Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University
Cairo, Ismailia, Qasr an Nile, Cairo, Egypt
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Organizations:Ain Shams University
Ain Shams University
IYC Interests:Encourage interest of young people in chemistry
Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry
Celebrate the role of women in chemistry
History of cosmetics
The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics usage was found in Egypt around 3500 BC during the Old Kingdom. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used cosmetics. The Romans and Ancient Egyptians used cosmetics containing poisonous mercury and often lead.
In the Middle Ages, although its use was frowned upon by Church leaders, many women still wore cosmetics. A popular fad for women during the Middle Ages was to have a pale-skinned complexion, which was achieved through either applying pastes of lead, chalk, or flour, or by bloodletting. Women would also put white lead pigment that was known as "ceruse" on their faces to appear to have pale skin.
Cosmetic use was frowned upon at many points in Western history. For example, in the 19th century, Queen Victoria publicly declared makeup improper, vulgar, and acceptable only for use by actors.
Women in the 19th century liked to be thought of as fragile ladies. They compared themselves to delicate flowers and emphasized their delicacy and femininity. They aimed always to look pale and interesting. Sometimes ladies discreetly used a little rouge on the cheeks, and used "belladonna" to dilate their eyes to make their eyes stand out more. Make-up was frowned upon in general especially during the 1870s when social etiquette became more rigid.
Actresses however were allowed to use make up and famous beauties such as Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry could be powdered. Most cosmetic products available were still either chemically dubious, or found in the kitchen amid food colorings, berries and beetroot.
By the middle of the 20th century, cosmetics were in widespread use by women in nearly all industrial societies around the world.
Cosmetics have been in use for thousands of years. The absence of regulation of the manufacture and use of cosmetics has led to negative side effects, deformities, blindness, and even death through the ages. Examples of this were the prevalent use of ceruse (white lead), to cover the face during the Renaissance, and blindness caused by the mascara Lash Lure during the early 20th century.