Victorian Beauty: makeup of the 1800’s
magine if makeup was reserved for only actors to wear. Through most of the 1800’s this was the rule and makeup was considered obscene. Those who did wear makeup kept their makeup hidden from others.
The term makeup wasn’t immediately introduced until a little later in the century. Cosmetics was the word used to encompass any substance used on the skin to modify one’s appearance.
Similar to the previous century, makeup was used to mask blemishes. People of every social status wore makeup. However, in the mid 1800’s Queen Victoria claimed that the use of makeup be restricted solely for actors. She insisted that wearing makeup was vulgar. News of this claim carried across the pond and was implemented in North America as well.
Towards the end of the 1700’s, women began to embrace an understated look. Everyone kept their makeup a secret. Women of a higher social class could hide it in their toilet tables (also known as a vanity). Many of these were built with secret compartments in which they hid their makeup. Middle class women who could not afford such luxuries opted for a medicine chest. They used this to also keep their makeup hidden. Nearly every apothecary carried medicine chests for a fair price.
Moving through the century, men no longer saw the need to wear heavy face paints. They did, however, continue to use it as a moisturizer or to cover up blemishes. Everyone at this point used makeup sparingly. As they did with manicures, they aimed at keeping makeup natural looking. Cheeks were worn rosy by pinching the cheeks, lips were worn red and mascara made of beeswax helped accentuate the eyes.
Makeup has come a long way since the Victorian days. Nowadays, people still wear makeup to cover up blemishes. However, it is no longer considered vulgar to wear. People now wear it various ways. Some wear the natural look, while others wear it really heavy. It is not strictly reserved for actors anymore!