In the 17th century, men and women used makeup to limited degree; ceruse was used as a base, and a cheek and lip reddeners were sometimes applied.From the late 1600s onward, makeup began to get heavier. First, white paint was applied, and then white powder, then a brownish rouge, and red lip colour.
“Beauty patches”—pieces of velvet or silk cut into the shape of stars, moons, hearts, and similar figures—were frequently applied to the face and body to cover smallpox scars, and similar marks. A “secret language” even developed through their use.
Makeup was heavier during the 18th century. Likewise, a rise in medical complications occurred - tooth decay, adverse skin conditions, and poisonings were often caused by the use of dangerous makeup. Lead and sulphur (for enhancing the cleavage), mercury (for covering blemishes), and white lead (for whitening the complexion) were frequent hindrances to the medical world. Men, women, and even children wore makeup to some extent in order to achieve the fashionable white face with flaming red cheeks and lips. Eyebrows were accentuated with pencils, or concealed beneath false eyebrows made of mouse fur.
In the late 18th to mid-19th century, the ultra–pale look persisted. A “lady” didn’t need to work in the sun, and therefore should be pale...even translucent, has been the concept.Certain historians have recorded that the pale skin, flushed cheek, and luminous eyes, characteristics of tuberculosis affected patients, attracted some people and were frequently imitated with white lead and rouge. To make their eyes bright, some women ate small amounts of arsenic or washed their eyes with orange and lemon juice - or, worse yet, rinsed them with belladonna, the juice of the poisonous nightshade.
In the 19th century, “natural” makeup became fashionable. Victorian propriety denounced excessive makeup as the mark of “loose” women. Naively, most men believed their ladies wore no makeup, but cosmetic vendors abounded and beauty books of the era recount how carefully Victorian women used their concoctions. Above all, lip and cheek rouge were considered scandalous.
The 1920s also brought about another revolution; the Tan. No longer did women strive for the pale look en masse. Why the sudden shift? Not going out for work or to play, was considered prestigious by women of the higher strata. Therefore, staying indoors resulted in a pale complexion. The rich exposed themselves to Sun, making their skin golden-brown. Suddenly, everyone longed for that “healthy” bronzed look. Despite profound reason, larger number of people go by the ‘mass trends’ was a truth even then.
There is evidence of highly advanced ideas of self-beautification and a large array of cosmetic usages both by men and women, in ancient India. Many of these practices were subtly interwoven with the seasons (Sanskrit: Rutus) and the normal rituals of life (Dinacharyā). Significantly, the use of cosmetics was directed not only towards developing an outwardly pleasant and attractive personality, but towards achieving merit (Sanskrit: Punya), longevity with good health (Aayush and Aarogyam) and happiness (Anandam). Different Lepās (Masks or applications) were recommended for different seasons for body beautification. The ingredients used during the cold seasons were quite different from those used in warm seasons. In fact Ashtānga Hridaya (a 1500 year old book of Ayurveda) offers six different formulations to be used for the six seasons of the year. Similarly special cosmetic Tailams (Oils) and Ghritas (Clarified butter or ghee) were used for facial beautification. In India, cosmetics have been in use since the IV or V Century. Men and women used coal as a form of eye shadow. Vermilion, which is an opaque orange red pigment derived from powdering Cinnabar (mercury sulphide), was used to colour the cheeks. However, it is Henna, more specifically Mehndi that became more popular. Henna is thought to have “barakah” or blessings; therefore, it was applied for good luck, love, as well as joy and beauty. As far as Stage Makeup is concerned, as we find in the global trend, the materials have moved over from the ‘Natural-Compounded’ to the ‘Artificial-Readymade.’
19thcentury marks the flourishing of cosmetics, mainly due to their demand on stage. This was due to the changeover in theatrical lighting from the gas illuminated to the electrical, that occurred between 1800-1880 AD.
The roots to modern foundation can be traced to the days of Carl Baudin of the Leipzeiger Stadt theatre in Germany. He is the inventor of greasepaint. He wanted to conceal the joint between his wig and forehead, so he developed a flesh-coloured paste made of zinc, ochre and lard. This formulation became highly popular with other actors. With the electric lights illuminating the stage, they wanted something better than the crude chalk powder and white paint which sufficed for candles and oil lamps. Baudin began producing it commercially, and as such, gave birth to the first theatrical makeup.
This would be the standard for theatrical make-up until 1914, when makeup artist Max Factor (originally Max Faktorowicz, a Jewish cosmetologist from Poland), often called the ‘Father of Modern Makeup’, created Flexible Greasepaint that was more reflective under the lighting on movie sets. Although makeup has evolved dramatically from Baudin’s invention, theatrical make-up is, to this day, not too far removed from the original blend of fats and pigment. From this phase onwards, what we would find in the field of ‘Stage Makeup’ is the incoming of varieties in foundations, concealers, powders, rouges, lipsticks, and other accessories, as products from different manufacturers. Many are being marketed only with the consent of medical cosmeticians. However, what one should use for a particular purpose can be decided only after one learns the requirements in detail. The essential parameters for deciding on the requirements will be discussed in the next issue.