A Brief History of Cosmetology

The history of cosmetology probably began with the first human being to become self-conscious. From the moment human beings realized they wanted to look good, other human beings have helped them improve their appearance.

Cosmetology is basically the art of creating physical beauty. It includes work with the hair, skin and nails. This artistic field has no exact creation date or country of origin. From Ancient Egypt to Ancient China, cosmetics, the means of their creation and the people who worked with them have been found all around the world.

The First Cosmetics and Cosmeticians
The first cosmetics were probably used by ancient tribal hunters. By smearing ash under their eyes, the glare from the sun was reduced. By smearing their bodies with animal urine, their smell was altered. Though primitive, these practices likely led to cosmetics ideas such as eyeliner and perfume. The first people to excel at making and applying these products were actually the first cosmetologists.

Cosmetics in Ancient Cultures
Beauty, religion and medicine are the three main reasons cosmetics were developed in most cultures:

  • Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest cultures with which we associate cosmetics. Simply put, ancient Egyptians were wild about their makeup. Wigs, perfume, eyeliner, lipstick and much more were a daily part of royal, or even semi-royal, life. Their famous eyeliner helped reduce glare, prevent eye infection and make their eyes look beautiful.
  • Ancient China considered their cosmetics extremely important, especially among the royalty. During many dynasties, beautiful nails were a sign of wealth and desirability. Hairstyles were elaborate to say the least, and hairstyling and hair care was a true art form.
  • Ancient Rome and Greece were known for their elaborate bathing indulgences, including all sorts of lotions and potions. They all wore perfume, face powder, blush, eyeliner and lipstick at one time or another. Wigs, hair extensions, hair removal and hair coloring were also popular pastimes for those who could afford it.

History of Cosmetology
With the first cosmetics came a need for someone who knew how to create and apply the product. So was born the first cosmetologist. Ancient cultures didn't use formal cosmetic classes to create these workers, but they relied on the long practice of apprenticeship or slavery. It wasn't until many cultures formed a more evolved sense of public education that the first beauty schools formed.

Modern Cosmetology
As cultures and technologies have evolved, so has cosmetology. Though it still deals mainly with the skin, hair and nails, cosmetology now covers an array of job positions, and people must take cosmetology classes to practice the trade. Cosmetology can lead to many careers, such as nail technician, makeup artist, hair stylist, wig technician, esthetician, hair removal specialist or skin care specialist.

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