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The English poet and writer, Oscar Wilde says that, “Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible”.

The history of make up

Civilizations have always used cosmetics for centuries in religious rituals to enhance beauty and to promote good health though not always recognizable compared to today’s advanced products. Cosmetics usage throughout history can be indicative of a civilization’s practical concerns, such as protection from the sun or conventions of beauty.

 The timeline below represents a brief history of cosmetics, beginning with the Ancient Egyptians in 10,000 BC.

10,000 BC:

Cosmetics were an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health. Men and women in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor. Oils and creams were for protection against the hot Egyptian sun and dry winds. Myrrh, thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil, and almond oil provided the basic ingredients of most perfumes Egyptians used in religious rituals.

About the typologies of cosmetics in use among the Phoenicians, little is known. In this context, generally references come from bibliographic Latin sources: in antiquity, women preferred to paint white their face, red lips and cheeks, yellowish eyes and black to surround their eyes.

The love for the red color by Phoenician is evident from the great number of powders of this color, probably used to give color to the cheeks or lips.

"It is not easy to obtain a natural and vibrant appearance, so woman tries throughout her various stages of life in her social, economical political roles and her experiences in life to obtain an acceptable appearance in her society.

Make-up at the present time

Cosmetics became common to all classes of people at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

According to a recent British study, women spend an average of about 29 minutes a day applying make-up to look good from their point of view, while two-thirds of women are keen to wear make-up before leaving the house.

Undoubtly makeup is essential in most women’s life because it has an impact on the course of their daily lives and wearing make-up increases self-confidence, as it is fun for most women. Cosmetics today are the woman's permanent friend.

It’s been interesting hearing about women’s views on makeup because there’s also a flip side to the coin. Makeup can be shunned or labeled by some as being “fake or a mask to hide behind”.

Makeup can make you feel more powerful and ready to face any situation, but just as there are women and girls who wear makeup completely for themselves, there are those who wear makeup for the perceived benefit of others.

Can we say that make up is an illusion called beauty?!!!

The view of every woman on make-up differs as some of them cannot go out of the house unless their makeup is complete and some of them do not give makeup a great importance, but there is no doubt that it is in the bag of every woman.

Syria Times reporters took a tour in the Cosmetics markets in Damascus and reported about different types of women:

Her are their comments

Rema,28years old has been married for 6 months, thinks that if it had not been for her makeup and herself care, her husband, Hasan would have not loved and married  her !!!

"Rema begins her day with a quick bath, then she goes to her room to use some moisturizing creams, and then a foundation cream, and then she puts the appropriate makeup to start her beautiful day as she describes it because she believes that her satisfaction with herself and her appearance is reflected on her psyche.

She completes that her husband loves her make-up and loves to watch her while she is wearing make-up and is happy with her life and makeup and does not intend to change her habit and believes that make-up is the reason for her happiness.

Faten, 22 years old.  Her point of view for makeup differs because she believes that makeup is to be worn on special occasions. She does not use makeup except on occasions that she invokes, and she prefers her natural beauty.

Faten tries to preserve her skin and beauty by organizing her sleep time and waking up, and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.

Noha18 years oldsaid that “I   honestly wear make up to attract men”, while Huda also18 years old says that she chooses very simple make up that matches her skin tone, because she doesn’t like exaggerated makeup.

Haya, 22 years old said that, “there’s really nothing more beautiful and satisfying than to see my face light up and my eyes sparkle and a huge smile takes over when I look at the mirror when I am wearing makeup. If makeup helps woman recognize her own beauty why not, and to me it is priceless”.

Abeer Alia 50 years old, one of the employees of Al-Wahda Foundation for Press and Publication says that, "I wake up early in the morning before I go to work, and I wear makeup to go out with the best image and the most beautiful look, and if I don't put makeup on I feel sick.”She completes that her children love her make-up and love to watch her, and feel happy while she is wearing make-up.

I always read a lot about makeup and I am passionate about it very much, and every day, I buy fancy lipstick and eyeliners all in bright colors. “When my husband passed away, I felt very depressed, but my sadness did not prevent me from wearing make-up despite the fact that some people criticize me harshly for wearing makeup but it’s up to me and no one else, so I don’t take them seriously. I’m doing what makes me happy”, Abeer added.

Rahaf 45years old says that, for her, makeup is like a palette of simple white and black add to it bright and beautiful vibrant colures that give life spirit. These colures give positive energy throughout the day. I completely agree that make up not only allows you to play on your creative side, but what’s the problem if it also allows some women to feel more confident and secure. Purchasing cosmetics is one of my constant interests, she added.

Raghda 49 years old says that “ I wear make up to hide my flaws. Make up gives me confidence”.

 Lara, 35 years old says that, “I hate make-up very much, and it does not mean anything to me, and my husband is used to see me with my natural beauty without makeup. I prefer to buy clothes more than cosmetics”.

Nada 40 years old has another different point of view about make-up. She says that, she doesn’t care about make up. She feels that make up falsifies the realities and she likes to be her normal self and does not wear any make-up.

Heba, 24 years old, says that “I am very beautiful with make up or without, and I love to live a natural simple life without complications.

In the same context, Ms. Dalia, 46 years old, who is a prominent woman in society says that she started using makeup almost seven years ago because she felt that her skin needed more colors and some wrinkles were appearing on her face.

She added that when she was in her twenties she did not think much about makeup because she was full of vitality and energy and did not need anything to hide the flaws of her skin.

Dalia is currently considering resorting to plastic surgery, especially after she approaches menopause. She is considering having botox injections in order to reduce wrinkles but does not intend to overuse botox so that her facial expressions appear natural"

Hala30 years old said that, “I wear makeup because it makes me feel good”. I also like having options to change my look to go with my mood too.

Najat 44 years old, she is a housewife, she comments on wearing make up by saying : “I personally wear makeup when I’m going out somewhere special and not so much on a daily basis due to my busy lifestyle being a mother to my two daughters. Make up most of the time makes me feel more confident and colorful inside and outside “.

 Sahar 28 years old said: “I for one love makeup and wear it daily. For me it makes me feel complete in my appearance, and gives me a boost for being alive & confident to face the day ahead”.

Dina 32 years old, she commented by saying that “it is the nature of a woman to love to appear in her best image and to make an impression on everyone that she is full of femininity and attraction, especially if it comes to attracting man. That is why women are in constant search for beauty secrets and the best and latest cosmetics that makes her young and more beautiful in the eyes of others’.

Rawan 34 years old, she thinks that “it is true that the majority of men do not like women who persist in applying layers of cosmetics to their face, but they always tend to look at those that show their femininity with little make-up that does not change their facial features or show false beauty. Perhaps men show their hatred for makeup for fear of shocking experiences such as those in which many couples discover the real looks of a life partner when they remove makeup for the first time”.

Arwa 51 years old said: “I use makeup as part of my personal presentation as well, and to enhance my professional look at work. I also love those nights or weekends when I have extra time to play with all of those products in my makeup kit and get very creative with my look”.

Syria Times also interviewed Wael, the owner of the Cosmetics shop in al-Hamra Street he said that,  “a little kohl and powder on the cheeks will not harm , but a woman who does not wear make-up must know  that a man, no matter how much he confesses his love to her, for her natural beauty, does not really prefer a woman with a pale face, because she will lose the balance of her attractiveness in front of him, and he will inevitably be attracted to the another woman who knows how she brings out her beauty and femininity and captivates his heart in a smart way”.

From our previous reports of most of the Syrian women, we can say that despite the war years that Syria has gone through and in spite of the costly life caused by the unfair West economic measures and the American “Caesar Act” imposed on Syria, we find that Syrian women who are classified as the third most beautiful in the world, do not hesitate to buy cosmetics to show their beauty and femininity.

Last but not least, we can say that, the human nature is eager for perfection in appearance, and the desire for distinctive expression of identity culturally and socially and so that cosmetics have contributed to throughout a history of thousands of years to change the way we see ourselves and others, and to protect us in times of psychological distress and disease in addition to enabling us to express our beliefs and attitudes.

Reported and Researched by: Raghda Sawas & Haifaa Mafalani

Photos by: Raghda Sawas & Haifaa Mafalani