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Brush Up On These 10 Facts About Blush

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As with most things makeup, ancient Egyptians set the trend. To offset their kohl-lined eyes, both men and women would dab on a reddish-brown pigment called ground ochre. (They also patted the powder onto their lips, perhaps creating the first two-in-one cosmetic.) Ancient Greeks followed suit, using the juice of crushed mulberries. And that was just the start of face rouge’s colorful history. Read on to discover more.  

1. GETTING THE PERFECT ROSY GLOW COULD BE DEADLY.


Wealthy Romans used lead compounds to lighten their skin, and then added a pigment called vermilion, made from a powder form of the mineral cinnabar. The look was costly: both materials were incredibly toxic.  

2. THINGS DIDN'T GET MUCH SAFER DURING THE MIDDLE AGES.

To score the coveted pale complexion—seen as sign of wealth—European women would undergo a process called bloodletting to drain out their blood. To highlight their hard-earned pallor, the ladies would dab on a cheek tint made from a mix of strawberries and water.

3. QUEEN ELIZABETH I WAS BIG ON BLUSH …

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Unfortunately her coverage of choice had some downsides (to say the least). To achieve that coveted lightened complexion (yup, still in), women would apply something called ceruse, made from mixing lead paint and vinegar. Then they added a dab of rouge, derived from mercury sulfide. The combination of toxic products would eat away at skin, forcing the wearer to apply even more coats in order to cover up the damage she'd done.

4. … BUT QUEEN VICTORIA BLASTED IT AS UNSEEMLY.

In the 19th century, Britain’s monarch declared makeup as vulgar—only to be used by actors and prostitutes. Behind closed doors, however, young women would pinch their cheeks and dab on beet juice for a more subtle flushed appearance.  

5. FOR ONE WOMAN, ROUGE WAS THE PERFECT RUSE.


In 17th century Italy, Palermo-born Giulia Tofana peddled a so-called complexion aid she dubbed Aqua Tofana. The mix of arsenic, lead, and belladonna (a deadly plant) was marketed to women trapped in unhappy marriages as a way of dispensing with their spouses. Disguised as either a powdered makeup, or hidden in a tiny vial, the flavorless poison could be mixed into any food or drink and left no trace in the bloodstream. Tofana later claimed to have helped poison roughly 600 men between the years of 1633 to 1651, though some of her clients said the deaths were accidental, insisting they really thought they were purchasing makeup. 

6. NON-DEADLY INGREDIENTS (FINALLY) CAUGHT ON IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

The 1825 British guide The Art of Beauty criticized both harsh red shades—“With very few exceptions, ladies have absolutely renounced that glaring, fiery red, with which our antiquated dames formerly masked their face,” the tome stated—and the “dangerous reds” made from lead and cinnabar. Instead, the book advised readers to make use of what they called vegetable reds: “Red sandal wood, root of orchanet, cochineal, Brazil wood, and especially the baster saffron, which yields a very beautiful colour, when it is mixed with a sufficient quantity of talc.”

7. THE FRENCH HELPED PERFECT IT.


Alexandre Napoleon Bourjois whipped up the world’s first powder blush—an alternative to the greasy stage makeup used in the theater—in 1863. By 1879, his little round pot of blush became available to the public. It’s still one of the French brand’s bestselling items today.

8. COCO CHANEL MADE BRONZE FASHIONABLE.

After bronzing herself during a Mediterranean yacht trip, the fashion icon declared in 1929, “A girl simply has to be tanned.”

9. TODAY'S BLUSH FORMULAS STILL HAVE SOME INTERESTING INGREDIENTS.

Cochineal beetle extract, often referred to as carmine, is a bright red dye made from ground-up beetles. It can be found in both blush and lipstick.

10. IN SOME COUNTRIES, BLUSH ISN'T JUST FOR CHEEKS.

Beauty addicts in Japan apply rosy blush just under their eyes. The trend—which got its start in the Harajuku community—is said to make features looks rounder, softer, and younger. 

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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Big Questions
Why Do Shorts Cost as Much as Pants?
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Shorts may feel nice and breezy on your legs on a warm summer’s day, but they’re not so gentle on your wallet. In general, a pair of shorts isn’t any cheaper than a pair of pants, despite one obviously using less fabric than the other. So what gives?

It turns out clothing retailers aren’t trying to rip you off; they’re just pricing shorts according to what it costs to produce them. Extra material does go into a full pair of pants but not as much as you may think. As Esquire explains, shorts that don’t fall past your knees may contain just a fifth less fabric than ankle-length trousers. This is because most of the cloth in these items is sewn into the top half.

Those same details that end up accounting for most of the material—flies, pockets, belt loops, waist bands—also require the most human labor to make. This is where the true cost of a garment is determined. The physical cotton in blue jeans accounts for just a small fraction of its price tag. Most of that money goes to pay the people stitching it together, and they put in roughly the same amount of time whether they’re working on a pair of boot cut jeans or some Daisy Dukes.

This price trend crops up across the fashion spectrum, but it’s most apparent in pants and shorts. For example, short-sleeved shirts cost roughly the same as long-sleeved shirts, but complicated stitching in shirt cuffs that you don’t see in pant legs can throw this dynamic off. There are also numerous invisible factors that make some shorts more expensive than nearly identical pairs, like where they were made, marketing costs, and the brand on the label. If that doesn’t make spending $40 on something that covers just a sliver of leg any easier to swallow, maybe check to see what you have in your closet before going on your next shopping spree.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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