The first surprise is that it wasn't restricted to women until relatively recently. It was in the middle of the nineteenth century that men began to forsake make-up, dealing a blow to the industry. Of course that should have made sense. The males of the species have always been the showiest, from the peacock's tail to the robin redbreast to those tight stockings and frilly blouses and wigs men used to wear.
As for the women—we've all seen the photos and busts of the ancient Egyptian queens with eyes adorned with kohl (kohl sounds so much nicer than the names of the ingredients that went into making it.). Some women still try to emulate the Cleopatra look.
There was a purpose beyond beauty in this enhancement—the make-up was supposed to keep spirits away. Of course the items they used had a harsher effect than the spirits they kept at bay. The iodine/bromine mixture used to brighten cheeks and lips was poisonous. Not so poisonous but with a high "yuk" factor were the ointments made using ant eggs, crushed beetles and fish scales (for the sparkle effect.)
Romans used crocodile dung and white lead to effect the pale skin look with mercury to bring a blush to the cheeks. Even after the danger was discovered in these products, they were still used.
Queen Victoria once made a statement that wearing make-up was impolite and only used by actors and prostitutes, a statement that dropped usage quite a degree. I'm assuming this was in her "hermit years" after the death of Prince Albert. It was around this time that men ceased to use the products.
Make-up then went into a bit of a decline until the showy flapper years. Then it was "anything goes." Hollywood came along and added a whole new chapter to the story.
Now some women go for the natural look. Some go for Goth. Some use calf placentas with the same optimism the ancients used crocodile dung. It's all just a variant of putting your best foot forward. At least now we can read the ingredient list on our cosmetics, even if we don't understand most of the words. But, if an ingredient ever appears that sounds like crushed beetles or crocodile dung, I'm going to learn to love my wrinkles.