History Lesson: Eyeliner Through the Ages

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the first installment of a new blog series on MichellePhan.com: History Lesson! If you’ve ever wondered how certain makeup products came into existence, you’ve come to the right place. To kick things off, I’m going to tell you about eyeliner, which is one of the oldest cosmetics in the world!

Eyeliner is not only one of the most versatile beauty products a person can own, but it is also one that is steeped in a rich history that reveals details of a time long ago. It was first used in Ancient Egypt, where both men and women rimmed their eyes with a mineral mixture for sun protection and to reap the benefits of eyeliner’s supposed antibacterial properties. It is also said that eyeliner was used to protect people from the evil eye. Eyeliner is notably present in Ancient Egyptian Art, as seen below:

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Bust of Tutankhamun

In the 1920s, women began using more and more makeup, and it became a fashion statement. Eyeliner became more popular, and it is interesting to note that King Tut’s tomb was discovered around this time. The 1930s brought the beginning of eyeliner being applied right on the lash line, which created a graphic look.

3zXlBczFVxnGgImtTDPJR3Ja.jpeg:Amazon:photoJosephine Baker

During World War II, silk stockings, once a staple item in a lady’s wardrobe, became a rarity. So women used eyeliner to draw lines up the back of their legs to simulate stocking seams. Liquid eyeliner broke onto the scene in the 1950s and was used to create cat eyes, a look which was immortalized by Brigitte Bardot.

iJ8rJ0vxbzM3cVw8XU0fw7Pu.png:Amazon:photoBrigitte Bardot

Twiggy helped ensure that eyeliner remained popular throughout the 1960s. The supermodel epitomized Swinging London chic with thick, graphic makeup that included winged liner. Even though the bare makeup look became big in the 70s, eyeliner made a huge comeback in the 1980s and has remained a staple since then.

Which other makeup products’ history would you like to learn about? Let me know in the comments section!

<3 Mish

Photo Credits: National Geographic, System of Strings, Last.fm

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  • Trung

    The history about make up is so interesting! I would like to know the foundation history!

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