Most people might think that cosmetics are a modern invention but in reality, cosmetics have been used since ancient times. Often they were used in religious ceremonies - as seen in ancient Egypt - or as cultural identification. Egypt's influence impacted the practices and uses of cosmetics though the rest of the ancient world, particularly ancient Rome. As Rome's influence faded, so too did the acceptability of cosmetics. At the same time, the influence of other cultures began to increase and the aesthetics of beauty changed and the use of cosmetics declined.
The spread of Christianity with its denunciations of pride and vanity coupled with a changing ideal of modesty, also impacted the standards of beauty. While cosmetics did not totally fall out of favor, their use seems to have been greatly reduced and their use largely restricted to courtesans, actresses, the wealthy, and assorted "loose" women. However, during the Renaissance high born women including Queen Elizabeth, used them to whiten their faces into an ideal of pale perfection.
Over time, cosmetics moved a little closer to more common usage. But, it really wasn't until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, despite the strictures of Victorian morality, that cosmetics and other beauty aids became more generally accepted. The Roaring Twenties and glamorous movie stars of the 1930's finally brought cosmetics into the mass merchandise market, where they were sold in department stores and other venues. It was about this time that some of the best known brand names - many of which are still sold today - entered the picture, and the modern cosmetics industry was born.
There have been many people and brands that have left their on the history of the cosmetics and skin care industry. Here are just a few of the early notable brands and people in the history of the modern cosmetics industry: