Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by laila. laila Wonders, “What is makeup made of?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, laila!

Have you ever spread ash across your eyelids? How about beeswax on your fingernails? Have you ever helped someone put white lead on their face? How about berry juice on their cheeks?

No? Okay, those aren’t common practices today. But many centuries ago, people used these and many more ingredients as makeup

The earliest known users of makeup were the ancient Egyptians. They used many plants and minerals as makeup. Some of the most common ingredients were almonds, copper, lead, and ash. They also used oils to protect their skin from the Sun. 

Later, people in China and Japan used rice powder as makeup. They also used henna dyes in their hair, as many people still do today. Chinese people also painted their fingernails. Their differently colored nails marked their social class. 

In ancient Greece, women used white lead paint on their faces. They were also the first to use crushed berries to color their cheeks. Some people in Greece also wore fake eyebrows made of oxen hair.

Makeup has changed over the centuries. Today, people who use makeup may not know everything that’s in it. However, makeup companies do have to follow rules about the ingredients they use. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to approve all makeup ingredients. 

So, what IS modern makeup made from? Most products have between 15 and 50 ingredients. Almost all of them have water, oil, and wax. The water dissolves other ingredients. This helps them mix together. Oil and wax help makeup go on smoothly. They’re both also often used to help skin stay soft.

Many other chemicals go into makeup. Normally, an emulsifier is included. That’s a chemical that makes oil and water mix. Most makeup also has preservatives. Just like in food, these keep the makeup usable longer. There are many chemicals that can do either of these jobs. Since people react to chemicals differently, many have to be careful about which products they buy. 

Of course, most types of makeup also have a coloring agent. Have you ever seen pink, red, or purple lipstick? How about blue or green eyeshadow? Any makeup with a color contains a coloring agent. These come from minerals, plants, and even animals.

Today, many people are paying closer attention to what goes in makeup. Some buy “all-natural” makeup. That means it isn’t made from artificial ingredients. Others are turning to vegan makeup. To be vegan, it can’t use anything that comes from animals.

Okay, so makeup can be made of many different things. How do you know what’s in each bottle? Your best bet is to read the label. If you see anything in the ingredients list that you’re not sure about, learn more about it. 

Have you ever used makeup? Are there any ingredients that you look for? What about the ones you avoid? Makeup ingredients affect everyone differently. You should always be careful about what you put on your skin!

Standards: NGSS.PS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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