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The history of cosmetics is much longer than most people think. The act of covering yourself with pigmented minerals dates back to over 300,000 years ago to the African middle Stone Age. 

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Throughout time, cultures have altered their appearance in many ways, like using crushed bugs for lipstick, blackening teeth with dyes, and creating whitening agents from lead and vinegar

Before the structures of culture and social status, the act of putting pigments on yourself started as a ritual of curiosity. It was exploring the physical, experiencing color, creating shapes and symbols that would be given meaning, a work of art. 

As communities evolved into a more structured societal system, the idea of makeup started to become intertwined with status and became a representation of your character.

The fundamental reason for putting on makeup has shifted as our priority for beauty grows. The core reason for a morning ritual of painting your face is now much different from when our ancestors did it.

While one isn’t necessarily better than the other, they each hold very different meanings in their purpose.

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The Chemicals

The makeup industry today is a brand, a massive multibillion dollar market that, at its core, is putting profit before health.

Behind the soft glow of women against a white background in those makeup commercials lies many ugly truths. The ecological damage done by these industries does so much more harm than good.

The chemical components in many beauty products can’t completely break down and end up accumulating in our ecosystems.

Within the products themselves, we’ve come a long way since crushing red bugs for lipstick, but is what we’re using now really any better?

From the infamous parabens to phthalates, there is a cocktail of chemicals in many mainstream makeup products these days.

A lot of the chemicals act as preserving agents or help to stick the substance to your face for long periods of time. While there are healthy, organic, and even vegan options for makeup, they always come with a pretty high price, but they are still the best option.

When you really get down to it, beyond what specific chemicals cause which reaction, these types of chemical combinations don’t belong on our faces — especially for extended periods of time.

A great example comes from a study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas has demonstrated how taking even a short break from various cosmetics, shampoos, and other personal care products can lead to a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals present within the body.

The results from the study were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers gave 100 Latina teenagers various personal care products that were labeled to be free of common chemicals including phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone. These chemicals are used regularly in almost all conventional personal care products such as cosmetics, soap, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products, and animal studies have shown that they directly interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

Keep in mind, this is just one of many examples.

Below is a great video shedding light regarding facts about makeup that aren’t well known.

The Psychology of Makeup

Since the cosmetic and fashion industries are primarily focused on women, girls are constantly bombarded with images of what they’re told beauty is. The margin of a beautiful face according to the media is extremely limited, and this narrative deeply affects millions worldwide.

A Harris interactive poll was conducted on behalf of the Renfrew Center foundation, surveying 1,292 women 18 and older. 44% of the women surveyed said they had negative feelings about their appearance when they weren’t wearing makeup. Others felt sen more strongly about it:

The survey stated that 48 percent of the women surveyed “wear makeup because they like the way they look with it,” and 32 percent went as far to say that it “makes them feel good.”

Another 11 percent of the women wear it out of duty, and 44 percent use makeup to cover up skin imperfections.

The Solution

If you’re fundamental in your thinking, the act of putting on makeup can be seen as something sacred once again. It still can be used as a ritual to deeply empower yourself; the key is being mindful of it and practicing moderation.

Ask yourself why you’re wearing makeup in the first place: Is it for someone else, or are you doing it for yourself? Sometimes I wear makeup depending on how I feel, and am extremely mindful to take long breaks without putting anything on my face.

The more regularly you wear makeup, the more you get used to seeing it on your face and the harder it is to appreciate your natural beauty without it.

For those who might feel deeply unhappy with their looks, first, remember what you’re surrounded by.

We are fed specific images of what beauty is, but beauty will always be subjective. There is no restriction of what beauty can look like, unless we are the ones placing those restrictions.

Second, make a conscious effort to stop consuming any input from mainstream media in terms of fashion and beauty. The more we blindly accept what is said to be “normal” by the media, the more limited our perception becomes.

Finally, spend more time in nature, meet people who can really SEE you, and the limits of physicality will fade away.

True beauty is truth, plain and simple. When someone is fully comfortable being themselves, that confidence radiates out to everyone around them. Beauty is something that exists far beyond the physical dimension, and when you can fully embody that idea, then you don’t need to strive for beauty; you simply ARE it.

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