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Guthy Renker Corporation

Beauty Products Across the Times

With all the billions of dollars spent per year worldwide on beauty products, sometimes we might find ourselves asking, How did it get to this point? When did it become the norm for me to have to wake up each morning and before I even go outside have to paint my face from completely? Certainly a woman way back in old times did not just wake up one day and make the decision to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, foundation, and rouge all at the same time. No, it was, like many things, a combination of happenings from the past.

The Egyptians were the first to use cosmetics. That was four thousand years ago. Cleanliness and looks were very meaningful to the Egyptians. Egyptians had faith that the appearance had a direct juncture with the constitution of the soul. They attempted to always appear neat and smell agreeable. And with a society who values their appearance, societies are invariably going to have members who are going to make themselves stand out. But the Egyptians, being the cutting edge society they were, used cosmetics for reasons that were even more intelligent than just trying to look good.

Mesdemet was the most original kind of eye shadow- a substance made of copper with lead ore. The dark hues they believed would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also an effective cleaner and bug deterrent. Kohl was a dark powder that was also applied 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 combination of water and red clay to the cheekbone area. They would also paint their fingernails shades of orange and yellow with a substance known as henna.

A white, pale complexion was also a sign of abundance. A person was not obligated to labor if they had enough riches. So it was very important for some people to have a white complexion. To achieve this look, women (and men as well) would use a combination of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powdered form to put on their faces and bodies. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes lethal side effect, lead poisoning.To remedy this, chemists in the nineteenth century at last invented a combination of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that annoying lead poisoning sickness. It was so effective that it is still practiced today by cosmetics manufacturers.

A white complexion was the fashion around the world after the Egyptian civilization disappeared. A dark, sun-dried face was associated with being a commoner who labored in the field all day beside her spouse. The upper echelon ladies of course did not have to do hard labor like that therefore they were able to stay inside and had light complexions.

As cultures began to interact with each other more often, the habit of cosmetics was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptians. Greek women would color themselves a pale hue with a foundation that had lead in it. This proved deadly on more than one occasion. As the Romans began to adopt the cosmetics practice, the effort to achieve beauty became much less about functionability and took a turn into much more exotic routes. The Romans would decorate their nails with a mixture of sheeps blood and cooked body fat. An ancient Roman man once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

In the Edwardian era of London, about the time of the change of the century of 1900, society women with a disposable income would throw swanky soirees and do a bunch of entertaining to display their wealth. It was extremely important for a woman to be the most gogeous belle there, especially if they were the hostess of the function. City and exotic lifestyles with factors like dirty air produced by the cities at that time, bad diets, and little or no exercise aged the women fast. Anti-aging and facial creams to hide the blemishes were heavily relied upon by women in this era. Regular ventures to the salon were also a normal part of the day. It was a little different in the past than it is today. Ladies would go into the back entrance of the salons and cover their faces as they entered. One of the most famous of these secret beauty parlors was the House of Cyclax, that would sell foams and blushes to ladies. Mrs. Henning, the owner, sold and came out with multiple products for her desperate consumers who did not want anyone to know that they were getting old.

Today's woman is the benefactor of all these years of mistakes with a virtually unlimited choice of products for any look they want to accomplish. The beauty product business has become a billion dollar industry with literally thousands of competing companies. Beauty products sell all year and even in times of depression. Therefore ladies, give thanks to your ancestors and their concern for their personal looks for yours that you have nowadays. There were possibly days when they woke up and didn’t really feel like going through the trouble of applying their face either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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