The use of cosmetics dates back 12,000 years ago, when the beneficial properties of essential oils were discovered in ancient Egypt. Since then, cosmetics have been integrated as an important part of religious rituals. Initially reserved only to the upper classes of society, being a sign of welfare, cosmetics were used by both women and men. Even if some of the ingredients used in cosmetics were toxic, they did not lose their attraction, and even started to be used in other parts of the world, such as Rome or Greece.
In Rome, for example, women were not considered beautiful if they were not using cosmetics, which led to an exaggerated increase in prices for these products. This was the first step in the development of the beauty industry. In Japan, the role of cosmetics was increased even further, as noble women were not allowed to walk outside their home without using cosmetics all over their bodies. Although they were expensive, this was not the only reason why poor people wouldn’t use them. It was actually forbidden for them to wear cosmetics.
During the European Dark Ages, cosmetics almost disappeared; they were considered a sign of depravity and light morals. Revered people did not wear cosmetics, and this remained valid for several hundreds of years. Even though in France’s court, renowned for luxury and sumptuousness, cosmetics have returned into fashion, in England the use of cosmetics was not seen with good eyes, and this is how things remained until the Victorian period.
During the Crusades, the ingredients used in the cosmetics industry became a real commodity. Exotic ingredients, whether flowers, powders, oils, fruit seeds, etc. could easily be considered exchange currency, because they were very valuable.
Advances made in the chemistry and pharmacy industry made it possible to use natural ingredients and to develop synthetic ingredients used in the modern beauty industry. After using several substances that could be potentially toxic for decades, the beauty industry has started to heavily emphasize the use of natural ingredients. Now, people want to use cosmetics that are as safe as possible, which means that there is a high demand for natural ingredients and many small companies or producers have created their own lines of handmade cosmetics, using all natural ingredients. Probably the best known is Lush, but there are also other strong competitors, such as 100% Pure Cosmetics, The Body Shop or Aveeno, to name just a few.
Therefore, there is a great opportunity for farmers who focus on growing plants heavily used in the cosmetics industry, not to mention that ecological cultures are high in demand to create natural cosmetics or at least cosmetics using as many natural ingredients as possible.