When and Where
When and Where did cosmetics appear?
The word cosmetics is derived from the Greek κοσμητικὴ τέχνη (kosmetikē tekhnē), meaning “technique of dressing and adorning”, from κοσμητικός (kosmētikos), “one who skillfully arranges” and κόσμος (kosmos), meaning “order” and “adornment”.
The history of cosmetics spans at least 7,000 years and is present in almost every society on Earth. Body painting is said to be the earliest form of ritual in human culture. Archaeological evidence of the existence of cosmetics dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Some sources mention the use of castor oil in Ancient Egypt as a protective balm and creams made from beeswax, olive oil and rose water described by the Romans. Cosmetics are mentioned in the Old Testament – 2 Samuel 9:30 where Jezebel paints her eyelids – approximately 840 BC And the book of Esther also describes various beauty treatments. Cosmetics were also used in ancient Rome, with some women known to have used lead-based makeup to whiten the skin and antimony to line the eyes.
With the advent of industrialization, synthetic ingredients began to enter cosmetics. The development of cosmetics has moved at a dizzying speed in the last century. Hypoallergenic cosmetics began to rise a little later, when the natural look came into fashion, women became more and more interested in the composition of the product. Modern trends in technology allow faster and quality production. Although modern cosmetics are traditionally used by women, gradually an increasing number of men are also looking for a product designed specifically for them.
The trends these days are aimed at increasing the control of cosmetic products, increasing the requirements for ingredients and the marketing offer, using priority natural raw materials (and where possible also completely natural), limiting the indiscriminate waste of resources and ecological assessment of raw materials and packaging.
How is the cosmetics industry regulated?
The European cosmetics industry is dedicated to meeting the highest standards when it comes to end users, both in the production of cosmetics and personal care products and in the advertising and marketing of these products.
According to Regulation No. 1223/2009, a cosmetic product is any substance or preparation intended for contact with the various external parts of the human body – skin, hair, nails, lips and external genitalia, or with the teeth and the mucous membrane of the oral cavity, exclusively or primarily for the purpose of cleaning, perfuming, changing their appearance and/or correcting odors and/or protecting and maintaining them in good condition.
And according to the Health Law of the Republic of Bulgaria and Ordinance No. 36/2005, fully compliant with European regulations, the cosmetic product must not cause damage to human health when applied in accordance with its intended purpose and instructions for use, under normal and reasonable conditions foreseeable conditions of use.
Why are natural cosmetics becoming more popular these days and what are the differences between conventional and natural cosmetics?
- Since all cosmetic products produced or imported to the European market must meet the same safety criteria, it is clear that conventional cosmetics are presumed NOT to contain substances that would directly harm the life and health of the user, just like natural ones.
- However, this does not mean that the product will not cause irritation or an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients, be they natural or synthetic.
The production of all cosmetic products meets strict safety and cleanliness requirements.
- Since 2004, testing of cosmetic products on animals has been prohibited in the EU.
- It’s all “chemistry”! The widespread belief that natural cosmetics do not contain “chemicals” unlike conventional ones is very wrong. All substances in nature have their universal (IUPAC) chemical names, and just because an ingredient on our label sounds “chemical” doesn’t mean it’s synthetic or harmful.
- Any cosmetic product can be effective if it contains an active ingredient and a suitable system to “deliver” it to the appropriate layer of the skin.
- An instant effect such as softness and hydration can be achieved with both natural and synthetic ingredients.
What is Natural/BIO cosmetics?
When looking for cosmetic products without artificial ingredients, we usually look to see if the package says “NATURAL”, “BIO” or “ORGANIC”. In Europe, the USA and in many other countries, such an inscription is a guarantee that the product is exactly that. In Bulgaria, however, there is no law that prohibits such inscriptions or stickers from being pasted on products that contain ingredients that do not meet world standards for the production of natural products. Since manufacturers are not required by government regulation to state the % of natural ingredients they use, many products are simply labeled as “natural” even though they contain 2-3% natural ingredients. In order to be sure of the exact product we are buying, it is good to look for the label in a prominent place, near the name of the product itself, for a sticker showing the certification body, proving that the product is natural and/or organic and in what %. Products without this information on the label probably contain a small % of natural ingredients that are mostly used for marketing purposes. Such products are not harmful, but they are misleading because the user is not given all the information. Some manufacturers prefer to communicate with consumers directly, without certifying their products, in order to save this expense. For any questions or doubts about the ingredients, do not hesitate to seek information from the manufacturer. Any company maintaining high standards would respond to such an inquiry.
Why we pay more for NATURAL or BIO cosmetics (NATURAL/ORGANIC)?
- The majority of products on the world market rely on the immediate effect. And the cheapest option to achieve this is the use of masking substances based on petroleum or silicone, giving a false feeling of smooth skin. Their effect is temporary, until the product is washed off the face or hair. However, some of them are difficult to remove from the skin, and in the long term, they build up, clog the pores, and in some cases can even go into the deeper layers of the skin. Since they really don’t have a long-lasting positive effect on the skin, their use is absolutely unnecessary, especially given the existence of herbal alternatives that bring much more benefits to the skin and hair.
- Even when an ingredient is approved for use, it may pose a risk to people with sensitive skin, for example. To this end, a number of organizations*** use a ranking system to categorize ingredients and, through a numerical dimension, provide information on the possible risks of using products containing this ingredient. Natural cosmetics completely avoids the use of ingredients with increased risk or, if necessary, they are used in minimal quantities.
- Quality and Safety are not the same thing. EU regulatory bodies are required to ensure the safety of products that are placed on the market. However, quality depends on the subjective assessment of each user and is extremely difficult to determine. Natural cosmetics guarantee that the product will not harm the environment when used, as well as that during its production itself the damage to the environment is minimized, but not that the effect will be the same for all users. It should also be borne in mind that natural ingredients often need a longer period to show their effect, but the result is long-lasting.
- It is not always possible to create a product containing only natural raw materials in the strictest definition (directly taken from nature, without physical, chemical or other modification). In such a case, companies use chemically processed substances, which in many cases are also very cheap to produce. A typical example is the surfactants (surfactants) used in most detergents. They are an extremely diverse class and can range from highly drying (SLS) to mildl and biodegradable (sugar and amino acid based). One of the conditions for the use of a given ingredient in natural cosmetics is that it be human-friendly and non-polluting to the environment. A wide variety of surfactants produced according to the rules of “Green Chemistry” are now available, which are not only biodegradable, but also produced from renewable vegetable raw materials, such as sugar, sunflower and other oils. For their production, chemical reactions are used that exist in nature, and during the process itself, no residues harmful to humans and nature remain in the product. Their biodegradability is checked before being placed on the market.
Finally, keep in mind that our skin is the largest organ of our body, so we need to take care of it properly and always with a smile!
Power C., „Cosmetics, identity and consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies“ 17, 2010
Schneider , Gohla S., Schreiber J., Kaden W., Schönrock U., Schmidt-Lewerkühne H., Kuschel A., Petsitis X., Pape W., Ippen H., Diembeck W.,”Skin Cosmetics” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia with help of Industrial Chemistry 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim
Adkins, A. Adkins R., “Handbook to life in Ancient Greece”, Oxford University Press, 1998
Burlando, Verotta L., Cornara L., Bottini-Massa E,, “Herbal Principles in Cosmetics”, CRC Press, 2010
Olson K., “Cosmetics in Roman Antiquity: Substance, Remedy, Poison”, The Classical World Vol. 102, No. 3 (SPRING 2009), 294-298. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
REGULATION (EC) No. 1223/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products (revised), Promulg. L OV. No. 342 of December 22, 2009
LAW ON HEALTH, In force from 01.01.2005
REGULATION No. 36 OF NOVEMBER 30, 2005 ON REQUIREMENTS FOR COSMETIC PRODUCTS
* Green Chemistry – It’s the use of a set of principles that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products.
** 20% for creams and other emulsified products and 10% for water-based products such as sprays, gels and serums.
*** International system for evaluating the safety of cosmetic products – https://www.ewg.org