Skin Care

A Brief History of Cosmetics 2: Dark Ages to mid-20th century

A Brief History of Cosmetics 2: Dark Ages to mid-20th century

We continue our multi-part series on the history of cosmetics with this view of the dark ages through the mid-20th century.

“A woman without paint is like food without salt.”
Plautus, Roman philosopher

Throughout recorded history (and certainly before), cosmetics and skin care products have been synonymous with women. In the developed world, women on average use 12 personal care products daily – they are an indispensable part of a woman’s life in all cultures. They are also huge business. Cosmetics sales are $170 billion a year, distributed fairly uniformly around the world – $40 billion in the Americas, $60 billion in Europe, $60 billion in Australia & Asia, and $10 billion in Africa. The Western world spends a bit more per person but India and Asia are quickly catching up.
Cosmetics Come to Medieval Europe

Although women of higher station in ancient Greece and Rome were regular users of cosmetics, the tradition was actually an adopted one from the ancient Egyptian culture. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was not until the middle ages that the use of cosmetics again became common. Unlike in Egypt, however, where cosmetic use was among all classes, cosmetics in Europe were an elite affair reserved for the “gentle classes”. Commoners did not have access to such luxuries.

Their adoption was not without vocal opposition from certain cultural segments. In medieval times, many church leaders in the Europe thought makeup was sinful and immoral. The church was a powerful political as well as cultural influence and religious opposition to use of cosmetics was significant. Biblical references to vanity and harlotry (prostitution) frequently included descriptions of painted faces on women. Cosmetics use and loose morals became synonymous.

For a period, the church outlawed cosmetics and their use was only found in brothels. After all, the respectability of enhancing female physical allure was in stark counterpoint to the goal of spiritual elevation and forsaking of the carnal world. Unadorned flesh was difficult enough to resist. How could it possibly be permissible to deliberately enhance one’s (sexual and otherwise) attraction? Sensible question, given the premise, but hardly a sustainable position as women enjoy looking attractive to men, and men enjoy looking at attractive women.

We know cosmetics were used to enhance female appearance during medieval times. The statue at right is dated to 1350 and shows a well-made up woman, her skin fashionably pale with plucked eyebrows, high hairline and round forehead and a rosy glow which could not be due to anything other than a generous amount of rouge.

So, what happened? Simple, the clergy made exceptions. Women afflicted with illness that made them unattractive were excused from the sin of vanity if they used cosmetics. The desire to not repel others or their husbands was deemed an acceptable reason for cosmetic enhancement.

No less than Thomas of Aquinas grudgingly conceded that a woman should make herself as attractive as possible to her husband so that he might not stray into the sin of adultery. Caution should be used, however, to not become so beautiful that she might attract other women’s husbands. Once exceptions were made, they eventually and predictably became the rule.

By the 12th century, cosmetics were in regular use in Europe. Because of the nature of their ingredients, cosmetics and many skin care preparations were dispensed by apothecaries and doctors. Clear skin was held in particular high esteem because frequent smallpox epidemics left many of the population with unattractive pockmarks.

Allure of the Paleface

For centuries, those rich enough not to work outdoors wanted to draw contrast to the suntanned skin of the field hand. Paleness indicated a woman of superior breeding and the tanned look that many associate with health today was associated with outdoor work and therefore a low birth. Thus smooth white skin was regarded in the medieval period as the most beautiful of all kinds.

Women whitened their faces with wheat flour or lead based paints, some of which contained significant amounts of arsenic. Women died. The incidental damage inflicted by the arsenic was unintentional— but not always.

Aqua Toffana, named after its creator, Signora Toffana, was an arsenic containing face powder designed for women from rich families. The container directed women to visit the signora for proper usage instructions. During the visit, women would be instructed to be sure never to ingest the makeup, but to apply it to their cheeks when their husbands were around. After many kissed cheeks, six hundred husbands were dead leaving many wealthy widows. Slow but eventually effective detective work ultimately resulted in the execution of Signora Toffana – the original “femme fatal”.

During the Italian Renaissance, women also wore lead paint on their faces and many Italian women wore pink lipstick to show they could afford “synthetic’ makeup. The eyebrows are made very thin and in some cases they disappear. even the forehead is depilated to leave more dimension in the face. the eyes make up with khöl and the rouge tends to gránate.

In Spain, prostitutes deliberately distinguished themselves from pale-faced high society by wearing pink makeup.

Queen Elizabeth I of England, often depicted in paintings as having a very pale complexion, was a well-known user of white lead. Her so-called “Mask of Youth” is seen in nearly all her portraits. Pale looking skin was so important to some women that they underwent “bleeding” to achieve it, often at their own hand.

During the French Restoration in the 18th century, red rouge and lipstick were the rage of the aristocracy and implied a healthy, fun-loving spirit. This stuck inFrance, but eventually people in other countries became repulsed by excessive makeup use and said the painted French must be unattractive because they obviously had something to hide. After the French Revolution, the repulsion of the masses towards the excesses of the French Royal Court made use of makeup uncommon for a period time.

When makeup regained acceptance in the late 19th century, it was with natural tones so that the healthy, pink-cheeked look could be achieved without giving in to the moral decadence of full makeup, which was still seen as sinful. At the turn of the 20th century, women continued to covet pale white skin. Some went so far as to ingest Arsenic Complexion Wafers produced by several “doctors”. The resultant anemia left the skin pale, as well as affecting every other organ with potential oxygen deprivation.

Cosmetics Go Mainstream

During the 19th century, there were profound changes in the production of cosmetics. New methods of manufacture and safer chemicals and natural ingredients were incorporated. Zinc oxide was used as a cosmetic base and the use of lead and copper was abolished. At the end of the 19th century, the first beauty salons were set up.

Use of makeup cosmetics accelerated in the late 1920’s and early 1930s after actresses and theater artists started using it in their films. Sarah Bernhardt and Jean Harlow spearheaded the so-called cosmetic movement and made the use of cosmetics fashionable. The cosmetics industry grew rapidly. Advertising expenditure on radio went from $300,000 to $3.2 million between 1927 and 1930. At first, many women’s magazines refused advertisements for cosmetics, but by the end of the ’20s, cosmetics provided one of their largest sources of advertising revenue. After World War II, there was rapid growth in the cosmetic industry as more and more women started using cosmetics. They were soon and forever after, part of every woman’s life.

Highlights in the Evolution of the Modern Cosmetics and Beauty Industry

1900: Black entrepreneur Annie Turnbo begins selling hair treatments, including non-damaging hair straighteners, hair growers, and hair conditioners door-to-door.

1904: Max Factor migrates from Lodz, Poland, to the United States, and four years later to Los Angeles, where he sells make-up to movie stars that does not cake or crack.

1909: French chemist Eugene Schueller develops the first safe commercial hair dye. In 1910, he names his company L’Oreal.

1905: Sarah McWilliams begins to sell a hair grower door-to-door. After she married Charles J. Walker, she became known as Madam C.J. Walker and incorporated her company in Indianapolis in 1911.

1909: Florence Graham and cosmetologist Elizabeth Hubbard open a salon onFifth Avenue inNew York, which Graham will rename Elizabeth Arden.

1914: T.J. Williams founds Maybelline, which specializes in mascaras.

1915: Lipstick is introduced in cylindrical metal tubes.

1922: The bobby pin is invented to manage short (bobbed) hair.

1932: Charles and Joseph Revson, nail polish distributors, and Charles Lackman, a nail polisher supplier found Revlon.

1932: Lawrence Gelb, a New York chemist, brings home fromParis a hair color product that penetrates the hair shaft, and starts a company called Clairol.

1933: A new method for permanent waving, using chemical, which doesn’t require electricity or machines, is introduced.

1935: Pan-cake makeup, originally developed to look natural on color film, was created by Max Factor.

1941: Aerosols are patented, paving the way for hair spray.

1944: A Miami Beach pharmacist, Benjamin Green, develops sunscreen to protect soldiers in the South Pacific.

1958: Mascara wands debut, eliminating the need of applying mascara with a brush.

1961: Cover Girl make-up, one of the first brands sold in grocery stores and targeted to teens, is introduced by Noxema.

1963: Revlon offers the first powdered blush-on.

Coming up next in this series: a look at beauty and cosmetic trends during the 2nd half of the 20th century. Another revolution– this time in advertising.

A Brief History of Skin Care & Cosmetics. Part 1

A brief history of skin care & cosmetics. Part 1: Ancient times

Skin Care & Cosmetics: Then, Now, and in the Future. This BFT series will start at the beginning and explore the ancient world first. Subsequent postings with discuss more current times and conclude with what can be expected in the future. Our hope is to educate and place today’s products and science into a longer timeline and larger context.

In the beginning…

Although written recorded history dates back only six millennia, the history of skin decoration and care is likely much longer, perhaps as long as mankind itself. Using facial decoration to gain attention or intimidate enemies in battle are cultural constants throughout history. Looking one’s best to improve social standing, denote superior rank in society, or improve the chances of coupling with the most attractive members of the opposite sex, also seem to be timeless concerns. Whether learned behaviors or something embedded in our genetic code (probably right next to the shopping gene), there is ample evidence that proves skin care and cosmetics have long been with us.

The basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are apparently only slightly more important than rouge, lipstick and eyeliner. After all, the mirror was invented for a reason and sending distress signals using reflected sunlight is not it. The record shows the earliest mirrors (after reflecting surfaces of still dark water) were polished obsidian stones used in Anatolia (modern day Turkey) as long ago as 6000 BC. Similar polished stones have been found in the Americas and date back to 2000 BC. Reflective copper discs date back to 4000 BC and the first metal backed glass mirror is 2000 years old. Apparently, people have been peering at themselves before the big night out on the town for a long, long time.

Egyptian cosmetology

The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics usage is from Ancient Egypt about 6000 years ago. Not only was it an important aspect of their daily culture, it was deeply incorporated into their mummification and burial traditions. Archaeologists have found small clay pots of makeup in even the most humble tombs. Yet, as important as beauty was to the Egyptians, cosmetics served another purpose – protecting them from the elements, warding off the sun’s burning rays, and repelling insects. Application of makeup also served as a ritual to honor their gods or goddesses.

Ancient Egyptians had a variety of make-up formulations. Metal ore, copper, and semi-precious stones were ground into powder for eye-shadows. Adding water, oil, or animal fat aided in adhesion and made the color darker, giving the eye a more dramatic look. Kohl, the dark eyeliner depicted in Egyptian statuettes, paintings, and mummy cases is a mixture of lead, copper, burned almonds, soot, and other ingredients. .. For lips, cheeks and nails, a clay called red ochre was ground and mixed with water. Makeup was stored in special jars that were kept in special makeup boxes. Women would carry their makeup boxes to parties and keep them under their chairs. The Egyptians believed make-up could ward off evil spirits and improve the sight so even the poor wore eye make-up

Henna is a natural dye still used for body decoration and hair coloring. It comes from a particular shrub whose dried crushed leaves create a deep orange-red powder. When mixed with water a paste is formed that is a temporary dye that colors the skin or hair for several weeks. Both women and men also used henna to stain their lips a deep red. Archaeologists report discovering traces of henna on the fingernails of mummified pharaohs. Today henna is used to decorate the skin of brides in many cultures, most notably India.

With no FDA around to ensure safety, the ancients created products using dangerous materials like mercury and white lead. According to findings published in the journal Analytical Chemistry the use of lead may have aided in combating eye infections like conjunctivitis.

Ancient Hebrews

The ancient Hebrews employed fragrance to consecrate their temples, altars, candles and priests. The book of Exodus (approximately 1,200 BC) provides a recipe for the Holy anointing oil given to Moses for the initiation of priests. It contains: Myrrh, cinnamon and calamus mixed with olive oil. Although the Mosaic Law decreed severe punishment to anyone who used Holy oils or incense in a secular fashion, some aromatics were less restricted. Two biblical references to perfume include Proverbs 27:9, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart,” and Song of Solomon 1:13-14, “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire [henna] in the vineyards of En-gedi.”

Ancient Greeks

The Greeks invaded Egypt with an interest in their medical knowledge. Egyptian priests were unwilling to divulge the “secrets” of sacred Egyptian oils. Under pressure from Alexander the Great, the priests released disinformation and half-truths to prevent the knowledge from falling into the hands of the great unwashed masses [I know, sounds like some of our favorite online anti-aging sites]. Although, to be fair, the Greeks seemed to be more interested in the aphrodisiac qualities of the sacred oils than their medicinal value. In Greece, precious oils, perfumes, cosmetic powders, eye shadows, skin glosses, paints, beauty unguents, and hair dyes were in universal use. Export and sale of these items formed an important part of trade around the Mediterranean.

In ancient Rome, cosmetics were usually produced by female slaves called Cosmetae, hence the name.

Middle and Far Eastern Practices

Cosmetics were also used in Persia and what is now called the Middle East. After Arab tribes converted to Islam and conquered those areas, cosmetic use was regulated in order to prevent people from disguising themselves for deceptive purposes or causing uncontrolled desire. There was no prohibition against cosmetics per se, only restrictions on their improper use. Deliberately using them to look “hot” was one of them.

So extensive was the use of cosmetics and fragrances in the Middle East that an early 24-volume medical encyclopedia, the Al-Tasrif, had an entire volume dedicated to cosmetics. It was later translated into Latin and used in the West. Cosmetics were considered a branch of medicine – “The Medicine of Beauty.” The text also dealt with perfumes, scented aromatics and incense. There were descriptions of ingredient rolled and pressed in special moulds, perhaps the earliest antecedents of present-day lipsticks and solid deodorants.

Around 3000 BCE, Chinese people began to stain their fingernails with gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg. The colors used represented one’s social class: Chou dynasty royals wore gold and silver; later royals wore black or red. The lower classes were permitted to color their nails but forbidden to wear bright colors.

Beauty “painting” became all the rage in ancient China when legend has it a plum blossom drifted down onto the forehead of a princess, leaving a floral imprint. Ladies of the court were so impressed they too began to decorate their foreheads with delicate little plum blossom designs and soon it became commonplace. (Apparently, fashion fads started long before Madison Avenue began to create sophisticated campaigns to convince people they “needed” the latest trend in designs for jeans, shoes, purses, dresses, make up, etc. The author’s opinion is that men are less susceptible to being swayed that they “need” something, but when they do, it just might be a red $200,000 sports car.)

In medieval Japan, geisha used crushed safflower petals to paint their eyebrows, edges of the eyes and lips. Sticks of bintsuke wax, a softer version of the sumo wrestlers’ hair wax, were used by geisha as a makeup base. Rice powder colored the face and back white while rouge contoured the eye socket and defined the nose. The geisha also used bird droppings as the base for lighter colors.

(You may say “yuck” but wait until you read what current thinking is for possible cosmetic and face cream ingredients in an upcoming BFT post).
Stay tuned for Part 2: Cosmetics from the dark ages to the 20th century.

In medieval times, many church leaders in the Europe thought makeup was sinful and immoral. Women adopted the fad anyway. From the Renaissance until the 20th century, lower classes worked outside in agricultural jobs resulting in darker, suntanned skin. The higher a person was in status, the more leisure time one could spend indoors, which kept their skin pale. To raise their perceived “status”, some people attempted to lighten their skin using white powder. Other products were used including white lead paint which contained arsenic. Many women died as a result. Queen Elizabeth I of England, often depicted in paintings as having a very pale complexion, was a well-known user of white lead. Her so-called “Mask of Youth” is seen in nearly all her portraits. Women in the 16th century went so far as to undergo “bleeding” to achieve pale skin.

Reminds us of the opposite trend today, where women line up to have UVA and UVB skin irradiation in order to achieve (the current standard) darker (tanned) tones. Seems like we are chronic malcontents with regards to skin coloration.

All About Gold Facial Mask

Women find gold irresistible and that is the ultimate truth! Be it for her jewelry or for her facials, gold is an indispensable part of her life. Gold facial is popular as a beauty treatment and the reasons for the same are not too far to seek! Wondering what gold facials are all about? Your search comes to an end here. After reading this article, you would get a comprehensive idea about the gold facial treatment, which has won the hearts of millions of women.

All About Gold Facial Mask

What is gold facial and what are the benefits?
Gold facial is a facial treatment that can be availed at any reputed spa or beauty salon. It includes the application of 24-carat gold foil mask which in turn, helps your skin to reap a number of benefits. The top ten benefits of gold facial are:

A gold facial session activates the process of cell renewal and rejuvenates your skin
It brings about a significant reduction of wrinkles and fine lines
It has anti-aging properties and makes your skin look youthful
It is helpful in elimination of toxins and combating damages made by the sun
It provides your skin with oxygen and reduces the tired appearance
It brightens up the skin and your face looks dull no more
It prevents blemishes and acne since it is known to have anti-bacterial properties
It ensures that skin elasticity is maintained
It improves circulation of blood
It suits dry and oily skin alike
Gold facial types and list of ingredients
Gold facial is a type in itself and in most of the beauty salons, you won’t get to try out a variety of gold facials. However, specialized and customized gold facials include:

24 carat gold collagen facial

24 carat gold leaf facial
No matter what the type is, generally, the creams and masks and gels in your gold facial kit is known to contain not only gold powder but also gold foil in addition to saffron, sandalwood, turmeric, honey, aloe vera and wheat germ oil.

How to do gold facial?
Ideally, you should go and get gold facial done at a spa under expert care. Only then would you reap the best benefits of this treatment. However, if you want to do it yourself at home, first of all, you must invest in a good quality gold facial kit from a well-known brand. After that, follow the given procedure:

Cleanse: Clean your face with the gold facial cleanser that is available in your kit.

Exfoliate: Scrub your face gently with gentle upward motions with the gold facial scrub.

Massage: Use the gold massage cream or gel that comes with the kit. Let your skin absorb the goodness as your rub the cream into the layers of your skin.

Application of mask: Apply the gold mask on your skin and wait for it to dry. Remove the mask softly in due course.

Moisturize: Apply cold compress and follow up with the gold facial moisturizer to end your DIY gold facial session.

Doesn’t the gold facial pampering session sound interesting? The best part is that this facial is deemed to be completely safe on your skin. When do you plan to treat your skin with gold facial to get flawlessly youthful and glowing skin?

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