Meaning of COSMETIC in English


any of several preparations (excluding soap) that are applied to the human body for beautifying, preserving, or altering the appearance or for cleansing, colouring, conditioning, or protecting the skin, hair, nails, lips, eyes, or teeth. See also makeup; perfume. The earliest cosmetics known to archaeologists were in use in Egypt in the fourth millennium BC, as evidenced by the remains of artifacts probably used for eye makeup and for the application of scented unguents. By the start of the Christian era, cosmetics were in wide use in the Roman Empire. Kohl (a preparation based on lampblack or antimony) was used to darken the eyelashes and eyebrows and to outline the eyelids. Rouge was used to redden the cheeks, and various white powders were employed to simulate or heighten fairness of complexion. Bath oils were widely used, and various abrasives were employed as dentifrices. The perfumes then in use were based on floral and herbal scents held by natural resins as fixatives. Along with other cultural refinements, cosmetics disappeared from much of Europe with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. A revival did not take place until the Middle Ages, when crusaders returning from the Middle East brought cosmetics and perfumes back from their travels. Cosmetics reappeared in Europe on a wide scale in the Renaissance, and Italy (15th16th centuries) and France (17th century on) became the chief centres of their manufacture. At first makeup was used only by royalty, their courtiers, and the aristocracy, but by the 18th century cosmetics had come into use by nearly all social classes. During the conservative Victorian era of the 19th century, the open use of cosmetics was frowned upon by respectable society in the United States and Britain. French women continued to use makeup, however, and France pioneered in the scientific development and manufacture of cosmetics during that time. After World War I any lingering Anglo-American prejudices against makeup were discarded, and new products and techniques of manufacture, packaging, and advertising have made cosmetics available on an unprecedented scale.

Britannica English vocabulary.      Английский словарь Британика.