Origin of Cosmetics

Jhanvi Patel

May 2020

Cosmetics are created to cleanse, protect, and change the appearance of external parts of our bodies. The key ingredients in most cosmetics include water, emulsifier, moisturizers, colors, fragrances, and thickeners. It is not a modern invention. Humans have been using various methods to alter their appearances for thousands of years.

Kohl, eyeliner, had its origin in Africa, where galena (lead sulfide) was used to darken the eyelids. Moisturizers and skin lightening creams also originated in Africa. Cleopatra, a substance extracted from milk was used to get smoother, clearer, and fairer skin tones, especially by women in those areas.

In China, cosmetics began as a symbol of class. Women started coloring their fingernails according to the socio-economic class they belonged to. They were extracted from colorful flowers and mixed with oils from cotton seeds. The craze for looking good and using cosmetics reached a fever pitch. People even resorted to using poisonous lead carbonates in Greece to achieve a pale complexion. The women were always willing to harm themselves to go along with the ideals of beauty of the eras in which they lived. In Australia, women used crushed rocks and minerals as body paints for initiations and ceremonies. 

In today’s world, people, most especially women, are much more independent and much less willing to sacrifice their physical wellbeing for the sake of appearances. They get ready to feel good about themselves; not for anyone else.



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