How did East Asia circa 1500 produce cosmetics?

How did East Asia circa 1500 produce cosmetics?


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For a work of fiction, I need to know how one would produce cosmetics from the available products at those times (circa 1500).

I imagine I would need - beeswax, which was probably widely available - oil - but which one? Linseed? Hemp seed? Perilla? - butter - for concealers, butter-like products. Cocoa, Shea butter I think we're not really available. Would avocado work? - pigments. I know white lead was common, probably some earth pigments as well.

Does anyone have any information about the ingredients available and used in those times?


Many of the following are anachonistic; I wanted to test to see if there was information on Asian cosmetics in history. I think the answer is yes; I selected the following from pages of results.

3000 BCE: The Chinese stain their fingernails with gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg. The colors are used as a representation of social class: Chou dynasty royals wear gold and silver, with subsequent royals wearing black or red. Lower classes are forbidden to wear bright colors on their nails.

1500 BCE: Chinese and Japanese citizens commonly use rice powder to make their faces white. Eyebrows are shaved off, teeth are painted gold or black, and henna dyes are applied to stain hair and faces.

Cosmetics Info

Please also consult:

  • Wikipedia: China
  • WIkipedia: Japan
  • GlamorFlare: History of Korean Cosmetics