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We’ve all seen it; the hopelessly unfashionable male. The neighbor who sits on the porch in his stained undershirt with athletic socks and sandals. The guy walking his dog in the ripped sweatpants and a flannel shirt. The dad in the khaki shorts and plastic sunglasses. Why is it that men should be held to a different aesthetic standard than women? Does their sex somehow give them the right to visually assault the rest of the world with their poor taste? Although men do so often get a bad rap when it comes to fashion, it seems they are not beyond vanity. In fact, males and grooming have a long historical relationship. Here are some shocking revelations about the evolution of male grooming and beauty products.
The relationship between men and grooming first came in the form of fragrant oils. Beginning in about 10,000 BC, men started using scented oils to clean and soften their skin and hide the body odor. However, the heavy stuff came not play with dyes and paints used to color the skin and henna stains for the nails. Kohl was used to lining the eye, using a small stick as an applicator. It was applied to the upper and lower eyelids, in what we have come to know today as the “cat eye’ effect, with lines extended to the side of the face.
Alexander the Great
Did someone say cat fight? It is documented, that Alexander the Great, was apparently addicted to men’s grooming, aromatics, and makeup. The great leader was said to have thrown out the priceless makeup collection of the defeated King Darius in a jealous rage after the Battle of Issus, in a scene fit for the “Bachelorette.” Hiss!
When in Rome, use makeup like the Romans do. Around 100 AD, Romans took men’s grooming to the net level by applying barley flour and butter to pimples and using blood and sheep’s fat for nail polish, but perhaps their crowning contribution was the practice of bathing in mud spiked with crocodile excrement. The man also took to the practice of dying their hair. Blond was the popular color and intended to make men look young, but the practice was soon abandoned when the dyes turned out to be so toxic the users began losing hair as a result.
The Victorian times was a bleak time for makeup, which probably made its return during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I all the sweeter. Men went on a cosmetic romp, using rosemary water for hair and sage to whiten teeth. Elderflower was used on skin, and bathing in wine became commonplace. Geranium Petal rouge and lipstick became a sign of health, while arsenic used to whiten skin became all the rage until it was found to be linked to a few early deaths, many of which may have been planned.
So what is the outlook as far as men’s cosmetics are concerned? It seems that the Metrosexual phenomena may be keeping the use of makeup strong in the millennium, and let’s hope so. After looking at its past contributions, one can only have high hopes for the future of men’s grooming.
What do you think of men and makeup? Let us know! We love to hear from you!