Women’s fascination with makeup goes all the way back to ancient Egypt dating back t to around 4000 BC. Traces of cosmetics used by the ancient Greeks and Romans have also been found.

While the Victorian era saw some strictures on the use of makeup, the 20th century has seen the cosmetics industry becoming a multi million-dollar business with multinationals like L’Oreal, Max Factor, Estee Lauder and Revlon dominating the industry. Feminists may contest the claim, but it is generally believed that the use of makeup makes the wearer look young, beautiful and adds to sex appeal. Makeup can transform one’s appearance dramatically and is used extensively by actors, stage personalities and those in the limelight, as well as doctors who may use it clinically to disguise scars. However, its most common use today is among women around the world who use a number of cosmetic tools. Foundation or powder is used to make the face look smoother and conceal blemishes. A touch of lipstick adds color, shape and fullness to the lips, while eye shadow and mascara is meant to better define the eyes and make them look bigger. Today, surgical procedures and permanent makeup is also possible thanks to the advances in science.

This loveliness though, could be only skin deep for there’s an ugly side to the beauty business. Lipsticks could contain chemicals like iron oxide, while eye shadows have chances of containing the dye carmine, an animal extract. On the one hand, the line between drugs and cosmetics is blurring, so that one man’s cosmetic deodorant could be another man’s antiperspirant drug. What complicates matters is, while the United States Food and Drug Administration sees drugs, as subject to a review and approval process, cosmetics don’t fall under its strict purview. On the other hand, cosmetic testing on animals has become shrouded in controversy with animal rights’ activists vehemently opposed to it. Animal testing includes for finished products like lipsticks or for individual ingredients. Due to the pressure exerted by animal rights’ groups, the accepted rule among governments and corporations is to exercise the three Rs of reduction -using fewer animals to get similar information, replacement through non-animal use and refinement by minimizing pain to animals. Another relatively new cosmetic method gaining currency is permanent makeup that employs tattooing techniques. While this can work wonders for those with permanent scars caused by conditions such as vitiligo or for busy women, unless it is handled by an experienced professional, permanent makeup carries risks of infection and disfigurement.