Question Sheet: Makeup Science


Before reading:

  1. Why would the cosmetics and personal-care industries require scientists?
  2. Describe three issues that cosmetics scientists might address.

During reading:

  1. Why is the invention and development of cosmetics not purely scientific? What other factors are important?
  2. In ancient times, what did Egyptians use as beauty aids? See

    (Minnesota State University, Mankato).

  3. What was in the Roman foundation cream? How was it made?
  4. How are modern foundation creams made? How are they tested?
  5. What is the advantage of incorporating synthetic pearls and micas in makeup?
  6. In what ways do cosmetics scientists use advances in other fields to help them develop new products?

After reading:

  1. Design an experiment to test different brands of makeup. What are some of the variables that you might consider? How would you determine effectiveness?
  2. Most makeup is based on standardizing beauty—making certain qualities more similar to those of people you see on TV and in magazines. Do you think cosmetics scientists have any responsibility when people are made to feel bad about their appearance?
  3. Why do you think the Roman face cream lasted so long while many other artifacts of daily life were lost?
  4. Are cosmetics scientists more likely to be women or men? Why? Do you think that use of and interest in a product would affect who works at a company that makes the product?
  5. Some people argue that the only way to be sure of the safety of cosmetics ingredients is to test them on laboratory animals. Do you agree or disagree? What are some alternatives to animal testing? See (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and (All for Animals).


The small tin canister containing a foundation cream discovered during an archaeological dig in London dates back to the middle of the second century AD. How large was the Roman Empire at that time? How much of Britain was controlled by the Romans? What was Hadrian’s Wall? When was it built? What would life in Londinium (London) have been like? See (BBC), (Camelot Village), (Britain Express), and (


  1. Write a short story about the last person to use the pot of foundation cream that was discovered in an archaeological dig in London. Who might it have been? What was London like at that time? Why was the pot lost, or how did it come to be buried? See


    (Museum of London) and Pointer).
  2. Women’s magazines often include articles about makeup and how best to use it. Find such an article in a magazine or on the Internet. Suggest how the author might have included some scientific information about cosmetics that could be helpful to readers. Rewrite part of the article to illustrate what you mean.


In the year 2000, teenagers in the United States spent about $155 billion on clothing, CDs, and cosmetics. If they had spent all of the money on CDs and the average price of a CD were $12.00, how many CDs would teenagers have bought?