Cosmetics between the Past and the Present


Do you think that cosmetics are a modern invention? You are completely wrong if you thought so; cosmetics are as ancient as history itself! Not only did ancient civilizations have cosmetics, but they mastered making and preparing it. Its first use dates back to the Ancient Egyptians; many of their tombs contained typical cosmetic tools. If you visit a museum displaying Ancient Egyptian antiquities, or those of other ancient civilizations, you will find many cosmetics; such as: eyeliner, mirrors, wigs, among others.

Ancient Egyptians were really good at creating eye cosmetics, such as eye-shadows and eyeliner; they used malachite powder, which adds a special green color, applying oils to fix it. Both men and women used eyeliner in ancient Egypt; they used a mixture of metal, lead, copper, ash, and burnt almonds—we all remember the famouse eyeliner that distinguished Cleopatra's eyes.

Ancient Egyptians applied eyeliner to ward off the evil eye and dangerous spirits, and for its utility in dispersing the harsh desert Sun. In addition to the beautification purpose, eyeliner has many medical benefits; in recent years, scientists have discovered that the eyeliner's formula unintentionally helped the Egyptians ward off contagious diseases and get rid of bacteria. As for now, there are lots of materials used in the manufacture of eyeliner, including natural or industrial components.

Likewise, there was an omnipresent belief in ancient civilizations, especially the Roman civilization, that the fairer the skin is, the greater the prestige and beauty. This belief still exists in some modern states; that is why there has always been a widespread use of skin bleaching or whitening products. In the beginning, chalk was used, but it did not last long; China and Japan then extracted face powder from rice. In modern times, numerous components are used in making foundations; such as: silicon and water, or a mixture of water, oils, and moisturizing substances, or silt to create water-based foundations.

With time, the history of cosmetics has become less strange with the inclusion of colors. From the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century, fair skin was reserved for the aristocracy; only lower-class women used colors on their lips, cheeks, or eyes. Upper-class women painted their faces, necks, and bosoms with a mixture of lead and vinegar known as ceruse. Queen Elizabeth I was famous for her use of this mixture to give herself a pale skin look; it was trending back then to differentiate between the aristocratic and the middle class, but many believe that this mixture also led to her death.

Ancient Greeks and Romans also used face coloring powders made of metals and stones; women in Ancient Greece used mashed berries as a blusher for their cheeks. In our modern age, many types of blushers have appeared, such as the tint that gives a natural color, which lasts for a long time. Cleopatra also used lipsticks made out of Crimean beetles dye. Moreover, women in the past used red iron and mud mixed with water to color their lips, but it was not good, so they replaced it with oils and beeswax to create lipsticks.

Although today's women might joke about how they suffer from cosmetics, ancient women suffered more because of the presence of lead and other poisonous and foreign materials in cosmetic tools. Since the dawn of the 20th century, the products we know today have started to appear, and have evolved with the years to become an independent industry as we know it today.


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