Throughout history, women (and men) have applied make-up to enhance, alter, conceal and even to disguise their appearance. Also, to a greater or lesser degree over time, cosmetics have been used as a visible marker of social status, gender, wealth and well-being. A closer look at the world of make-up gives us not only a mirror reflecting day-to-day life in the past, but also an indicator of the culture and politics of earlier periods in history.
Susan Stewart guides the reader through the bewildering, fascinating and complex story of cosmetics, from the ancient world to the present day. Anyone who has ever wondered how the Romans used algae to colour their faces and urine to whiten their teeth, how Radium came to be a popular 1930s beauty trend, or how make-up survived the war will enjoy this colourful journey through the human obsession with improving how we look.