By Dr R Newaj
Beauty is a universal component of the human experience that promotes pleasure, rivets attention and impels action that helps ensure survival of the genes. In 5 BC the Roman author Ovid wrote The art of beauty, the first known book on beauty and cosmetics, detailing the use of black eye shadow from wood ash and golden eye shadow from saffron.
Cosmetics and skincare products used to enhance beauty are assuming an increasingly important role in our daily routine. The main role of these substances is to enhance the look, improve the texture of the skin and hide any imperfections. The three basic categories of skin-care products are the cleansers, astringents and moisturisers.
Cleansers are designed to remove sebum, help desquamate dead skin cells, bacteria, fungi and environmental dirt from the face and body. The soap solubilises sebum and environmental dirt such that it can be rinsed away with water. The hand or bathing instruments rubbing the soap over the skin results in the removal of skin scale, bacteria and fungi from the skin surface.
Astringents are a subset of cleansers designed to supplement the cleanser in performing its intended function. Astringents or toners are used after cleansing and are left on the face following use. They are liquids wiped onto the face with a cotton ball. Most of them are synthetic detergents and treated water that remove the oily residue left behind after cleansing of the face with cleansers.
The term moisturisers is somewhat misleading to the consumer, who assumes that the cream or lotion actually puts moisture or water back into the skin. Moisturisers simply help in preventing moisture loss from the skin and create an optimal environment for restoration of the skin barrier. The optimal water content of the skin is between 10% to 30% and moisturisers can function to raise this through occlusion or humectant with a variety of active agents. Occlusive moisturisers prevent evaporative water loss to the environment by depositing an oily substance on the skin.
A complete cosmetic counter facial treatment routine involves a cleanser followed by an astringent and then a moisturiser. Once the skin has been prepared in this manner, coloured cosmetics are applied to the skin surface through which water cannot penetrate, thus replenishing the skin barrier.
Humectants, on the other hand, are substances that attract moisture from the environment. Humectants can only hydrate the skin from the environment when the ambient humidity exceeds 70%. Consequently, rehydration of the upper layers of the skin generally occurs by means of water that is attracted from the deeper epidermal and dermal tissues. Most moisturisers combine occlusive and humectant moisturising ingredients since water drawn by a humectant to a damaged stratum corneum barrier will be lost to the atmosphere unless trapped by an occlusive substance.
Coloured facial cosmetics are intended to adorn the eyes, lips and cheeks with colour for the purpose of creating a fashionable appearance, highlighting certain desirable features and camouflaging facial flaws.
These are the first cosmetics applied to the face following the use of a moisturiser. They are basically pigmented moisturisers worn for eight hours or longer before removal. Facial foundations are available for every complexion type and skin colour. The inclusion of additional sunscreen agents to the facial foundations can raise the SPF to 15. Facial foundation is therefore an excellent cosmetically elegant facial photoprotectant.
Powders are applied over the foundation to improve its sun-protective capabilities, increase oil absorption and prevent the foundation from migrating. Full-coverage face powders with increased pigments and light reflection particles are usually packaged in a compact form and applied to the face with a puff; they are also known as mineral make-ups. They are recommended for persons with sensitive skin.
These are typically powders designed to simulate rosy cheeks and enhance the cheek bones. Blushes have the same basic composition as face powders, except for the presence of different surface characteristics that can vary from a matte dull finish to a frosted shine or to a metallic glow, depending on the current fashion trends.
They are similar to powder blushes in formulation and surface characteristics, except that the colour variation is broadened but limited to natural colours, or inorganic pigments. Eye shadows can be used to camouflage miss-shaped eyes, provide sun protection to the upper eyelid and minimise the appearance of unwanted periorbital pigmentation.
These are eyelash cosmetics designed to colour, camouflage, elongate and thicken the eyelashes, which are the frame of the eyes. Modern mascaras are formulated as liquids, then stored in a tube with a brush applicator. The application must be even without smudging, irritants and toxins. Mascaras can be a source of infection and even though they contain antibacterials, it is still wise to discard all mascara tubes after three months and not allow multiple persons to use the same mascara tube.
These are lip cosmetics designed to enhance perioral appearance. They contain mixtures of waxes, oils and pigments in various concentrations. Newer lipstick formulations contain long-wearing polymers that create a waterproof film over the lips that remain in place indefinitely until worn away by speech or eating.