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Cosmetics are substances to enhance the beauty of the human body, apart from simple cleaning. Their use is widespread, especially among women in Western countries (see gender role).

"In the 1800s, Queen Victoria publicly declared make-up impolite. It was viewed as vulgar and something that was worn by actors and prostitutes." 1 (http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/7728scit2) By World War II, cosmetics had common application in the West (although banned in Nazi Germany). Other notable events in cosmetics history are detailed in the external link, below. In Japan, geishas wore lipstick made of crushed safflower[?] petals to paint the eyebrows[?] and edges of the eyes as well as the lips. Sticks of bintsuke wax, a softer version of the sumo wrestlers' hair wax, were used by geisha as a make-up base. White paste and powder to colour the face and back; and rouge contours the eye socket and defines the nose. Black paint colour the teeth for the ceremony when maiko (apprentice geisha) graduate and become independent

The role of modern cosmetics is to simulate youthfulness, health and, to an extent, arousal. The various forms of cosmetic include lipstick and lip gloss (used to colour the lips, a facimiliy of sexual arousal); foundation, powder, and rouge (used to colour the face, lightening and removing flaws to produce an impression of health and youth); mascara (used to enhance the eyelashes[?], larger eyes compared to face is a sign of youth) and eyeliner (used to colour the eyelids); and nail polish (used to colour the fingernails and toenails).

The cosmetics industry, as of 2003, is dominated by a small number of multinationals, all with their origins in the early 20th century. If the market is extended to include cometic surgery, health & fitness and dieting it is worth $160 billion every year, specifically cosmetics - perfume is $15 billion, make-up is $18 billion, skin care is $24 billion and hair-care is $38 billion.

Of the dominant firms, the oldest and the largest is L'Oréal[?], which was founded by Eugene Shueller in 1909 as the French Harmless Hair Colouring Company. The true market developers were the 1910s American trio Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein[?] and Max Factor[?]. These firms established the market and were augmented by Revlon[?] just before WW II and Estée Lauder[?] just after.

More specialized forms of cosmetics (stage makeup) are used to prepare actors for roles in the theatre and screen productions. A wide variety of effects are possible and may go so far as to make the actor appear completely nonhuman through the use of prosthetic appliances. See also clown, KISS.

The Romans and ancient Egyptians used cosmetics containing mercury. The ingredients of cosmetics still surprise those who use them: lipstick, for example, can contain fish scales, or rather, the "shimmery" substance of fish scales called "pearl essence". Pearl essence is obtained primarily from herring and is one of many by-products of large-scale commercial fish processing. See external link below for other ingredients of lipstick.

During the Chinese festival of Qi Qiao Jie young women throw make-up on the roof.

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