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The origin of the word cosmetic lies in the ancient Greek word Kosmein, which means decoration. The desire of people to decorate themselves, be it for hunting, sexual attraction, social status, ritual purposes, special occasions, or just for simple expression of beauty, are probably as old as humanity itself. From adornments topaints, ointments, tattoos and perfumes, the array of materials and fashions not only seems endless but is also changing with time and culture. Although occasionally very damaging ingredients have been used,, e.g. lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) for whitening in the Middle Ages in Europe and until today in parts of Africa, hygiene and the care of the body have usually been an essential part of suchdecoration.
While care for the body and hygiene flourished during the Roman Empire, were deplored as something sinful during the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe. The use of cosmetics was punished in much the same way as witchcraft was punished in Puritan England and soap was considered a sinister curiosity threatening the health of the human soul. Not until the end of the sixteenth century did theuse of perfumes, powders, creams and colours, and in some European countries even baths, slowly become acceptable. Other cultures, particularly those in tropical climates, had a much more practical and healthy relationship to body care and hygiene. The continued disdain for baths in Europe, at least into the nineteenth century, made the developing cosmetic industry a necessity.
Today's cosmeticproducts however include in addition to perfumes, a vast and ever increasing range of products from simple skin creams, soaps and shampoos to special lotions, base creams, moisturizers, nourishers, cleansers, protectors, rejuvinators and conditioners for body, face, hands, eyes, lips, mouth, hair, nails and so on (see Figure 9.1).
As our knowledge of various afflictions of different parts of thebody, particularly skin and hair, has increased, as well as our understanding of the action and interaction of various chemicals and plant extracts with different parts of the body, cosmetology has developed into a highly complex and specialized field of its own. The cosmetics industry has combined knowledge of pharmacology and dermatology, with traditional herbology, modern processing technologyand most advanced marketing psychology in order to exploit one of the strongest instincts or needs of human-kind, namely that of being considered attractive and healthy in his/her narrower or wider social environment.
Though bee products are not essential to cosmetics, their characteristics add to the various care products in a way no other single product can. Many of today's commercialmultichemical formulations are designed for marketing needs such as storage, or better appearance and consistency, rather than for the actual benefits of all these chemicals for the intended cosmetic application. At the same time, scientific and technological advances have reached a state of sophistication in which formulations can have real beneficial action on the skin, for preventative or restorativetreatments. Thus, the distinction from pharmaceutical products, well defined by law, becomes less obvious.
Figure 9.1 : Display of various cosmetic products containing one or more primary bee products. |
Using simpler formulations usually influences the consistency or durability of a product. However, a choice of simpler formulations and more natural products, variously considered an improvementor a regression, does not necessarily include a loss of benefits or quality. Many of the technological and scientific advances of the last decades can also be applied to such simpler formulations
Both high technology cosmetics and natural cosmetics have their drawbacks and benefits. High technology cosmetics are too expensive to produce on a small scale and many ingredients are too difficult...