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A Brief History of The Beauty Industry

history of beauty industryHistorians can trace our use of beauty products and cosmetics back to 4,000 BC, and the ancient Egyptians who used kohl to create dramatic eyes. Today, the worldwide beauty industry, which covers everything from hair and skin care to make-up is an estimated $425 billion industry. The history of the beauty industry is as diverse and colorful as the lipsticks and nail polishes on display at your local make-up counter.

Early beauty and cosmetic regimes relied heavy upon natural ingredients, including berries, bugs, and charcoal to create a variety of colors, and many products were used for more than one purpose, a preview of today’s  makeup  multi-taskers. Early beauty treatments also utilized the area’s natural resources, locally sourcing natural ingredients for scrubs, pastes, and exfoliates. This pattern of using local, natural ingredients is an ongoing trend throughout the history of the beauty industry.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the beauty industry became an important and viable career path for women, especially African-American women, who created products designed specifically for differently textured hair. Madame CJ Walker and Marjorie Joyner were two African -American entrepreneurs who used their expertise to create a new standard of beauty for their communities.

During the “roaring 20’s” the beauty industry took off in leaps and bounds. In New York, Elizabeth Arden opened her signature salon and began offering “make overs” to her clients. On the west coast, Max Factor created the first foundation for film stars, and Greta Garbo ushered in the era of sophisticated eyebrows and the need for eyebrow pencils and mascara was born.

During the war, the beauty industry took a practical turn, with focus and emphasis on creating sunscreen for soldiers. The basics of sun protection can now be found in a number of different beauty products and is a cornerstone for most facial cosmetics.

In the 1960’s women went “mad” for mod, mirroring the wide-eyed, matte look of supermodel Twiggy, while the 1970’s brought a more natural look to women’s beauty choices. Everything was bigger in the 1980’s, and more complicated hairstyles and treatments brought stylists to the forefront of the beauty industry. The 1980’s and early 1990’s were also the era of the “Super Model”, with women everywhere trying to recreate the iconic looks of Linda, Cindy, and Naomi.

The 1990’s saw a return to a more natural look, with pop culture influences like Grunge and hip-hop dictating beauty trends. Towards the end of the decade, deep, dark lips, nails, and eyes were in vogue- and in Vogue.

Today, the beauty industry has returned to its roots, with science based products doing double and triple duty. Women not only want to look beautiful they want their makeup and hair care products to benefit them as well. Beauty balms, correction creams, intensive serums, and anti-aging formulas are designed to showcase a woman’s beauty, correct any flaws or imperfections, and help her shine both inside and out.

If you’re interested in make-up, why not make beauty your career?

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