History of Skin Care
Written historical records date back six millennia. However, skin decoration and skin care practices are believed to have been around for a longer period of time. Experts believe that skin decoration and skin care practices are almost as old as mankind itself. Facial decorations were a common way of intimidating enemies or attracting attention in the past. It was believed that decorating the skin could improve a person’s social standing, denote superiority in rank as well as attract members of the opposite sex. Traces of the use of mirrors (initially in the form of reflective copper discs) also dates back to almost 4000 BC.
Skin Care in Ancient Egypt
The first proof of the use of cosmetics can be found in the Ancient Egyptian civilization that dates back to almost 6000 years. Skin care and beauty wasn’t restricted to the daily culture. It was also known to have a great deal of value in the burial traditions of the Egyptian society. Proof of this can be found in clay pots of makeup that have been found in a number of Egyptian era tombs. Furthermore, records show that apart from beautification, skin care was also used to ward off the rays of the sun and protect the body from insects. Make-up was used as rituals to honor gods and goddesses. Some of the most popular ingredients being used by the Ancient Egyptians include metal ore, semi-precious stones, copper, red ochre, soot, henna, white lead and mercury.
In fact, it is widely believed that the Egyptian society was one of the first to glorify skin care. Secrets of eternal beauty were always sought after by royal ladies. Queen Cleopatra, an ancient Egyptian queen, was considered to be one of the major advocates of proper skin care. Her flawless and exotic looking skin was proof of how important she believed proper skin care was. In fact, practices of using gold to beautify the skin were believed to have emerged in the Ancient Egyptian society.
The ancient Hebrews were famous for using fragrances to purify their candles, priests and temples. The book of Exodus also offers a recipe for the Holy oil that was given to Moses. This oil used ingredients like myrrh, calamus, olive oil and cinnamon. Although the Mosaic Law forbade people from using these holy oils for fashion, traces of how popular they were in terms of beautifying the skin can be found in the Bible and the Song of Solomon.
One of the main reasons why the Greeks invaded the Egyptian society was to gain access to their knowledge. The Greek were believed to be extremely interested in the sacred Egyptian oils for the medicinal value that they had to offer. As the Greek society developed, the use of perfumes, eye shadows, paints, hair dyes and cosmetic powders became a part of everyday use.
Traces of the use of skin care products and cosmetics can also be found in the ancient Roman society. In fact the name “cosmetics” came from “Cosmetae”, a group of female slaves who used to produce cosmetics in the Roman society.
Cosmetics were also believed to have been used in Persia. Although cosmetics were regulated once the Arab tribes converted to Islam, there was no prohibition from actually using these cosmetics. The only prohibitions that were placed were on their misuse. As a result, traces of the use of cosmetics and fragrances can also be found in ancient Persia (the lands that we now know as the Middle East).
The Story of Cosmetics and Skin Care in the Far East
China saw the introduction of cosmetics around 3000 BC, when people began to stain their nails with eggs, gelatin and beeswax. These colors were used to represent the social class of a person. According to the ancient Chinese society, the lower classes were forbidden from using bright colors. Beauty soon became a rage in China and royal ladies also began to decorate their foreheads. Medieval era Japan brought about yet another way of looking at skin care. The Japanese geishas who became famous for their flawless skin began to use crushed safflower petals to paint their lips and eyebrows. Bintsuke wax was used as a base for make-up. Other ingredients that were used for skin care and make-up include bird droppings and rice powder.
Skin Care during the early Middle Ages
When you compare fashion and skin care techniques that were prevalent in the Early Middle Ages to the ones that were present before them, fashion had actually become quite modest. One of the main reasons for the suppression of fashion and skin care were the religious beliefs that existed at the time. However, despite this modesty, women during the early Middle Ages still took great care of their skin. In fact, women began to resort to natural methods and herbal remedies to ensure that their skin looked flawless and beautiful because the use of cosmetics, chalk and lead were looked down upon. Staying out of the sun was also believed to be very important to maintain the “fairness” of the skin.
Skin Care during the Elizabethan Era
The Elizabethan Era was characterized by Queen Elizabeth’s look. Although the clothing had become extremely structured, cosmetics were offered a lot of importance. Queen Elizabeth is believed to have been the pioneer in her era for adopting a made-up appearance. Once she made the look famous, other noblewomen of Britain soon followed suit and cosmetics became a major fad once more.
Skin care in the early 1900s
The early 1900s was when cosmetics and skin care began to revolutionize the world. A number of cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal, Maybelline and Elizabeth Arden came into existence. The concept of “science-based skincare” also emerged around this time. As new skin care products were developed, consumers felt more comfortable wearing make-up because the presence of the right skin care solutions allowed them to rectify their “flaws” and showcase their beauty even more.