Makeup is more than just cosmetics; it can convey your mood and show off a bit of your personality. Whether you’re in a goth phase or just love playing with color, it can be fun and creative.

It can also be powerful, hiding blemishes or changing your appearance completely to resemble a zombie bride or skeleton. Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by laila.

What is makeup made of?

Cosmetics come in a wide range of forms, from lipstick and mascara to foundation and eyeshadow. Each type of makeup is designed for specific areas of the face, and most are applied using a brush, a makeup sponge or your fingertips.

Cosmetic ingredients can vary widely, depending on the product and its purpose. For example, lipstick may contain waxes to provide a smooth texture or oils to moisturize skin. It also needs pigments to give it color and preservatives to prevent spoilage. These can be made from plants or from animals. For example, the deep red in some lipstick is derived from crushed cochineal insects (listed as natural red 4, E120 and C.I 75470 on ingredient lists). The boiled skins, tendons and ligaments of cows and pigs are used to make gelatin for creamier makeup products like nail polish and face makeup. This is often listed as kosher, halal and isinglass in the ingredient list.

A variety of minerals are used to give cosmetics their shimmering or glittering appearance. For example, mica flakes are a common additive in many types of eyeshadow. Binders, such as magnesium stearate, are used to keep powder eyeshadow from crumbling and extend its shelf life. Preservatives, such as methylparaben and butylparaben, are also added to preserve the product and protect it from bacteria. Pigments, such as iron oxide, talc and titanium dioxide, are also added to color the makeup.

Lip gloss, mascara and lipstick are made from similar ingredients but may have additional flavorings or colorants. They usually begin with a moisturizing base of oils (like jojoba oil or lanolin) and waxes and are then mixed with various pigments, such as FD&C Red No. 40, to achieve the desired shade.

The Food and Drug Administration has set regulations for the safety of cosmetics. While manufacturers may use proprietary formulas that make their products stand out from the rest, they are required to use ingredients that are safe for human contact.

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by laila.

Ancient Egyptians

In ancient Egypt beauty was a big deal. Men and women alike used ointments to soften the skin, protect it from sunburn, repel insects and help heal wounds. They also applied makeup to accentuate facial features, as well as line their eyes with black or green powder.

The Egyptians were very advanced chemists, using powdered spices and minerals to make lipstick, eyeliner and other cosmetics. They were able to blend a wide range of ingredients into their makeup, including gypsum, red ochre, burnt almonds, malachite, lead, chrysocolla and oxidized copper. These powders were mixed with animal fat or vegetable and seed oils to prepare various beauty products such as moisturizers, kohl, lip and cheek rouges, nail color and eye makeup.

They wore makeup for both cosmetic reasons and to show respect to the gods. It was thought that if the gods saw how beautiful they were on earth they would treat them even better in heaven. This was why kohl was worn by all, from babies to adults. It was also believed that wearing kohl protected them from the evil eye.

Besides makeup, the Egyptians also used natural beauty tricks to keep their hair and nails healthy and strong. Henna, a dye made from leaves and flowers was used to colour the hair, as well as for staining fingernails. Milk and honey were also used as face masks to hydrate the skin, and a sugar, lemon and water mixture was used to wax and remove hair.

The Egyptians valued appearance so much that little cosmetic bags were buried with the dead to maintain their beauty in the afterlife. The different items discovered during these burials have helped uncover the secrets of ancient Egyptian beauty practices.

For example, they used small mirrors to apply their makeup. These are similar to the handheld mirrors we use today, and were shaped to look like papyrus stalks, the goddess Hathor or female figures. They also used cosmetic palettes to grind and prepare the different colours of makeup. These were often shaped to reflect the colours of the skin they were meant for, so that the colour would be as close as possible to the natural pigmentation. Palettes were also used to convey specific symbolism, with fish-shaped ones being particularly popular.

Ancient Greeks and Romans

In the days before magazines with airbrushed models pushed products on women, Greek and Roman men and women were dedicated to looking their absolute best. They also had access to the finest natural ingredients.

Both cultures subscribed to the ideal of soft, glowing skin; big eyes; and long hair. As such, they developed many recipes to achieve the look that was so desirable.

They used vermilion for rouge and the juice of berries to color their cheeks and lips. Black incense was used for eyeliner and false eyebrows made of oxen hair were popular. In the time of Cleopatra, kohl was applied under the eye to give the impression of sexy dark lashes. Soot was also popular as a makeup tool for enhancing the thickness of brows.

Achieving a pale complexion was considered a sign of wealth and status so people tried all sorts of ways to make their skin lighter. One method was to use a whitening paste of white lead, marl or chalk powder. These harsh chemicals caused a range of unpleasant and dangerous side effects including irritability, insomnia and mental illness.

The ancient Romans also used cosmetics for more practical purposes, such as covering up blemishes and flaking skin. For this they turned to a variety of recipes, some of which involved using snail mucin, or excrement, to treat and conceal blemishes. They also created creams and lotions to fight a range of issues, including wrinkles, pimples and sun damage.

Wealthy Romans used expensive ingredients imported from Germany and China to create their cosmetics. They also employed slaves called Cosmetae to make their skin and body care products and apply them for them. Those who could not afford the premium brands used cheaper cosmetics which often needed to be reapplied throughout the day and would need to be mixed with water or milk in order to be spread evenly over the face.

As the pandemic restrictions ease and restaurants reopen, people are beginning to take a more relaxed attitude towards the way they look. Perhaps it is time to take a leaf out of the ancient book and take a look at some beauty secrets from the past.

Modern day

Modern makeup includes lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, and mascara. It also includes nail polish, hair dyes and straighteners, and perfumes. Makeup companies have to follow rules about the ingredients they put into their products.

Some people choose to wear cosmetics that are all natural or have minimal ingredients. Others, however, want to make a dramatic change to their appearance. They may have a special event they are going to, such as a wedding or graduation. Some people even have a specific skin type that needs to be taken into account when choosing makeup products.

Most cosmetics are made of some kind of dye. They can be colored from minerals, like iron oxide, mica flakes, manganese dioxide and coal tar. Or, they can be colored from plants and animals, such as the red pigment in cochineal extract (often called carmine or natural red 4 on ingredient lists) or henna extract (used for centuries in India and Pakistan).

The first makeup products were unguents, mainly made from olive oil and wax. They were used to lubricate the skin and keep it from becoming dry and cracked in harsh climates. In addition, the Ancient Egyptians and their successors applied kohl, which was made from soot. Soot is still one of the most common ingredients in eyeliner.

In the Middle Ages, a number of women in Europe used makeup to whiten their skin and dye their hair or eyebrows. Some of these methods were dangerous, such as eating deadly arsenic to achieve translucent skin or dropping belladonna into the eyes to enlarge them. Belladonna is a poison that can cause blindness.

Powder is another important cosmetic item. It can be a color pigment or it can be used to help makeup apply smoothly. It can absorb sweat and sebum secreted by glands on the face. It can also fill in small irregularities on the face to create a smooth surface for other cosmetics to be applied.

Many facial makeup cosmetics are applied directly to the skin. These items must be carefully selected and tested for safety. In recent years, researchers have found that some cosmetics can contain substances with potential carcinogenic properties, including certain dyes and preservatives. A good idea is to look at the back of your highlighter and read the ingredients list.

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