One Busy Guy Presents...
A Cosmetic Story
American men are universally 'awed' regarding women's obvious affection for cosmetics. Ask any man and he will tell you that although the application thereof accentuates a women's appeal; protecting the look makes her much less accessible. Ladies will spend hours adorning themselves with the 'perfect line'. It is certainly a costly pursuit. It has become a multi-billion dollar industry despite having attained ( according to some ) the status of 'pointlessness' in the clutches of romance! Some feel that it is one way in which less secure females cling to a semblance of youth. Some feel that it's just fun. Still others feel that they are not even themselves unless they are attired properly and that includes makeup. As always I took it upon myself to uncover the origins of same and this is what I found.
Apparently the first solid evidence of cosmetic usage comes to us from Egypt around 4,000 BC. It was a kind of paste made from copper minerals being rather a bright green and applied to the face. Soot or powdered lead mixed with sheep fat was used as an early form of eye shadow. It must have been pretty aromatic hence the addition of perfume oils around the same time!
In the orient it was powder made from rice and used to paint the face white. In time the eyebrows were plucked and teeth were painted. Henna ( a reddish/orange dye derived from a small Asian shrub ) is used to apply color to the hair and to the face. Some say it is used as well to trace the veins enabling the wearer to 'call forth powers of the earth'.
Wigs appeared in Greece around one thousand BC. It was an affectation employed by both sexes though generally the upper classes. Clever and intricate designs adorned the 'cosmetic boxes'. Cheeks are now reddened with rouge. Ochre is a clay, stained brick red by iron and women use it to color ( among other things ) their lips. It is hoped that the coloring of the body will make them appear younger.
"A woman without paint is like food without salt."
According to my research the Romans once used crocodile excrement in their mud baths ( go figure ). A variety of other odd associations exist such as butter and barley applied to pimples; blood mixed with the fat of sheep used as nail polish. Blondes were rare in Rome and hair was frequently dyed; unfortunately the dye was often so caustic that hair was ruined ( it fell out ) hence the wigs. Vanity extends even to the holding of slaves primarily to assist in the difficult task of grooming.
Perfumes are developed in the Middle East and it isn't hard to imagine why... there is very little water for showering! A woman who could afford synthetic makeup displayed her status in the wearing thereof.
Women once wore egg whites upon their faces to provide a 'glazed look'. It was no doubt considered unhealthy for many reasons. Chief among them must have been once again the odd smell! Hair dyed red is fashionable in the England of Queen Elisabeth. It is hoped that sleeping with slices of raw beef on the face will diminish wrinkles.
15th -16th Centuries
Cosmetics reappeared in Europe at this time to be used primarily by royalty and the aristocracy. Italy and France become adept at the art of creating new fragrances through the blending of ingredients. Lead oxide used in facial powder is stored in the body and becomes responsible for a variety of physical ailments. Arsenic laced face powder was once the tool of terrorists!
17th - 18th Century
Cosmetics are in use by nearly all social classes at this time. Rouge and lipstick are the rage and imply healthy fitness. Lesser developed countries become annoyed feeling that such behavior indicates secretive or unattractive people.
France is the first to develop synthetic forms of the natural products mentioned thus far. Lead oxide is replaced with zinc oxide and it is widely used as a facial powder. Belladonna and mercury sulfide are replaced with less deadly ingredients. Thank God antiperspirants and deodorants are invented.
Lipstick was first manufactured in the U.S.A. Silent screen siren Theda Bara appears on the silver screen adorned in the cosmetics of Helena Rubinstein causing quite a sensation. Rubinstein developed mascara, as well as improving upon the concept of colored powder. Rubinstein borrowed the idea of color-shaded eyes from the French stage and reddened the lips thereby accentuating them.
The joy of being 'made up' continues to be a misunderstood affectation. Applying so many different chemicals to the skin can only be detrimental in the long run. On the other hand it is the great equalizer between the haves and the have nots. It provides comfort to those who lack confidence and has provided many with the chance to accentuate the positive.
Eventually make-up is mass marketed by the huge chain stores thereby making it available at a low price to anyone who has interest. When coupled with the proliferation of television and radio it has achieved astonishing acceptance and a place in the day for women everywhere. Many feel that this has been a victory for women. Many others feel that women have been the victim of extensive media exposure. It may have elevated some from the age of oppression and become a symbol of new found self expression; though in the end it may be revealed as a less than healthy pursuit.
The whole point of being 'made up' is that 'I am attractive'. 'I am special'. I am worthy of your attention and I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE ADVENTURESOME! In the 21st century many young adults have also included body piercing and tattoos as a form of self expression. Check above if you have interest in that related topic.