We know when you’re doing your daily beauty routine, you’re not necessarily thinking about the history of your cherry red lipstick or lavender-infused fragrance. After all, we left mundane history lessons back in high school with the rest of our questionable heavy eyeliner choices. But hear us out, the history of makeup and beauty in general is fascinating AF. Here, we’re sharing seven crazy beauty facts that will blow your mind and give you a whole new appreciation for modern-day makeup.
1. Wearing Expensive Makeup Used to Be Against the Law
“Lex Oppia” was a law established in Roman times that restricted not only a woman’s wealth, but her displays of wealth — and this included any expensive “designer” makeup items and fragrances imported from China, Germany and Gaul. Thankfully, it was abolished 20 years later.
2. Neon Nail Polish Is Illegal in the United States
Love sporting shockingly bright polish on your digits? You (and your nails) might be in for a surprise: Neon nail polish is actually illegal in the US. So if your polishes are labeled as “Neon,” they are most likely imported or not truly made with neon colorants. The reason? It’s less dramatic than you would think: Neon colorants have simply never been officially registered with the FDA.
3. Lipstick Used to Be Made With Crushed Jewels
Giving a whole new spin to the term “luxury lip color,” it is said that ancient Mesopotamian women used to crush semi-precious jewels and use them to decorate their lips. Since then, lipsticks have been made with everything from red beetles to fish scales.
4. In the 1400s, “Beauty Is Pain” Had a Whole Different Meaning.
Pale, untouched-by-the-sun skin was all the rage for the women of the 15th century. If women weren’t naturally gifted with a porcelain complexion, they’d do everything from using leeches to “blood-letting,” a dubious medical practice of withdrawing a small quantity of blood to cure or prevent illness. Some women even used a white lead product called Venetian ceruse, which caused hair loss and, in some cases, death. Yikes.
5. The Trend of Tanned, Golden Skin Was an Accident.
In the 1920s, fashion designer Coco Chanel accidentally got a sunburn while visiting the French Riviera. When she arrived back home, the sunburn had faded into a tan. Her fans started adopting this look, hoping to emulate the luxurious lifestyle of this chic and stylish woman.
6. Red Lipstick Used to Signify Class
During the Medieval period, lipstick was used to distinguish social classes in Europe. For instance, wearing a bright pink lip color signified a high class while red tones meant you were of an inferior social standing.
7. Fragrance Was Used as a Disinfectant
Long before your fragrance was used in a way to make you smell sweet and fresh before walking out of the house, in ancient China it was used for disinfection. Some believed that perfume was so powerful it could help rid a room of disease.
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