I don’t know about you, but I always get a huge kick out of a good fun fact. Maybe it’s just because I’m a geek and love geeky stuff, but I just love to know when yoghurt was invented and why the Romans print SPQR on all their gully covers. And because we’re all beauty geeks around here, I want to share asome totally important beauty knowledge with you every once in a while, so you can blurt out at parties with what the old Egyptians dyed their hair. Fun, right? Let’s dive right in.

Mice, the Queen and rouged knees

historical makeup
Ester Boardman, 1780 with mouse fur eyebrows.

In the 18th century, thick and glossy dark eyebrows were all the rage. Society ladies who weren’t blessed with them (and ABH brow pomade was way in the future), turned to glueing pieces of mouse hide that was cut into the desired shape on the skin. Yup, really. There were also a lot of satirical poems about ladies who lost those pieces during society functions…

Kate Middleton and the Queen share their love of essie nail polishes. The Queen has worn the shade Ballet Slippers for ages, and Kate Middleton wore Allure on her wedding day.

Royal makeup
Kate Middleton’s wedding makeup, which she did herself.

Speaking of Kate Middleton: It takes some serious guts (or maybe she’s really, really picky?) to do your own makeup for your wedding when closeups of you will be seen literally all over the world. Kudos, Kate!

While you might think that it’s quite a new thing to slather your legs in BB Cream or self-tanner, leg makeup was once really popular! During WWII it was impossible to buy silk stockings with their famous black seam down the back of the leg. Resourceful ladies came up with simply drawing a black line down their legs with a khol liner.

beauty fun facts
Young women dancing, ca. 1920 when rouged knees were all the rage.

But that wasn’t all! Did you ever hear the line “I’m going to rouge my knees and roll my stockings down” from the musical Chicago and wondered what that was about? In the 1920s, when hemlines were shorter than ever before (just below the knee), the motion of dancing made the skirts reveal a knee from time to time. Adventurous girls put blush on their knees to make them more obvious. It was really a tongue in cheek gesture “oooooh, what do we have here? A knee? Oh, how daring!“ Blush by then came in both powder and cream formulas.

Cats, teeth, Black Orchid and the power of perfume

egyptian fresco hair
Old egyptian fresco of musicians and dancers wearing elaborate hairstyles.

The Egyptians of old (we’re speaking about approximately 3000 BC) used a mixture of oil and cat blood to cover grey hairs. (Hashtag no words.)

About 3000 years after, Greek physician Galen invented cold cream. The Greeks at first used it for medical reasons to remove dirt and dead cells from the skin. (Cold cream, btw, is an emulsion of oil and water. It feels cold on the skin, therefore – cold cream.)

Marlene Dietrich beauty fun facts
Marlene Dietrich in the 1030s when she also scandalized society by wearing men’s clothes

Twenties movie superstar Marlene Dietrich was famous for her high cheekbones. That hollowed-cheek look wasn’t really natural – the diva had some of her back teeth pulled to achieve it.

At one point in the 1990s, pharmaceuticals company Sanofi owned the brand Yves Saint Laurent (beauty and fashion both).

Black Orchid was the first beauty item Tom Ford ever created. In 2005 he partnered with Estée Lauder to launch the heady perfume. In 2010, he created a line of lipsticks (in the white square packaging), and then, in 2011, he launched his beauty line, still with EL.

Bourjois Java Powder ad
Old Bourjois ad. The founders became also the owners of Chanel’s perfume business.

The founder of Bourjois cosmetics, Pierre Wertheimer, went on to ultimately own Chanel. Let that sink in slowly. What a life! The early beauty division of Chanel, “Parfums Chanel”, belonged to the Wertheimer family, the famous department store Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Mademoiselle Chanel herself. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing (and WWII) the Wertheimer family not only bought all the shares, they also bought the Chanel fashion house. Pierre Wertheimer’s both sons still own the company today, making it one of the rare designer houses that’s privately owned.

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Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly's PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

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