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The earliest record of makeup dates back to the Ancient Egyptians around 4000 B.C. Throughout the history of makeup, the ingredients being used were known to be toxic and awfully harmful to the skin. Along the lines of harmful makeup, I also learned that the last time that the laws regarding ingredients used in makeup were last updated in 1938.
Through researching, I learned that historians have traced makeup back to many centuries ago.
“Egypt, one of the earliest civilizations on the earth was not only remembered today as a birthplace of the western civilized world and place from which many sciences and arts spread across Europe, but also as a home of one of the most commonly used beauty items that are used today – cosmetics” (“Cosmetics Use in Ancient Egypt”).
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Egyptians are a part of one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Egyptians contributed greatly to the world during the Ancient times and It’s amazing how they were able to introduce new ideas and practices to the world many centuries ago that are still used today. Some products used by the Egyptians include kohl, used to create dramatic eyeliner, and green malachite, a chemical compound, as eyeshadow. Not only did Egyptians use cosmetics to beautify themselves but also used them for self-care. “Cosmetics are an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health. Men and women in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor” (“A History of Cosmetics from Ancient Times”). The dry environment prompted the Egyptians to practice self-care so they could maintain their appearance. For the Egyptians, makeup was not gender-specific and worn by everyone. In recent years, society has begun to embrace makeup in the same way the Egyptians did. Today skincare in a growing trend that encourages people to care for their skin and prevent aging.
While researching about beauty products in the early uses of makeup, I learned that as makeup became more popular, people would try their best to meet society’s standards of beauty. They would use products that had toxic ingredients that were harmful to the skin. “The women of Egypt also decorated their eyes by applying dark green color to the under the lid and blackening the lashes and the upper lid with kohl, which was made from antimony (a metallic element) or soot” (History of Makeup”).
Though we now know its harmful effects, lead was a main ingredient in many beauty products. Harmful cosmetics were not only limited to Ancient Egypt but remained prominent throughout history. Though some cosmetics today still contain few harmful ingredients, people have become more aware with what they put on their skin. In the eighteenth century, “women poisoned themselves with red and white lead make-up and powder. The make-up they used caused the eyes to swell and become inflamed, attacked the enamel on the teeth and changed the texture of the skin causing it to blacken” (“Makeup And Lead Poisoning In The 18th Century”). Women would go to great extents to make their complexion pale and blemish free. Despite its harmful effects, women continually used makeup to fit the beauty standards of the time. With the huge impact of social media, women today still feel pressure to look a certain way. Women look up to and admire the way that celebrities look and sometimes go to great extents to fit society’s standard of beauty.
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The laws regarding ingredients used in makeup were last updated in 1938. Though makeup has come a long way it still has a lot of ways it can improve for the future. “The science has evolved to show that some of the ingredients commonly used in the beauty industry have been linked to harmful health outcomes” (“Outdated U.S. Cosmetic Regulations”). The U.S has ineffective laws regarding the ingredients in beauty products and they are not protecting the public’s health. I have many friends who have acne prone skin and have to be cautious on what makeup products they use because sometimes a certain product can cause them painful breakouts that are hard to treat. While other countries have taken the initiative to make beauty products safer, the U.S has given little attention to the harmful chemicals in cosmetics. “Under the European Union’s Cosmetic Product Regulation, they have restricted nearly 1,400 harmful ingredients in cosmetics, whereas the United States has only banned 11” (Outdated U.S. Cosmetics Regulations). I personally have to do research beforehand because of my sensitive skin. If I don’t do this, my skin becomes painfully dry and swells. Products that harm those with normal skin, affect me to a greater extent.
This project made me realize that makeup has been used over many years and for many different reasons. This research also informed me of how makeup today still needs improvement to work towards having cleaner and safer products. In Ancient Greece, makeup was used to enhance natural beauty (BuzzFeedVideo). I still have a positive outlook towards makeup because all throughout history makeup was been used to help people feel more confident and today it is also used as a way of self-expression. However, makeup still has many ways it can improve. The laws regarding the ingredients in makeup need to be updated soon since “our cosmetics safety laws haven’t been significantly updated since 1938, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President” (“Outdated U.S. Cosmetic Regulations”).
This project has taught me information about how makeup came to be the way it is today and how it still has room for improvement. Also, using the information that I learned, I will encourage people to be aware of the ingredients in their makeup products and make sure that what they are putting on their skin is safe.
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