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Guthy Renker Corporation

Make-up Across the Centuries

With all the billions of dollars spent every year worldwide on make-up, often we might catch ourselves asking, How did it get to this ? When did it become the rule for me to have to wake up every morning and before I even go outside am required to paint my face from top to bottom? Certainly a lady way back in history did not simply wake up one morning and make the decision to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, base, and rouge all at once. No, it was, like many things, a combination of things from history.

Do you remember the Egyptians? That was four thousand years ago. Good hygeine and appearance were terribly serious to the people of Egypt. Egyptians believed the appearance had a direct link with the constitution of the spirit. They attempted to constantly appear neat and smell pleasant. And with a culture who values their appearance, you are invariably going to have members who are going to attempt to stand out. But the Egyptians, being the cutting edge people they were, had cosmetics for reasons that were even more practical than just attempting to look good.

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

Success was often measured by a person's white complexion. A person was not obligated to work if they had enough riches. So a light skin color was extremely important to some people. To get this appearance, ladies (and men as well) would use a combination of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powdered form to put on their faces and skin. Unfortunately, this caused a sometimes lethal side effect, lead poisoning.To cure this, chemists in the nineteenth century at last found a combination of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that aggravating lead poisoning death. It was so effective that it is still used today by cosmetics producers.

As civilizations began to interact with each other more often, the habit of cosmetics was picked up by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would give themselves a pale color with a base that had lead inside. This ended up being lethal more than once. As the Romans started to pick up the make-up practice, the pursuit of beauty became less about practicality and took a turn into much more unusual routes. They would adorn their nails with a combination of sheeps blood and heated body fat. An ancient Roman citizen once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.

A light skin color was the style around the world after the Egyptian civilization disappeared. Only women who were low-class and had to work out in the field all day with their husbands had rough, tanned skin. The upper class women obviously did not have to endure manual work like that so they were able to stay out of the sun and had light skin.

In the era of King Edward of London, around the change of the century of 1900, society women with a recreational income would throw exotic parties and do a bunch of entertaining to exhibit their wealth. It was extremely important for a woman to be the most gogeous belle there, especially if they were the hostess of the soiree. Women in the past who lived these excessive lifestyles did not eat nutritiously, would not work out, and breathed in the heavily polluted air that the cities of the time produced. Anti-aging and facial creams to mask the wrinkles were heavily relied upon by women in this era. They would also travel to the salon. It was a bit different back then than it is in the present. Ladies would sneak into the back entrance of the salons and cover their faces as they went in. One of the most famous of these discreet beauty parlors was the House of Cyclax, that would sell creams and rouges to women. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and invented many products for her desperate consumers who did not want anyone to know that they were getting older.

The modern day woman is the benefactor of all these years of trial and error with a practically infinite choice of products for any look they want to get. There are literally thousands of manufacturers who create products in this now billion dollar yearly industry. Cosmetic products sell year round and even in times of depression. So ladies, give thanks to your ancestors and their concern for their personal looks for yours that you have today. They probably didn't feel like putting on their face some mornings either.

Guthy Renker Corporation

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