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The Evolution of Beauty Products

Beauty products have come a long way through the ages. Back in the times of ancient Egypt, women in power used milk to treat their skin and pigments to stain their nails, while today women perform home glycolic peels and sport chip proof shellac. Products such as these continue to improve and evolve. The future may see truly chip proof nail polish that is also healthy for the nails and promotes growth, while a non-invasive fat freezing machine is likely to be one of the next big things in beauty.

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Below are 6 common beauty products and procedures that have come a long way through the ages and will continue to evolve well into the future.  In many cases, such as in the case of increasingly natural and gentle hair color, the evolution is of benefit to beauty lovers. But in some cases, such as in the formulation of hair spray, evolution of the product may result in something less desirable for the consumer, but will be more beneficial for the environment.

Nail Polish

Nail polish dates back to ancient Egypt where women of rank colored their nails with dark red pigments. Women of lower rank were limited to use of pale shades. The Chinese developed a colored lacquer that was left on the nails for several hours and then removed, leaving a stain behind. Nail color later evolved into easier to use tints and stains, and women took to buffing tinted nails to also make them shiny. But it was the advent of the automobile and the technology of the paint for it that led to the nail polishes that we see today.

In recent years, nail polish technology has grown immensely. Now standard polish is seen in holographic, glitter, and matte shades. Magnetic polish that is applied and then altered with a magnet in the cap is also available for an interesting look. But the largest evolution is in gel polish and shellacs which, as Linda Massey of Rick and Company Salon and Spa in Sioux City, IA, notes, can last for two weeks without chipping. However, they are a bit hard on the nails and are not the easiest of products to remove. With shellac being in its early stages, one can expect the technology to continue to evolve to the point where chip proof polish that is also healthy and easy to change will become the norm.

Exfoliation and Peels

The use of substances to keep skin soft and blemish free also dates back to ancient Egypt, when women of power discovered the power of lactic acid in milk for skin care. Over the years, women have used all sorts of substances to exfoliate the skin, many being rather abrasive. But the past 20 years have seen an increase in the ability to exfoliate gently, yet effectively. Devices such as the Clarisonic, now use sonic technology to clean and  exfoliate skin, while more gentle glycolic peels, such as the Brazillian Peel, can now be performed at home.  Microdermabrasion is no longer limited to the dermatologist’s office, with devices no available for microdermabrasion at home. In the future, expect to see less and less invasive ways to obtain clear skin through the use of light therapy, sonic therapy, and increasingly gentle, yet powerful chemical peels.

Shaving and Hair Removal

Women began shaving around 1915, when an ad campaign targeting underarm hair as unsightly appeared in Harper’s Bazaar and was coupled with the rise in popularity of sleeveless dresses. Over time, women also moved to shaving their legs and various other forms of hair removal, such as through the use of depilatories. In the 1980’s the painful epilady was introduced and waxing started to come into fashion. Since then, epilation and waxing, while still uncomfortable, have been improved, but the biggest development has been laser hair removal.

Laser hair removal is effective for those with lighter skin and preferably darker hair. People with dark skin cannot use it, as the laser targets pigment and is not safe for use on darker skin.  The past 5 years have seen a rise in popularity of effective home laser hair removal devices, such as the Tria Laser, with many reporting permanent hair removal after six to nine months of regular use.  In the future, watch for developments in permanent hair removal for people of color, either through new developments in laser technology or through improvements to alternate devices, such as the Verseo eGlide, which purports to permanently remove hair through the use of a galvanic current, making it safe for people with darker skin.

Fat Loss

One of the most interesting advancements that may be just around the corner is in the area of fat reduction. Over the years, numerous weight loss methods targeting fat have been developed and, with the exception of normal dieting and liposuction, have generally failed. It is generally understood that fat cannot be vibrated or rolled away, despite the popularity of machines in the 60s,70s, and 80 that promised to do so.  Liposuction, which became popular in the past 25 years, does work to remove fat, but it is painful and invasive. However, a new evolution may be just around the corner.

According to Debra Jaliman, a New York Board Certified Dermatologist and author of the upcoming book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist, Coolsculpting by Zeltiq is a non-invasive way of freezing fat in order to slim and contour the  belly, love handles, and back. Patients spend one to four hours with a cooling device on the area of fat that they want to eliminate and the fat disappears two to four months later. The product is expected to be available in a hand piece soon to treat the arms and thighs. Kathleen Stegman, Founder of Midwest Medical Aesthetics, predicts that similar home machines will be developed and become popular, given that obesity is a growing issue.

Hair Color

Synthetic hair color came about in 1907 from the French chemist Eugene Schueller. His commercial hair dye went on to become the well known name of L’Oreal. Hair color evolved from there to dyes that penetrated the hair shaft for longer lasting results, leading to the formation of the Clairol company. But early hair color products often appeared false and were harsh on the hair.

Over time, hair color has evolved into products that are more gentle and less damaging to the hair and skin, while also providing more realistic color. Organic products, and even gluten free products, have become available for those who desire them. According to Mark Kuzma, owner and educator of Laboratory Hair Studio in Morristown, NJ, we can expect to see further developments in the area of gentle, yet long lasting and vibrant hair color.

Hair Spray

Developed in the 1940s, hair spray used to be anything by soft and manageable. Originally called resin, it consisted of a substance similar to shellac, which created a sticky film when dry. “Helmet head” was the norm with older styles of spray.

In the 1970s, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) aerosols were phased out to protect the ozone layer, and Alberto VO5 went on to become the first brand to provide a CFC free aerosol. During recent years, hair spray has become softer and more manageable, with many products focusing on light hold so that the hair retains a natural look and movement.

Very recent developments, however, don’t bode as well for the favorite sprays of some stylists. Hairspray normally contains alcohol and sometimes other ingredients that are known as Volatile Organic Carbons (VOCs), which are implicated in the formation of ozone and affect global warming. As a result, restrictions on the use of VOCs have increased over the years. As Kuzma explains, new VOC limits effective in January 2012 will require hairspray manufacturers to change their formulas to increase the amount of water in the formula, leading to a wetter spray. He states that “some of us will be losing our favorite sprays because that will not work in some cases.”  So in this case, evolution of the product is beneficial for the environment, but perhaps not so beneficial for consumers who use the products.

Interested in learning more about beauty technology? See Our related articles:

Home LED Light Therapy

Laser Tattoo Removal

Light Therapy For Rosacea

Home Laser Hair Removal Guide

Home Microdermabrasion Guide

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