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Foundation is nothing new in the makeup industry and existed well before the industry was established. Similar to lipstick, but made of different ingredients. To create a solid base for the rest of your look. However, the concept of matching the foundation to your natural color is.
Foundation can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, and was made from white lead or chalk to create a fairer complexion. As in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, pale skin was seen as a symbol of privilege. Also white lead often lead to fatal poisoning. It was a staple of Queen Elizabeth I’s routine. She commonly used the foundation after coming down with smallpox in 1562 in order to cover up the scars. However, this lead to her becoming slowly poisoned over time. But instead of stopping the use of the white lead, she continued to use the foundation. Some of the side effects from white lead were hair loss, rotten teeth, and permanent skin discoloration.
During the reign of Charles II in seventeenth-century England, women began to use darker makeup to cover the pallor associated with staying inside to avoid the plague. However, pale skin came back into fashion once again in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Until people started to realize the white lead was leading to the death of anyone who used it. So in the nineteenth century, the ingredients were changed to zinc oxide, glycerin and calamine lotion. And was mainly used to cover up imperfections and discoloration, but only came in the colors white, pink, and red. At the same time greasepaint was invented by Max Factor and heavily used in theater and on the silver screen. As well as a powder formula called Pan-Cake to create a more natural finish.
Liquid Foundation made it’s first appearance duing the pre-World War II era. However, it wasn’t used the way we use it today. Instead it was used so women could get rid of stockings from their wardrobe. So they would use the foundation to “cover up” their legs. It was rub-resistant, sweat proof, and non-transferable. Then in the 1940s to 1950s it transitioned to the face. In 1952, Coty came out with Instant Beauty which was a tinted foundation formula that was free from grease and promised to never over dry. Instant Beauty came in six shades and in a bottle like we’re used to today. It wasn’t soon there after that Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, and more started creating their own versions.
And it’s continued to evolve over the years to what we know today with different formulas including powder, oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based foundations. Coming in a large variety of shades instead of just the light tones seen throughout history. Today brands are trying to have inclusive ranges so every skin tone and under tone can find something that works for them. Though some brands still fall short of meeting that mark with their new releases.
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