men's skin care / men's
A History of Menís grooming
Menís grooming and makeup has its origins in evolution. Mother Nature
chose to endow the male species with more color and splendor. The more a
male stood out from his competition, the greater his chance of attracting
a mate. It is for this reason men have had, and always will have a
predisposition towards their personal grooming and use of makeup to be
prominent in a competitive society.
Cosmetics have been used for as long as there have been men to use
them. The association between men and makeup was mentioned in the Old
Testament (Ezekiel 23:40), and eye shadow was used in Egyptian burials
dating back to 10,000 BC. Menís grooming and skin care has its origins in
the word "cosmetae" which was first used to describe Roman slaves whose
function it was to bathe men in perfume. Since the Egyptians, each
subsequent civilization invented unique words that referred to cosmetics
and fragrance as one science. The Greeks used the word 'kosmein' which
conveys the thought - to decorate, to make-up, to care for and to produce
harmony between body and mind. Grooming and to make-up the external
appearance to enhance ones beauty in harmony with the mind was regarded by
many in pre-Christian Greece as being the basic requirement for a deep
inner feeling of happiness.
Menís grooming and skin care first included the use of fragrant oils.
As early as 10,000 BC, men were grooming themselves using scented oils and
ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor. Mans use of
makeup began with dyes and paints that were used to make-up and color the
skin, body and hair. At this time menís makeup not only included rouge for
their lips and cheeks, but makeup for the nails using henna as a stain.
Menís makeup also included the use of Kohl to heavily line the eyes and
eyebrows. Kohl was a dark-colored powder made of crushed antimony, burnt
almonds, lead, oxidized copper, ochre, ash, malachite and chrysocolla.
When used by men as makeup, Kohl was applied using a small stick as a
makeup applicator. The makeup was applied to the upper and lower eyelids,
painted in a line that extended to the sides of the face for an almond
effect. In addition to its purpose as menís makeup, Kohl also reduced the
suns glare, and it was believed that kohl eyeliner could restore poor
eyesight and reduce eye infection. Men who used Kohl as makeup kept it in
a small, flat-bottomed pot with a wide, tiny rim and a flat, disk-shaped
From 7,000 to 4,000 BC, the fatty oils of olive and sesame were
combined with fragrant plants to create the original Neolithic ointments
for use in menís grooming and menís skin care. When the Egyptians were
learning to write and make bricks in 3,000 BC, they were also importing
large quantities of myrrh. The earliest recorded items of Egyptian
commerce included spices, gums, and other fragrant plants that were used
in menís make-up, grooming, and skin care products.
Menís grooming became an inherent part of Egyptian hygiene and health.
Oils and creams were used for skin care protection against the hot
Egyptian sun and dry winds. Myrrh, thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender,
lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil and
almond oil provided the basic ingredients of most menís grooming ointments
and perfumes. Man and makeup took a step forward with the use of a clay
called red ochre, which men used to make-up their lips, cheeks and nails.
Grinding ochre and mixing it with water made this menís makeup. Menís
makeup was stored in special jars that were kept in special makeup boxes.
Women would carry their makeup boxes to parties and keep them under their
chairs, but men did not carry their makeup kits with them.
History did document the jealousy one man had over another mans makeup,
skin care and grooming collection. When Alexander the Great entered the
tent of defeated King Darius after the battle of Issos, Alexander threw
out the king's makeup box of priceless grooming ointments and perfumes.
Ironically, after Alexander had traveled extensively in Asia, he too
became addicted to menís grooming, makeup and aromatics. He sent plant
cuttings to his Athenian classmate in Athens from everywhere he traveled.
His classmate then used the cuttings to establish a botanical garden in
Athens to create skin care, makeup and grooming products.
Menís grooming habits including the use of menís makeup did not fade.
By about 300 BC, myrrh and frankincense from Yemen reached the
Mediterranean by way of Persian traders. The trade routes swelled as the
demand for roses, sweet flag, orris root, narcissus, saffron, mastic, oak
moss, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, aloe wood, grasses and
gum resins used to make menís grooming, skin care and makeup
Menís grooming and the use of menís makeup also became common in the
Middle East. Iraqi menís makeup included the practice of painting their
faces with kohl just like the Egyptians had. Some historians believe this
use of menís makeup was to protect them from the evil eye: however, it is
also believed that Iraqi men using makeup was a natural predisposition
based on the prominence of the male species in society.
The original Egyptian intention of menís skin care, menís grooming, and
menís makeup suffered a bastardization beyond any reasonable recovery with
the Romans, who were unabashedly hedonistic. Egyptian oils intended to be
used for menís skin care and menís grooming became nothing more than
sexual accoutrements in Rome.
Around 100 AD, the Romans took menís grooming and menís makeup to a
higher level. Menís makeup included the use of barley flour and butter on
pimples, and sheepís fat and blood on fingernails for polish. The Romans
crowning contribution to menís skin care was the practice of taking mud
baths laced with crocodile excrement. Menís grooming practices expanded to
the frequent dying of their hair. Blond was the preferred color of the
times, and this menís grooming habit was intended to make-up men to look
young; however, the practice was curtailed, as dyes were so caustic they
had the affect of causing ones hair to fall out.
By the middle of the 1st century AD, mans use of makeup was common
practice. The Romans were known to make-up their eyes with kohl, use chalk
for whitening their complexion, and rouge for their cheeks. Menís grooming
consisted of depilatories for hair removal and pumice for cleaning teeth.
Menís grooming practices included the use of oil-based perfumes in baths
and fountains, and the application of these oils to their weaponsÖ take
that as you may!
There is evidence that the Vikings also liked to wear make-up as the
Arab traveler Ibrahim Al-Tartushi who visited the Viking trading hub of
Hedeby in 950AD wrote: "there is also an artificial make-up for the eyes,
when they use it beauty never fades, on the contrary it increases in men
and women as well". What he was observing was probably the use of kohl as
During the early Middle Ages, the dominance of the church kept menís
grooming and the use of makeup to a minimum. Cosmetics and makeup as a
specialty in and of itself began separating from medicine during the
period 1200-1500. Following this, there appears to have been a separation
again into two branches of cosmetics: those used for menís grooming,
makeup and skin care for the routine beautification of the skin, and those
used for the correction of disorders.
Menís grooming and makeup was
at times controversial throughout history. It was often criticized on
religious and moral grounds. In fact, in Victorian times, menís makeup was
considered the devil's making, and as a result, menís grooming and their
use of makeup faded.
During the reign of Elizabeth I of England, menís grooming and menís
makeup made a popular come back. Manís use of makeup was prevalent and
everyone was enthusiastically joining in the fun. Popular menís grooming
treatments included rosemary water for the hair and sage to whiten teeth.
Menís skin care included elderflower ointment for the skin, bathing in
wine, and an egg and honey mask to smooth away wrinkles. Menís makeup
included geranium petal rouge and lipstick to suggest health, wealth and
gaiety. Pale skin became a make-up trend de jour. Unknowingly, the makeup
used to whiten the skin was made with lead and arsenic, which resulted in
many early deathsÖsome premeditated. Menís grooming also included the
bleaching of their hair with lye, which understandably caused it to fall
out. So menís grooming began to include wigs, and menís makeup included
the use of powder.
Although menís grooming remained popular, menís skin care and the use
of makeup again faded in prominence in the late 1800ís. In 1865, Anthony
Overton created a face powder called "High Brown" to be marketed to
African Americans in the United States, but menís makeup and fragrances
could not be sold. Overton had to practice law and serve as a judge to
make ends meet.
In the late 1900ís menís grooming, menís skin care and menís makeup
began to pick up in popularity. With the introduction of the Metrosexual
phenomenon in 2000, men began focusing on their grooming and the use of
skin care and makeup. Mans use of makeup to make-up their appearance is
again becoming common practice in societyÖ as it was with the Egyptians,
the Greeks, and the Romans before them. The next decade will truly be a
colorful one. Menís grooming, skin care and the use of makeup to standout
has always been a part of our history, and we look forward to documenting
its continued use for the record.