Beauty Related Inventions

The history and future of makeup and beauty products.

Different lipsticks
Different lipsticks. Getty Images: Photographer Steve Wisbauer

Archaeologists have found evidence of cosmetics or makeup being used in Egypt dating back as far as the fourth millennium BC, including artifacts of eye makeup and objects used for the application of scented ointments.

Nail Polish

Nail polish can be traced back to at least 3000 BC. The Chinese found ways to use gum arabic, egg whites, gelatin, and bees wax to create varnishes and lacquers for the nails.
The Egyptians used henna to stain their fingernails.

Nail color often represented social class. During the Chou Dynasty, (circa 600 BC) gold and silver were the royal colors. Later, royalty starting wearing black or red nail color. Lower ranking women were only permitted to wear pale tones. Wearing royal colors without the rank was punished by death.

Modern nail polish is a actually a variation of car paint.

Max Factor Makeup

Max Factor is often called the father of modern makeup.


Cotton swabs under the brand name of Q-Tips were invented in 1923 by a Polish-born American named Leo Gerstenzang.

Hair Related Innovations

Hair dyes, products and styling appliances.

Underarm Deodorants

The original formulation for Mum deodorant was invented in 1888, by an unknown inventor from Philadelphia and is generally recognized as being the first ever commercial product to prevent odor.


Chemist Eugene Schueller invented the first sunscreen in 1936.


In 1914, a skin cream was invented by Baltimore pharmacist George Bunting.
The name of the skin cream "Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy" was changed to Noxema after a customer swore that the cream had knocked out his eczema.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline petroleum jelly was patented on May 14, 1878.
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Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "Beauty Related Inventions." ThoughtCo, Aug. 6, 2016, Bellis, Mary. (2016, August 6). Beauty Related Inventions. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Beauty Related Inventions." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 24, 2018).