Since ancient times, cosmetic products have played a particularly important role in the transformation of women. Careful application of makeup on a woman's face can thus become a meeting between who she really is and the ideal she desires for herself in connection with her own person.
Makeup has been used to awaken and stimulate certain feelings and qualities, both in the person who looks, and in the one who wears the makeup in a certain way. Makeup makes the women feel complete. Even the most natural appearance is sometimes cultivated with a lot of work.
Traditions in the art of makeup. In all cultures, cosmetics helped to beautify the face and turned often common features into a special appearance.
In China, women used to make a red dot in the middle of their forehead. A similar practice still exists in India and Nepal, where it means engagement in a spiritual or religious life.
In Egypt, women, after some scented baths, used to cover their bodies with makeup, then made facial beautification, with difficult, meticulous and complex mixtures of makeup such as the famous “kohl” to refresh their eyes. Pencil-shaped lipsticks served to accentuate the lips shine. Also, certain chewing products have been used to keep the gums pink and firm. For the cheeks were used different powders and make-up based on cinnabar (natural mercury sulfide, red color, used especially in the preparation of paints). The hair was combed, braided and perfumed.
Assyrian nobility used large quantities of fragrance and cosmetics.
The Arabic word which has survived until today, for the eye makeup (kohl or kohol), tranquility, calmness. At first, the ancients only used lead sulphide, which they named kohol (kohl), then, when they started using magnesium oxygen, they gave it the same name. Two colors were used for eye makeup. The black (kohl) for the upper eyelid and the green malachite for the lower one.
The women in antiquity had a special eye shine by applying a stick dipped in kohl directly on their pupil. In order to be more appealing and exciting, women colored in red coral the tip of their fingers and toes, their heels and sometimes even their nipples. They accomplished this by using “kufra” juice. This plant, known as henna, was much appreciated because of its small, delicate flowers, with charming fragrance. The flowers were star-shaped and grew in clusters, having a dark-red juice coming from their leaves and stems. For centuries, women from the entire Orient have worn these flowers in their hair, crushed their leaves, sprayed them and mixed them with cateshu (dye extracted from an Indian tree) to obtain appropriate dye. Even today, henna is used by many women, especially for hair dyeing.
In Greece, women have used the basic lead carbonate to whiten their face. This substance remained popular for centuries. Due to its toxic effect, the substance could also cause death for those who used it.
In the Roman Empire (especially in Rome), the use of ointments and makeup was very common. In many specialty stores, various perfumery products were sold. Ovid, in “Ars Amandi” (“The Art of Love”), described the use of certain cosmetic preparations. He also published a code of coquetry: “Ovid on Cosmetics” (a real collection of beauty recipes).
The physician of Emperor Trajan has also published a collection of cosmetic recipes, which contained a reproduction of some recipes of Queen Cleopatra. This work has been lost over time, but the most important parts of it were reproduced by the Roman physician Galenus, the founder of “galenic” (the art and science of preparing medicines).
Since 1600, cosmetic science has been divided between different professional groups: alchemists, barbers, pharmacists, hairdressers, chambermaids and even noble ladies.