A Moment in Time: The Endless Pursuit of Beauty
Makeup and beauty accessories have been around for centuries. Throughout the ages, women have used many different methods to beautify themselves in the hopes of finding a husband or to be recognized as a member of a higher society. It has been an endless, tireless, and sometimes, very painful pursuit of feminine perfection.
During the Victorian era, makeup was frowned upon. Women seen wearing any sort of facial cosmetic, such as rouge on the cheek or lip was cast out of civil society. The community would label these women as jezebels, mainly due to the fact that prostitutes were the only women wearing makeup at the time. Men would voice their opinions in local publications, announcing their distaste for women who would wear these “masks of deceit.” Many men thought that women who wore makeup were intentionally concealing God’s given look, in an act of trickery. Due to this, the only acceptable beauty regimes were skin lighteners and hair accessories . The ideals of beauty were set by publications, such as Harper’s Bazaar, members of the royal family, and aristocrats. They were the style icons and trend setters of the time.
Skin whiteners during this time were very popular. Pale, delicate skin was the ultimate status symbol. Only servants or poor, lower class society had tan skin or freckles. Children born with freckles were immediately subjected with high concentrations of skin whiteners. Even though this practice was widely acceptable, it was always performed quietly and secretively. To avoid a tan, women and young girls would keep every area of their body covered. For an evening event, when a woman was allowed to show a little skin on the neck and shoulders, she would accentuate veins with light blue paint to give the look of pale, delicate skin.
Women wanted men to believe that their skin was naturally flawless and white. So, instead of going to their local chemist, they created their own recipes at home in secret. This flaw in society started the usage of dangerous chemicals becoming popular. Ingredients such as alcohol, mercury, glycerine, borax, and bleach were common. Some were also made using lead, corrosives and caustic.
Slowly, businessmen began preying on the insecurities of women. Theron T. Pond developed a “pain destroying and healing” potion made from the bark of a witch hazel shrub. T. T. Pond Company, learning the cosmetic profitability, began claiming that his product could be used as the ultimate cure-all. One use being a contraceptive douche. This product later became known as Pond’s Cold Cream. Avon, Guerlain, and Vaseline were also established during this time.Continued on the next page