Have you ever wondered where cosmetics come from? Are they just chemical combinations or are there exotic components, patents, and trade secrets? Do modern cosmetics bear any similarity to cosmetics from ancient times when the sources were purely natural? You might be surprised to learn that cosmetics are heavily regulated and there is a lot of testing and government oversight before products can be sold to the public. Cosmetics must be proven to be safe for use on various skin types, and in case of accidental ingestion. But the word cosmetics includes large variety of products with different properties. Here is a look at a few of the most common types.

  • Powders and Foundations: Mainly used to conceal uneven skin tones and applying contour and colour these products are actually very complicated. And they are produced in multiple formulations. Generally, they contain pigment, powder, and emulsifiers, but these things change if they are water based, alcohol based, or some other formulation. Foundations were first invented for the film industry. Max-Factor invented Pan-Cake makeup and it was revolutionary because it reduced reflection and was not prone to smudging. Through the years, many companies have advanced this product and there are a lot of patents and carefully guarded trade secrets.
  • Lipstick: The use of lipstick goes way back to the time of ancient Egypt, if not further. Originally getting its red colour from ochre and sometimes blood. Bright red lips have been found to trigger arousal, and lipstick has been a critical tool for attraction ever since. But lipstick was initially a symbol of status. The product that comes out of the cosmetic factory (called โรงงานรับผลิตเครื่องสําอาง in Thai) today is greatly advanced in formulation, but it is still an important element in every makeup kit, and often the first thing a child will try out to look like a grown-up. Lipsticks have various recipes, but they are basically pigment, wax, and emollients.
  • Mascara: Mascara has a much more singular use than other cosmetics. Its purpose is to give definition to eyelashes. To bring contrast to the edge of the eye, so that the eye is more attractive and appears larger as well. Mascara has been around as long as Lipstick, and it is also a critical part of every makeup kit. Mascara is made from pigments, often iron oxides, oils, and wax. Sometimes they also add hydrophobic elements so that the mascara is more tear and splash resistant.

Cosmetics represent a 90 billion dollar industry in the United States alone, and the precise formulations are closely guarded secrets. Even though the concept of each product is ancient and very simple.

Nia Eddie