Make-up, like cosmetics generally, has a long and fascinating history. There is evidence from Palaeolithic cave paintings of the use of red and yellow ochre for colouring the skin. Queen Mentuhotep, in 3000 B.C., owned a small cosmetic chest containing preparations to beautify the eyes and maintain the condition of the hair, as well as deodorant perfumes for the armpits and groin. Ovid, the romantic Roman poet (43 B.C-17 A.D.), lectured the women of Roman on the need to use cosmetics as an essential practice to retain lovers. He also described how the wrinkles of old age may be concealed. In Queen Elizabeth’s day, milk baths were the fashion. Turkish ladies of that time were advised to have their skin flamed by a torch held by a eunuch of the harem. Clearly, women for many centuries have been prepared to go to the utmost lengths to improve the appearance of their skin and forestall the inevitable ogre of age. Today, many men also show an interest in skin care and the use of cosmetics.

The basic make-up used is the foundation cream. This both protects the skin to some extent from the drying effects of the elements and serves as a base for powder or blusher. As mentioned before, this foundation cream is basically a cold cream, which is tinted.

Pace powders are a combination of talc the predominant ingredient, 8 tea rates, kaolin, perfume and colouring substances. Talc is a complicated salt of magnesium, whose main characteristic is that it is very easy spreading, Stearates, which are also metallic salts, enable the powder to stick to the skin. Kaolin is a variety of aluminium salt which acts as an absorbent for perspiration. Compressed powders are the result of combining face powder with binding agents such as gum arable. Similarly, binding can be attained by the use of a moist sponge applicator to collect and spread the requisite amount of powder on the skin.

Mascara is a make-up used for darkening eyelashes. The use of eye-liner pencil, mascara and eyeshadow to highlight the eyes is a popular practice. These products contain various dyes, anti-bacterial agents, resin and bases. Allergies to these are not uncommon, particularly since the skin about the eyes is very thin and sensitive.

The colouring of lips for decoration is an age-old custom. Lipstick as we know it today is very different from earlier products. Most contain oil-wax mixtures, lanolin, staining dye, perfume and colour pigments. Each of these substances may cause an allergic reaction in some users.

Nail polish is essentially a lacquer containing cellulose, nitrate, solvents, resins and colouring agents. The resins which are responsible for the sheen and stickiness are the agents most usually responsible for allergic reactions. The thin skin of the eyelids is particularly prone to contact dermatitis, being highly sensitive to various cosmetics, especially hair preparations and nail polish.

Fragrances are incorporated in nearly every type of cosmetic and may also, of course, be used alone. Perfume is created from a chemical formulation of fragrant volatile oils, preservatives and alcohol. The oils are obtained from a variety of sources including spices, flowers and fruits. Toilet water (l’eau de toilette) is made by using large amounts of alcohol in the perfume formula. The scent is similar to that of perfume but does not last as long and is not as strong. Cologne is similar to toilet water and the terms are often used synonymously, although generally cologne is limited to citrus and floral bases. Both are applied more liberally than perfume, the fragrances are lighter, and the higher alcohol content means the lotions have a cooling, refreshing effect on the skin.


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