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50 Fun Facts About Makeup and Cosmetics

Bored? Let’s talk fun facts about makeup!

… because who doesn’t love makeup? For centuries, women have used cosmetics to enhance and transform their features into something more… visually attractive. From eyeliner-wearing mummies in ancient Egypt to the modern-day trends taking TikTok by storm, makeup is an evergreen source of joy for us all.

Whether you’re a novice or professional when it comes to beauty products, there’s always something to be learned about the world of cosmetics and makeup artistry.

Read on for some super fun, super interesting facts about makeup and cosmetics… they just might surprise you!


💡TIP: Pin this article to your Makeup board on Pinterest so you can always come back when you need to! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

The makeup industry is constantly evolving... but how much do you really know about it? These 50 facts about makeup will blow your mind...

50 Fun Facts About Makeup

1. Makeup is regulated by the FDA along with food, over-the-counter drugs, and medical devices. They could stop the sale of any cosmetic product if they find it unsafe.

2. The word, cosmetic, comes from the Latinized form of Greek kosmetike, which means “the art of dress and ornament.”

3. Testing makeup on the back of your hand doesn’t work well since your face gets more sun exposure and you likely wash your hands more. Celebrity makeup artists suggest testing on your jawline for the best match.

4. Women have been pinching their cheeks for centuries for a natural rosy hue. However, blush has been around since the days of ancient Egypt.

5. Ground-up fish scales (aka guanine crystals) are often used to add shimmer to lipstick, eyeshadow, lotion, and nail polish.

6. The history of cosmetics spans at least 7,000 years and is present in almost every society on Earth.

7. The global beauty industry is growing at 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP.

8. The founder of Maybelline, Thomas Lyle Willaims, named the company after his sister Mabel, who inspired him to create makeup products by coating her lashes with a mixture of Vaseline and coal dust.

9. “Hypoallergenic” means that the manufacturer feels the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction but is not a term that is regulated by the FDA.

10. The term “natural ingredients” means that they were extracted from plants, animals, or minerals.

11. Nestlé owns 20.1% of L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetic company.

12. The Vikings wore eye makeup into battle as a sign of ferocity and to frighten enemies.

13. Mesdemet, one of the earliest cosmetics used by Egyptians, was made with copper and lead and used to line the eyes.

14. It is estimated that roughly 66% of women in the United States use makeup on a daily basis.

15. Roughly 49.2 billion dollars is spent on cosmetics in the United States each year… and the cosmetic industry is growing by 3.8% per year.

16. Ancient Egyptians exfoliated skin with dead sea salt, washed with soap paste made from clay and olive oil, and then moisturized with milk and honey.

17. The ancient Romans used swan fat and donkey milk (which are both rich in fatty acids, similar to the wrinkle creams we use today) to reduce fine lines and soften wrinkles.

18. They also used the ashes of snails to supposedly remove freckles, as pure white skin was a sign of high status.

19. Egyptians used henna to dye their nails yellow and orange before nail polish was invented. This also kept their nails healthy.

20. The first nail polish comes from China circa 3000 BC; it was made by mixing egg whites, beeswax, gum, and colored powder.

21. During the European Renaissance, women applied leeches to their ears (or sometimes other parts of their bodies) to make their faces appear paler.

22. The most common makeup injury is caused by scratching the eye with a mascara wand.

23. Bizarre beauty trends from history include using burnt matches to darken eyes, applying boy urine to fade freckles, using berries to stain lips, and drinking ox blood to improve complexion.

24. Elizabethan-era women lined their eyes with coal tar, which is flammable, smells terrible, and can cause blindness.

25. In the Victorian era, upper-class women typically avoided makeup as it was mostly reserved for stage actresses, working-class women, and prostitutes.

26. In the 1950s, Radium was often used in cosmetics to “energize the skin.” These radioactive products were known to cause sickness, including cancer.

27. Nightingale feces (aka uguisu no fun) has been used in Japanese facials throughout history to whiten skin and balance skin tone.

28. The most toxic makeup to ever be widely used is known as “Venetian ceruse,” made from vinegar and white lead. Although it did whiten the skin, it typically caused lead poisoning and sometimes even death.

29. Mum was the first commercial deodorant, developed in 1888 Philadelphia. The main ingredient was zinc oxide, and it was applied as a cream with the fingertips.

30. In 1952, Helen Barnet invented roll-on deodorant, which was inspired by the ball-point pen.

31. Ancient Romans rinsed their mouths with imported urine to disinfect and whiten their teeth. It remained a popular mouthwash ingredient until the 18th century.

32. When waterproof mascara entered the beauty industry in 1938, it was made of 50% turpentine.

33. Around the same time, “Lash Lure” was sold in the U.S. as permanent mascara. It blinded more than a dozen women and killed one.

34. The trend to be tan started when Coco Chanel caught too much sun on a Mediterranean cruise.

35. During WW II, women used tea bags to create a natural-looking tan.

36. MAC stands for “Makeup Art Cosmetics.”

37. Women started removing underarm hair in the early 1900s when Gillette introduced the first safety razor for women, the Milady Decollette. Around this time, shorter dresses and sleeveless tops became popular, and advertisements portrayed body hair as unfeminine and unhygienic.

38. Maori women from New Zealand tattoo their lips and chins with swirls called Moko Kauae.” This beauty ritual is considered sacred and dates back hundreds of years.

39. The ancient Aztecs used cochineal, a red dye made from ground-up beetles, to paint their lips and nails.

40. In the 17th century, Venetian women used Belladonna (aka deadly nightshade) to enlarge their pupils, which was considered to be more attractive. Long-term use damaged the eyes and led to blindness.

41. Ancient Mesopotamian women crushed up gemstones and applied them to their lips.

42. In Morrisville, PA, a woman must have a special permit before she can wear makeup.

43. Ancient Romans used cosmetae, female slaves that adorned their mistresses with makeup, perfume, and jewelry; this is where the word “cosmetologist” comes from. They were known to dissolve cosmetics in their own saliva.

44. The Romans also dyed their hair with a variety of ingredients including henna, berries, walnut hulls, saffron, and lichen. Black hair dye was often made by fermenting leeches in vinegar for two months and then letting that paste dry in the hair for one day.

45. In Vietnam, many people take part in teeth blackening rituals to enhance sex appeal, maintain healthy teeth, and not be mistaken for evil spirits.

46. Some people believe that applying morning urine to your face exfoliates the skin, boosts collagen production, and clears blemishes.

47. Acne victims and burn patients may be treated with “Vavelta” in the UK. This clear liquid contains fibroblasts (skin cells) that have been isolated from the foreskins of circumcised boys.

48. Known as the “lipstick effect,” lipstick sales tend to increase during economic recessions—as well as on rainy days.

49. “Dermatologist tested” does not mean “dermatologist approved.”

50. Cleopatra was known to soak her ship’s purple sails in her personalized perfume so that Marc Antony would smell it before she arrived.


Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts Icon

From its ancient beginnings to the modern day, cosmetic makeup has truly come a long way. With today’s wide variety of colors, textures, and styles to choose from – there’s definitely something for everyone. And with new products being released all the time, the possibilities are endless.

Hope you learned something new, my friend!

Until next time,

Hollee
Hollee Wood Headshot

MEET THE AUTHOR 🤩

Hollee is a licensed cosmetologist with over nine years of professional experience in the hair industry. With her unique insight and versatile experience, she’ll help you discover the latest hair trends or even crush your next DIY hair project.

Learn more!


▶︎ YOUR TURN: Are there any other fun makeup facts I missed? What’s your favorite type of makeup?Drop your thoughts in the comments section below! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼


▶︎ RELATED:

sofia

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

love it thanks

Roshni Parate

Thursday 16th of November 2017

There are so many amazing facts out there i was searching few but atlast got many on this website , Thank you so much :)

Wednesday 1st of November 2017

how high is the working rate in the United States ?

Bethany

Monday 10th of August 2015

I had to get my 20 facts about whatever done very quickly and this website helped a lot. Than You!

Friday 2nd of June 2017

same!

Lauren Ward

Thursday 9th of May 2013

This blos pretty interesting and I like your post but your 1st fact and 25th fact contradict each other and your 12th fact is untrue, marketing laws mean that manufactuers can label a product as natural even if only one ingredient is 'natural'. Just thought I would point that out as this sayd 'facts'

sopia

Thursday 2nd of October 2014

these facts are great and interesting to read