At the start of the 20th Century, it was thought improper for respectable women to wear make up. Cosmetics were often sold 'under the counter'. However, Selfridges changed this by becoming the first store to openly sell powder and rouge. Gradually, wearing make up became more acceptable.

During the Suffragette Movement of the 1910s, many women wore bright red lipstick as a symbol of their defiance. The influence of the film industry in the 1920s and the glamour of Hollywood actresses, created a new demand for a variety of cosmetic products.

In 1931, the Daily Mail reported that 1,500 lipsticks were being sold for every 1 purchased in 1921.

During the Second World War, cosmetics were not rationed, but they were extremely scarce. During these austere times, make-up fulfilled an important role in providing affordable morale boosters.

During the 1960s and 70s, there was a growing interest in the use of natural ingredients in cosmetic products. The Mary Quant cosmetics range was launched in 1966 and the 'Special Recipe' range reflected this new interest. Some of the organic ingredients used in the Quant cosmetics were honey, almond oil, parsley seed oil and herb extracts.

Towards the end of the 20th century, there was growing consumer unease concerning animal testing for beauty products. The Body Shop, founded in 1976, sourced for its cosmetic products only those ingredients that had been developed without involving animal testing.

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