When I began my first day of Cosmetology 335, I never knew what I would learn. The first thing learned was the definition because it opens the word up enough to expand an understanding. The definition of cosmetology is “the professional skill or practice of beautifying the face, hair, and skin.” Next came the process of being a cosmetologist but also learning how it can impact the world and how the art of cosmetology has impacted the world already. When stepping back now, after learning everything, I see what it has done and what it can do.
Women’s rights were fought with cosmetics and inventions lined up stores that have changed the beauty industry itself. When looking at cosmetics, it becomes clear that cosmetics has and continues to assist in shaping the world we live in today.
Throughout the decades, women have taken a stand politically many times. During the 1500s and 1700s, the beauty standard was strict for wealthy women.
They had to have “fair (skin), round or oval face with a well-proportioned nose. A high forehead and a small double chin. Dimples in chin and cheek. The eyes should be large and dark, the mouth quite small, but with full lips, the lower one should be fuller than the upper” (Isis). Women followed these standards, but they did it with power. When women presented themselves this way, it was known that they had money and that they held some form of power. An example of a powerful woman during this time is Queen Elizabeth I.
She was praised for her ageless appearance and even her contemporaries believed that her beauty amplified female beauty. Her pale beauty awestrucks her nation and everyone knew the powers she held.
A long time after 1500s-1700s came the 1920s. During World War II, women worked in place of the men because the men were out fighting in the war and women were the only ones who could do those jobs at the time. After the war ended, women were forced to leave the workforce to go back to staying at home and doing things that women were “supposed to do.’ Due to the sexism, women were infuriated and instead of doing what they were told, they rebelled. These women were named flapper, which is defined as “a fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior.” According to Stella Rose Saint Clair of Beautylish “young woman of low class in a high-class world—dressing impeccably, but behaving badly” is how flappers were described. She also goes on to say that they were “paving the way for how we define fashion and beauty today.”
By dressing this way with heavy makeup, short hair and small dresses, they set a political statement that nobody ever has before, breaking the femininity standards. Flappers became the first women to represent feminism in such a dramatic way. Through their struggles, they had the power to dress and present themselves as they wanted and do whatever they liked because they had so much power during that time. Their makeup was more to them than anyone could imagine, at times, it was even called their “war” paint because they knew the statement they were making to the world when worn. Women wanted to be more natural than ever in these times because they were tired of having fake ideas of natural beauty. Makeup in this time was used to accentuate their natural features even when dramatic looks were worn. They cut their hair and got rid of their curves to have more of a boyish silhouette and with all that is how they made their statement.
Trends are a big part of the cosmetology world. During the Roman Empire, a woman’s hair color represented her class, in 1660 “Charles II of England introduces male wigs to cover his own thinning hair. This becomes a very popular style that lasts over 100 years” (Wood). Then in 1762 the ‘word shampoo, coming from the word Hindi word “champna” started being used. English hairstylists make shampoo from boiling soap in water with added fragrances and herbs”(Wood). Inventions also go along with how the world evolved. Makeup in the 1920s was created for natural beauty so few shades existed, but in 1924 there was 450 different shades and 1300 brands by the end of the 1920s. Metal lipstick tubes were also popular because “the invention of the metal lipstick tube in 1915 was a welcome addition to a woman’s beauty routine. Now a woman could simply carry her lipstick with her and touch it up as needed” (Sessions), which was a big deal because now makeup could be carried with the woman and not have to be left at home.
Big companies left a big impact on the cosmetics world as well. Max Factor became very famous because of all the things that he created. According to his Max Factor website, in 1914, Max Factor created the first flexible stage makeup because he saw heavy stage makeup as “terrifying” which made the makeup in the theater much more light and overall improving the look or it. Lip Pomade, later called lip gloss, was created by Max in 1928 so women could have lips that were similar in style to the actress’ lips in films which kicked off lip gloss. In 1954, Max Factor company released Erace which was the first concealer sold in retail stores then in 1958 they released “Mascara wand” which was the first mascara to be applied from a wand in a tube. In 2000 the inventions continue.
The company made a long-wearing lip color, “Lipfinity” which between “2006 and 2008, one is sold every 9 seconds, globally”(“Our Heritage”) and when looking at lipsticks today, you can see that they improved this idea he has first. He continues because in 2010, Colour Effect Boutique was released which took the first dive into bright colored cosmetics which was revolutionary because bright cosmetics were not used at that time. Another example of a big company would be Revlon. They open their doors in 1910 and in 1912 they gave red lipstick to suffragettes “as a symbol of independence and solidarity”(“Beauty Products”) which goes along with giving women power. In 1933, Elizabeth Arden was the first to have beauty tutorials, a radio show about beauty health and well being which started the beauty tutorial ideas then in 1934, she opens the first destination spa named Maine Chance.
Then in 1937, the first nail polish was released by Revlon. 1946 came along and Adren was the first businesswoman to be on the cover of Time Magazine which is another inspirational idea for women. In 1970 Revlon was the first company to use an African American model, Naomi Sims, in its advertising, which pushed forward African American beauty as a whole When looking at the world that surrounds us, you can see that cosmetics have helped shape it in many different ways. Women took political stances then used cosmetics to fight back, the new ideas and inventions that are always coming along, and the way cosmetics are still changing the world today. It has an impact on the world and when you look close enough, you can see it. Now, go outside now and see your view on the world with a new perspective.