The practice of grooming dates back at least 40,000 years.
When archaeologists opened the tomb of King Tutankhamun they found a pot of three-thousand-year-old moisturizer made from animal fat and perfumed resin.
In the British Museum there is a woman’s cosmetics box, also from Egypt, dating to about 1400B.C. Inside it are an ivory comb, pumice stones, containers of makeup, vases for skin salves, a pair of gazelle-skin sandals, and small red cushions. Shaving sets from 2000 B.C. containing bronze razors and tweezers have been found. Ancient Egyptians stored moisturizers made from animal fat , olive oil, nut oils, seeds, and flowers in jars of alabaster and onyx. Their medical papyri have formulas and recipes for preventing wrinkles and blemishes. Both sexes pumiced and shaved their bodies, and wore wigs, sometimes in combination with their own hair (a look later adopted by Andy Warhol). In fact, the Egyptians had most cosmetics we have today, suggesting that the cosmetic business is hardly a modern invention or response to current cultural pressures.
–by Nancy Etcoff