Make-up Across the Ages
How did we as a people get to the point where we spend billions of dollars annually on cosmetics and it became the social norm for women to wear cosmetics everyday Assuredly a female way back in history did not simply wake up one day and decide to apply eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, foundation, and rouge all at once. No, it was, like many things, a culmination of happenings from past times.
The Egyptians were the first to use cosmetics. That was four thousand years ago. Good hygeine and looks were terribly serious to the people of Egypt. Egyptians had the belief that the appearance had a direct juncture with the constitution of the soul. They attempted to constantly appear neat and smell pleasant. And with a society who values their appearance, you are invariably going to have humans who are going to attempt to stand out. The Egyptians, being the inventive culture they were, used cosmetics for reasons that were even smarter than just trying to look great.
Mesdemet was the most original kind of eye shadow- a combination of copper and lead ore. The dark hues they believed would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also a great cleaner and bug deterrent. Kohl was a dark substance that was put on around the eyes in an oval shape. Kohl was a combination of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. To further enhance their appearance, Egyptians would apply a mixture of water and red clay to the cheek area. They would also paint their nails shades of orange and yellow with a chemical called henna.
As different groups of people began to interact with each other more often, the art of cosmetics was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptians. They would color themselves a pale hue with a base that had lead inside. This proved lethal more than once. As the Romans began to pick up the cosmetics habits, the pursuit of beauty became less about practicality and turned into much more exotic routes. The Romans would adorn their nails with a combination of sheeps blood and cooked body fat. An ancient Roman citizen once said, A woman without paint is like food without salt.
A pale face was the style around the world after the Egyptian empire disappeared. Only women who were low-class and had to labor out in the field all day with their husbands had dark, sun dired skin. The upper echelon ladies obviously did not have to endure manual labor like that therefore they stayed under the roof and had light complexions.
Success was often measured by a person's white skin tone. A person was not obligated to labor if they had enough riches. So it was extremely important for some members of society to have a white complexion. To get this appearance, ladies (and men too) would use a combination of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powder form to paint their faces and bodies. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes fatal side effect, lead poisoning.To cure this problem, chemists in the nineteenth century at last found a combination of zinc oxide that made the skin 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 makers.
Exttravagant and glamorous parties were held by urban women with disposable wealth in the Edwardian era of London. As hostesses of the party, it was necessary for them to be the most attractive woman at the event, so it was very important for them to look the youngest they possibly could. City and exotic lifestyles with factors like smoggy air produced by the cities at that time, bad diets, and little or no exercise aged the women quickly. Women would need products like anti-aging creams and face creams to help hide their imperfections. Routine ventures to the salon were also a normal part of the day. It was a bit different in the past than it is today. Ladies would sneak into the back of the salons and cover 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 blushes to ladies. Mrs. Henning, the owner, sold and came out with many products for her frantic customers who did not want everybody to know that they were getting old.
The modern day woman is the benefactor of years of mistakes with a virtually infinite choice of beauty products for any look they want to get. There are thousands of cosmetics producers who produce products in this now billion dollar per year industry. Beauty products sell all year and even in times of recession. Therefore ladies, thank your ancestors and their concern for their personal looks for your own that you have nowadays. There were probably mornings when they woke up and didn’t really feel like going through the trouble of putting on their face either.
Learn more in our section here about healthy skincare and the treatment of Acne Vulgaris
Warren Tattersall has been a full time nutritional consultant for over a decade and works with people all over the work to help them improve their health issues, including skin care, with inner and outer nutrition programs
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