Cosmetic history worldwide has gone through a sea of change over the past few centuries. Today the cosmetic industry is worth over $50 billion, but this was not always the case. Before we study more about the history of cosmetics, we need to search the origin of cosmetics. Cosmetics was not a business during its nascent stage and it was solely used to enhance the look of the facial skin. It all started during the 4th century BC when cosmetics and business were words from two different worlds.
If we look into the history of cosmetics then we find that the Egyptians were the precursors of cosmetic use. Here the women of the upper class used animal fat, scented oils and eye color to give a real ‘facelift’ to their faces. During its initial years, cosmetics were restricted to the confines of a room where they were prepared from natural ingredients. Cosmetics had not yet found any commercial use though it was exchanged among women.
The western world also embraced it (though a little late) much to the dissatisfaction of the Church and Queen Victoria. The use of cosmetics here was more among the lower class women and this is what slowly gave rise to cosmetics being manufactured for sale among the common masses. The French were the first to manufacture cosmetics on a large scale with the use of new and improved methods. They replaced the dangerous ingredients like copper and lead with Zinc oxide and other harmless chemicals. This soon resulted in wide sales of cosmetics and women from the elite as well as lower classes started to use it for their facial beautification.
The history of cosmetics changed with the end of World War II and the industrial growth during the 1940’s, when cosmetics found acceptance among women from all corners of the world. With the advent of the electronic media like Television and Radio, things looked really sunny for the cosmetic industry as actresses wore cosmetic makeup that attracted the general masses – a huge boost to the sales figures. Soon more and more women turned it into a habit to wear cosmetic makeup for almost all occasions.
People, mostly associated with the cosmetic industry, wanted to manufacture healthier and better products because they did not treat this as a business but something that even had use in their homes. Technological advancements made it easier for the companies to try out different ingredients for their cosmetics and this has also provided a plethora of options in front of modern consumers. Cosmetic history worldwide is all about providing the right kinds of cosmetics to satiate the obsession to look beautiful and remain young..
Nowadays, the cosmetic industry is not only concentrating on cosmetics for women, but even providing the metro-sexual males a chance to improve their facial looks. Today, the world’s cosmetic industry faces a huge demand and a real challenge in producing good quality cosmetic products. It is still a highly lucrative business for new entrants, but the challenge now comes from clinical studies that show the existence of toxic ingredients that are currently used in the manufacture of cosmetic products. These ingredients, used over long periods of time, are now being considered harmful to one’s health. Therefore, the history of cosmetics today wills evolve into where the industry will go in the future with this new information that indicates the continuous use of these toxic ingredients could be harmful to one’s health.
Little did the Egyptians know then, when they were short of options and they sat in front of the mirror to use their cosmetics, what challenges would exist today.