The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics usage is found in Egypt around 3500 BC during the Ancient Egypt times with some of the royalty having make up such as Nefertiti, Nefertari, mask of Tutankhamun, etc. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used cosmetics. The Romans and Ancient Egyptians used cosmetics containing poisonous mercury and often lead. The ancient kingdom of Israel was influenced by cosmetics as recorded in the Old Testament—2 Kings 9:30 where Jezebel painted her eyelids—approximately 840 BC. The Biblical book of Esther describes various beauty treatments as well.
Cosmetic use was frowned upon at some points in Western history. For example, in the 1800s, make-up was used primarily by prostitutes, and Queen Victoria publicly declared makeup improper, vulgar, and acceptable only for use by actors. Adolf Hitler told women that face painting was for clowns and not for the women of the Master Race.
Cosmetics have been in use for thousands of years. The absence of regulation of the manufacture and use of cosmetics has led to negative side effects, deformities, blindness, and even death through the ages. Examples of this were the prevalent use of ceruse (white lead), to cover the face during the Renaissance, and blindness caused by the mascara Lash Lure during the early 1900s.
The worldwide annual expenditures for cosmetics today is estimated at U.S. $19 billion. Of the major firms, the oldest and the largest is L'Oréal, which was founded by Eugene Schueller in 1909 as the French Harmless Hair Colouring Company (now owned by Liliane Bettencourt 26% and Nestlé 28%, with the remaining 46% are publicly traded). The market was developed in the USA during the 1910s by Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Max Factor. These firms were joined by Revlon just before World War II and Estée Lauder just after.