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Understanding Cosmetics

By Redi Choetics

Commonly, cosmetics means a preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application or it may be something superficial that is used to cover a deficiency or defect.

Cosmetics serve to beautify the body, especially the face and hair. Cosmetic surgery means to serve to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity. Cosmetics can be used on objects too other than human beings, which, however would be decorative rather than functional, example, cosmetic fenders on cars.

Cosmetics also means lacking depth or significance or superficial. For instance, anybody can make a few cosmetic changes to look different in order to hide identity.

A cosmetologist or beautician or beauty specialist use cosmetic products to a large extent. They specialize in giving beauty treatments, usually to women. A cosmetologist is proficient in hair treatments, facials and other skin treatments and nail treatments.

Some cosmetologists specialize in just one of these areas. The sub-categories of cosmetologist are hair stylist, shampooer, manicurist, estheticians and electrologists. Often cosmetologists specialize in more than one of these categories.

Cosmetic products are preparations externally applied to change or enhance the beauty of skin, hair, nails, lips, and eyes. The use of body paint for ornamental and religious purposes has been common among primitive peoples from prehistoric times. Body-marking, painting, tattooing, or scarification by cutting or burning of the body for ritual, esthetic, medicinal, magic, or religious purposes are very common.

Ointments, balms, powders, and hair dyes have also been used from primitive times. Many cosmetics originated in Asia, but their ingredients and use are first documented in Egypt; ancient tombs have yielded kohl pots or cosmetic jars and applicators or cosmetic spoons. The Egyptians used kohl to darken their eyes. A raw paint was used on the face, and palms were often dyed with henna. Greek women used charcoal pencils and rouge sticks of alkanet and coated their faces with powder, which often contained dangerous lead compounds. Beauty aids reached a peak in imperial Rome. They used chalk for the face and a rouge called fucus-and ladies required the services of slaves adept in their use.

In Asia, specially in India, Ayurvedic preparations are used instead of the synthetic ones. In Ayurvedic preparations, mostly the raw material used are from natural sources like herbs, shrubs, trees or earth elements and water.

Many cosmetics survived the Middle Ages, and Crusaders brought back rare Eastern oils and perfumes. In the Renaissance, cosmetics, usually white-lead powder and vermilion, were used profligately. Since the 17th cent, recipes and books on the toilette abounded. Professional cosmetologists began to appear, and luxurious prescriptions often included a bath in wine or milk of various animals. With the advent of French revolution, the use of cosmetics virtually disappeared.

The year 1900 saw a revival of their use, accompanied by the manufacture of beauty aids on a scientific basis in France. Since then the industry has grown to tremendous proportions with products manufactured for every conceivable use. The cosmetics business flourished throughout the later 20th cent. By the beginning of the 21st cent. the cosmetics industry was mostly run by large corporations and had become a multibillion dollar enterprise.

About The Author

Redi Choetics is the owner of RNA Cosmetics which is a premier resource for cosmetics information. for more information, go to


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