Before the 1920s, the everyday woman did not wear much makeup – if any at all. In fact, before the era of flappers and speakeasies, makeup was only for performers and women of “loose morals”. One reason may have been that makeup was a lot harder to put on before this time. Liquids, powders, tints, and other concoctions typically came in small pots, and applying them correctly took hours. That all changed on April 17, 1923, when the compact makeup powder was patented.
Changing Faces in the 20s
In fact, the 1920s are really to blame – or to credit – for the way we do our makeup today. Tubes, brushes, and compacts were all introduced to the makeup industry during this era, making it possible for the lovely flapper girl on the go to do her makeup anywhere. With the invention of the compact case, women who had previously stayed away from blush were now helping to bring this makeup staple into the mainstream – no longer relegated for “loose women” or performers only! Blush was either red or orange, and was applied on the cheek bones, in circles on the cheeks, and especially applied over a suntan a la Coco Chanel. While there were many other political factors changing the way women considered themselves during this time, it can definitely be said that the changing attitudes towards beauty and makeup helped to add to the liberation of women during this era.
Other Products on the Rise
Emboldened by the success of the newly minted compact, makeup companies started investing in other forms of convenient packaging. The first Maybelline mascara featured a tiny brush in a tin that was swept along a stick of black kohl. Nail polish also took off during this time, pioneered by French makeup artist Michelle M’enard in partnership with Revlon.
Another way that the invention of the makeup compact changed the makeup industry was to provide a new focus on safer makeup products. Now that makeup was more widely used and accepted, a larger audience demanded higher quality control. The makeup that we see today, carefully formulated to benefit our skin rather than thrown together with “whatever works best”, is largely due to the fact that the makeup compact made makeup more accessible.
The convenience boom in the makeup industry has truly come into its own. Today, thanks to early pioneers creating compact cases and other convenient packaging, we now have things like “The 5 Minute Face” and makeup products designed to be used all over the face, like blush-lipstick-eye color combo sticks.
Imagine trying to do your 5-Minute Face routine (foundation, concealer, powder, highlighter, blush, liner, mascara, lip color, according to “What Not to Wear” makeup artist, Carmindy) without the aid of your compact case of powder or blush! Not to mention the convenience of lipstick that can be swiped on, rather than being carefully painted on from a pot. It is easy to see how, without this invention, makeup today would have been much different.
Celebrate Your Compact Case!
It is interesting that everything from the way we do our makeup today to the way we consider feminine beauty could be influenced by something so small as a clever bit of convenient packaging. But the invention of the compact case is worth celebrating for all of these things and more. Next time you wake up late but still manage to get out of the door with a beautifully fresh face, be sure to send a little thanks to your compact case!