Cosmetics are a preparations used to change the appearance or enhance beauty of the face, skin, and hair. Like perfumes, cosmetics were probably originally used as a supplement to a religious ritual, and the ceremonial aspects were gradually lost as both men and women adorned themselves with cosmetics.

Cosmetics in the Ancient World

Records left by the ancient civilizations of the Middle East show a consistent use of cosmetics. The Sumarians, Babylonians, Hebrews, and Egyptians employed similar preparations for similar purposes--cerimonial, medicinal, and ornamental. Face and body paint, as well as skin oils and unguents, have been found in pots and jars in the form of sticks and pencils, some from the fourth millennium BC. The ancient Middle Eastern civilization lavished attention on the eyes, in part because the cosmetics used served protection from flies and the Sunís glare. Lashes, lids, and eyebrows were painted black with kohl, a past made from soot, antimony, or galena, a form of led ore. The Egyptians edged the underside of their eyes with green past made from ground malachite and outlined the eyes with ground antsí eggs.

Modern Cosmetics

Divided according to the method of their manufacture, most modern cosmetics fall into one of the following categories: Powders. Emulsions. Lipsticks. Eye Makeup.

A face powder usually contains talc, chalk, and mixtures of zinc oxide, titanium oxide, and various powdered pigments. Properly compounded, agreement to the skin, and absorbs some moisture. Cake makeup consists of face powder mixed with a dry gum, which is then moistened, compressed, and dried. Rouge in cake form is a compressed pigment powder.

Moist skin preparations in cream or lotion form are emulsions, fine particles of oil dispersed in water. Moisturizers are emulsions containing water-soluble, moisture-retaining humectants such as glycerine or propylene glycol; and emollients, oily or waxy materials that make the skin feel softer, and help form a barrier against the evaporation of water from the skin. Cold creams are emulsions of mineral oil and water that are used to remove makeup or as a substitute for soap. Thinner emulsions, which contains more water relative to the oil content, are used as cleansing lotions and hand creams.

Oils, such as castor oil, and waxes are melted together, mixed with pigments or dyes, melted again, and hardened in molds. Since the materials used in manufacturing lipstick are ultimately taken into the body, the choice if ingredients is limited to those that are known or assumed to be nontoxic.

Eye Makeup
Eyebrow pencils, eye shadow, and mascara are, like lipstick, compounds of oil, wax, and pigments. They, too, must be made of noninjurious materials.