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Guthy Renker Corporation

Cosmetics Across Time

How did we as humans arrive at the point where we spend billions of dollars annually on cosmetics and it became the social standard for women to wear cosmetics everyday It is certain a woman way back in old times did not simply wake up one day and decide to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, foundation, and blush all at the same time. As you might have guessed, it was a combination of thousands of years and a lot of errors.

The Egyptians were the first to use cosmetics. That was four millenia ago. Good hygeine and appearance were terribly meaningful to the Egyptians. Egyptians had the belief that the appearance had a direct juncture with the health of the spirit. They tried to constantly look and smell pleasant. And with a society who values their looks, they are inevitably going to have people who are going to try and stand out. But the Egyptians, being the innovative society they were, used cosmetics for reasons that were even more intelligent than just trying to look good.

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

As cultures began to interact with each other more often, the practice of make-up was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would color themselves a pale color with a base that had lead inside. More than once this ended up being lethal. As the Romans began to adapt the cosmetics habits, the effort to achieve beauty became less about functionability and turned into much more unusual routes. The Romans would decorate their nails with a mixture of sheeps blood and heated body fat. An old Roman man once stated, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

A light skin tone was the style around the world after the Egyptian empire faded. A tanned, dehydrated face was associated with being a commoner who labored outdoors all day with her spouse. The upper society women obviously did not have to do physical labor like that so they were able to stay out of the sun and had white skin.

A light, pale complexion was also a symbol of money. If people had enough wealth, then you did not have to do anything. So it was very important for some socialites to have a white complexion. To achieve this look, ladies (and men too) would apply a mixture of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powder form to apply to their faces and skin. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes deadly side effect, lead poisoning.To cure this problem, chemists in the nineteenth century at last invented a mixture of zinc oxide that made the skin able to breathe and kept people out of that annoying lead poisoning sickness. It worked so well that it is still practiced today by cosmetics makers.

In the Edwardian era of London, around the turn of the century of 1900, women with a disposable income would have lavishextravagant soirees and do a lot of entertaining to show off their wealth. As hostesses of the shindig, it was critical for them to be the best looking woman at the gathering, so it was terribly important for them to look as youthful as they possibly could. Women at that time who experienced these excessive lifestyles did not have good diets, would not exercise, and breathed in the heavily polluted air that the cities of the time produced. They would need products like anti-aging foams and face creams to help hide their imperfections. They would also travel to the beauty salon. 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 went in. One of the most famous of these secret beauty parlors was the House of Cyclax, that would sell creams and rouges to ladies. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and invented multiple products for her frenzied consumers who did not want anybody to know that they were getting older.

The modern day woman is the benefactor of all these years of mistakes with a virtually unlimited choice of products for any look they want to accomplish. There are thousands of cosmetics producers who have products in this now billion dollar yearly industry. Beauty products sell year round and even in times of financial hardship. Therefore ladies, give thanks to your ancestors and their concern for their own looks for your own that you have nowadays. They probably didn't want to put on their face some mornings either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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