A Brief History of Cosmetics

Technically, the title should be "Morden History of Cosmetics". The earliest cosmetics can trace back to thousands years ago. In Ancient China, we had poems about women wearing makeup. There were also diffrent kinds of makeup products back in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe and Renaissance. I guess facinated by staying beautifully is a woman's nature.

Most morden cosmetics are originally from France, The United States and Japan. Most of them were invented during 1910s to 1950s. Some of the brands went huge in the industry, some of them are not that famous today. But all of their contribution were really important in history, they are the basis of morden cosmetics.

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I was worried this post would be boring as a history text book, but I found a lot of cosmetics ads in the early years, look pretty vintage today. I believe you'll enjoy this by just browsing the pictures. 

1880s World's First Lipstick Product by Guerlain

The history of lipstick is a little complicated. Ancient Sumerian men and women were possibly the first to invent and wear lipstick, about 5,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians extracted red dye from fucus-algin. Lip colouring started to gain some popularity in 16th century England. During the time of Queen Elizabeth I bright red lips and a stark white face became fashionable.

By the end of the 19th century, Guerlain began to manufacture lipstick. The first commercial lipstick had been invented in 1884, by perfumers in Paris, France. It was covered in silk paper and made from deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax.

By 1915, lipstick was sold in cylinder metal containers, which had been invented by Maurice Levy. Women had to slide a tiny lever at the side of the tube with the edge of their fingernail to move the lipstick up to the top of the case. Although lipsticks in push-up metal containers had been available in Europe since 1911. In 1923, the first swivel-up tube was patented by James Bruce Mason Jr. in Nashville, Tennessee.

As the first brand manufactured lipstick, Guerlain developed this Rouge Automatique Lipstick. Is this inspired by the first metal tube lipstick?

1897 World's First Toner by Shiseido

Shiseido was Japan's first Western-style pharmacy. It stepped into the world of cosmetics in 1897 with the introduction of Eudermine. As its formula was based on the research of Dr. Nagayoshi Nagai of Tokyo Imperial University, who had studied at Berlin University, Shiseido aimed to use scientific methods to develop high-quality cosmetic products just as it had done with pharmaceuticals.

There're toner-like products in western courties before, but most of them are hydrosol, not as great formulated as Eudermine. Eudermine was Shiseido's first skincare product and the best seller over 100 years.

In 1997—the product's 100th anniversary—Eudermine Global was introduced simultaneously both in Japan and overseas for the first time in collaboration with the French image maker Serge Lutens. The lotion's formula has evolved to “maintain moisture and prevent dry skin” and “regulate your skin's regeneration.”

When celebrating 140ty anniversary, Shiseido released the Limited Edition version of Eudermine, which is exactly the look of the first gerneration of Eudermine.

1907 World's First Cold Cream by Pond's

By 1907 Pond's Cold Cream and Pond's Vanishing Cream debuted, which is a huge breakthrough of the time. The two fomula are the basis of today's skincare products.

These are what Pond's Cold Cream and Pond's cream look like today. I still remember my mother used Pond's cream when I was little. 

1907 World's First Hair Dye by L'Oreal Paris

L'Oreal founder and French chemist Eugene Schueller develops a hair dye called Aureole and sells it to Paris hairdressers. Later, Schueller sympathises with French fascist group La Cagoule and hires members as executives after Second World War.

In 1908, L'Oreal released their first advertisment. Eugene Schueller develops a brown hair dye call L'Aureale.

In 1925, L'Oreal develops L'Oreal d'or, a groundbreaking hair-lightening product that creates golden tints and lends an even more natural look to blond hair.

1911 World's First Moisturizer by Nieva

Oh, The famous Nieva Creme. The pharmacist and visionary entrepreneur Dr.Oscar Troplowitz recognised the potential in Euerit, which made it possible to bind water and oil into a stable cream, and was first intended for use in the medical field. Nivea was the first brand to use Euerit in skincare products, bringing us the first water-in-oil emulsion basis skin cream.

Fun fact: Some people mentioned the fomula of Nieva Creme is similar to the famous LA MER cream's.

1912 World's First Pastel Blush by Bourjois

The 17th century was the red cheeks and wore blush of makeup prepared from sulfur and mercury. They were the cause of many allergies and, in extreme cases of poisoning.

Launched in 1912, Bourjois' line of Pastel Blushes was made using an innovative manufacturing process whereby a mixture of powder and water was poured into round moulds, allowed to set, then removed and polished by hand before being packed into small circular containers made from printed cardboard.

Pastel Blushes are still best sellers of Bourjois today.

1913 World's First Mascara Product by Maybelline

According to Maybelline Co., modern mascara was born in 1913 when Maybelline creator T.L. Williams marketed his sister’s recipe for makeup in Chicago. His sister Maybel used petroleum jelly mixed with coal dust to make eyelashes look more dramatic. Williams adapted the formula in a laboratory and produced a product sold locally called Lash-Brow-Ine, which became a local hit. In search of a catchier name, Williams renamed the product Maybelline, which is a combination of Maybel and Vaseline.

In 1915, the company Maybelline was founded as a mail order company. In 1917, Williams’ company produced Maybelline Cake Mascara which was the first compact mascara and was very popular.

1914 World's First Morden Foundation by Max Factor

Modern foundation can trace its roots to Carl Baudin of the Leipziger Stadt theatre in Germany. He is the inventor of greasepaint. He wanted to conceal the joint between his wig and forehead, so he developed a flesh-coloured paste made of zinc, ochre and lard. This formulation was so popular with other actors that Baudin began producing it commercially, and, as such, gave birth to the first theatrical makeup.

The first commercially available foundation was Max Factor’s Pan-Cake. Originally developed for use in film, actresses were so taken with the results that Max Factor was overwhelmed with demand for the product for their personal use. The breakthrough in his formula was the first “foundation and powder in one”traditionally, an actor was made up with an oil/emollient-based make-up, which was then set with powder to reduce the reflection and ensure it would not fade or smudge.

1916 The Earliest Fake Lashes

Film director D.W. Griffith created world's first fake lashes made by human hair. Fake lashes were used in film making at first. 

British model Twiggy made a fashion trend of fake lashes in 1960s.

1916 The First Real Italian Eau de Cologne by Acqua di Parma

In 1916, master perfumers created a new fragrance in a small perfumer's laboratory in the old town centre of Parma. It was unusually fresh and modern compared to the perfumes of German origin, stronger and more intense, that were then so popular. This was the first real Italian eau de cologne, and it expressed a new sensibility. The most striking thing was the purity of the fragrance produced exclusively with natural ingredients. To this day, its composition has never been changed.

The iconic Art Deco bottle known and loved today was created in the 1930s and instantly saw Colonia become the perfume of the era. 

For Acqua di Parma international success came in the 1950s, when Hollywood film stars travelled to Italy and discovered Colonia in highly exclusive tailor shops. One of the Acqua di Parma costumers was Audrey Hepburn.

In 2001, LVMH bought Acqua di Parma, they introduce the luxury Italian lifestyle to people all over the world.

1917 The First Color Face Powder by Shiseido

Shiseido introduced Rainbow Face Powder in 1917. The idea of a face powder with seven colors was very novel in a period when white face powders were the norm in Japan. The product was based on the advanced idea of applying face powder using seven colors"white, yellow, flesh, rose, peony, green and purple"to match each person's skin tone.

The nine-color “Modern Colour Face Powder ” was introduced in 1932.

Rainbow Face Powder was the first color face powder in Japan, I don't know whether it's the first on the globe. Nowadays, there're a lot of color face foundation products. They might not be as the form of power but pressed powder ot little balls like Guerlain Meteorites.

1920 The Earliest Morden Aburatorigami by Yojiya

Speaking of Aburatorigami(facial oil blotting paper), we have to mention Yojiya. Their logo is a geisha's face. Geisha was the symbol of beauty, kinda like fashion icon today. When they mentioned geishas like to use this tissue, it became very popular.

This unique product dates back to 1920s. Each sheet of Aburatorigami was originally about 4 times in size, almost large enough to cover the whole face. After several improvements , a pocket-size booklet of Aburatorigami was put on the market.

In addition to their original Aburatorigami, they have a special version Aburatorigami"Aloe". They also launched a seasonal Aburatorigami"Sakura"(Cherry Blossom) and "Yuzu"(Citrus). There's also a limited edition Aburatiorigami"Green Tea".

We can still see people buying Yojiya products when they travelling Kyoto.

1921 World's First Perfume Uses Aldehydes by Chanel

People give diffrent comments on Chanel No.5. It's a floral perfume but doesn't smell like fresh flowers. You can't smell the jasmin, roses or cananga odorata they uesed in it. It smells quite complicated.

The revolutionary key was Beaux’s use of aldehydes. Aldehydes are organic compounds of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. They are manipulated in the laboratory at crucial stages of chemical reaction whereby the process arrests and isolates the scent. When used creatively, aldehydes act as "seasonings", an aroma booster. Beaux’s student, Constantin Weriguine, said the aldehyde Beaux used had the clean note of the arctic, "a melting winter note". 

That's why Chanel No.5 is a classic perfume. When other high-end brands tried to bring the real and fresh scent of flowers to people, Chanel used aldehydes to make perfume smells amazing.

1922 The Earliest Eyeliner Product

In the 1920s, Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered, introducing the use of eyeliner to the Western world. The 1920s were an era commonly associated with many changes in women's fashion, and women felt freer to apply makeup more liberally.

1920s is also the background time of "The Great Gasby". So the eye makeup from the movie is a real trend of that time.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any information about which brand was the first manufactured eyeliner products.

1927 World's First Eyebrow Pencil by Schwan-STABILO

I guess a lot of people are not familiar with Schwan-STABILO. It used to be a stationery factory and the logo is a swan (schwan means swan in German). Eyebrow pencil is their first makeup product and also world's first ever eyebrow pencil.

Intresting thing is this pencil was originally used for marking skin in preperation for surgery - is shorthened and, under the name "Schwan eyebrow pencil", developed to become the world's first ever cosmetic pencil. With the world's first cosmetic pencil, Schwan-STABILO transferred the company's expertise in writing implements to a completely new trade sector. 

1932 World's First Color Nail Polish by Revlon

Revlon was founded in the midst of the Great Depression, 1931, by Charles Revson and his brothers Joseph and Joel Roberts, along with a chemist, Charles Lachman, who contributed the "L" in the Revlon name. Starting with a single product — a new type of nail enamel — the three founders pooled their resources and developed a unique manufacturing process. Using pigments instead of dyes, Revlon developed a variety of new shades of opaque nail enamel. 

In 1939, Revlon introduced its own lipstick line in nine shades with colours that matched Revlon nail enamels. That's when women realized to match lip color with nail color.

"Revlon Red" and "Cherries in the Snow" are two best sellers from Revlon.

1933 World's First Soap-Free Shampoo by Schwarzkopf

First non-alkaline shampoo, the prototype for all modern shampoos is released in 1933. Hans Schwarzkopf invents "Onakali", the world’s first non-alkaline shampoo. While L'oreal Paris produced soap-free shampoos the same year.

Schwarzkopf still owns a reputation of professional in hair product field.

1936 World's First Sunscreen Product by L'Oreal Paris

The first commercial sunscreen was invented in 1936. People loved to get tanned at that time. Sunscreen was invented to provide from sun burn. According to the ads, I guess the first product was the one named "Ambre-Solaire" which is a bottle of sunscreen oil.

Total Ambre Solaire(cream) was developed in 1954.

L'Oreal Paris is proud of their sunscreen products. They developed and patented Mexoryl SX in 1982, a synthetic sunscreen agent which can protect skin from UVA. They also developed and patented Mexoryl XL. Most sunscreen products from L'Oreal Paris group contain those agents.

1954 World's First Concelear by Max Factor

Max Factor invented the first concelear product called "Erace". It was a pink-tone concelear in a metal tube, looks like a liptick.

Max Factor still has the product "Erace", but the packaging is changed to black.

The development of Max Factor is related to movie industry of Hollywood. So you can see movie star like Elizebeth Taylor on their posters.

1957 World's First Automatic Mascara by Helena Rubinstein

I was pretty confused to see the word "Automatic Mascara" on the website. After I saw pictures of mascara products in early years, I realize "Automatic Mascara" means the brush and the fomula are in one tube! Is it okay to say that Helena Rubinstein Mascara-Matic was the basis of all morden mascara?

No wonder people still love Helena Rubinstein mascara today. The brand is also proud of their mascara products, you can see diffrent fashionable packaging of their mascara every year.

1958 First Foam Mask on the Globe by POLA

Pola release the world’s first foam mask (Vanishing Pack). Not sure what was the main efficacy of the mask. Actually, foam mask has not been that popular as gel mask or sheet mask. 

The most famous foam mask from POLA today is BA (Bio Active) The Mask(such a simple name) which is an advanced luxury mask for people around the age of 35. BA Red also has foam mask.

1967 World's First Cleansing Oil by Shu Uemura

While working as a makeup artist in Hollywood in the late 1950's, Shu Uemura discovered Unmask, an oil-based cleanser used by film stars and makeup artists on the set. Applying heavy stage makeup multiple times daily, actresses often often developed sensitive skin from harsh make-up removers. Uemura saw that the cleansing oil removed make-up gently, yet effectively, while maintaining the skin’s natural level of moisture.

(Change of Shu Uemura Cleasing Oil bottle)
(Limited Edition of Unmask Cleasing Oil in 2013)

In 1967, Mr. Uemura made history by introducing the first oil-based cleanser to Japan, unmask cleansing oil. The cleansing oil's exceptional reputation and gentle effectiveness quickly convinced the public of its skincare benefits and is now an emblematic product of the Shu Uemura brand.

1968 World's First Exfoliating Lotion by Clinique

Clinique is famous for their 3-step Skin Care System – a daily cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising routine. People were familiar with cleansing and moisturising, but exfoliating was a new concept. The founder believes clarifying lotion can gently sweeps away dulling flakes and excess oil so moisturizer can do its job better. It helps brighten skin and even skin texture everyday.

1998 World's First Glitter Eyeshadow by Too Faced

I can't believe Glitter Eyeshadow was invented within 20 years. Normal eyeshadow was invented long time ago, Maybelline even had eyeshadow ads back in 1930s. 

Too Faced Co-Founder and Creative Director Jerrod Blandino spent nights mixing eye shadows with lipsticks to make brand new products, and days testing his creations on clients. He finally invented the world’s first glitter eye shadow, and also plumping gloss, and 24-hour crease-proof shadow primer. Pretty impressive.

Now one of the most popular eyeshadow products from Too Faced is Chocolate Bar, it got 16 beautiful color and it smells like a chocolate bar. What a palatte!

(There might be some mistake in the article since English is not my native language. )

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