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Guthy Renker Corporation

Cosmetics Through Time

How did we as a people get to the point where we spend billions of dollars annually on cosmetics and it became the social standard for women to wear make-up everyday Surely a woman way back in history did not all of a sudden wake up one morning and decide to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, foundation, and blush all at once. No, it was, like many things, a building up of events from ages past.

Remember the Egyptians? That was four millenia ago. Cleanliness and appearance were very serious to the people of Egypt. The Egyptians had faith that the appearance was in direct connection with the well being of the spirit. They strived to always look and smell agreeable. And with a society who values their looks, societies are inevitably going to have humans who are going to try and stand out. But the Egyptians, being the innovative civilization they were, had cosmetics for reasons that were even smarter than just attempting to look great.

A mixture of lead ore and copper known as Mesdemet was the earliest kind of eye shadow. The dark hues they believed would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also an effective cleaner and insect deterrent. Kohl was a dark combination that was also put on around the eyes in an oval shape. The substance was a mixture of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. To further enhance their appearance, Egyptians would put a mixture of water and red clay to the cheekbone area. They would also paint their fingernails shades of orange and yellow with a chemical named henna.

As cultures started to interact with each other more often, the art of make-up was picked up by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would color themselves a pale color with a foundation that contained lead in it. More than once this proved to be deadly. As the Romans started to adopt the make-up habits, the pursuit of beauty became much less about functionability and turned into much more unusual routes. They would paint their nails with a combination of sheeps blood and cooked body fat. An ancient Roman man once stated, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

Success was often measured by a person's pale complexion. If people had enough money, then you did not have to do anything. So a white skin hue was very crucial to some people. To get this look, women (and men too) would apply a combination of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powder form to paint their faces and bodies. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes lethal side effect, lead poisoning.To remedy this problem, chemists in the early nineteen hundreds at last created a mixture of zinc oxide that made the skin 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 producers.

For centuries after the Egyptian empire faded, the fashion norm across the world was a white skin color. Only women who were low-class and had to labor out in the field all day with their husbands had dark, tanned skin. The upper society women of course did not have to endure manual labor like that so they remained under the roof and had white faces.

Lavish and glamorous parties were thrown by city women with throw away money in the Edwardian 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 function. Women at that time who underwent these excessive 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 disguise 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 in the past than it is today. Ladies would go into the back of the salons and cover their faces as they entered. One of the most famous of these discreet beauty houses was the House of Cyclax, who would sell creams and rouges to women. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and invented multiple products for her frantic consumers who did not want everybody to know that they were getting on in the years.

The modern day woman is the benefactor of all these years of trial and error with a virtually unlimited choice of beauty products for any look they want to get. There are literally thousands of companies who have products in this now billion dollar per year industry. Skin Care products sell year round and even in times of recession. So ladies, thank your ancestors and their concern for their personal looks for yours that you have today. There were probably days when they woke up and didn’t really want to go through the hassle of applying their face either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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