I’m posting today an article I wrote for the newspapers I work at. It is by no means meant to hurt, harm or directly aimed at anyone in particular. This is based on just an idea I had some weeks ago and I thought I should work on. I’d very much like to read all of your thoughts on this post so feel free to comment and let me know 🙂
In a woman’s life today, makeup is everything. Or is it? I find that sometimes some things are taken for granted and then some things are taken way over the top. It’s the same when it comes to makeup and cosmetics. Women in today’s world pay hundreds and thousands of money in order to look and feel good about themselves and their appearances. Was this the intention behind the invention of makeup?
History of makeup
The earliest record of the use of makeup dates back to the 1st Dynasty in Egypt (3,100 – 2,907 BC). Women in those times used particular natural and herbal products to enhance their beauty and also to take care of their skin. Unquent jars were known to have been filled with herbs and therefore were scented. Women held their faces above these jars and inhaled the scent. It was said to have made their skin soft and youthful. Soot or sometimes a crushed metallic element was used on the eyes to create a mysterious and sensual look. Now, Egyptian makeup did not just enhance beauty, but it was also meant to ward off evil spirits and improve sight. Around the 1st Century AD, Romans widely used kohl on the eyes, chalk for whitening their skin and rouge on the cheeks for a flush of colour.
In those times, Persian women and men were known to use henna on their hair to seem more youthful. Henna mehendi art was also very common in India and often adorned not just the hair, but also hands and feet during weddings. In European times, paleness depicted a indication of wealth and therefore women tried to use various products on their faces to show off their class. Around the 13th Century, pink lips were in vogue. Tragedy struck sometime in the years of the 18th Century when deadly arsenic, lead content and belladonna were used in skin whiteners and to enhance the eyes.
It’s hard to not mention that even in Sri Lankan history, the mention of ayurvedic beauty means did enhance natural beauty. Kohomba, kekum, neroli, and sandalwood are some of the natural herbs that were used by the locals to keep their hair silky and shiny, their skin supple and soft, and beauty ever so youthful.
Gradually, since the late 19th Century, makeup products have become a rave. The first modern lipstick was said to have been created in Paris around 1884. The first mascara was formulated sometime in the year 1910. It was named Mabel, after which it was then called Maybelline and gradually grew into a multimillion dollar company today. In the year 1914 pancake makeup was introduced by Max Factor. In the 1920’s mass marketing of makeup took place, lip gloss was introduced and so was the first eyelash curler. By the 1960’s, more liberated looks were in rouge. Cosmetics and makeup combating ageing signs and wrinkles were introduced sometime in the 1990’s.
Too much or too little?
Who is to judge if the use of makeup is too much or too little? I find that while some know their limitations of what makeup can do, others tend to take it to a greater level. Let’s start with the eyes – there’s eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, eye primers, eyelash curlers, eyebrow liner and fillers and also eyebrow tints. For the face – bb cream, primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, highlight and powder. For the lips – exfoliator, primer, lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm and lip tint. This list might be missing a couple of products here and there but you get the gist of it. Question, do we really need to use each and every product on our face? Makeup companies are driving their consumers wild with the assumed impression that yes, these such and such products are not just beauty items but ‘needful’ enhancers in their lives. If you happen to watch a beauty tutorial on YouTube, be it whatever channel and whatever occasion, for the most part a young woman will use a minimum of 15 different products in all parts of her face. The end result – a flawless made-up look.
Yes, to an extent the look will be flawless on camera but up close, you’ll be able to tell there are layers and layers of makeup piled on that face. Yes they are made-up to an extent that when they take off their makeup, they almost seem unrecognizable and almost like a completely different person. Women out there wear makeup on a daily basis, meet their life partners and are afraid to show their real and natural faces in case the men will not care and love them. Is this what the makeup companies mean to do to the lives of these women who keep their business running?
I admit however that certain products are useful for women today. In order to hide dark circles or dark bags under the eyes, a concealer would do the trick of masking this. If you happen to look too pale and ill, a touch of blush will add a flush of colour to your face. Pores and dark spots, skin damage can be covered up easily with a foundation or good bb cream. The eyes can be enhanced with a liner of any sort and the lips with a lip colour of any sort too. The choices are endless in today’s world and that is the beauty of it as well as the evil of it. We must know as individuals how much is too much or too little to use on ourselves. Caking on makeup product after product is also not going to do the skin underneath it any good at all. It’s also just as important to take good care of your skin and ensure that at the end of the day, all the makeup is removed and your skin is moisturized, nourished and clean.
For women battling with acne, huge scars on their faces and other great imperfections, makeup has provided them with the greatest cover-up of all. Makeup to such women is not just an escape but way of proving they are normal and beautiful too. You’ll find plenty of women having internal struggles and yet feeling confident and strong with just a simple makeover. That does say a lot about how makeup can change a person’s outlook and also their life.
Let’s also not forget that men have been using makeup since the yesteryears and even today. Again, makeup is just a tool of enhancing one’s current features and also for creating the illusion of perfection. From a simple pimple to a gigantic scar, to fix an imperfect eyebrow to adding a pop of colour, yes men too apply makeup.
So really, how do we know how much is too much or too little? It’s really hard to say as it would differ for each individual. I personally do not think makeup should act as a barrier between showing who you really are and who you want to be perceived as. Makeup has got to come off at some point of the day, or rather end of the day, so it goes to show that it really isn’t permanent and regardless one should feel beautiful inside and out.
**As published in the Ceylon Today newspapers**