The Purpose of Cosmetics (2)
The rate of change in fashion and beauty ideals closely parallels the increase in information dissemination through our media sources. Fashion trends changed slowly in those days where the only sources of new media were weekly newsreels at the cinema and monthly magazines.
As television emerged, and grew in popularity, people were suddenly able to see images in their own homes and the need to keep the viewers interested meant that television stars were constantly appearing with new looks to maintain their appeal. This gives our society a constant stream of new looks to envy and emulate.
Modern cosmetic uses are generally directed at emulating the looks that are currently fashionable. Apart from the basic aesthetics – such as clear skin, and symmetry of the facial features – make-up is used to emulate an evolving array of looks. When Marilyn Monroe was the star of the silver screen, women all over the country were peroxiding their hair and using eye pencils to draw in beauty marks on otherwise unblemished faces.
Today, Angelina Jolie has sparked a flurry of efforts to increase the dimension and fullness of the lips. Women are undergoing procedures from chemical peels to collagen to get the full, glossy look that Ms. Jolie makes effortless.
Often the changing ideals result in advances in cosmetics. For example, the desire for tanned skin and the dangers inherent in prolonged UV exposure have led to the creation of a wide array of chemical self-tanning solutions and spray-on tans, not to mention cosmetic bronzers and toners to give a mild sun-kissed look to the skin. Sometimes, it’s the invention of a product that creates the fashion trend. Would big hair styles have ever become quite so prevalent if the blow dryer had never been created?
Still, the most common driver of invention is need, and problems common to many women will found cosmetic solutions. We have creams for lightening, removing and minimizing unwanted hair. We have mineral powder make-up to minimize the signs of aging and uneven skin tone. We even have sun block in all sorts of products because we now know that sun exposure is cumulative and damaging to the skin.
From day to day and week to week, new products are hitting the market with claims to address any number of issues. Some of them are legitimate, some are not, but these innovations all serve the purpose of helping people feel better about their selves. And hopefully, even if they aren’t legitimate, they can be a stepping stone to another product that delivers on its promise.
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