Rouge (cosmetics)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A rouge compact with a mirror and brush
Ancient Egyptian rouge compact
Traditional rouge makeup

Rouge (/ˈrʒ/; meaning "red" in French), also called blush or blusher, is a cosmetic for coloring the cheeks in varying shades, or the lips red. It is applied as a powder or cream.


The Ancient Egyptians were known for their creation of cosmetics, particularly their use of rouge.[1] Ancient Egyptian pictographs show men and women wearing lip and cheek rouge. They blended fat with red ochre to create a stain that was red in color. [2]

Greek men and women eventually mimicked the look, using crushed mulberries, red beet juice, crushed strawberries, or red amaranth to create a paste. Those who wore makeup were viewed as wealthy and it symbolized status because cosmetics were costly. [3]

In China, Rouge was used as early as the Shang Dynasty. It was made from the extracted juice of leaves from red and blue flowers. Some people added bovine pulp and pig pancreas to make the product denser. Women would wear the heavy rouge on their cheeks and lips. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes good luck and happiness to those who wear the color. [1]

In Ancient Rome, men and women would create rouge using lead(II,IV) (red lead) and cinnabar. The mixture was found to have caused cancer, dementia, and eventually death. [4]

In the 16th century in Europe, women and men would use white powder to lighten their faces.[5] Commonly women would add heavy rouge to their cheeks in addition.


Modern rouge generally consists of a red-colored talcum-based powder that is applied with a brush to the cheeks to accentuate the bone structure. The coloring is usually either the petals of safflower, or a solution of carmine in ammonium hydroxide and rosewater perfumed with rose oil. A cream-based variant of rouge is schnouda, a colorless mixture of Alloxan with cold cream, which also colors the skin red.

Today, rouge is a term used to primarily identify blush of any color, including: brown, pink, red, and orange. It is not commonly used to identify lipstick, however, some may use the term to refer to the red color of the product.

When the fashion trend of matching lipsticks with nail polish took hold and the color range of lipstick increased, people no longer used the term to identify lip color. The shade range for blush generally remained limited, keeping the name rouge. [6]

Blush currently comes in the form of a cream, liquid, powder, or gel. [7]


  1. ^ "History of Rouge". Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  2. ^ Eldridge, Lisa (2018). "The Story of Make-up". BBC.
  3. ^ "The gruesome and lengthy history of why we use blush". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  4. ^ "Deadly Blush". Livingly. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  5. ^ "A History Of Blush". Into The Gloss. 2016-02-24. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  6. ^ "Cosmetics and Skin: Rouge". Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  7. ^ "Makeup of Makeup: Decoding Blush". WebMD. Retrieved 2018-09-16.

External links[edit]