100,000 years of beauty is 5 volumes of essays written by over 300 academics all about fashion, cosmetics from pre-history to present day. Commissioned by L'oreal. source
In 1823, a British professor named William Buckland discovered a skeleton covered in red ochre and surrounded by ivory jewelry in a cave in Wales. Buckland assumed the bones dated to the Roman period and concluded the woman was a prostitute because she wore jewelry. But it turns out "she" was actually a high-ranking man, perhaps a warrior or hunter, who had been buried 27,000 years ago.
Ancient Egyptians were seriously obsessed with their appearance. Accounts of the period show that one of their criteria for beauty was pale, smooth skin. So both men and women used depilatory patches, as well as various products to lighten their skin.
Medieval cosmetics involved lots of itchy and stinging products. Many women preferred to follow homegrown recipes: cucumber juice was said to remove freckles; boiled nettles improved your complexion.
One professor of psychology speculates that after centuries of gender disparity, the future of humanity is androgyny, a kind of common, shared perception of beauty.