The cosmetics "industry" has been around since 3,000 BC, if not longer [source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain]. Ancient Egyptians adorned their faces with artificial color to impart the illusion of youth and health, and often as a substitute for bathing. In China, cosmetics indicated social stature. Royal classes painted their fingernails with gold, silver, red or black. The lower classes were permitted to wear only pale-colored nail varnish.
But looking good came with its share of troubles, too. From the 14th century to the 1920s, one of the primary goals of wearing makeup was to lighten or whiten facial skin, and cosmetics for the face, eyes and lips often contained toxic minerals, such as lead, lead oxide and mercuric sulfide. These poisons build up in the body over time. As late as the 19th century, makeup mishaps could include paralysis or death [sources: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, Boyd].
These days, however, cosmetics are usually hazardous only if you use them in a reckless manner --applying them while driving, for example. But non-fatal makeup mishaps -- the ones that just make you look silly -- are still common and usually stem from a desire for change. Here's how it works: You see a magazine model sporting a particular look and decide you want to replicate it. Since you don't have a professional makeup artist on speed-dial, you don your Dr. Jekyll lab coat and engage in some self-experimentation. Sometimes, you create a look you like. Sometimes, you create Mr. Hyde.
For more information about makeup myths and hints, read Weird Makeup: Fast Facts.
A makeup mishap might not alter your personality, but it keeps you from putting your best face forward. Whether you're a daily practitioner of the art of cosmetic beauty, or someone who wears makeup only on special occasions, you've probably experienced the embarrassment of misapplied, mismatched or misbehaving cosmetics. On the following pages, we'll identify 10 common makeup disasters, discuss what causes them and tell you how to correct or prevent them. First up: foundation issues.