Humans have used cosmetics and makeup to embellish their looks and cover up blemishes since times immemorial. The life like bust of Queen Nefertiti is perhaps one of the best known portrayals of the makeup skills of the ancients. But the Egyptians were not the only ones to use various natural products to highlight their best features.
Al Zahrawi, a teacher in the ancient times in Persia, authored a medical encyclopedia which had an entire chapter dedicated to cosmetics and their proper use. The Chinese painted their nails and adorned their faces with delicate designs. The Japanese actually had a kind of makeup foundation made from wax plus lipstick from safflower petals and other cosmetics.
The Egyptians Show the Way
Although the first account of ‘face painting’ can be found in the Old Testament, true credit for giving cosmetology and makeup its due attention, for the very first time, goes to the Egyptians. Even back in 10,000 BC, Egyptian men and women knew about oil massages and creams to make their skin soft and supple. The use of perfumes, body lotions, kohl, face colors and many other cosmetic items was very popular with these ancient people.
The Many Cosmetics used by Egyptians
The Egyptians used a surprisingly large number of makeup and skin care products. Rouge colored their lips and cheeks, while dyes and paints hued their body and facial skin. There is enough evidence to show that the Egyptians even colored their hair.
How Makeup Evolved in other Parts
The Greeks were heavily influenced by Egyptian customs which soon found their way into Greek homes too. Both Greeks and Chinese painted their faces white with different ingredients. Greek women used berries as blush while Chinese focused more on their nails, painting them in line with their social classes.
The Romans were not far behind and they probably used some of the very first pimple cures with their butter barley mixes. Mud baths (a precursor to today’s facial masks) and hair dying were also quite common with the Romans. In the Middle Ages, English women dyed their hair and whitened their face with egg whites.
In Modern Times
In the recent past the movie industry gets the credit for ensuring that makeup has not lost its sheen The presence of an entire industry that was willing to pay for cosmetics and skin care advice and similar products encouraged many entrepreneurs into entering this field. Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and many others launched their immensely successful product ranges in the 20th century thanks to the appeal and demand for these drummed by movie stars.