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The History of Beauty

A New Book Series Chronicles the History of Makeup, Hair Dye and All Things Beauty

With all the technological advances that pop up every day, it's easy to forget the beauty "industry" actually started way back when. That's why we love this mini-crash course. —Glo


As L'Oréal's epoch-spanning compendium 100,000 Years of Beauty proves, pulchritude has always been a priority — it's just our methods that have changed.


100,000 B.C.

Early Homo sapiens femme fatales paint their bodies head to toe with red ocher to advertise fertility.

8th Century A.D.

Mehndi, the art of decorating hands and feet with henna plant dye to provide marriage luck and protection from the evil eye, spreads across Africa, the Middle East, and, eventually, India. Celebs such as Gwen Stefani sparked a mehndi fad in the U.S. in the 1990s.


The first self-tanners, which stain the outer layer of skin with sugarcane derivative dihydroxyacetone (DHA), hit the market in 1960. Today, professional spray tans are a bikini model's best friend.

RELATED ON ELLE: Self-Tanner Checklist


2,500 B.C.

Egyptians apply a mixture of kohl and animal fat around their eyes with pointed tools: The concoction's medicinal properties also purportedly prevented eye diseases.


Other than the formulation, eyeliner use has changed little in nearly 5,000 years.


1st Century B.C.

Roman women stay youthful with a mask of Libyan barley, pulverized staghorn, narcissus bulbs, and honey.


Medieval maidens tighten their skin with a cream made of chickpeas, barley, almonds, horseradish seeds, and milk.


Creams such as Lancôme Génifique (which boosts gene activity to stimulate protein production) harness the latest technology.

To continue reading, visit ELLE


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  • Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, perhaps the very first kohl liner devotee.

    Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/Photofest
The History of Beauty
A New Book Series Chronicles the History of Makeup, Hair Dye and All Things Beauty
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