Viewport width =
Fashion & Beauty February 17, 2018

From Antiquity to Permanency, Let’s Makeup

“Beneath the makeup and behind the smile
I am just a girl who wishes for the world.”

— Marilyn Monroe —


“Makeup is a mask you hide behind,” writes Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in the Guardian, “that gets you ready to face the world, or something that you deploy to use as a weapon — to attract a partner, to intimidate, shock and amaze.” That theory is backed by a 2012 study reported in the Scientific American which concluded lipstick to be “deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology”. But Kerry Forlan of Glamour magazine disagrees. Getting ready for a dinner party, the writer’s partner once informed her that she looked better without. “It’s sweet that he doesn’t think I need lipstick to be beautiful,” she mused. “But, in the end, it isn’t about him, or any guy.” All of her memories of beauty and makeup, she writes, are about “intimate female relationships”.


The Ancient Egyptians, famed for those sultry, smoky eyes, were the first to master the art of beauty, using sophisticated chemistry techniques to create makeups made from the likes of ground nuts, minerals, animal fats and oils. Cleopatra’s lipstick was crafted from ground carmine beetles — others used a clay mixture to attain vibrant colouring. Men were as partial to the process as women. That iconic black eye paint, known as kohl, was mixed from lead, copper, ash, and burnt almonds, used not only for aesthetics, but ward off evils spirits and the sun’s harsh glare. Scientists now believe it make have also acted as an antibacterial agent.



Around 3,000BC, the Chinese are thought to have been the first to paint their fingernails — used to signify social class. In Japan, early geishas’ lipstick was crafted from crushed safflower petals, and rice powder used to whiten their faces.


The Greeks and Romans used similar techniques to the Egyptians, but around the Middle Ages, Europeans seriously frowned upon the application of makeup. Seen as deceptive, even sinful, and to be worn only by prostitutes, others that did use it went for the less-is-more, natural look — think of the ghostly white face of Queen Elizabeth I. Thanks in part to the flamboyance of the Renaissance, striking makeup became fashionable once more across Europe, but come the 19th century, it was declared vulgar by Queen Victoria, and seriously frowned upon in the social circles of the upper classes. For a while, the suffragettes reclaimed the use of lipstick as a bold statement of independence — a symbolic act of rebellion during a time when makeup had once more come to be associated only with prostitutes. But it was the rise of Hollywood in the 1920s and ‘30s that ensured makeup’s socially accepted status for all as shop shelves soon filled with affordable, mass marketed products that enabled everyday ladies to recreate the movie star look.

Juliette’s Permanent Makeup Tips

The US and UK strictly regulate their permanent makeup industries and all technicians must hold a license and be either a qualified nurse or beauty therapist with a background in the anatomy and physiology of the skin, but no such rules apply in New Zealand.

“Anyone wanting to have it done should do their research,” says Juliette. “Ask to see a portfolio of pictures, ensure there’s a proper consultation and that medical forms are filled out. You should think of it as a cosmetic medical treatment than just a beauty one, and consider that there are a number of things that can go wrong. Remember, a cheap job can end up being expensive further down the road.”


More recently, the digital era has breathed new life into the industry, with the likes social media channels awash with makeup tutorials, and, interestingly, with gender fluidity becoming ever more embraced, a greater amount of men using it — just like the Egyptians who started it all.


Evolving further, the latest craze is the for permanent makeup, also known as semi-permanent makeup, micro-pigmentation, or cosmetic tattooing. “But it’s completely different to traditional tattooing,” says Juliette Miller, who owns permanent makeup company, Perfection Enhanced. “The equipment is completely different, using either a digital machine or micro-blading — a scalpel-like device. It’s a far more delicate process than tattooing, and doesn’t go anywhere near as deep.”


Is it painful?

“Not if you use the right anaesthetics!” Juliette (pictured), who has been in the beauty industry for 23 years, uses topical creams that contain the same ingredients as dentist injections to numb the areas, often so successfully that her clients fall asleep during the procedure. Juliette trained to be a micro-pigmentation technician at leading London institution Natural Enhancement, where she was also the business development manager.


She reveals that the procedure, which generally begins to fade after 1-3 years, is also a great option for those who suffer from alopecia, or who have gone through chemotherapy. “It’s not just about traditional makeup,” she adds.  “There is the medical side to, and many of my clients are older and may have lost their eyesight or have developed the shakes or arthritis and can no longer apply makeup properly. It’s a way of bringing back their confidence, making them feel like a woman, and, most importantly, good about themselves.”


More information can be found at


Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.