The Evolution of Beauty Through the Centuries

beauty trends through history

From ancient civilisations to present times, beauty has remained a consistent and constant trend throughout the centuries.

Skincare has evolved significantly over the last few decades. With modern technological advances from every corner of the globe, the beauty industry is helping people understand their skin better and tailoring products and treatments based on specific skin types.

We look at the evolution of beauty and where it’s heading.

Did you know the use of cosmetics began as early as 4,000 BC in Ancient Egypt? They used kohl, an ancient eye cosmetic made by grinding stibnite, to create eyeliner and mascara. Ancient Egyptians believed it protected against eye ailments and harsh sun rays.

Let’s take a look at how beauty has changed through the centuries:

The 1920s to 1930s

The 1920s, known as the roaring twenties, was a significant period of change for women who had just acquired their voting rights. There were new norms in American fashion and beauty.

Women took better care of their skin after a more vibrant look replaced the Victorian era’s pale, minimal makeup look. In the 1930s, the bronzed look became fashionable, so tanning became a thing.

In addition, women became more elaborate with their skincare, using a much talked about 10-step regimen over a container of hot water. 

The 1940s to 1950s

Moisturisers and sunblock are key skincare products today. However, it was in the 1940s when facial moisturisers became incredibly popular, and saw the introduction of European products into Australian skincare and beauty routines. Night creams and masks became popular.

Thorough cleansing using cold creams such as Pond’s was popular and that brand became a huge hit. A DIY approach to skin routines using petroleum jelly and baby powder was also used for a glossy skin look.

The 1960s to 1970s

This was the era where sunscreen gained traction as an essential part of skincare, especially in America. Although sunscreens were made with SPF, they only shielded against UVB rays; unlike today, where sunscreens also protect against UVA rays.

In the 1970s, natural beauty was a favourite amongst younger women, so more natural skincare products were used, focusing on natural, plant based ingredients and organic products. And overall less makeup was worn.

The 1980s to 1990s

Women began using newly introduced anti-ageing products with collagen and other extracts. They also accepted exfoliants and acne cleansers despite the stinging sensation as part of essential skincare regimes for clearer skin.

During this time, professionals first recognised the anti-ageing potential of tretinoin. Then, in the 1990s, experts saw the positive effects of AHA or alpha hydroxy acids against ageing. So many call this period the chemical era of beauty and skincare.

The 2000s 

The early 2000s saw a comeback of self tans, sun tanning and the introduction of Botox to remove wrinkles and collagen injections for plump lips.

By 2010 K-Beauty was leading the market in revolutionary skincare and beauty products, using natural ingredients, and adopting the concept of less is more when it came to using products on your skin.

Products like sheet masks and creams made of weird and whacky ingredients like snails also became a thing. And trends from Iceland, Japan, and Germany were adapted globally.

In 2022, skincare for men is also becoming more popular, while spray tanning is still widely used today for both the body and the face for a natural bronzed look.

The Future

The future of skincare is about people being more knowledgeable about science based ways to take care of the skin, and this is not exclusive to women as more men are more concerned with their skin. Makeup ranges are now available for men only.

Now that information is easily accessible via the Internet, people can easily see what skincare regimen is more effective. This pushes brands to be more innovative, projecting growth in science-backed products and treatments.

Experts also believe sustainable skincare will be a huge trend, and we are already seeing this today with many brands across the world.

The future of skincare is exciting and who knows what new innovations we will see in the future.

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Stacey Fields


Stacey is a guest contributor for Bondi Beauty, working as a freelance writer. She loves writing about a variety of health and beauty topics and hope to run her own blog one day.

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