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Foundation Used To Only Have Three Colors, Here’s How We Went From Nudes To Fenty

Ah, foundation. Literally the basic building block for most of our beauty routines. It’s been around literally since the early ages and continues to thrive and impact the ways in which beauty brands develop their own platforms. But foundation wasn’t always as inclusive and complex as it used to be While it’s not uncommon to find foundation in it is starkest  blanket shades, literally dubbed light, medium, and dark, beauty brands like Fenty, Estée Lauder and Maybelline New York have all pushed for foundation hues that complement the broad spectrum of skin tones. But how did we make such progress in beauty? And where did foundation originally come from? 

Here’s a brief and insightful look at how foundation became another household item that we cannot live without.

In the beginning, foundation was only for the rich and powerful.

Credit: Twitter/@8intheuniverse

Believe it or not, makeup goes back all the way to Biblical days where it was referred to as “face painting.” Just check out the Old Testament (Ezekiel 23:40). It was also used by rich Romans and Greeks during 200 B.C. However, the practice of using makeup for spectacle purpose could be seen more prominently in the 17th-century by monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth I and in the 18th-century men began to wear it too as made fashionable by Louis XV. Back then, this group of elites would wear foundation while artists painted their portraits as part of s social affairs, and actors would then go onto wear their looks onstage. While the foundation was only worn by the wealthy, the makeup itself was made out of toxic ingredients including zinc oxide, glycerin and calamine lotion.

Foundation, as we know it today, has its roots in Germany and Poland.

Credit: Instagram/@oldhollywoodmoviemagic

Originally, German actor Carl Baudin created greasepaint to use as a tool to use on stage so his wig line would be hidden onstage. The greasepaint was made out of zinc white, ochre, and vermillion in lard. Weird, right? But it worked and he began to sell it. Then in 1914, Polish makeup icon Max Factor created his own formula that was a mix of pigment and lard and invented. Factor created the makeup specifically for actors in Hollywood and it worked so well on film that the product became a hot commodity. The Hollywood industry only used Max Factor foundations on sets. The term people used for the foundation was called pan-cake because of the density of the product but also it wasn’t only in liquid form but packed powder. 

The evolution of foundation in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s

Credit: Instagram/@monkyboxx

For the most part, foundation just came in three shades, white, medium, and dark, which didn’t leave much room for those of us with a skin tone that didn’t fall into any of those three tones. While cosmetic companies began to manufacture their own foundation, for the average woman the main brands were Maybelline and Cover Girl. Both those brands sold compact powder cases that provided inexpensive coverage that provided coverage for faces. 

Loose powder foundation. Finally a breakthrough!

 Credit: Instagram/@bareminerals

As foundation continues to evolve, we now have foundation that comes in all forms including loose powder. While liquid provides extensive coverage that basically gets applied just like paint, for women who want a natural look can easily turn to loose powder for that flawless look. In the late ’90s Leslie Blodgett, a makeup executive at Bare Escentuals, changed the foundation game when her company created Bare Minerals, released a loose powder foundation that had SPF and other vital minerals for your face. Now every cosmetic company sells their own version of loose foundation powder. 

Foundation for everyone.

Credit: Instagram/@boise.beauty

Foundation has come a long way. It’s not the pan-cake makeup of yesteryear, nor is it made just for the rich and famous. It comes in a variety forms, including liquid, matte, powder, sticks, and so much more. The great thing about this evolving makeup is that it comes in all tones and for all skin types, and it’s no longer made with harmful ingredients. Today, cosmetic companies have found ways to create a product that not only provides coverage but that can also help your skin. There’s a huge portion of the beauty industry that sells products that are vegan, animal-cruelty free and made of organic ingredients. Imagine if Max Factor knew how foundation was made today, he’d probably think you were joking and argue that foundation could not be made without the use of animal lard. The reality is that today trying to choosing which foundation might have become a bit more complex since he started making foundation but as a result, mostly everyone is able to find a brand that works for their skin tone,  beauty standards, and wallet. 

READ: 25 Brands Made For Latinas And Women Of Color That Are Totally Crushing The Beauty Game

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