The earliest archaeological evidence which suggests the use of cosmetics dates back to the 3500 BC in the ancient Egypt. People in China used to trim their nails as early as the 30th century BC. Japanese geishas also applied white rice powder on their faces. The Europeans, on the other hand, didn’t think very highly of pampering oneself. A possible reason could be; because they didn’t have much of an idea about how to apply make up or to go for the right kind of materials; ‘make up’ often did more harm than good. For example; some of them used ‘white lead’ to whiten their faces, which is a cause of lead poisoning.
The early Islamic scientists did some research into cosmetics and one of them, Abu al-Qssum al-Zahrawi who wrote a 24-volume encyclopedia on medicine, devoted the 19th volume to the ‘Medicine of Beauty’ (make up). It was only when this book was translated into Latin, did the Europeans come to know the art of ‘make up’ and then they improved on it. In the 20th century, with the spread of television, theaters and ballets, the protagonists on the screen influenced the popular mindset. There was no dearth of people who wanted to look like the actors or actresses on the TV screen. This gave the cosmetics companies a big boost. The trend is no where near the end even in the first decade of the 21st century.