrows were left full and the desired patriotic look was more earthy. Women wore trousers for the first time, since they were doing mens work. Even the top designer at the day, Coco Chanel, designed trousers for women for the first time. So not only was the utilitarian look necessary for the average woman, but Chanel made it fashionable on the Paris runways.
Hollywood continued to create icons that ordinary women emulated. In the post war 1950s anyone could purchase make-up at cosmetic counters in department stores and they did. Wearing make-up was no longer dictated by wealth or ones place in society. The cosmetic industry has continued to grow and it is a larger market today than ever before.