History of cosmetics

History of cosmetics

The history of cosmetics spans at least 6000 years of human history, and almost every society on earth.

The ancient world

The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics usage is found in Ancient Egypt around 4000 BC. Fact|date=February 2007 The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used cosmetics.Fact|date=February 2007 The Romans and Ancient Egyptians, not realizing their dangerous properties, used cosmetics containing mercury and white lead.Fact|date=February 2007 Fragrances, particularly frankincense and myrrh are mentioned in the Christian Bible: Exodus 30: 34, Gospel of Matthew 2:11. Ancient Egyptians had a wide extent of make-up utensils. One of them is kohl, which was used to outline the eyes. It is made up of lead, copper, burned almonds, soot, and other ingredients. It was believed that eye make-up could ward off evil spirits and improve the sight. Even the poor wore eye make-up in ancient Egypt.


The cosmetic uses of kohl and henna have their roots in north Africa. Fact|date=February 2007ccsc

The Middle East

Cosmetics were used in Persia and what is today the Middle East from ancient periods. Fact|date=February 2007 After Arab tribes converted to Islam and conquered those areas, in some areas cosmetics were only restricted if they were to disguise the real look in order to mislead or cause uncontrolled desire.Fact|date=February 2007 On the other hand, some fundamentalist branches of Islam forbid the use of cosmetics.

An early cosmetologist was the physician Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, or Abulcasis (936-1013 AD), who wrote the 30-volume medical encyclopedia "Al-Tasrif". A chapter of the 19th volume was dedicated to cosmetics. As the treatise was translated into Latin, the cosmetic chapter was used in the West. Al-Zahrawi considered cosmetics a branch of medicine, which he called "Medicine of Beauty" ("Adwiyat al-Zinah"). He deals with perfumes, scented aromatics and incense. There were perfumed stocks rolled and pressed in special moulds, perhaps the earliest antecedents of present day lipsticks and solid deodorants. He also used oily substances called "Adhan" for medication and beautification.cite web|title=Muslim Contribution to Cosmetics|url=http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=364|publisher=FSTC Limited|date=20 May, 2003|accessdate=2008-01-29]

outh Asia

Henna has been used in India since around the 4th or 5th centuries. Fact|date=February 2007 It is used either as a hair dye, or in the art of mehndi, in which complex designs are painted on to the hands and feet, especially before a Hindu wedding.Fact|date=February 2007 Henna is also used in some north African cultures. African henna designs tend to be bolder, and Indian designs more complex. Fact|date=February 2007

The use of kohl or kajal has a long history in Hindu culture.Fact|date=February 2007 The use of traditional preparations of kohl on children and adults has been considered to have health benefits,Fact|date=February 2007However in the United States it has been linked to lead poisoning and is prohibited. [ [http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-kohl.html FDA warning] against the use of kohl and related products]


Chinese people began to stain their fingernails with gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax and egg from around 3000 BCE. Fact|date=February 2007 The colors used represented social class: Chou dynasty royals wore gold and silver; later royals wore black or red. The lower classes were forbidden to wear bright colors on their nails. Fact|date=February 2007


In Japan, geishas wore lipstick made of crushed safflower petals to paint the eyebrows and edges of the eyes as well as the lips. Fact|date=February 2007 Sticks of "bintsuke" wax, a softer version of the sumo wrestlers' hair wax, were used by geisha as a makeup base. Fact|date=February 2007 Rice powder colors the face and back; rouge contours the eye socket and defines the nose.Fact|date=February 2007 Ohaguro (black paint) colours the teeth for the ceremony when "maiko" (apprentice geisha) graduate and become independent.Fact|date=February 2007 The geisha would also sometimes use bird droppings to compile a lighter color.


In the Middle Ages, Renaissance and up until the Industrial Revolution, the lower classes had to work outside, in agricultural jobs. The typically light-colored European skin was darkened by exposure to the sun. The higher class a person was, the more leisure time he or she had to spend indoors, which kept the skin pale. Thus, the highest classed of European society, able to spend all of their time protected from the sun, frequently had the lightest-looking skin. As a result, European men and women often attempted to lighten their skin directly, or used white powder on their skin to look more aristocratic. Fact|date=February 2007 A variety of products were used, including white lead paint which, as if the toxic lead wasn't bad enough, notoriously also contained arsenic.Fact|date=February 2007 Queen Elizabeth I of England was one well-known user of white lead, with which she created a look known as "the Mask of Youth".Fact|date=February 2007 Portraits of the queen by Nicholas Hilliard from later in her reign are illustrative of her influential style. Fact|date=February 2007

The Americas

Some Native American tribes painted their faces for ceremonial events or battle. Fact|date=February 2007

The 20th century

During the early years of the 20th century, make-up became fashionable in the United States of America and Europe owing to the influence of ballet and theatre stars such as Mathilde Kschessinska and Sarah Bernhardt. Fact|date=February 2007 But the most influential new development of all was that of the movie industry in Hollywood. Among those who saw the opportunity for mass-market cosmetics were Max Factor, Sr., Elizabeth Arden, and Helena Rubinstein.Fact|date=February 2007 Modern synthetic hair dye was invented in 1907 by Eugene Schueller, founder of L'Oréal. He also invented sunscreen in 1936.Fact|date=February 2007

Flapper style influenced the cosmetics of the 1920s, which embraced dark eyes, red lipstick, red nail polish, and the suntan, invented as a fashion statement by Coco Chanel. Fact|date=February 2007 Previously, suntans had only been sported by agricultural workers, while fashionable women kept their skins as pale as possible. In the wake of Chanel's adoption of the suntan, dozens of new fake tan products were produced to help both men and women achieve the "sun-kissed" look. Fact|date=February 2007 In Asia, skin whitening continued to represent the ideal of beauty, as it does to this day.Fact|date=February 2007 During the 1960s and 1970s, many women in the western world influenced by feminism decided to go without any cosmetics. The anti-cosmetics movement was an outgrowth of this; feminists in this movement object to cosmetics' role in the second-class status of women, making them mere sex-objects who must waste time with cosmetics. Cosmetics in the 1970s were divided into a "natural look" for day and a more sexualized image for evening.

Cosmetic deodorant was invented in 1888, by an unknown inventor from Philadelphia,Fact|date=February 2007 and was trademarked under the name Mumm. Roll-on deodorant was launched in 1952, and aerosol deodorant in 1965.Fact|date=February 2007


ee also

* Cosmetics

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