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.

In Ancient Egypt as today, women have used a black powder known as kohl to outline their eyes, stave off eye infections, reduce glare and improve their eyesight. The kohl that they used then was a blend of burnt almonds, copper, malachite, antimony, ash and ochre.

In the 7th and 8th centuries BC, the Greeks used what they called 'fucus', a mineral substance derived from lapis luzuli and malachite to produce vibrant blues and greens. Fucus and other beautifying substances formed an important part of the Greek economy at the time.

With the expansion of the Roman Empire, the Romans eventually encountered the Iranian population. At that time, the Iranians used kohl in the same way as did the Egyptians, to fend off the evil eye. The irreverent Romans adapted the Egyptian oils that were used for sacred ceremonies and adapted them for sexual rituals. With time, the Romans discovered medicinal uses for the oils.

Bronze Age India left evidence that kohl was employed by people of all ages, including young infants, to repel not only the evil eye, but bacteria and glare as well. This practice spread to Morocco and all over Africa. The substance they used then was derived from antimony and lead. History does not record how many people went blind or died from the poisonous heavy metals, but today's kohl is completely safe.

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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