7 Facts about the History of Cosmetics That You'll Love to Know ...

Facts about cosmetics aren’t something we typically think about each morning as we are going through our beauty routine. Facts about cosmetics will help you understand the beauty industry as it is today. Not to mention you’ll realize how lucky we are to have products that aren’t toxic! Take a look at this quick history of cosmetics!

1. Ancient Egyptians

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There are many facts about cosmetics, but did you know that the ancient Egyptians and Cleopatra were believed to be some of the first to use cosmetics as far back as 4,000 B.C.? Egyptians would fill in their brows and line their eyes with Kohl—a cream made from the fat of sheep mixed with powdered lead or antimony and soot. Ancient Egyptians were also known to take baths in milk and honey to soften and beautify their skin from head to toe!

2. Romans & Greeks

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Around 100 A.D., the Romans stayed beautiful by using wine as a cheek stain and painted their faces and bodies with chalk to achieve a pale, whitish look. They even created acne treatments by combining barley flour and butter. The Romans also dyed their hair, but they used lye—causing many people to lose their hair and forcing them to wear wigs. The Greeks stained their cheeks and lips using vermillion and the juice from berries. They darkened their lashes with black incense.

3. The Middle Ages

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Unlike today when tans are coveted, in the Middle Ages being pale was all the rage! Women wanted so badly to be pale that they allowed themselves to be painted or even bled in order to achieve the colorless look. Tattoos became popular during this time period in addition to colored eyeshadow, such as blues, greens, grays, and browns.

4. The 15th-16th Centuries

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During this time period, royalty and their court were the only ones using cosmetics. Fragrances were becoming popular in France, and whitening agents were being used for the face. Whitening products were composed of carbonate, hydroxide, and lead oxide—ingredients that were stored in the body, causing physical problems that sometimes resulted in muscle paralysis or death.

5. The 1800s

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By the 1800s, almost all social classes wore cosmetics, but many products still contained toxic ingredients. Eyeshadows and lip stains contained poisonous ingredients like mercuric sulfide and belladonna. Zinc oxide, which is still used today, was introduced as a facial powder to replace deadly arsenic versions.

6. The 1900s

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During the 1900s, the commercial cosmetics industry began to grow substantially. In 1913, mascara that’s packaged as we know it today was developed by the French chemist and perfumer Eugène Rimmel. The product was a bit messy and inconsistent, but it was non-toxic and became popular across Europe. Worldwide acceptance of mascara came when T.L. Williams developed a similar packaging for his new company, Maybelline. In the later 1900s, makeup became a way for women to express themselves. Women wore makeup that suited their style and taste, and didn’t strictly stick to the trends.

7. Present Day

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The cosmetics and beauty industries total over $20 billion in annual sales and is consistently growing. Emphasis is placed on anti-aging and looking young. Many different makeup looks are embraced—from the natural look to dramatic, theatrical looks.

Although cosmetics have changed drastically throughout the course of history, the goal to look our best remains the same. Most of us would be lost without the brilliant invention known as makeup! Which development throughout the history of cosmetics do you think is most significant?

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