Mascara is such an integral part of our beauty routines that we just accept it as a salient thing. But over its more than 6,000 year-long history, mascara has gone through some pretty big changes. For some fun (and surprising!) facts about something you probably use every day, just keep reading.
Only one percent of the human population has naturally red hair, but the myths, stereotypes, and beliefs surrounding the color are incredibly varied. Humans have been obsessed with redheads since the mutation that causes the color showed up between 20,000 and 100,000 years ago, and the fascination hasn't waned with time. Check out the amazing history of red hair and find out which cultures would worship your ginger hair, and which might burn you at the stake.
Blond hair has only been around for 11,000 years or so, but in that (evolutionarily) short time it's made quite a mark on human culture. Especially in the West, where the highest concentration of flaxen-haired individuals sprang up. (Fun fact: there are also sizable blond populations in Oceania and the Pacific Islands.)
But since blondes began, the hair color has been interpreted in lots of different ways — from virtuous and pure to downright skanky — and every culture has its own norms when it comes to light hair. It's a fascinating case study in the ways something as simple as hair color can have an enormous amount of cultural import. Check out this history of tow-headedness for fascinating facts and cool insights about what it means to be a Betty instead of a Veronica.
We're going to learn about an almost mythical lipstick — the Rouge Baiser. I say "mythical" because getting information on these cult status lipsticks is as easy as getting a picture of Nessie in the Loch at sunrise on a Tuesday — damn near impossible. Now, I'm not saying it's not talked about, I'm just saying that I couldn't find an official page for it at its parent company, Deborah Milano, nor any other really informative pages out there. But it exists. I know that it does, because I have three of them (Thank you, Christmas!). The "Rouge Baiser" was created in 1927 by a French chemist named Paul Baudecroux. It was the first "indelible" or "kiss-proof" lipstick. In fact, it "dyed" lips so much that it was pulled from the market because it was so hard to remove.
From the beginning Chanel No. 5 has always been exclusive. It was first released in 1921 as a Christmas gift to Mlle.'s best customers and was limited to only 100 flacons. When these customers started coming back, asking for more, it was officially launched as "Chanel Nº 5" in 1922. Word is that this scent was the No. 5 bottle out of 10 samples presented to her, and that when asked how she would name it, she replied, "I always launch my collection on the 5th day of the 5th month, so the number 5 seems to bring me luck – therefore, I will name it Nº 5."
I've always found it odd that some people think you can't be a smart, with-it, independent woman and enjoy wearing makeup. Hello? The two aren't mutually exclusive! It's not as though there's a secret society of with-it ladies that bans lip gloss. (In fact, noted feminist Gloria Steinem has some of the longest, most neatly manicured nails I've ever seen.)
That's exactly the topic that this article examines. While the author acknowledges the fact that women, not men, are expected to wear makeup, she also argues that using cosmetics was historically a form of empowerment—and even rebellion. She points to the late 1930s as an example, arguing that although most men disapproved of noticeable makeup, women decided to buy cosmetics anyway. And wait until you hear what they were buying:
Volupte introduced two new lipstick shades to American women, labeled "Lady" and "Hussy." "Lady" was marketed toward women who prefer lighter shades and "quiet, smart clothes and tiny strands of pearls," while "Hussy" was developed for women who wear dark shades and "like to be just a little bit shocking," according to Mademoiselle magazine in 1936. "Hussy" outsold "Lady" five to one.
I so wish I could buy a lipstick called Hussy. Anyway, while I don't agree with everything the writer says—I think looking good can be empowering, but wearing lipstick alone isn't going to smash sexism—it's an interesting read. And so I pose the question to you: Do you feel empowered by wearing makeup? Or is it just something you happen to do?
I've been on a real '40s kick lately, gallivanting about in seamed stockings and rich red lipstick. Before that, I flirted with looking like Jane Birkin, whose beautiful bangs and eyeliner make me feel like a foxy Frenchie in the '60s. To me, it's fun to take looks from decades past and reinterpret them into something modern. If you do this, too, where do you usually get your ideas?
I thought you might enjoy a trip back in time for this week's Bella Donna. So we're going waaaay back to look at Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. It's hard to think of another woman whose beauty has left such a lasting impression. Her intense, kohl-lined eyes continue to inspire modern-day designers such as Alexander McQueen, who used a strong Egyptian eye on models for his fall 2007 collection. The jury's out on whether Cleopatra was physically attractive, but an officially commissioned portrait of her (it's the coin in the gallery here) suggests that she wasn't necessarily the Angelina Jolie of her day.
Cleopatra had a short life, but it was a tumultuous one. Trust me, even if you yawn when you think about history, you'll love this stuff—it is filled with all sorts of sordid drama and is too juicy to pass up. As a child, Cleopatra's older sister tried to poison her (but wound up being killed herself). Miss Cleo's reign didn't begin so well: At 18, she was queen... and was also married to her 12-year-old brother, Ptolemy III. Bossy Cleopatra wanted to rule alone, so she started to leave her brother out of official documents and events. Surprise! This didn't go over so well, and Cleopatra was forced into exile. But then her brother made the kind of mistake that only 15-year-old boys can make. To get the whole story, read more