Make up

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Made up stilt walker

Make-up or make-up designates the washable, color design of skin and hair, usually on the face. The natural skin and hair color can be temporarily tinted or colored, highlighted, weakened and / or colored. Related forms of colored skin design are permanent make-up and tattoos , in which the color design is permanent: the color is injected or scratched into the skin or under the epidermis .


Make-up and skin decorations in prehistoric times

White Lady of Ahahouret - African rock drawing with a clearly recognizable body pattern

Decorating one's own body is probably as old as humanity and was first celebrated for shamanic and ritual purposes as part of the fertility cults of that time . For example, clam shells were used by Neanderthals in Spain as a container for make-up made of yellow goethite , red hematite and black pyrite 50,000 years ago .

All over the world, human figures on cave paintings show clear skin decorations, which suggests that the people of that time also wore make-up and body make-up. Also on found figurines such as the Venus von Willendorf paint residues of ocher , chalk white and ash were found , which could be clearly assigned to the decoration of the figure. They are still part of the cultural expression of various peoples in Africa, such as the Maasai and Nuba , as well as among the peoples of Australia and Micronesia . It was not uncommon for painted skin decorations with decorative cuts or stitches ( scarification as it has just now come into fashion again as piercing and branding in Western countries) and the resulting jewelry scars (Nuba) or tattoos ( Māori in New Zealand called Tā moko ) or piercings (Maasai, plate-lip women ) combined.

It is noticeable that the type of skin ornamentation became more heavily colored and patterned the further the peoples advanced into the north of the world and decorative scars receded. For example, decorative scars were hardly known among the Vikings, while color tattoos were not or little known among African peoples and they preferred scar tattoos. The reason for this is probably the adaptation to the changes in skin color. Impressive tattoos were by the discovery of mummified corpses, especially bog bodies are shown. The Neolithic man (“ Ötzi ”) discovered in the Ötztal Alps also had tattoos in the form of parallel lines a few centimeters long on the wrists and ankles and a cross in the lumbar area. However, the researchers do not agree on whether these were attached as jewelry or for medical reasons such as acupuncture points .


( Pyxides ) (5th century BC)

From around 2500 BC There is evidence that in ancient Egypt the skin was rubbed with ointments and oils to protect it from intense sunlight. The Egyptian women also used blush for the cheeks and lip color. Plant stems were used to store the creamy colors. During excavations, green make-up paints made from malachite (copper spar), blue paints made from lapis lazuli , black paints made from coal-oil mixtures, red paints made from vermilion and galena powder ( galena ) were found. The emphasis on the eyes had a special meaning in Egypt, as the eyes were a symbol for the sun god Re . The black and green colors used for this purpose were often made by priests and used like kajal . In the Temple of Edfu appropriate prescriptions were found.

The Roman women only used decorative make-up extensively after the conquest of Greece. Olive oil or donkey or goat milk was used to remove it . The mascara used at that time was made from burnt cork .

Middle Ages and early modern times

Elisabeth I with a face that was typical of white lead at the time

In the Middle Ages, only pale complexions were considered beautiful. In order to achieve as flawless paleness as possible, the highly toxic white lead was used , which often causes abscesses on the skin of the face that are difficult to heal . In the Renaissance, the coloring of cheeks and lips by Elizabeth I in England and Catherine de Medici in France became popular again. The red lip color was created from koschenilla , a red dye that was obtained from the Koschenilleschildlaus. In the 17th century, the beauty patches, small patches of leather, silk or velvet cut to size, became very popular.

In the 18th century, besides lead oxide, bismuth oxide, mercury oxide, tin oxide and talc were used to whiten the skin. Red make-up for lips and cheeks was colored with safflower, koschenille, redwood, sandalwood and cinnabar. In addition, the hair was treated with greasy pomades so that hair powder would adhere to it. Hair powder mostly consisted of wheat or rice starch and was colored gray with charcoal, blonde with ocher or reddish with one of the aforementioned agents.


From the middle of the 19th century, cosmetics were manufactured taking the possible health effects into account. The use of white lead is decreasing and is being replaced by zinc oxide , titanium dioxide , boron nitride , rice flour , talc , whiting chalk . Red colors are made from safflower or carmine . Also is popular Schnouda , a colorless mixture of Alloxan (from uric prepares) with fat cream , which colors the skin red. With the invention of lipstick in 1915, the cosmetics industry received a new boost. Cosmetics spending is increasing sharply. Lipstick, eye shadow and mascara are particularly popular .

Pioneers in the field of cosmetics production are the Berlin baritone Ludwig Leichner , who developed the first lead-free stage make-up in 1873, as well as Max Factor , who also created the look of stars such as Gloria Swanson , Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford , who also invented the Attributed to the term “make-up”. Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein should also be mentioned .

The fatty make-up invented by Ludwig Leichner is described as a mixture of dyes with fats. Ludwig Leichner was last mentioned in 1982 in the American James Bond title by John Gardner; In it, the author describes a make-up and disguise specialist in New York who claimed a dubious relationship with the famous Wagner singer Ludwig Leichner in the 19th century, the inventor of the theater grease make-up.

Forms of makeup

Concealing make-up

The concealing make-up , also called camouflage , is mainly used to cover skin defects - this can be purely cosmetic as well as medical.


Woman applying makeup with mascara

Cosmetic make-up (commonly referred to as decorative cosmetics or make-up) is considered decorative body adornment and is generally intended to enhance a person's charisma. Typical cosmetic products are face make-up, eye shadow, lipstick and nail polish. Make-up serves to emphasize personal attractiveness and to conceal any blemishes that may occur , such as wrinkles or skin discoloration (e.g. couperose ). This make-up was mainly used by women , but increasingly also by men. Decorative make-up is mostly tied to the respective fashion trends and the type of appearance .


Medical make-up is mostly used to conceal disfiguring skin changes such as burn scars , chemical burns , fire marks , oversized moles , ugly tattoos or the like. The health insurance usually pays the costs . In the meantime, as part of the advancing laser and skin transplant therapies , a treatment with it has become more established in order to solve the problems permanently, instead of always having to cover up. Camouflage is only still used for stubborn, deep-seated scars , and in some cases even complex silicone prostheses can be used.


An actress applies makeup

In European theater , stage make-up was and is used as an enhancement of the artistic form of expression, be it the total negation of the personal facial features of the actor, as in pantomime , clowning and travesty . In European theater there was and is a stage representation that follows the social understanding of roles or archetypes , for example the naive or the old , who have to be made up accordingly. Theater make-up and carnival make-up must meet special requirements. Theater make-up darkens the face to compensate for glaring headlights and is usually waterproof. After the performance, it is usually removed with greasy cleaning agents. Make-up is also of particular importance in dance sport , with the transition to theatrical make-up being fluid here, as in wrestling , as the audience is also animated by body painting.

In contrast to European theater, in Japanese kabuki theater, costumes and make-up are selected according to set rules and an iconic understanding. In the classical Indian dances , which, like Bharatanatyam, serve for entertainment, the face is made up in order to emphasize the eye movements and facial expressions that are decisive for the aesthetic expression of emotions ( Sanskrit bhava ). Both are learned from a centuries-old catalog of shapes.

Make-up has another function in religious Indian ritual theaters such as Kutiyattam , Kathakali and Yakshagana . There, the make-up is like a mask, which covers the everyday person and in a complicated, time-consuming process helps the actor to identify with his role to a large extent. In the dance ritual Teyyam , which is performed in the north of the Indian state of Kerala , the approximately two-hour make-up process enables the performer to be possessed by the deity to be embodied during his performance, so that the believers worship him as a temporary manifestation of this deity.


In the early days of film during the silent era , cinematic make-up was still very much in the tradition of theater make-up and was used in a very stylized way. Later, film make-up was adapted to the respective fashion trends and even managed to initiate some through the medium of film ( Barbarella , Pulp Fiction ), famous models like Marilyn Monroe or Greta Garbo became film icons and vice versa. Films like Apocalypse Now even managed to combine different "make-up genres", so Francis Ford Coppola gives the mad Colonel Kurtz ( Marlon Brando ) with his in camouflage-green-black war make-up, not only something military, but also gives him something diabolical, because that Make-up based on the silent movie era.

Cultural make-up

The coloring and / or color marking of the skin has always been a sign of belonging to an ethnic, religious, social but also musical, cultural or, nowadays, subcultural group. People who belong to the New Romantic , Gothic or Visual Kei scene or even punk are characterized by extremely exalted make-up.

In Japan e.g. For example, geishas set themselves apart from "normal" women with make-up.

Battle make-up

In Europe, the Celts and Vikings wore conspicuous skin and body color, preferably in war battles, both to intimidate their opponents with painted grimaces and in the belief that they were invulnerable through the skin color previously blessed by the village shaman - a phenomenon known from several Hollywood films , which has been described in North America by the Sioux and Iroquois Indians, in Central and South America by the Aztecs and Mayas or by the Asian war peoples such as the Scythians and the Huns .

Camouflage make-up is mainly used for camouflage purposes and is colored accordingly depending on the place of use, so it is yellow-brown-sand-colored for use in desert areas, green-brown for use in forests and meadows and white-gray for use in ice and snow areas.

Especially in the USA, some athletes, for example in American football or ice hockey , paint black bars under their eyes or as continuous stripes across the bridge of their nose. On the one hand, this reduces the glare of the sunlight that shines on the sweaty cheekbones. On the other hand, it is also used as styling to “look more dangerous”; so occasionally black players paint stripes on themselves, which they set off with light paint. Wrestling fighters often paint their entire bodies with paint.


Web links

Commons : Makeup  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Make-up  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Make-up  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. João Zilhão : Symbolic use of marine shells and mineral pigments by Iberian Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS Vol. 107 No. 3 pp. 1023-1028, doi : 10.1073 / pnas.0914088107 , December 5, 2009, accessed on September 2, 2014 (English).
  2. Michael Stang : Make-up in the Ice Age. Deutschlandfunk, November 1, 2010, accessed on September 2, 2014 .
  3. Sudha Gopalakrishnan: The Face and the Mask. Expression and Impersonation in Kutiyattam, Krishnattam, and Noh. In: David Shulman, Deborah Thiagarajan (eds.): Masked Ritual and Performance in South India. Dance, Healing, and Possession. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2006, p. 137, ISBN 978-0891480884 .