Historically, rouge was used as early as in ancient Egypt. It was also applied on the lips, the way lipstick would be used today. In some times and places, both men and women wore rouge, such as during the Regency period in England. In Britain's Victorian Age, when wearing makeup was associated with low morals, ladies resorted to pinching their cheeks (and biting their lips) to make them appear red instead.
Various substances have been used as rouge. In ancient Greece for example, crushed mulberries were favoured, while red beet juice, crushed strawberries and red amaranth have also variously been used.
In modern times, rouge generally consists of a red-coloured talcum-based powder that is applied with a brush to the cheek. The colouring is usually either the substance of safflor (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 colourless mixture of Alloxan with cold cream, which also colours the skin red.
- By the Zuni people, according to Matilda Coxe Stevenson, Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (1915), p. 83
- Modes In Makeup, a brief history of cosmetics
- The History of Makeup
- The Pervasion of Rouge (also known as A Defence of Cosmetics), by Max Beerbohm