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Eye shadow

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Title: Eye shadow  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Primer (cosmetics), Cosmetics, Western cosmetics in the 1970s, History of cosmetics, DEX New York
Collection: Articles Containing Video Clips, Cosmetics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Eye shadow

An eye with heavy purple eye shadow

Eye shadow is a cosmetic that is applied on the eyelids and under the eyebrows. It is commonly used to make the wearer's eyes stand out or look more attractive.

Eye shadow can add depth and dimension to one's eyes, complement the eye color, or simply draw attention to the eyes. Eye shadow comes in many different colors and textures. It is usually made from a powder and mica, but can also be found in liquid, pencil, or mousse form.

Civilizations across the world use eye shadow - predominantly on females, but also occasionally on males. In Western society, it is seen as a feminine cosmetic, even when used by men. In Gothic fashion, black or similarly dark-colored eye shadow and other types of eye makeup are popular among both sexes.

Many people use eye shadow simply to improve their appearance, but it is also commonly used in theatre and other plays, to create a memorable look, with bright, bold colors. Depending on skin tone and experience, the effect of eye shadow usually brings out glamour and gains attention. The use of eye shadow attempts to replicate the natural eye shadow that some women exhibit due to a natural contrasting pigmentation on their eyelids. Natural eye shadow can range anywhere from a glossy shine to one's eyelids, to a pinkish tone, or even a silver look.


  • Use 1
  • The history of eye shadow 2
    • Egypt 2.1
    • Greece 2.2
    • Rome 2.3
  • Ingredients 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • References 5


A powder eye shadow palette with brown shades for normal day wear; the two center colors are sparkly while the silver and white shades are for creating shadows and highlights.
Video demonstrating application of eye shadow.

Eye shadow can be applied in a wide variety of ways depending upon the desired look and formulation. Typically application is done using fingers or brushes. The most important aspect of applying eye shadow, and makeup in general, is blending well. However, you must not forget to include a primer[1] to limit the chances of creases in your eye shadow later.

To remove eye shadow, a commercial eye makeup remover can be utilized, though a rich face wash will usually remove all traces of color. Generally it is easy to remove, and simple water and soap can be used. Eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara may also be removed using baby oil. There are also makeup wipes that can be used.

The history of eye shadow

Cosmetics have been used for as long as there have been people to use them. Face painting is mentioned in the Old Testament (Book of Ezekiel 23:40 ) and eye shadow was used in Egyptian burials dating back to 10,000 BC.[2] The word "cosmetae" was first used to describe Roman slaves whose duty was to bathe men and women in perfume.[3]


Nefertiti bust with eye shadow applied

As early as 10,000 BC, men and women used scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor. Dyes and paints were used to color the skin, body and hair. They rouged their lips and cheeks, stained their nails with henna, and lined their eyes and eyebrows heavily with kohl. Kohl was a dark-colored powder made of crushed antimony, burnt almonds, lead, oxidized copper, ochre, ash, malachite, and chrysocolla (a blue-green copper ore) or any combination thereof.[4] It was applied with a small stick. The upper and lower eyelids were painted in a line that extended to the sides of the face for an almond effect. In addition to reducing sun glare, it was believed that kohl eyeliner could restore good eyesight and reduce eye infection.[5] Kohl was kept in a small, flat-bottomed pot with a wide, tiny rim and a flat, disk-shaped lid.[6] According to images of the time, the use of makeup was not limited to women. Highly polished silver and copper mirrors aided the application of makeup.[7][8]


In Greece, precious oils, perfumes, cosmetic powders, eye shadows, skin glosses, paints, beauty unguents, and hair dyes were in universal use. Export and sale of these items formed an important part of trade around the Mediterranean. During the 7th and 8th centuries BC, Corinthian, Rhodian and East Greek traders dominated markets in perfume flasks and cosmetic containers. The containers included aryballoi, alabastra, pyxides and other small specialized shapes.


Men and women in the Near East painted their faces with kohl just like the Egyptians did. This was to protect them from the ‘evil eye.’ After the defeat of the Greeks by the Romans, the Romans adapted the Egyptian custom, albeit with different ends. To the Romans, applying eye shadow became a matter of fashion and esthetics. Other cosmetics took on a medicinal application in Rome. Plagues were so rampant throughout Rome, that aromatic gums and resins were burned to repel demons and bad spirits.[9]


Common ingredients in eye shadows consist of talc, mica, sericite, magnesium stearate, colorants, and preservatives. Fillers in eye shadows are primarily talc. The liquid binders are typically a silicone and the dry binders are typically magnesium stearate. In order to make an eye shadow, there has to be a balance between the fillers, dry binders and liquid binders. Once the ideal combination is found the shadow are pressed using 700-900psi.


  1. ^ "The Best Eye Shadow Primer". Not Another CoverGirl. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kathi Keville & Mindy Green. "A History of Fragrance". HealthWorld Online. 
  4. ^ "Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions: Cosmetics and Perfumes". 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Mac Eyeshadow Palette" (in Chinese). 
  8. ^ [Permalink: "Egyptian Cosmetic Items"] . 
  9. ^ "Unknown". 


  • "University of Pennsylvania #1, accessed on June 27, 2008. All text © 1995, 1996 by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • "Cosmetics and Perfumes", 'Egypt, 10,000 BCE' by Mindy Cohen, 1999, accessed on June 26, 2008
  • "ED 370" Dakota State University, accessed on June 27, 2008
  • Carnegie Museum, accessed on June 28, 2008
  • "Cosmetic Items", by Mark T. Rigby, accessed on June 27, 2008
  • "The History of the Schism Between Ancient Perfumery and Its Modern-Day Counterparts", by Raed Rady, accessed on June 27, 2008
  • "A History of Fragrance" ©1995 Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, accessed on June 27, 2008
  • "Period Cosmetics or How to be a Bona-fide Byzantine Belle", by Gwendolyn Merch Llewelyn, accessed on June 27, 2008
  • Ancient Cosmetics & Fragrance: Egypt, Greece and Rome, accessed June 2008, by Ty Narada
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