The Invention and History of Cosmetics
One of the amazing facts about cosmetics is that, as current as they might be in modern society, they have actually been around for a long time. In fact, every time one takes a look at the face of a known model on the TV or at the cover of a fashion magazine, what we see is actually not that different from what people from different civilizations saw thousands of years ago when looking at the faces of the rich and powerful.
This is because cosmetics were not an alien idea for cultures that inhabited the world long before ours’. For example, cosmetics are already mentioned in the form of face paintings as far back as the Old Testament, and across the course of history it has been a symbol of status to have your face decorated with some kind of painted mark.
However, it would be impossible to point at just one direction if we wanted to determine the origins of cosmetics, since so many cultures contributed in great part to make it what it is today.
Early Origins of Cosmetics
To start with, many Egyptian remains have been found dating from around the year 10,000 BC which show eye shadows on some of the people of this culture, who are presumed to have used it for burials and other religious rituals. Curiously enough, the eye shadows that women used at that time were made not just from natural minerals, but also from crushed beetle wings.
Some centuries after that, the term Cosmetae was invented by the Romans to describe the slaves who were in charge of bathing both men and women in perfume. This marked a very important trend in the history of cosmetics, in which not just the Romans, but also many other cultures started to fuse the concept of cosmetics with the one of perfume and fragrance. This was due to the way in which both cosmetics and perfumes were created, which was extremely similar since both used vegetable and animal oils in their composition.
Cosmetics in Modern Times
During the years after that, between the eight and sixteen centuries, the focus of cosmetics expanded from just the face to the entire body and the hair. This was perfectly exemplified by the noble people of that age, who started using lead dyes to get a pale look on their skin. But this caused disfigurements and other serious skin problems, turning people away from cosmetics, marking a turning point in cosmetics’ history.
However, confidence in cosmetics was restored in modern times by the discovery of safer components around the nineteen-century, which finally made cosmetics mainstream due to the popularity they gained among famous actresses at the time.