A History of Menís grooming
Men's makeup and skin care
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 lid.
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 increased.
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 menís
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.