Why do women buy makeup? Is it really all about making ourselves more appealing to others? Is it only because we’ve been fed false images of beauty, and been baited into holding ourselves up to unrealistic expectations? Or is there something more behind our love of makeup?
Women have had a love affair with makeup for centuries. So let’s explore that relationship and learn a little more about the love story between women and their cosmetics.
Ancient Egyptians (both male and female) are credited with creating the first cosmetics. They used a combination of copper and lead ore, among other ingredients, to paint their eyes. In fact, you can see the evidence of cosmetics in many pieces of Ancient Egyptian art. The bust of Nefertiti, for example, is over 3,300 years old, and any woman will recognize that this powerful queen is wearing eyeliner.
But the Egyptians weren’t the only ones wearing makeup thousands of years ago. Ancient Greeks and Romans used cosmetics like kohl to line the eyes, and skin creams made of rosewater, olive oil, and beeswax to keep their faces smooth.
Makeup Over the Years
Over the centuries, makeup continued to develop in many ways, becoming symbolic in some cultures, and a sign of beauty and affluence in others. Many different materials were used, including natural ingredients like berries, safflower petals, and even bird droppings. Many women even risked their health for the sake of beauty by using dangerous products like white lead paint, which contained arsenic, in order to try to lighten their skin for a more aristocratic look.
For a while, makeup actually fell out of style, and during the early 1900s, women hardly work makeup at all; it was mostly reserved for stage and movie performers, and was typically only available for purchase in theatrical costume stores. But the influence of those movie stars began to take its toll, and women soon wanted to mimic the starlets on the silver screen. By 1910, makeup was quickly becoming the fashion in America and Europe, and women were falling in love with it all over again.
Our Modern Love of Makeup
According to a recent article from People, women spend an average of $15,000 on makeup in their lifetimes. This includes:
- $3,770 on mascara
- $2,750 on eyeshadows
- $1,780 on lipstick
The rest goes to foundation, bronzer, rouges, eyeliners, and more—the exact division varying greatly depending on the woman. So who can we blame for this giant hit to our bank accounts over our lifetimes? While our modern love affair with makeup does have roots in Hollywood, it’s hard to blame the media for our makeup obsession when Cleopatra herself took the time to put on eyeliner in the morning.
In reality, women’s love affair with makeup comes down to one simple thing: It’s less about looking good, and more about feeling good. However much time you may take applying your makeup in the morning, that time is all about you. It’s almost a therapeutic experience, helping you to mentally prepare for the day as you take those few precious moments to pay attention to nobody but yourself. And when you give of yourself all day, those few minutes mean a lot.
Plus, when you’re finished with that morning routine, you feel confident, empowered, and beautiful. Regardless of where our love affair with makeup truly began, what matters most is how this love story ends—with a deeper love for ourselves. Now that’s what we call a happy ending.