Cosmetics

Introduction to Cosmetics and Their History

Introduction to Cosmetics

Cosmetics are non-medicinal substances and preparations intended to come into contact with different surface parts of the human body (e.g., epidermis, teeth, nails, hair, lips, etc.) with the goal of minimal risk. They do not act in depth and are not essential for the proper functioning of the body. Instead, they are reserved for body care, beauty, and cleanliness, with their sole purpose being to cleanse, beautify, protect, and perfume the body.

It's important not to confuse cosmetics with cosmetic: cosmetics refer to the world of skincare, all techniques, processes, and products used for beautification, while cosmetic is the product itself.

To Use or Not to Use Cosmetics?

Cosmetics come in various forms (gels, creams, emulsions, lotions, etc.) and serve the purpose of well-being without acting as medicines. All cosmetics have a roughly similar composition, consisting of excipients, active substances, and additives.

  • Excipient: It allows the active substance to act where it should. Common excipients include water, oils, and alcohol, with natural alternatives like sweet almond, avocado, or shea butter. Silicones, on the other hand, are synthetic excipients.
  • Active Substance: Gives the cosmetic "care" properties and is not the most significant substance in terms of product quantity. Examples include zinc, vitamins, clay, and various fruits and vegetables.
  • Additive: Enhances and stimulates the cosmetic's action. Cosmetic additives include preservatives, antioxidants, colorants, and adjuvants for coloring, perfuming, foaming, etc.

Cosmetics include:

  • Hygiene products for the body, such as toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant.
  • Skin products, often in cream form, like anti-wrinkle cream, day and night cream, lip balm, face mask, etc.
  • Hair products, directly applied to the hair, such as conditioner, hair spray, gel, dyes.
  • Makeup products, predominantly used by women, including mascara, eyeliner, gloss, foundation, blush, lipstick, nail polish, self-tanner.
  • Perfume, cologne, and toilet water.
  • Sunscreen products to protect the skin from UV rays, like sunscreens, post-exposure lotions, and creams.
  • Shaving and depilatory products, such as shaving foam, post-shave foam, and depilatory cream.
  • Bath and shower preparations, such as bath salts, foaming bath, and bath oil.

Not considered cosmetics:

  • Food products, as cosmetics cannot be consumed.
  • Medicines or drugs, as cosmetics do not have curative properties.

Cosmetics and Their History:

The earliest use of cosmetics dates back almost as far as humanity. Prehistoric people produced body paints from mineral sources mixed with fatty substances.

In ancient times, civilizations like the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Hebrews used cosmetics for magical, medical, and ritualistic purposes, including body and face paints, oils, perfumes, and ointments.

During the Middle Ages, cosmetics were primarily used to represent the Western feminine ideal of pale skin and rosy cheeks, but these products were only available to the wealthy.

In the 18th century, cosmetics became more accessible to all social classes, and the consumption of perfumes increased during the Renaissance. However, awareness grew about certain cosmetic ingredients like lead, which could harm the skin or even lead to death.

Since the 20th century, with industrialization, cosmetics have become more diverse and affordable, often made with synthetic or petroleum-derived ingredients.

Today, cosmetics are used for personal satisfaction, to feel beautiful and confident. Men are increasingly using cosmetics, and they are used across all generations for various purposes, from baby care to anti-aging creams for the elderly.