People today use eyeliner for various reasons, including drawing attention to their eyes, achieving a specific style, or just having fun with makeup. The varieties of this beauty staple are plentiful, and fans have a lot to select from. The eyeliner industry is worth $3 billion today, with innumerable firms selling eye pencils, gel liners, and liquid liners in a dizzying array of hues, textures, and formulations (via Dataintelo). There is something for everyone, whether you prefer a subtle cat eye or a bold, dramatic wing.
Even while eyeliner is a must-have in most women’s cosmetics kits, it was first used centuries ago. According to archeological evidence, eyeliner was originally used around 10,000 BC in Mesopotamia (via Good Housekeeping). That’s what the history books will say about it: a classic.
When it comes to altering our appearance, nothing is more transformative than our eyes. A simple alteration in hue or outline can do wonders for our self-esteem and overall look. For this reason, chemists and cosmeticians from antiquity to the present have experimented with many approaches to find the most straightforward one. Early samples of eyeliners, like many other cosmetic goods, can be found in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. From there, this fashion style spread to all four corners of the earth, eventually becoming an essential element of the modern girl’s cosmetic collection.
Early in 10,000 B.C. or more than 12 thousand years ago, eyeliner appeared in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. There, high-status men and women alike would wear eyeliner to protect their eyes from the harsh desert environment and to draw attention to their eyes. Although eyeliners were only one of several cosmetic products used by the Egyptians, they were popular among the upper and poorer classes and remained so until the Roman conquest of Egypt in the first century AD. Like all other forms of makeup, eyeliner was not just a fashion statement but a spiritual offering to the gods. Even as Egyptian architecture evolved throughout the millennia, the taste for heavy eyeliner persisted, attesting to the people’s unwavering devotion to their faith.
Unfortunately, after Egypt’s downfall, the trend of using eyeliners in Europe died off, and their use was minimal at best during the time of the Greek and Roman empires. Even when Europe emerged from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance and Modern Periods, Asian dress trends did not permeate Western culture.
In the 1920s, when women were rejecting the Victorian era’s dress in favor of the new styles inspired by ballet dancers, Broadway actors, Hollywood actresses, singers, and photographers, eyeliners first appeared. There was no turning back once worldwide cosmetics firms realized the potential for mass employment that this sector offered. Advertising budgets skyrocketed, new products appeared on store shelves every month, and women everywhere were eager to try anything that promised to make them look like their favorite Hollywood stars. In 1922, after the groundbreaking archeological discovery by Englishmen Howard Carter and George Herbert, eyeliners suddenly became a fashion staple. The tomb of the ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun was discovered beneath the Giza pyramids, complete with all his treasures and works of art. The event was broadcast worldwide, and the world took to Ancient Egyptian eyeliner like a fish to water.
After a more subdued period of use between the 1920s and 1960s, eyeliner saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s, when several new fashion subcultures adopted it. In punk and gothic styles, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara were frequently utilized to create a dramatic eye look. Emo subculture spread in the late 20th century, making eyeliner a fashion accessory for both sexes.
Since the introduction of eyeliner to contemporary beauty routines, its popularity has skyrocketed among women everywhere.
Eyeliner has come a long way during the past century.
In the 1920s, the most fashionable eyeliner looks were dramatic and dark, and they frequently involved applying thick kohl all down the upper and lower lash lines (as far as possible from the prim and proper modesty of the previous generation). However, by the 1930s, softer styles were becoming increasingly fashionable, and eyeliner, if it was used at all, was only applied to the top lid and then only in a thin, soft line to enhance the lashes. This was common practice (via Byrdie). In the 1940s, the most popular type of makeup had nothing to do with the eyes; red lipstick was all the rage due to the widespread belief that Hitler disapproved of that particular beauty product. As a result, women in nations that were allies wore bright red lipstick to demonstrate their support for democracy and their commitment to peace and freedom. This was especially true of women in the United States (via CNN).