While some people assume that cosmetic products are a recent invention, discoveries of the use of cosmetics go back thousands of years.
Remains of palettes estimated to be around 100.000 years old have been discovered that contain traces of mixed pigments. These were most likely used for cave art and body decoration, while the Neanderthals even used body adornment to make statements of personality.
Much later on, the ancient Egyptians used scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin, protect it from the sun and wind, and even to mask body odors. Heavy make-up around the eyes also became common in ancient Egypt as a beauty statement and to offer protection from evil spirits and improve eye-sight!
Discoveries show that people living in present-day Turkey used creams made of animal fat to soothe the skin as far back as 3000 BC, and the ancient Greeks applied white toxic lead to their face to obtain the pale look that was all-the-rage. The Greeks also painted their lips with a paste made of iron oxide or ochre mixed with olive oil and used kohl for eye shadow and to connect the eyebrows.
Still back in ancient times, Chinese people stained their fingernails with colors to represent a social class. Soon after, they began using rouge for lips and rice powder to make their faces white.
Also, the ancient Romans made their skin paler by using chalk powder, white lead, and a cream made of animal fat, starch, and tin oxide.
Moving into the first millennium AD, henna became popular as hair dye and painting complex designs on hands and feet around 300-400 AD in parts of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia.
Even the sea-faring Vikings were at it! Both men and women used make-up, such as kohl for the eyes, while much attention was paid to the grooming of hair and beards and weekly bathing, which was unusual at the time.
Soon after, the aristocracies of England and France became obsessed with their cosmetic regime. Pale skin, rouge, and wigs were a must. The application of beauty spots became widespread, with the exact location of the spot being seen to represent a particular aspect of an individual’s personality!
The rise of an actual cosmetics industry took off at the start of the 20th century. In the very early 1900s, make-up was not yet in wide use, except for face whitening for which arsenic was often used! Pale skin was associated with wealth as rich people did not have to spend time outdoors tending to fields. The entertainment industry played a major role in making cosmetics fashionable as of around 1910, first through famous ballet and theatre stars, and later Hollywood, where icons of our industry such as Helena Rubinstein and Max Factor began their careers as make-up artists.
Picture by me;)