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Guthy Renker Corporation

Skin Products Through the Ages

How did we as people arrive at the point where we spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetics and it became the social standard for women to wear cosmetics everyday Certainly a female way back in history did not just 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 errors.

Do you remember the Egyptians? That was over four thousand years ago. Cleanliness and appearance were very vital to the people of Egypt. Egyptians had faith that the appearance was in direct connection with the health of the spirit. They tried to constantly appear neat and smell pleasant. And with a civilization who values their appearance, you are assuredly going to have people who are going to attempt to stand out. The Egyptians, being the inventive civilization they were, implemented cosmetics for reasons that were even more practical than just trying to look great.

Mesdemet was the earliest kind of eye shadow- a substance made of copper with lead ore. The dark shades they believed would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also an effective sterilizer and insect deterrent. Kohl was a dark combination that was applied around the eyes in an oval shape. Kohl was a combination of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. To further complement their appearance, they would apply a mixture of water and red clay to the cheek area. They would also paint their fingernails colors of orange and yellow with a chemical known as henna.

A pale skin tone was the style around the world after the Egyptian empire faded. Only women who were low-class and had to work out in the field all day with their husbands had dark, tanned skin. The upper society women obviously did not have to do manual work like that so they remained out of the sun and had pale complexions.

As different groups of people started to interact with each other more often, the practice of make-up was adopted by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would give themselves a pale color with a foundation that contained lead in it. This proved fatal on more than one occasion. As the Romans started to pick up the cosmetics 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 heated body fat. An old Roman man once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

A light, pale skin color was also a sign of wealth. If people had enough wealth, then you did not have to do anything. So it was extremely important for some members of society to have a white complexion. To achieve this look, ladies (and men also) would use a mixture of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powder form to paint their faces and bodies. Unfortunately, this caused a sometimes fatal side effect, lead poisoning.To remedy this problem, chemists in the early nineteen hundreds at last created a mixture of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that irritating lead poisoning death. It worked so well that it is still practiced today by cosmetics manufacturers.

Lavish and exotic parties were thrown by city women with throw away wealth 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 gathering. Women at that time who experienced these extravagant lifestyles did not eat well, would not work out, and breathed in the heavily polluted air that the cities of the time produced. Women would rely on products like anti-aging creams and face creams to help hide their imperfections. Routine ventures to the salon were also a regular part of the day. It was a bit different back then than it is in the present. Ladies would go into the back of the salons and cover their faces as they went in. One of the most famous of these discreet beauty houses was the House of Cyclax, who would sell creams and blushes to women. Mrs. Henning, the owner, sold and created many products for her frenzied customers who did not want anybody to know that they were getting on in the years.

The modern day woman is the benefactor of years of trial and error with a virtually never ending choice of beauty products for any look they want to achieve. The cosmetics business has become a billion dollar industry with literally thousands of competing companies. Cosmetic products sell year round and even in times of depression. So ladies, give thanks to your ancestors and their concern for their personal appearance for yours that you have nowadays. There were possibly mornings when they woke up and didn’t really want to go through the trouble of applying their face either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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