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The Influence Of Cosmetics

( Originally Published 1923 )

IF many women afflicted, owing to illness or an unwholesome mode of life, with a dull, sickly, yellowish-gray complexion form the habit of introducing a life-like red tint into the "gray monotony" previously existing, we can readily understand the reason for this custom, which is not inexcusable, moreover, when looked at from the human, or more strictly speaking the women's, standpoint.

It cannot but seem incomprehensible and even absurd, however, when young women or even girls, as is now unfortunately increasingly the case, gloss over the healthy and even ruddy complexion which they naturally enjoy with a conspicuous red color and set off their lips with equally unnatural tints.

If this is done with a view to simulating an even more beautiful and youthful appearance, I may assert from the start that the result obtained will be exactly the opposite of the intended illusion.

For any one in his senses and with normally directed tastes will certainly recognize the natural coloring of the face, and will at once suspect any dissimulation, by which he will not be deceived. Not only will he consider that which is unnatural unattractive, but he will likewise involuntarily come to the conclusion that an attractiveness previously not present has been artificially simulated; whence persons of actual beauty are often really taken to be homely.

And they are also often taken to be older!

For the observer is displeased by that which is strange and unnatural, and when there is a conspicuous red color or pallor on the face in combination with lips that glow with an impossible red hue, man's powers of age appreciation are misled and young women and girls are considered to be older than they really are.

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that ladies already of a certain age may often succeed by a very sparing application of "rouge" over a sallow, sickly-pale, faded face in reducing their apparent age by ten years. The result of "painting" in the old and the young is thus that the old frequently are made to look younger but the young invariably to look older.

Rapid ageing, as far as the facial appearance is concerned, will, furthermore, actually set in on account of the severe injury done to it by "painting."

Two factors should be emphasized in this connection, viz., mechanical and chemical influences, as the causes of injury to the skin of the face.

Regarding the first of these factors, I have pointed out in the latest edition of my work on "Old Age Deferred," in the chapter entitled "A Few Hints on Youthful Appearance," that in the rubbing of pastes and other preparations over the facial skin, lines, wrinkles, and folds are produced in a mechanical way. Injury due to chemical causes may result from the fact that the cosmetics used often contain harmful ingredients, such as lead, and in Carlsbad I have in not a few instances had occasion to treat cases of liver and intestinal disorders to which the lead content of such beautifying preparations bore a causal relationship., It should be borne in mind, further, that such paints and thick pastes block up the pores of the sweat and sebaceous glands, upon the free functioning of which the appearance of the skin of the face in large measure depends. From my own experience I do not know of a single case in which the healthy appearance of the complexion was not impaired by "painting," and I need merely refer in this connection to the facial aspect of women who, like actresses and others similarly engaged, are well-known to paint themselves up almost daily and quite often are compelled to pay for this practice with a prematurely aged appearance.

In contending against that which is natural, man is always worsted; nature never allows one to trespass on her fields with impunity, and takes bitter revenge for any such attempted encroachment.

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