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Guthy Renker Corporation

Skin Products Throughout the Ages

How did we as humans get to the point where we spend billions every year on cosmetics and it became the social standard for women to wear make-up everyday Certainly a woman way back in old times did not just wake up one day and make the decision to apply eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, base, and rouge all at the same time. No, it was, like many things, a combination of events from the past.

The Egyptians were the first to use cosmetics. That was over four thousand years ago. Cleanliness and looks were terribly serious to the Egyptians. Egyptians had the belief that the appearance had a direct connection with the health of the soul. They attempted to always look and smell pleasant. And with a civilization who values their looks, you are invariably going to have members who are going to attempt to stand out. The Egyptians, being the cutting edge culture they were, had cosmetics for reasons that were even more practical than just trying to look good.

Mesdemet was the most original kind of eye shadow- a combination of copper and lead ore. The dark colors they thought would avert evil eyes from their own. It was also a great sterilizer and insect repellent. Kohl was a dark substance that was also put on around the eyes in an oval shape. It was a mixture of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. A combination of red clay and water was added to the cheeks to further enhance their appearance. They would also paint their fingernails shades of orange and yellow with a substance called henna.

Wealth was often measured by a person's light skin tone. A person did not have to work if they had enough money. So it was extremely important for some people to have a light complexion. To achieve this look, ladies (and men too) would apply a mixture of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powdered form to apply to their faces and skin. Unfortunately, this caused a sometimes deadly side effect, lead poisoning.To remedy this problem, chemists in the nineteenth century finally discovered a combination of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that irritating lead poisoning sickness. It worked so well that it is still practiced today by cosmetics manufacturers.

A light complexion was the fashion around the world after the Egyptian empire faded. Only women who were poor and had to labor out in the field all day with their husbands had rough, tanned skin. The upper echelon ladies of course did not have to do manual work like that so they were able to stay inside and had white complexions.

As time past and societies were exposed to each other more often, the Grecian people began to learn more of the various habits of the Egyptians use of cosmetics. Greek women would give themselves a pale hue with a base that contained lead in it. On more than one occasion this ended up being fatal. As the Romans started to adopt the cosmetics practice, the effort to achieve beauty became less about functionability and took a turn into much more exotic routes. They would paint their nails with a mixture of sheeps blood and heated body fat. An old Roman citizen once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

Exttravagant and spectacular parties were held by urban women with throw away money in the King Edward era of London. It was extremely important for a woman to be the most gogeous lady there, especially if they were the hostess of the party. Women at that time who lived these excessive lifestyles did not eat well, would not exercise, and breathed in the heavily polluted air that the cities of the time produced. Anti-aging and facial creams to hide the blemishes were heavily depended upon by women in this era. Routine ventures to the salon were also a regular part of the day. It was a bit different back then than it is today. Ladies would sneak into the back entrance of the salons and hide their faces as they entered. One of the most famous of these discreet beauty parlors was the House of Cyclax, that would sell foams and blushes to women. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and came out with many products for her desperate consumers who did not want everybody to know that they were getting on in the years.

Today's woman is the benefactor of years of trial and error with a practically unlimited choice of products for any look they want to achieve. There are thousands of companies who have products in this now billion dollar per year industry. Skin Care products sell all year and even in times of recession. Therefore ladies, thank your ancestors and their concern for their own appearance for your own that you have today. They probably didn't want to put on their face some mornings either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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