views updated May 21 2018



There are three kinds of makeup artists: straight makeup, sometimes called "street," which enhances an actor's features using cosmetics and corrective makeup; character makeup, which transforms an actor through facial prosthesis and other devices; and special effects (FX) makeup, employing mechanical devices such as robotic inserts. All three work closely with the director, cinematographer, and costume designer. Incorporating these three divisions, makeup's complex work can be loosely broken into the two categories of cosmetics and special effects. The former also radicalized the cosmetics industry. Often the two merge, but the makeup industry began with the need to accentuate the face and to deal with the drastic differences between stage and cinema.

Film makeup received no formal recognition until the 1940s and no Academy Award® recognition until 1981, although William Tuttle (b. 1911) was given an honorary Oscar® for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and John Chambers (1923–2001) received one for Planet of the Apes (1968). It is now a highly regarded art with a large fan base that follows the careers of artists like Rick Baker and Tom Savini. The craft began in the nascent film industry with stage techniques but quickly adapted to cinema's peculiar problems, especially those posed by film stock, cinematic lighting, and the close-up. The introduction of color in the 1930s caused more difficulties. Technicolor distorted complexion tones and registered color reflections from costumes, even those thrown from one actor's clothing onto another's. As makeup artists addressed a continuous parade of new challenges, makeup evolved by the early 1920s into an indispensable studio department that oversaw wigmakers; hair stylists; cosmetologists; harness makers; wood carvers; and sculptors in plaster, wax, metal, and wire. By the 1960s, science-driven special effects became a major part of makeup, and specialists in all kinds of prosthetics, latexes, rubbers, plastics, solvents, structures, and devices have come under makeup's jurisdiction ever since. Despite its artificial composition, makeup's constant challenge is to seem natural. If it is prosthetic it has to move as if real flesh; if it is historical, it has to conform to the period's look, whether involving heavy makeup or no makeup at all. It also must be remarkably durable, lasting through sweating, kissing, and fighting, under water or fierce lighting. In horror films, it must be powerful enough to scare an audience yet bearable for an actor to wear.

From the beginning, makeup artists have sought to draw out a character's psychology. To do this they have adapted (or contributed) to cosmetic and technological inventions, coped with color problems, and been experts on human anatomy and the potential effects of all varieties of artificial face, skin, and hair. Although makeup covers every kind of look—from well to ill, old to young, hip to demented, gorgeous to hideous—it is the latter two, the gorgeous and the ghastly, that have been emphasized throughout the history of cinema.


Makeup has a long theatrical history. The early film industry naturally looked to traditional stage techniques, but these proved inadequate almost immediately. One of makeup's first problems was with celluloid. Early filmmakers used orthochromatic film stock, which had a limited color-range sensitivity. It reacted to red pigmentation, darkening white skin and nullifying solid reds. To counter the effect, Caucasian actors wore heavy pink greasepaint (Stein's #2) as well as black eyeliner and dark red lipstick (which, if applied too lightly, appeared white on screen), but these masklike cosmetics smeared as actors sweated under the intense lights. Furthermore, until the mid-teens, actors applied their own makeup and their image was rarely uniform from scene to scene. As the close-up became more common, makeup focused on the face, which had to be understood from a hugely magnified perspective, making refinements essential. In the pursuit of these radical changes, two names stand out as Hollywood's progenitor artists: Max Factor (1877–1938) and George Westmore (1879–1931). Both started as wigmakers and both recognized that the crucial difference between stage and screen was a lightness of touch. Both invented enduring cosmetics and makeup tricks for cinema and each, at times, took credit for the same invention (such as false eyelashes).

Factor (originally Firestein), a Russian émigré with a background in barbering, arrived in the United States in 1904 and moved to Los Angeles in 1908, where he set up a perfume, hair care, and cosmetics business catering to theatrical needs. He also distributed well-known greasepaints, which were too thick for screen use and photographed badly. By 1910, Factor had begun to divide the theatrical from the cinematic as he experimented to find appropriate cosmetics for film. His Greasepaint was the first makeup used in a screen test, for Cleopatra (1912), and by 1914 Factor had invented a twelve-toned cream version, which applied thinly, allowed for individual skin subtleties, and conformed more comfortably with celluloid. In the early 1920s panchromatic film began to replace orthochromatic, causing fewer color flaws, and in 1928 Factor completed work on Panchromatic MakeUp, which had a variety of hues. In 1937, the year before he died, he dealt with the new Technicolor problems by adapting theatrical "pancake" into a water-soluble powder, applicable with a sponge, excellent for film's and, eventually, television's needs. It photographed very well, eliminating the shine induced by Technicolor lighting, and its basic translucence imparted a delicate look. Known as Pancake makeup, it was first used in Vogues of 1938 (1937) and Goldwyn's Follies (1938), quickly becoming not only the film industry norm but a public sensation. Once movie stars, delighting in its lightness, began to wear it offscreen, Pancake became de rigueur for fashion-conscious women. After Factor's death, his empire continued to set standards and still covers cinema's cosmetic needs, from fingernails to toupees.

The English wigmaker George Westmore, for whom the Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild's George Westmore Lifetime Achievement Award is named, founded the first (and tiny) film makeup department, at Selig Studio in 1917. He also worked at Triangle but soon was freelancing across the major studios. Like Factor, he understood that cosmetic and hair needs were personal and would make up stars such as Mary Pickford (whom he relieved of having to curl her famous hair daily by making false ringlets) or the Talmadge sisters in their homes before they left for work in the morning.

He fathered three legendary and scandalous generations of movie makeup artists, beginning with his six sons—Monte (1902–1940), Perc (1904–1970), Ern (1904–1967), Wally (1906–1973), Bud (1918–1973), and Frank (1923–1985)—who soon eclipsed him in Hollywood. By 1926, Monte, Perc, Ern, and Bud had penetrated the industry to become the chief makeup artists at four major studios, and all continued to break ground in new beauty and horror illusions until the end of their careers. In 1921, after dishwashing at Famous Players-Lasky, Monte became Rudolph Valentino's sole makeup artist. (The actor had been doing his own.) When Valentino died in 1926, Monte went to Selznick International where, thirteen years later, he worked himself to death with the enormous makeup demands for Gone With the Wind (1939). In 1923 Perc established a blazing career at First National-Warner Bros. and, over twenty-seven years, initiated beauty trends and disguises including, in 1939, the faces of Charles Laughton's grotesque Hunchback of Notre Dame (for RKO) and Bette Davis's eyebrowless, almost bald, whitefaced Queen Elizabeth. In the early 1920s he blended Stein Pink greasepaint with eye shadow, preceding Factor's Panchromatic. Ern, at RKO from 1929 to 1931 and then at Fox from 1935, was adept at finding the right look for stars of the 1930s. Wally headed Paramount makeup from 1926, where he created, among others, Frederic March's gruesome transformation in Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (1931). Frank followed him there. Bud led Universal's makeup department for twenty-three years, specializing in rubber prosthetics and body suits such as the one used in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Together they built the House of Westmore salon, which served stars and public alike. Later generations have continued the name, including Bud's sons, Michael and Marvin Westmore, who began in television and have excelled in unusual makeup, such as in Blade Runner (1982).

MGM was the only studio that the Westmores did not rule. Cecil Holland (1887–1973) became its first makeup head in 1925 and remained there until the 1950s. Originally an English actor known as "The Man of a Thousand Faces" before Lon Chaney (1883–1930) inherited the title, his makeup abilities were pioneering on films such as Grand Hotel (1932) and The Good Earth (1937). Jack Dawn (1892–1961), who created makeup for The Wizard of Oz (1939), ran the department from the 1940s, by which time it was so huge that over a thousand actors could be made up in one hour. William Tuttle succeeded him and ran the department for twenty years. Like Holland, Chaney was another actor with supernal makeup skills whose horror and crime films became classics, notably for Chaney's menacing but realistically based disguises. He always created his own makeup, working with the materials of his day—greasepaint, putty, plasto (mortician's wax), fish skin, gutta percha (natural resin), collodian (liquid elastic), and crepe hair—and conjured characters unrivalled in their horrifying effect, including his gaunt, pig-nosed, black-eyed Phantom for Phantom of the Opera (1925) and his Hunchback in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), for which he constructed agonizingly heavy makeup and body harnesses.


Makeup helps express narrative elements, and a makeup artist decides how best to convey this information. A historical period's cosmetic oddities, or its lack of them, have to be plausibly recreated for a modern audience. The presentation can be faux-historical, as in Satyricon (Fellini Satyricon, 1969), which though set in ancient Rome, was conceived, on the director Federico Fellini's insistence, as dreamlike by the consummate costume designer, Piero Tosi (who did not create costumes for the film, only the makeup). Lois Burwell's and Peter Frampton's makeup for Braveheart (1995), set in about thirteenth-century Scotland, was accurate though it looked fantastical. Fantasy makeup, such as Benoît Lestang's for La Cité des enfants perdus (City of Lost Children, 1995) or John Caglione Jr.'s for Dick Tracy (1990), sets the mood for the film. Oppositely, Toni G's makeup for Charlize Theron as a hardened prostitute in Monster (2003) was a feat of realist metamorphosis that made her look like Aileen Wuornos, the convicted killer on whom the film was based.

Cinema makeup has been an unusual but very effective arena for issues around public prejudice, regarding women's social and sexual status. In the early twentieth century, women benefited from the new caché of stunningly made-up stars on screen. Though creams, powders, and rouges were widely used and advertised (endorsed by theatrical idols such as Gaby Deslys, Sarah Bernhardt, and Lillian Russell), overt makeup had been questioned as déclassé or degenerate by fashion mavens since the turn of the twentieth century. Film makeup revolutionized the social acceptance of cosmetics as early as 1915, making them increasingly respectable for women to wear, and in every decade since, trends in makeup have thoroughly altered society's aesthetic concept.

The makeup artist has at times launched new looks. In the late 1920s the style established by Greta Garbo's arched eyebrows, deep eyes with black-lined eyelid indents, and full mouth banished the tight, down-sloping eyebrows and bee-stung lips of Mary Pickford and the Gish sisters that had been popular in the 1910s. In 1930 Marlene Dietrich's face, already beautiful, was adapted for the top lighting favored by her frequent director, Josef von Sternberg. Paramount's Dottie Ponedel, the first woman in the Makeup Artists guild, plucked Dietrich's eyebrows into single elevated lines, which became the signature look of the 1930s. Shading under her cheekbones accented them until they were hollow enough to appear so on their own. A white stroke under her eyes made them appear bigger. A silver one down her nose diminished its curve. Dietrich passed this trick on to the Westmores, who used it frequently and, when eye shadow was still greasepaint smudges, she showed Ern Westmore how to make it from match soot and baby oil and apply it in the gradual upward motions still used today. Ponedel went to MGM in 1940 to work exclusively for Judy Garland. Ern Westmore gave Bette Davis her signature "slash" mouth (where her top lip's indent was covered by lipstick), and Perc remade her face in over sixty films. "I owe my entire career to Perc Westmore," Davis once stated. Perc Westmore also cut Bette Davis's and Claudette Colbert's trendsetting bangs and Colleen Moore's classic Dutch boy bob, twisted Katharine Hepburn's hair into her ubiquitous top knot, and introduced the red-haired Ann Sheridan to a perfect match of orange lipstick. Sydney Guilaroff (1907–1997), head of hairstyling at MGM from 1935, originated the signature haircuts of Louise Brooks and Marilyn Monroe. Some changes were more drastic. Helen Hunt, Columbia's key hairstylist, painfully raised Rita Hayworth's hairline by electrolysis. A scene in A Star Is Born (1954) satirizes these beautifications when Judy Garland accidentally goes through the makeup department's process to suddenly emerge with new features.

Another dimension to social change appears in the provocative use of makeup to disguise race. White men typically have pretended to be black or Asian, often as figures of fun or malice, but by the end of the twentieth century, social ambiguity or political comment underlay some of these representations. The trope of white (and even black) players "blacking up" as racial stereotypes for nineteenth-century minstrel shows passed into vaudeville and film. Though Bert Williams, one of the few black vaudevillians, wore blackface in Darktown Jubilee in 1914 because he did so in his stage act, the common character of a white with blackface appeared in such important films as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and The Jazz Singer (1927). This image has continued through the twentieth century into the twenty-first. Caucasians masqueraded as Asian in the Charlie Chan films of the 1930s and 1940s, and Boris Karloff's (1932) and Christopher Lee's (1965) characterizations as the arch villain Fu Manchu are especially well known. African Americans at times used makeup to modify their skin tones. In the films of African American director Oscar Micheaux from 1919 to 1948, a lightskinned black actor might wear makeup to appear even lighter. In other circumstances, a light-complexioned black actress such as Fredi Washington would wear dark makeup because she photographed too white. In the 1970s, whiteface on black actors began to appear, often to raise questions about racism. In Watermelon Man (1970), Ben Lane made up African American actor Godfrey Cambridge as a white man who suddenly becomes black. In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, "whiting up" appeared in films such as Coming to America (1988), where Rick Baker transformed young African American actors Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall into old white men; The Associate (1996), where Greg Cannom turned Whoopi Goldberg into a middle-aged white man; and White Chicks (2004), where Cannom transformed Shawn and Marlon Wayans into young, white, female twins.

Transvestism in films can also have a social dimension, and since the 1990s there has been a shift in its representational meaning as seen in Linda Grimes's transformation of Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo into sexy transvestites in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) and Morag Ross's of Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game (1992). More conventional transvestitism appeared in the earlier Some Like it Hot (1959), where Emile LaVigne (1913–1990; makeup) and Agnes Flanagan (hair) transformed Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon into cute women and in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), where Greg Cannom changed the slight Robin Williams into a dowdy, overweight matron. Women have played men less often, but Katharine Hepburn, made up by Mel Berns (uncredited) in Christopher Strong (1933), and Hilary Swank, made up by Kalen Hoyle in Boys Don't Cry (1999), made memorable attempts in films with political undertones.

From the outset, some lasting relationships have existed between stars or directors and their makeup artists. Maurice Seiderman (1907–1989), another Russian with a background in wigmaking, worked with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Touch of Evil (1958). Seiderman invented techniques for aging the Kane character and other principles, involving three-dimensional casts, which were painted in layers to achieve a striking realism. The director Clive Barker has often had FX makeup artist Bob Keen create his unusual villains, such as Pinhead in Hellraiser (1987). Chris Walas developed much of David Cronenberg's scare makeup and special effects (Scanners, 1981, and The Fly, 1986) and Rob Bottin, whose talents run from science fiction to the historical, has collaborated with John Carpenter (The Thing, 1982, and The Fog, 1980).

b. Janus Piccoulas, Greece, 5 May 1889, d. 19 July 1968

Jack P. Pierce (also known as Jack Pearce or Jack Piccolo) invented the iconic images of Frankenstein, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man during his twenty-one years at Universal Studios. Pierce emigrated to the United States, hoping to be a baseball player, but instead he found itinerant jobs as a nickelodeon manager, cameraman, actor, and stuntman. He entered the world of film makeupin 1910, working for various independent companies until the early 1920s, when he went to Vitagraph and then Fox. In 1926 he came to Universal and in 1928 became its head of makeup when Carl Laemmle Jr. took over the studio.

Pierce's first notable design was the silhouette for Bela Lugosi's Dracula in Tod Browning's Dracula (1931). Pierce's genius flourished on James Whale's 1931 version of Frankenstein, with Boris Karloff in the lead. For Karloff he made, arguably, the most famous face in cinema. Departing from previous monkeylike Frankenstein depictions (as in Thomas Edison's 1910 Frankenstein), Pierce imagined what a nineteenth-century scientist might have created. For months he made sketches and models while researching surgical procedures and electrical experiments of the time. It took Pierce four hours a day to apply Karloff's makeup, layering his head with padding, greasepaint, cotton, and collodian (a solvent that hardens into a shiny elastic), coloring it blue-green to photograph as dead gray, then covering it in paste and baking it to make a flaky appearance. Karloff's forty-pound costume (seventy including the cement shoes) was also made by Pierce. The effect was so successful, the opening credits did not include Karloff's name, only that The Monster was acted by "?" trying to give the impression that perhaps the monster was not an actor but real. The Mummy, also played by Karloff, in Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932), was Pierce's favorite. His research of Egyptian embalming and processes of decay brought him to make a crepelike, parchment skin that took eight hours a day to apply.

Pierce was an impeccable example of collaboration with the cinematographer, making lighting integral to his monsters' effect. Light on the Frankenstein visage, with its square head, ridged forehead, and heavy jawline, gave the monster's menace a necessary pathos. Lighting also malevolently animated the Mummy's crinkled skin.

Having never been given a contract, he was fired in 1947 when Universal downsized. Despite the 1950s surge in science-fiction subjects, Pierce never worked again on projects requiring his true ingenuity, only on low-budget films and television programs like Mister Ed (1961–1966). Although he died virtually forgotten in 1968, appreciation of Pierce's work was renewed in the first years of the twenty-first century with a DVD tribute, Jack Pierce: The Man Behind the Monsters (2002).


Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)


Pierce, Jack. Interview: (accessed 8 April 2006).

Drake Stutesman

Modern FX—using materials such as latex, gelatine, and mechanization—can be traced to the ingenuities of Lon Chaney in the 1920s and those of Jack P. Pierce

(1889–1968), who in the 1930s devised prototypical monsters in Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Werewolf of London (1935) for Universal Studios. Pierce and Chaney not only defined the look of their monsters forever but made makeup a box-office draw.

The advent of violent films in the 1960s, including Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Wild Bunch (1969), led the way for the 1970s taste in not-for-the-squeamish horror, while monkey men in films like Planet of the Apes (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Star Wars (1977) brought a resurgence of the FX monster. With the popularity of special effects films, most late-twentieth-century FX makeup artists have made specialty careers. Beginning in television (for serials like Dark Shadows, 1966–1971), Dick Smith (b. 1922) changed prosthetic makeup forever when, to enable the actor greater mobility, he broke down the basic "mask" into components (nose, chin, eyes) with his groundbreaking work on Little Big Man (1970), where a young Dustin Hoffman ages into a very old man, and The Exorcist (1973). Rick Baker won the first Oscar® for Best Makeup for his American Werewolf in London (1981), considered another makeup landmark. His range of work is wide, from the hairstyles in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) to the aging of Cicely Tyson into a one-hundred-year-old woman in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), but he specializes in apelike beings. Stan Winston, who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard, is a master of mechanized human creatures such as the leads in The Terminator (1984) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tom Savini is known as the "King of Splatter" for his work on bloody films such as Martin (1977), Friday the 13th (1980), and Dawn of the Dead (2004).

The latest technological shift in the movie industry, which considerably affects makeup, is digital film. The digital enhancement process can do what was once the provenance of the makeup artist—manipulation of the actor's skin color, texture, and every other aspect of his or her experience. It remains to be seen, though, to what extent makeup's hands-on ability to camouflage, identify, and beautify will be superceded by this technology.

SEE ALSO Production Process;Special Effects;Technology


Chierichetti, David. "Make A Face." Film Comment 14, no. 6 (November–December 1978): 34–37.

Cripps, Thomas. Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900–1942. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Finch, Christopher, and Linda Rosenkrantz. Gone Hollywood: The Movie Colony in the Golden Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1997.

Gambill, Norman. "Making Up Kane." Film Comment 14, no. 6 (November–December 1978): 42–45.

Shreier, Sandy. Hollywood Dressed and Undressed: A Century of Cinema Style. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Timpone, Anthony. Men, Make Up, and Monsters: Hollywood's Masters of Illusion and FX. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1996.

Westmore, Frank, and Muriel Davidson. The Westmores of Hollywood. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1976.

Drake Stutesman


views updated May 11 2018


Substances applied to the face for the purpose of enhancing, improving, or highlighting the features of the face are called cosmetics or makeup. People have used cosmetics since very ancient times, and the use of cosmetics, like other fashions, are usually dictated by the social customs and beliefs of the day. Though during certain periods men have worn makeup, in modern times it has usually been considered a decoration for women only. The liberated fashions of the 1920s introduced an era of acceptance of makeup as a part of women's costume that has continued into the twenty-first century.

One effect of cosmetics is that they highlight the sexuality of the women who wear them, by emphasizing lips and eyes and reddening cheeks. Therefore, for much of the nineteenth century those of the middle and upper classes did not consider makeup respectable. By the early decades of the twentieth century the view of cosmetics began to change. Women gained the right to vote in many places and began to gain other freedoms as well. The start of World War I in 1914 had brought a more public role for many women, as they took over the jobs left empty by men who had gone to war. When the war ended in 1918, these modern, more independent women were not content with the old styles. They wanted fashion that was fun, sexy, and free, and the generous use of cosmetics was part of the new, daring image. Modern young women of the 1920s, called flappers, used heavy lipstick in dark reds with names like oxblood. They reddened their cheeks with rouge, and since hemlines were going up, many rouged their knees as well.

In addition to women's new freedoms, western European and American fashion was also influenced by an interest in Eastern styles, which were viewed as foreign and exotic. Just before World War I, much of Western society was fascinated with the Russian ballet, which featured bright costumes with Oriental designs and heavy, dark makeup. While fashion designers copied the Russian costumes, stylish women copied their makeup, and some even had their lips, cheeks, and eyebrows permanently tattooed with dark colors. In 1922 archeologists (scientists who study the distant past using physical evidence) discovered the treasure-filled tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, who ruled in the fourteenth century b.c.e. The excitement over the discovery brought an Egyptian look into fashion, which included heavy eyeliner circling the eyes.

Women such as Elizabeth Arden (18841966), Madame C. J. Walker (18671919), and Helena Rubenstein (18701965) formed companies to sell the newly popular cosmetics. Cosmetics began to be packaged in portable containers, such as tubes for lipstick and decorative flat containers called compacts for powder. It not only became fashionable for women to carry cosmetics with them wherever they went, but, for the first time, stylish women applied their makeup in public, using a small mirror in the lid of their powder compact.


Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Hoobler, Dorothy, and Thomas Hoobler. Vanity Rules: A History of American Fashion and Beauty. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2000.

[See also Volume 4, 190018: Lipstick ]


views updated Jun 11 2018


Roman philosopher and playwright Plautus (c. 254184 b.c.e.) once wrote, "A woman without paint is like food without salt." Like the Greeks before them, Roman women, and some men, used a variety of preparations to improve their appearance. The most common form of makeup used was face paint, called fucus, spread all over the face to make it appear white. This white paste might be infused with a red dye to make rouge for the cheeks or the lips, or tinted with soot to darken the brows or the eyelashes. People also coated their bodies in oils, either plain olive oil early in the Roman Republic (50927 b.c.e.) or fragrant oil later in the Roman Empire (27 b.c.e.476 c.e.).

The ancient Romans probably needed the fragrant oils, because their makeup was made of ingredients that must have produced a terrible stink. The wife of Emperor Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 c.e., used a facial mask made from sheep fat, breadcrumbs, and milk. According to historian Bronwyn Cosgrave in The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, "This mixture often produced a sickening odor if it was left to sit for more than a few hours." Other ingredients, however, may have been worse: Roman documents report that some women used a paste made from calf genitals dissolved in sulfur and vinegar, others used a concoction made from crocodile feces, and still others used oils gathered from the sweatiest parts of sheep (today the last ingredient is called lanolin, and it is used it in many skin products). By comparison, the usual facial pastes made of lead, honey, and fat must have smelled quite nice, though the lead in them could cause lead poisoning and possibly lead to death. Makeup wearers in ancient Rome certainly knew the meaning of the saying "Beauty is pain."


Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Batterberry. Fashion: The Mirror of History. New York: Greenwich House, 1977.

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Schmitz, Leonhard. "Unguenta." Smith's Dictionary: Articles on Clothing and Adornment.*/Unguenta.html (accessed on July 24, 2003).

[See also Volume 1, Ancient Greece: Makeup ]


views updated May 18 2018


Greek women embraced the use of makeup to enhance their beauty. Evidence of how females made up their faces can be found in such different places as on palace frescos, paintings directly on the wall, from Knossos, the royal city on the ancient Greek island of Crete, dating back to 1500 b.c.e. and in the descriptive poems written during the Greek Classical Period from 500 to 336 b.c.e. Although the practice was limited to women of wealth and influence, probably because of the cost, makeup was an important part of fashion in ancient Greece.

In the sunny climate of ancient Greece, noblewomen, especially those living in Athens, the cultural center of Greece, tried to keep their skin pale. Women smoothed a paste of white lead mixed with water over their faces, necks, shoulders, and arms to create a wrinkle-free, white appearance. Another cosmetic preparation involved soaking white lead in vinegar, collecting the corroded portion, grinding it into a powder, and then heating it.

Women then applied brightly colored lipstick and rouge, or reddish powder, made from a variety of materials such as seaweed, flowers, or crushed mulberries. Dark eye shadow, eyeliner, and eyebrow coloring was made from soot. Greeks used their makeup boldly, drawing red circles or other designs with rouge on their cheeks and accenting their eyebrows and eyes with dark outlines and sweeping lines.

Greek women were so heavily made-up that their carefully crafted faces were in danger of washing away with sweat. The poet Eubulus, in his circa 360 b.c.e. comedy The Wreath-Sellers, vividly described the threat of Greece's climate to women in Athens: "If you go out when it is hot, two streams of black make-up flow from your eyebrows, and red stripes run from your cheeks to your neck. The hair hanging down on to the forehead is matted with white lead." Eubulus's description suggests that when Greek women wore makeup they tried to protect themselves from the heat of the sun, perhaps by staying inside.


Gröning, Karl. Body Decoration: A World Survey of Body Art. New York: Vendome Press, 1998.

Symons, David J. Costume of Ancient Greece. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

[See also Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Makeup ; Volume 4, 191929: Makeup ; Volume 5, 194660: Makeup ]


views updated Jun 11 2018


During World War II (193945) so many chemicals and other resources were used for the war effort that cosmetics had become scarce and expensive. After the war the market was once again flooded with products, and women were encouraged to shop and buy in order to keep the economy healthy. In addition, many women who had filled jobs left open when men had gone to war had adopted a more practical and masculine way of dressing. Government leaders wanted these women to give their jobs back to men returning from the military, and so leaders stressed a return to feminine roles, such as wife and mother. Fashion designers too, emphasized a return to femininity, such as the New Look created by French designer Christian Dior (19051957), which featured lavish designs with full skirts and tight waists that showed womanly curves.

The look for women of the late 1940s and early 1950s was very showy and decorative, and it required makeup. Lipstick, liquid or cream makeup base, powder, rouge, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, and fingernail polish became a part of most women's daily routine, and many women said they felt naked until they had "put their face on." By 1950 11 percent of all advertising in the United States was for cosmetics, according to Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's Vanity Rules. New companies formed to make and sell beauty products. Esteé Lauder manufactured very expensive cosmetics, and women bought them, assuming that the high price tag promised especially good quality. Hazel Bishop made affordable cosmetics for working women who could not spend a lot on makeup and sold them at discount stores, where working-class women shopped. Johnson Products, founded by George Johnson in 1954, sold beauty products designed specifically for African American women's skin and hair. From this point on cosmetics were a major industry in the West.


Hoobler, Dorothy, and Thomas Hoobler. Vanity Rules: A History of American Fashion and Beauty. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2000.

Peiss, Kathy Lee. Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998.

[See also Volume 4, 190018: Lipstick ; Volume 4, 191929: Makeup ]


views updated May 23 2018

make·up / ˈmākˌəp/ (also make-up) • n. 1. cosmetics such as lipstick or powder applied to the face, used to enhance or alter the appearance.2. the composition or constitution of something: studying the makeup of ocean sediments. ∎  the combination of qualities that form a person's temperament: a nastiness that had long been in his makeup.3. Printing the arrangement of type, illustrations, etc., on a printed page: page makeup.4. a supplementary test or assignment given to a student who missed or failed the original one: [as adj.] Tony has a makeup exam.