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The first mirror ever found was actually a polished obsidian stone that dates back to around 6000 BC. That mirror was evidence that the need to be aware of how we look to ourselves and others was no new concept. Ancient civilizations have used makeup not just for aesthetics but it could also speak of someone’s social status, attract the opposite sex, and even for scaring off dangerous animals.

The next generation of mirrors was made from copper discs, the oldest one dated back to 4000 BC, but the first example of a mirror as we know it is only 2000 years old. Let’s take a look back to the distant past and find out how different nations in different parts of the world nurtured their skin…

Egypt

Ancient Egyptians would find beautification to be very important and they incorporated it into every single aspect of their lives. If you look at the hieroglyphs they have left behind, it’s plain to see how important makeup was to them. The oldest piece of makeup found is about eight thousand years old! All kinds of stones and metals were crushed down to powder in order to create an eyeshadow. By adding animal fat, oil, and water, they have managed to find a way to make this piece of makeup even darker which gave their eyes a more dramatic appearance.

Today, makeup is mostly worn only by women. In the past, though, men were also actively participating in this type of beautification process – which was a lot more difficult when compared to the options we have today. It’s rare to see a woman nowadays go out without her makeup on hand, but back then makeup was stored in much larger jars. Despite this, believe it or not, that did not stop them from carrying it with them to parties – the only difference was the size of an average makeup box, and they didn’t put those boxes into purses but kept them under the chairs.

Other than displaying a certain social status and attracting an appropriate suitor, Egyptians believed that wearing makeup also protected them from evil spirits and improved their eyesight! Needless to say, there was practically nobody in this civilization that didn’t wear makeup in some form. They were so occupied with their makeup jars that even the poorest tomb found had at least one jar of eyeshadow. There was no way to allow someone to pass over into “the next life” without looking beautiful and having a way to drive away the evil spirits…

Greece

These noble people were pretty jealous of Egyptians and their well-kept secrets. For some time, Greeks wanted to learn their ways, but nothing happened until Alexander the Great had insisted. Even then, everything Greeks managed to find out was just pieces of information which may or may not have been correct, because Egyptian priests didn’t want anyone else using the makeup they had needed so long to perfect. Ancient Greece was another civilization in which using makeup and all sorts of oils weren’t just for girls & women but for both sexes. They considered skincare and body care to be an important part of everyday culture.

Asia

The process of skin care & beautification had a different focus in this part of the world – nails. Depending on the color of someone’s nails in Ancient China, you could easily determine their social status. Until the medieval period, this was the most important thing on your body, and you wouldn’t believe the effort they’d put into making perfect flowers and other shapes. Speaking of flowers, safflower is what turned around their way of seeing beauty – medieval Japan was the time of mysterious geishas who used this particular crushed flower to paint their mouth, nose, and corners of the eyes.

Having in mind this long history of skin care, it’s no wonder why it comes so naturally to all of us today. A part of this culture has fallen to the wayside more recently since it is frowned upon for a man to use the same products as women do – but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t use products intended for care and preservation. More and more modern men are becoming more conscious of the needs of their skin because the basic point of skin care is health and no one should feel bad for wanting to be healthy. Many of today’s men understand this is true and provide another reason the private label skin care market is a profitable venture.

References:

http://www.examiner.com/article/history-of-ancient-egyptian-makeup

http://barefacedtruth.com/2012/01/18/a-brief-history-of-skin-care-cosmetics-part-1-ancient-times/