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It's amazing how a hamper containing scrambled eggs, a repulsive supermarket purchase, an inconclusive plan and $5000 successfully created a strong religion with astute disciples all over the world - an idolatry that transcends beyond racial, class, religious and ethnic differences. As an unwritten rule, any potential worshiper must have two things - X chromosomes and an insatiable passion for beauty.

Mary Kay Ash is in many ways a strong proponent of feminism. Her company - Mary Kay Inc. which she started in 1963 with just $5000 (but that now records an annual revenue of about $2.4 billion) currently foots the bills of about 1.8 million workforce (mostly women) worldwide who collectively, on individual basis, propagate the Fortune 500 Gospel of cosmetics to every female specie of the genus homo sapiens. While her marketing strategy was quite original, the concept isn't.

Since 4000BC, women had been in the quest for accentuated beauty. The ladies of ancient Egypt, Greek and Rome according to archaeologists started the practice of cosmetics with mercury and white lead- two carcinogenic agents. Jesus Christ at birth also received beauty gifts. As written in Matthew 2:11, the wise men among other things gave Jesus frankincense and myrrh, although I won't be surprised if Mary used most of it.

Cosmetics timeline among other incidences also have chapters of class segregation that were similar to America's black history. One of such was recorded in countries like China (3000BC), where only women from royal dynasties like the Chou dynasty were allowed to wear brightly colored cosmetics. Discoverers and inventors like Coco Chanel who in his active years discovered nail polish, lipstick and suntan; and L'Oreal who invented modern synthetic hair dye in 1907, also played important roles in making the cosmetics business a blue chip sector churning several trillions of dollars annually.

The good sail of cosmetics history however took an interesting turn between 1960s and 1970s when feminism- induced anti- cosmetics movement sought to address the misnomer where women were presented as mere sex-objects who waste time with cosmetics. Several women refused to use cosmetics during the period only to rescind as a result of the strong influence of America's Hollywood stars, Russian ballets and London's Selfridges.

Much ado with history.

It's amusing how girls, ladies, women and some rich grannies devote much time to ensuring that they look good unlike males who often spend less time, resources and efforts on outward appearance except when on a mission. From my various numerous interactions with ladies of all ages, I've made some observations that could be justification for the obsession with facial foundation.

Young ladies, except lesbians, seek attention from men who only ask attractive girls out. At the youth stage, most ladies crave for male attention so as to boost their egos among colleagues. Hence it becomes imperative and a matter of utmost priority to express their beauties to the extent that Mary Kay, L'Oreal, Victoria Secrets, CoverGirl and other brands could take them.

Establishment of control and the independent woman myth are also parts of the driving forces behind female obsession with make ups. Ladies generally believe that independent women are fashionable, sophisticated and no man in his right senses would dare to mess with such ladies. It's also the wish of every girl to have males around her, such creates an aura of confidence that most ladies would do anything to have. Even if it entails going under the surgeon's knife.

Internal beauty is another rationale behind the current obsessive female beauty dispensation. Most ladies believe that peace of mind could be enhanced by looking absolutely beautiful and attractive. There is also the desire to enhance their market values, social relevance and societal status, hence women of all ages painstakingly endeavor to update worn worn-out styles of beauty. They seek to be relevant, current and not easily pushed over in the comity of friends.

Applying cosmetics, in the female world, is therefore an art- an application of creative skills to attain a social standard. This is however not void of minor shortcomings and overall major adverse effects.

Lurking behind bathroom mirrors, powdery surfaces, and cosmetics shelf is a virtual toxic nightmare. The nightmare makes the innocent looking shampoos, moisturizers, conditioners and mascara potential curses of cancer, hormonal imbalance, reproductive damages and infertility as a result of prolonged harmless usage.

As expected, most ladies believe that government agencies especially the FDAs, regulate cosmetic products and ensure that they are entirely safe. While this is true in some countries, the peculiar nature of cosmetics makes a rethink a smart move.

In science, it's an accepted fact that no chemical agent is 100 per cent safe. The selection and combination of most chemicals are based on positive/negative effects balance. For drugs that are intended to treat some ailments, the side effects of the agents, in most cases, are often short-lived since ailments are rare episodic occurrences. However, cosmetics are not-- they are applied daily, sometimes hourly.

In 2004, US' Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the findings of a study it carried out on the safety of beauty care products. Of the 7,500 products tested by the EWG, one in every 120 products analyzed contained ingredients certified by the US government as known or probable carcinogens and that nearly one-third of the products contained ingredients classified as possible carcinogens. Astoundingly, 54 products even violated recommendations for safe use, yet these products are still available for sale today on American shelves. Only God knows what such report would be like in developing countries that can't afford such elaborate screening of sunscreens.

Most of the products tested contain the cancer-causing ingredients coal tar, alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids; some also contain the hormone-disrupting ingredient, phthalate.

Several hair dye products contain coal tar-derived constituents which had been linked to bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. According to a research study conducted in 2001 by the USC School of Medicine, it was reported that women using permanent hair dye at least once a month more than doubled their risk of bladder cancer. The study estimated that "19 percent of bladder cancer in women in Los Angeles, California, may be attributed to permanent hair dye use."

A link between hair dye and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was also established in 1992 when a study conducted by the US National Cancer Institute found that 20 percent of all cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may be linked to hair dye use. Other countries of the world also have similar results.

Several anti-wrinkles, blemish removals, acne cleansers and sunscreen creams contain alpha hydoxy acids and beta hydoxy acids which were discovered after 15 years of study by the FDA to be associated with a doubling of UV-induced skin damage and a potential risk of skin cancer which records one million new cases annually, and kills one person per hour.

Phthalates are used in chemical industries as plasticizers. However, cosmetics producers had also incorporated it into softening and moisturizing creams, and nail polishes. Studies had indicated that phthalates cause a wide range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments, targeting every organ in the male reproductive system and causing problems ranging from low sperm count to serious genital deformities that can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Thank God I have a naturally moisturized skin.

While the dangers associated with cosmetics are such enormous, it still marvels guys like me why ladies still devote more time and boyfriends' resources to such mini boxes. Why has it become utterly impossible for an average lady to step out bold and confident without wearing at least a Mary Kay product? And more importantly, what does this portend for the future?

Horoscopy and astrology are not needed to realize that females of all races are in serious dilemma over how to handle their bodies and science is not helping matters. Procedures like liposuction, spa, cosmetic surgeries, enlargement, reduction, botox, facials, bleaching; manicure, pedicure, hair removal, hair styling and several others are luring the 21st century women away with hopes for perfect bodies and figure 8 figures while taking the focus away from self development.

It's an open secret in the male world that lip glosses, lip liners, lip plumpers and lip sticks don't make a woman more desirable; they only make lips kissable, and predisposes the kisser to harmful effects of the chemicals when ingested. We guys also know that concealers, foundations, face powders, rouges, cleansers and moisturizers cannot make the face perfectly adorable; they only hide the underlying bulging node-like pimples. Moreover, no amount of eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, shampoo, conditioner, styling cream, nail polish, anti-aging cream, body powder, cold cream and sindour could add a pint to the quality of a woman. Real beauty lies in the lobes of the brain!

Ladies should realize that men who appreciate them because of their make ups are just interested in short-lived relationships. Guys know what to look for when in search of lasting relationships - cosmetics are not on the list.

To all ladies, do know that next time you go to a man's house drenched in several inches of make ups and filled with cosmetics-induced false ego, always ensure to pack your gadgets in the morning before leaving because that could actually be the last meaningful time he will spend with you.

My message is simple - Spend less time and resources on developing your outlook. Build the real you. Real beauty radiates from within. Mary Kay is just a smart businesswoman. endeavor to outsmart her!