Cosmetics History and Facts
With over 10 thousand years of experience, chemists, cosmetologists, fashion designers, religious leaders and governments had incredible impact over the world of cosmetics. Because it is in human nature to always strive to perfection and new ways to express ourselves, cosmetic played a really big role in our advancements from ancient civilization to the modern way of life. Cosmetics helped us change the way we look, fixed out bodies in time of sickness and enabled us to express our religion and beliefs.
All that started some 12 thousand years ago when Ancient Egyptians discovered healing abilities of scented oils. From that point, their cosmetic industry rose higher and higher to the point when it became important part of their religion. Gods were honored by entire population with large use of cosmetics, almost everyone used oils, eyeliners, and similar products to enhance their look. Even though some of their ingredients were poisonous, allure of cosmetic did not lessen. However, when cosmetics found their way outside from Egypt, there reached resistance in Greece and Rome. There cosmetic reached broad popularity, but it was viewed as extravagant and unneeded by many. In Rome, there was a period when women were not considered beautiful if they did not wear cosmetics. This lead to the inflation of the prices, and few wealthy women managed to gamble large fortunes on expensive cosmetics from India and Middle East. To combat this epidemic, Roman Senate declared the (short lived) law that prevented public exhibitions of cosmetic products and extravagant female clothing in all of the cities of Roman Republic. In the other civilizations, cosmetics also received similar harsh treatment from time to time. In china for example, common people were executed if they were caught wearing nail polish in public (that was only the privilege of the rich), and in Japan, noble women were forbidden to walk in public without full body cosmetic treatment.
European Dark Ages was the time when cosmetics almost disappeared from public knowledge. Because of the tradition of prostitutes to use excessive amounts of cosmetics to hide their age and exaggerate their beauty, for the longest time cosmetics were totally abandoned by majority of the European population. Kings and queens made public statements that wearing cosmetic was not decent, Church officials spread the belief that cosmetic is used only by heathens and satan worshipers, and for the longest time only stage actors were allowed to use them, but only during their performances.
Cosmetic HistoryCosmetic products that you use today were not all created in recent history. Some of them have long and storied history that reaches the very beginning of the modern human civilization. Here you can witness that journey of cosmetics like never before.
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Cosmetics FactsCosmetic products have managed to have really great impact on our lives, fashion, culture and history. Here you can find out more detail about them, their types, way they are made and much, much more.
Change finally happened after European soldiers returned from the Crusades in the Middle East, bringing home new exotic products and knowledge. Among those products were many types of cosmetics, which were in first adopted only by nobility and high-class citizens. After Renaissance managed to spread across entire Europe, cosmetics found their foothold, but were still not publicly accepted, except during few fashion swings (such as during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1559-1603) in England).
Advancements in industry, chemistry and medicine in 18th and 19th century brought significant advancements in cosmetics. They were still not accepted fully, but new Victorian style that arose in 19th century brought the cosmetic-centric fashion that demanded that all “ladies” must present themselves as beautiful and fragile, with elaborate clothes and precisely defined facial features. For that purposes, eye shadows, lipsticks, nail polish and other products started gaining traction.
Early 20th century was without a doubt dawn of the modern cosmetic industry. Rise of film, photography, fast communications, countless innovators, and support from large industrialists managed to introduce cosmetic products to every household in the western world. During first few decades of 20th century, cosmetic companies (many who would soon become international powerhouses) introduced solid lipsticks, lip gloss, mascaras, eyeliners (propelled to mass popularity by the incredible discoveries beneath Egyptian pyramids), suntans, hair colors, gels and powders of all types. With such advancements, it was not strange to see that old Victorian styles were soon forgotten. New international fashion moved rapidly after 1930s, introducing new styles with each passing decade.
Large departure from traditional styles happened in 1960s and 70s with the introduction of hippie movement (natural-looking cosmetic), punk (darker and sinister style that aimed to shock) and glam (extravagant and colorful style). From them, many new styles emerged that have changed and molded fashion to its current state.
Cosmetic products are today part of our regular culture and fashion, but that was not always the case. The first human made cosmetics appeared in early modern civilizations some 6 thousand years ago as the way to enhance the appearance and odor of the human body, but the difficult manufacturing processes, harmful ingredients and their connection to the high ruling classes created the aura of exclusivity around them. For the long periods of time, cosmetic products were frowned upon in Western history, and even actively forbidden to be used by many organizations. This “dark” period of cosmetic use finally ended during the end of the 19th and early 20th century, when great advancements in manufacturing, new entertainment industries and faster changes enabled the rise of famous cosmetic brands and their widespread use.
The first archeological evidence of cosmetics comes from the excavated tombs of Ancient Egypt pharaohs, but historians are convinced that first natural made cosmetics were used by our prehistoric ancestors much before rise of modern civilizations. 6 thousand year old relics from Egypt tell us that their royalty and high class enjoyed several cosmetic products, such as face creams, perfumed oils, eyeliners, hair paints, castor oil, lipsticks, and lip gloss. As the centuries and millennia went, Egypt chemist found a way to simplify the manufacturing process of cosmetics, but that did not manage to remove the aura of their “exclusivity”. One of the most important causes for that were their badly formed recipes, which often included poisonous ingredients that could cause serious illnesses. However, even with that, cosmetics remained important part of the Egyptian culture and especially their burial rituals. Among all cosmetic products, cedar oil was considered to be the most sacred one, because it was used in the process of mummification. That process used 7 types of oils, which were also the basis for the Egyptian ritual magic and medicinal remedies for various illnesses.
Even though Egyptian priest guarded their cosmetic recipes from the neighboring “primitive” civilizations, Mediterranean trade of the 1st millennia BC soon brought Egyptian cosmetic products to the shores of the newly formed Greek and Roman civilizations. There, high fashion was important and many wealthy people wore wigs, white face powder, and women used red lipsticks and red oils to make their palms “more younger”. In Rome, woman was not considered beautiful if she did not use face cosmetics. Lipsticks, skin creams made from beeswax, olive oils and rosewater, powders, hair colors and many other beauty treatments were widely used in the period of 100 BC and beyond. They even had special type of female slaves whose only task was to help their masters to be more beautiful. Their names lives with us even today, Cosmetae.
When Christianity rose, Christian woman started to celebrate their religion with jewelry and cosmetics. Even the Old Testament mentioned two kings who painted their eyelids sometimes around 840BC. However, with the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe entered into dark ages where harsh living conditions, poverty, illnesses and constant wars prevented the spreading of expensive and extravagant fashion trends. This meant that almost all traces of cosmetic product disappeared from the European culture, not only because of its scarcity but also because Christian church actively prevented it’s spreading. Isolation of Europe finally came to the end in the 12th and 13th century, when warriors returning from the crusades brought with them exotic cosmetic items from the Middle East where they never went out of fashion. This new influx of riches and knowledge from the east soon kick-started European renaissance, which transformed the Europe into advanced civilization. Fortune started moving from the wealthy down to the middle classes, industry was rising, sciences and arts received much needed funding, and trade routes started spreading new fashions much more quickly than before.
Even with all the advances of Renaissance, cosmetics received little attention from general population. Some used hair coloring, painted eggs on their faces to remove wrinkles and used similar “old age” removal techniques, but widespread use of face and hand cosmetics never took hold outside aristocracy. The only really popular period of time when cosmetics was well received was during and shortly after the reign of English Queen Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603). Her unique fashion style of stark white faces and brightly colored lips captured the attention of royalty and aristocrats across England and France, but that lasted only for a short time. Soon after that cosmetics (especially highly visible facial and nail paints) became common among low class women, such as prostitutes. Nothing changed much between late 17th century and mid-19th century. Cosmetic products were uncommon among majority of European civilization, in some cases receiving status of banned and absolutely inappropriate merchandise. The only exceptions were medical cosmetic remedies that were used by everyone but the poorest in 18th century.
The dawn of cosmetic use finally arrived in the second part of 19th century when industrial revolution and great advances in chemistry (chemical fragrances) enabled much easier and varied production of various cosmetic products. With much lower price and chemical ingredients that were much less dangerous for health, cosmetics started gaining serious foothold. Some of the most famous cosmetic products from that time were rogue red lipstick (it symbolized health and wealth), zinc facial powder (much safer than previous lead and copper based powders) and eye shadow and eye sparklers.
The turning point in the western fashion came in 1920s when mass marketed cosmetic products finally became financially viable. And where profit can be found, there is the will to market and sell it. Photography, cult of film actors and big marketing campaigns soon brought the fall of traditional Victorian fashion, enabling women of all ages to start wearing cosmetic products in the public. Early decades of cosmetics popularity in the west brought us many inventive products, such as Lip Gloss by Max Factor, synthetic hair dye and sunscreen by L’Oréal, suntan and red nail polish by Coco Chanel, and others.
After the World War II and its period of heavy material rationing, cosmetic industry experienced its second renaissance. Countless new fashion trends were adopted, mostly being popularized by various movie actresses and musicians. Today, cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar business that stretches across entire world, always finding new ways and fashion trends that sustains and ensures its growth.
10. Elle 18
A peppy brand for the youth, Elle 18, owned by Hindustan Unilever Limited, was launched in the year 1998. With bright neon shades and loud colors, this brand aims to target the young crowd and hence presents with affordable prices. Nail colors, lipsticks, and glosses from Elle 18 are available at very convenient prices.
9. ColorbarColorbar is a leading brand of cosmetics launched in 2004 in India. With a spunky range of nail colors and lip pops, this brand provides complete cosmetic solutions for eyes, skin, nails and lips. A huge range of products from moisturising lotions, to lipsticks and glosses, to bronzers and body shimmers are available under this label.
Founded in the year 1930 with a vision to find answers in skin and hair health through Ayurveda, Himalaya is known for its face washes, body lotions, sunscreens, and other cosmetic products. The marketing of Himalaya products in India contributed a wholesome 60% to the sales of Rs 1, 200 crores made by the brand in 2011. A popular television advertisement shows a “Devi Ji” with a huge pimple on her face, using Himalaya Purifying Neem face wash to fight the acne. The product was a huge hit and was and is still used by many.
With reasonably ranged products, Maybelline is a huge hit among Indians. The Colossal Kajal by Maybelline is priced much lower than its parallels in the market. Initially launched in 1915, it is now marketed under L’Oreal; L’Oreal India launched Maybelline in India. The products are infamous mainly due to the price mentioned on the product.
6. Revlon India
The first international cosmetic brand to be launched in India was Revlon in 1995. With moderately priced, products mainly make up essentials, this brand has remained a monstrous name in the cosmetic segment in India. Statistics state that The Company owns approximately 20-25 % share of the domestic colour cosmetic in the market.
5. Shahnaz Husain
Founded by and named after Shahnaz Husain in the 1970’s this brand also has its principles based in the natural goodness of Ayurveda. The all-herbal formula works wonders and currently there are around 350 products under this label, pertaining to the health of and make up for skin and hair.
A stalwart in the cosmetic industry, L’Oreal has made an indelible mark for itself. The company has been marketing products in India for about two decades. L’Oreal India, a subsidiary of L’Oreal, has been growing at an exceptionally fast rate. L’Oreal Paris is a trademark label under this company. From hair strengthening serums, to compact powders and makeup foundations and primers, this cosmetic giant has a range of effective and evolved products.
Launched in the year 1984, this brand utilises herbal formula too. This stands to be the main forte of Biotique, as in the synthetic cosmetic world, this label lacks all artificial preservatives and synthetic fragrances. The ingredients used in these products are extracted from herbs. The brand has a wide range of shampoos, lotions, hair oils, lip balms and other products.
Lotus Herbals Ltd was set up over decades back in the year 1993 and manufactures cosmetics ranging from shampoos and hair oils to face cleansers and lotions. With products priced at a conveniently low MRP, the brand believes in the Ayurvedic recipe to be the answer to all skin and hair related woes. Thus, Lotus cosmetics are devoid of synthetic elements and utilise herbal formula. The company is growing fast at a rate of 35%-40% per year.
Since childhood, my mother insisted on the application of the Lakme moisturiser religiously. It is also a huge possibility that the purse owned by a young Indian woman holds the Lakme Eyeconic Kajal as one if the essential contents. This timeless brand is owned by Unilever was launched in the year 1952 by JRD Tata and it was not till 1996 that it was bought by Hindustan Lever Limited. The prestigious and chic Lakme Fashion Week is sponsored twice a year by this brand. When it comes to cosmetics, Lakme is a trusted name and has maintained its honour despite the emergence of new brands.