Or not so brief. We were wowed when we first saw—and started flipping through—this set of books called 100,000 Years of Beauty. It’s five, count ’em, five volumes of essays by over 300 academics, all about cosmetics and fashion from pre-history to the present and even some speculation about the future. The charitable arm of L’Oréal commissioned it, and it leaves no stone unturned. Here are a few of our favorite things that we learned:
- In 1823, a British professor named William Buckland discovered a skeleton covered in red ochre and surrounded by ivory jewelry in a cave in Wales. Buckland assumed the bones dated to the Roman period and concluded the woman was a prostitute because she wore jewelry. But it turns out “she” was actually a high-ranking
perhaps a warrior or hunter, who had been buried 27,000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptians were seriously obsessed with their appearance. Accounts of the period show that one of their criteria for beauty was pale, smooth skin. So both men and women used depilatory patches, as well as various products to lighten their skin.
Medieval cosmetics involved lots of itchy and stinging products. Many women preferred to follow homegrown recipes: cucumber juice was said to remove freckles; boiled nettles improved your complexion.
One professor of psychology speculates that after centuries of gender disparity, the future of humanity is androgyny, a kind of common, shared perception of beauty.
· Daily Beauty Reporter: World Records of Beauty
· Daily Beauty Reporter: Hair Plus History
· Daily Beauty Reporter: The Sexiest Figure in History