With all the billions of dollars spent per year globally on make-up, sometimes we may find ourselves asking, “How did it get to this ? When did it become the norm for me to awaken each morning and before I even go out the door am required to paint my face from top to bottom? Surely a woman way back in the past did not just wake up one day and make the decision to put on eyelashes, lipstick, eyeliner, base, and blush all at once. No, it was, like many things, a combination of things from past times.
Do you remember the Egyptians? That was over four millenia ago. Cleanliness and looks were extremely meaningful to the people of Egypt. The Egyptians believed the appearance was in direct link with the constitution of the spirit. They attempted to constantly look and smell agreeable. And with a civilization who values their appearance, you are assuredly going to have members who are going to try and stand out. The Egyptians, being the inventive society they were, implemented cosmetics for reasons that were even smarter than just trying to look great.
A combination of lead ore and copper called Mesdemet was the earliest kind of eye shadow. The dark shades they believed would ward off evil eyes from their own. It was also an effective cleaner and insect deterrent. Kohl was a dark mixture that was also put on around the eyes in an oval shape. It was a combination of lead, ash, ochre, copper, and burnt almonds. To further complement their appearance, they would apply a combination of water and red clay to the cheek area. They would also paint their fingernails hues of orange and yellow with a substance called henna.
As time moved along and societies mixed with each other more often, the Greeks began to pick up on the many practices of the Egyptians way with cosmetics. They would color themselves a pale hue with a foundation that contained lead in it. This proved terminal on more than one occasion. As the Romans began to adopt the cosmetics practice, the effort to achieve beauty became less about functionability and turned into much more exotic routes. The Romans would adorn their nails with a mixture of sheeps blood and cooked body fat. An old Roman citizen once stated, A woman without paint is like food without salt.
A pale skin tone was the fashion around the world after the Egyptian empire faded. Only women who were impoverished and had to labor out in the field all day with their husbands had rough, sun dired skin. The upper society women obviously did not have to do hard work like that therefore they stayed under the roof and had white faces.
A white, pale skin color was also a sign of abundance. A person did not have to labor if they had enough wealth. So it was extremely important for some members of society to have a light complexion. To achieve this appearance, ladies (and men as well) would apply a combination of hydroxide, lead oxide, and carbonate in a powdered form to paint their faces and skin. Unfortunately, this lead to a sometimes fatal side effect, lead poisoning.To remedy this problem, chemists in the nineteenth century finally found a mixture of zinc oxide that did not block the skin from being able to breathe and kept people out of that annoying lead poisoning death. It worked so well that it is still used today by cosmetics makers.
Exttravagant and glamorous parties were thrown by city ladies with disposable money in the Edwardian era of England. It was extremely important for a woman to be the most beautiful lady there, especially if they were the hostess of the function. City and ritzy lifestyles with factors like polluted air produced by the cities at that time, poor diets, and very little or no exercise aged the women fast. Anti-aging and facial creams to mask the wrinkles were heavily relied upon by women in this time. Routine trips to the salon were also a regular part of the day. It was a little different in the past than it is in the present. Ladies would sneak into the back of the salons and hide their faces as they went in. One of the most famous of these discreet beauty salons was the House of Cyclax, who would sell foams and rouges to ladies. Mrs. Henning, who was the owner, sold and invented multiple products for her desperate customers who did not want anyone to know that they were getting older.
The modern day woman is the benefactor of all these years of mistakes 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 per year industry. Beauty products sell year round and even in times of depression. Therefore ladies, give thanks to your ancestors and their concern for their own appearance for yours that you have today. There were possibly mornings when they woke up and didn’t really feel like going through the hassle of putting on their face either.