Cosmetics: a universal idea
The word cosmetic is derived from the word “cosmos.” The word cosmos was orginally defined as “the order of the unverse.” Universal order can be expressed in every aspect of human existence. We seldom think of cosmetics in such esoteric terms. The relationship of appearance to one’s own visual harmony was obvious, however, to the ancient Greeks and, before them, to the Chinese and Egyptians.
Although we modern people do not usually think of cosmetics in such deep and serious terms, that is, seeing the innate relationship of one’s appearance to one’s own inner harmony, this concept was clear to the ancients.
Throughout recorded history, a daily routine of beauty care has been an accepted ritual. The practice is considered by many to be a manifestation of civilized living. Men and women trying to enhance their natural beauty through the use of body care products and Mother Nature is nothing new under the sun.
The ancient Egyptians had a complex system that made it difficult to differentiate between religion, ritual, and cosmetics. Some historians say that the concept of using cosmetics just for adornment many have started in China nearly 4,000 years ago. According to Jessica B. Harris in The World Beauty Book, “In Peking in the thirteenth centruy, upper-class women anointed their faces in the wintertime with a paste that was called ‘Buddha adornment.’ The paste remained on into the spring, when it was removed to reveal a complexion that was alleged to be as smooth and lustrous as jade.” We no longer have this formula. It has been lost in the mists of time.