History of Cosmetology

Since the first time a human being was able to see his or her reflection in a body of water revealing that it was yet another “bad hair day”, there have been cosmetologists. The history of cosmetology is a long one, dating back in ancient times. Since everyone in the ancient world was either a master or servant, the history of cosmetology began as a skilled trade among the servant class, and Egyptian woman had perfected the art of using ochres, and dyes on their cheeks and eyes, as depicted in Egyptian art. Many of the Egyptian women and men wore wigs, and the wig stylist appeared very early in the history of cosmetology. Egyptians had also perfected the art of extracting essential oils from herbs, the same procedure that is used for making essential oils today.

The Romans and Greeks prized their baths, which were like today’s spa treatments, and the Greco-Roma bathouse plays an important role in the history of cosmetology. Men as well as women had skin and hair treatments as well as steam baths to open their pores.

According to Roman poetry, early cosmetologists had perfected something like a hair permanent. No details are given in the poem about how the woman obtained her curly locks, but the Romans perhaps perfected something like a curling iron heated on a fire. This is the first mention in the history of cosmetology of creating a curly look.

The religiosity of the Middle Ages meant a temporary lull in the history of cosmetology, as mystics were, in general, concerned more with spiritual perfection than good looks. Women usually covered their hair with cloths and wore no makeup. The history of cosmetology had another golden age during the 18th century, with curly locks piled high in towers of tresses, powdered faces, and the famous “beauty mark” made with a kohl pencil. The history of cosmetology often sees constant fluctuation between the “natural look” and highly adorned effects depending on the mood of the times.

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