A Condensed Chronicle Of Mineral Eyeshadow

By Haywood Hunter

Women, and some men, have been using make-up and other cosmetics to define their facial features, especially the eyes, and to improve their appearance for thousands of years. Evidence of this comes from the Bible and from Egyptian burials as far back as 10,000 BC. Mineral eyeshadow is placed on the upper eyelid to provide both depth and color.

The Egyptians, and women today, used a black substance called kohl to enhance their eyes, improve vision, prevent infection and reduce glare. Kohl is made from burnt almonds and minerals such as antimony, copper and malachite, ochre and ash.

Between 800 and 700 years BC, the Greeks had a substance called 'fucus', which they made from lapis luzuli and malachite, crushed and powdered to produce vivid blue and green eye shadows. This and other cosmetics at the time formed a significant part of the Greek economy.

With the expansion of their empire, the Romans were introduced to the Iranians who, like the Egyptians, used kohl to fend off the attentions of the evil eye. They adapted the sacred oils for use in sexual practices. Eventually, they discovered medicinal and spiritual uses for the materials.

In Bronze Age India, kohl was used by everyone, including infants, to repel glare, bacterial infection as well as the evil eye. Then, kohl was made of lead and antimony. The use of this substance spread to Morocco and other African countries. Safer starting materials are used in modern kohl.

Today, mineral eyeshadow comes in a dazzling array of colors to complement hair color, wardrobe and mood. Nothing is impossible in the world of cosmetics, and every shade imaginable has been powdered, pressed and marketed. Powder may be used dry but it can also be moistened for more impact.

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