By:  Lime Green Giraffe Event Director, Ally W.

Makeup trends and its uses have changed a lot throughout history. Today I will be showing you what the trendiest makeup ideals were throughout the centuries and what products they used.


Starting with the 1600’s. Women and men would wear ceruse, white lead, on their face to reach a strong white base. Another product people used to obtain a pale face was mercury sublimate. This is extremely toxic pigment. Some people used pearl powder, made by breaking down the pearl with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. This would then be dried out into a powder. Pearl powder was generally too expensive, so others would substitute it with Bismuth, another white pigment. It was also common for women to paint their face with white paint. 

Products like cinnabar, carmine, brazilwood, alkanet, and red ochre were used as a cheek and lip tint to give color to women’s faces.


As years went on, the makeup ideal was heavier makeup. Everyone started to wear heavy makeup from kids to adults. There were many complaints of the products hurting people and causing medical conditions. These ranged from skin complications to tooth decay. The lead, mercury, and Sulphur used in products caused many poisonings. The popular style was still a white face with red lips. By then, people would use either pencils or mouse fur to cover their eyebrows for full coverage. 


During the Napoleonic Wars, men stopped wearing wigs, face paints, and outfits made of silk. During these times, men started adorning a new “masculine” look. Rugged was the new style for men instead. Women too began to use less makeup. Queen Victoria would say that too much makeup was too unrefined. This led the thick paint used to cover women’s faces to decline. Cream was still used on their face to conceal blemishes and even skin tones, but not nearly as much as in the 1700’s.


The makeup standard in the earlier 1900’s was natural. The goal wasn’t to hide facial features, but it was used to enhance the beauty that was given. Using products that rose oil, Vaseline, and beet juice to make products on their faces. Radium was used in the early 1900’s because it was said to give a glow to skin and make your teeth whiter. After complications were shown due to radium, it was no longer used. The radium created a disease that resulted in the jaw rotting off of the head.

Since we are in the 2000’s century, we are still adding to our list. So far we have seen heavy makeup looks and bright colors, but we have also seen natural makeup looks with skin tint and brow gel. You can clearly see the changes in makeup trends through the centuries and how drastically they change. Soon we will see another change in makeup trends too. Maybe one day in 2100 we will be in their articles talking about how interesting our makeup trends are. 


“Cara.” Kate Tattersall Adventures, 30 Dec. 2020, 

Dubofsky, Chanel. “What Women Used For Makeup 100 Years Ago.”, The List, 8 Mar. 2021, 

Isis. Women's Makeup in the 17th Century, 1 Jan. 1970,

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