In today’s world of sideline and competitive cheerleading, the iconic, colorful makeup worn by the athletes is as recognizable as a cheerleading uniform or a jumbo cheerleading bow. Makeup, which has roots in ancient Egypt and is a fashion staple in today’s society, is a somewhat controversial issue when it comes to sports. While the cheerleading industry is currently in a fight to make the activity a recognized sport, some naysayers cite the use of “heavy’ and stage-like makeup to discredit the athletes. They argue that wearing makeup during an athletic performance is a contradiction that categorizes cheerleading performances as more of a show than a display of strength and ability. There are others that take issue not with the use of makeup itself, but with the use of makeup by girls that are as young as 4 years old. It is often argued that “dolling up’ these young girls can result in them having a low self-esteem. What people often don’t consider are the reasons that cheerleaders use makeup. Yes, makeup is a standard in today’s society, but someone with a real understanding of cheerleading knows that cheerleaders use their makeup to emphasis their spirit and their passion and to support their team – key characteristics for cheerleading! When cheerleaders are performing for a stadium full of fans and spectators, they need to be seen! Much like actors on the stage, cheerleaders use makeup to highlight the features of their faces that will help carry their expressions and enhance their performances. A cheerleader does not look like she is wearing exaggerated makeup when she is under the lights and in front of the crowd. It’s also important to note that full makeup isn’t worn for practices or during training at the gym; it is only for performances. Fashionable presentation might not be a part of every sport, but it IS a part of cheerleading because cheerleaders represent THE face of a team’s spirit. Bold makeup has become a part of the sport’s culture, and you will even see the fans in the stands mimicking some of the more popular looks to show support for the team. Here is a brief history of the rise of cosmetics and the use of cosmetics, which is valuable in understanding its role in such a unique sport like cheerleading: Widespread use of cosmetics is apparent in the United States by the early 1900s, due to mass manufacturing and marketing, and an increase in the amount of disposable income available to women. As the popularity of the arts rose in the mid 1900s, makeup evolved as well. New products were developed to perform to the specific needs of filming movies and television shows, and performing on stage. As movies and television became more popular, the opportunities to expose the general public to cosmetics products also increased. By the late 1900s, every day use, and lavish, cosmetic products were not only popular but also readily available. There continued to be advances in the industry, with new products being released all of the time, including blushes, bases, nail polish, mascara and eye shadows, and application brushes. People were also increasingly aware of potential contaminates, and a movement to explore natural-based options for ingredients started. Today, the cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and has branched out into permanent cosmetics, cleansing products and skin care systems, lotions and age-defying solutions and so much more. Cheerleaders use everything from nail polish to face paint to glitter for their performances. Not only can they use makeup from leading cosmetics companies, but there are also companies that sell only cheerleading makeup and accessories, like Glitterbug Cosmetics which produces glitter dust, application glues and brushes, customizable and pre-glittered stickers and colored rhinestones. Athletic cosmetic options continue to advance and today’s cheerleader can purchase makeup colors that match the colors of their uniforms and sweat-proof products that protect the makeup from wearing or running during a performance.