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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Beauty Industry

JENNIFER M. WHITMER

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs021

The beauty industry, which includes the sale of cosmetics, fragrances, and toiletries, today is a multibillion dollar global industry. The pursuit of beauty has a long historical tradition. Cultures throughout history have established beauty norms and methods for achieving them. However, the mass beauty industry which developed with the advent of modern consumer culture did not come to prominence until the years leading up to and following World War I, particularly as US business firms began to capitalize on the extant beauty culture and a modernist cultural understanding of the malleability of the body, transforming what had been a craft into a capitalist industry.

Because the mass beauty industry encompasses a heterogeneous array of products, the commercial beauty industry can claim many roots, including perfumeries, salons, pharmacies, and drugstores, as well as theatrical makeup. However, although there was a small trade in beauty products and services throughout the nineteenth century, prior to the rise of the beauty industry, beauty practices took place largely within the household. Due to the influence of Puritanical morality, the excessive use of cosmetics, particularly color cosmetics, was frowned upon in the early history of the United States as evidence of loose moral character. However, women continued to use cosmetics which were meant to improve or preserve ...

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