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Guthy Renker Corporation

Beauty Products Through the Centuries

With all the billions of dollars spent per year globally on cosmetics, often we may catch ourselves asking, How did it get to this ? When did this become the standard for me to get up every morning and before I even leave am required to paint my face from top to bottom? Certainly a lady way back in the past did not all of a sudden wake up one morning and make the decision to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, base, and blush all at once. As you probably guessed, it was a combination of thousands of years and lots of learning experiences.

Who could forget the Egyptians? That was over four millenia ago. Cleanliness and looks were very vital to the people of Egypt. The Egyptians had the belief that the appearance was in direct connection with the well being of the soul. They strived to constantly look and smell agreeable. And with a civilization who values their looks, societies are inevitably going to have people who are going to try and stand out. The Egyptians, being the inventive civilization they were, implemented cosmetics for reasons that were even more intelligent than just trying to look great.

Mesdemet was the most original kind of eye shadow- a mixture of copper with lead ore. The dark hues they thought would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also an efficient disinfectant and insect repellent. Kohl was a dark mixture that was also applied around the eyes in an oval shape. It was a combination of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. A mixture of red clay and water was added to the cheekbone area to further enhance their appearance. They would also paint their nails colors of orange and yellow with a substance named henna.

A white, pale skin color was also a symbol of prosperity. A person did not have to labor if they had enough riches. So a pale skin tone was very important to some people. To achieve this appearance, ladies (and men as well) would use a mixture of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powdered form to paint their faces and bodies. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes deadly side effect, lead poisoning.To cure this, chemists in the early nineteen hundreds at last found a mixture of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that annoying lead poisoning death. It was so effective that it is still used today by cosmetics manufacturers.

A light complexion was the fashion around the world after the Egyptian empire disappeared. A dark, sun-dried face was associated with being a peasant who labored outdoors all day beside her husband. The upper society women of course did not have to endure physical labor like that therefore they remained out of the sun and had pale skin.

As different groups of people started to interact with each other more often, the art of make-up was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would color themselves a pale hue with a base that had lead in it. On more than one occasion this proved to be fatal. As the Romans started to adapt the make-up practice, the effort to achieve beauty became less about practicality and took a turn into much more exotic routes. The Romans would adorn their nails with a combination of sheeps blood and cooked body fat. An old Roman man once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

In the era of King Edward of London, about the time of the turn of the century of 1900, women with a recreational income would throw exotic parties and do a bunch of entertaining to display their wealth. As hostesses of the function, it was important for them to be the most attractive woman at the event, so it was extremely important for them to look as youthful as they possibly could. Women at that time who experienced these extravagant lifestyles did not eat nutritiously, would not work out, and breathed in the heavily polluted air that the cities of the past produced. Anti-aging and facial creams to hide the wrinkles were heavily depended upon by women in this time. They would also travel to the beauty salon. It was a bit different back then than it is today. Ladies would go into the back entrance of the salons and cover their faces as they went in. One of the most famous of these secret beauty parlors was the House of Cyclax, that would sell creams and rouges to women. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and created multiple products for her frenzied consumers who did not want anybody to know that they were getting on in the years.

The modern day woman is the benefactor of all these years of mistakes with a practically infinite choice of beauty products for any look they want to get. There are literally thousands of cosmetics producers who create products in this now billion dollar annually industry. Beauty products sell year round and even in times of recession. So ladies, thank your ancestors and their concern for their own looks for yours that you have nowadays. There were possibly days when they woke up and didn’t really want to go through the hassle of putting on their face either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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