The word cosmetics derives from the Greek , meaning "technique of dress and ornament", "skilled in ordering or arranging" and that from κόσμος (kosmos), meaning amongst others "order" and "ornament". The first archeological evidence of cosmetics comes from the hollowed out tombs of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Archaeological evidence of cosmetics dates at least from ancient Egypt and Greece. According to one source, early major developments include:
The Ancient Greeks also used cosmetics. Cosmetics are mentioned in the Old Testament, such as in 2 Kings 9:30, where Jezebel painted her eyelids—approximately 840 BC—and in the book of Esther, where various beauty treatments are described.
Cosmetic use was frowned upon at many points in Western history. For example, in the 19th century, Queen Victoria publicly declared makeup improper, vulgar, and acceptable only for use by actors.
During the sixteenth century, the personal attributes of the women who used make-up created a demand for the product among the upper class.
Of the major cosmetics firms, 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%; the remaining 46% is traded publicly). 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.
Beauty products are now widely available from dedicated internet-only retailers, who have more recently been joined online by established outlets, including the major department stores and traditional bricks and mortar beauty retailers.
Although modern make-up has been traditionally used mainly by women, an increasing number of males are gradually using cosmetics usually associated to women to enhance or cover their own facial features. Concealer is commonly used by cosmetic-conscious men. Cosmetics brands release cosmetic products especially tailored for men, and men are increasingly using such products.