Ancient civilizations all over the world used cosmetics to enhance their beauty. But getting your glam on in olden days wasn’t easy.
Many of these products contained weird and gross ingredients that modern people would be totally unaccustomed to. For example, the Egyptians used a red pigment made from hydrated iron oxide known as ochre on their lips and cheeks.
Ancient cosmetics made people look and feel better, enabling them to live longer, more healthy lives. This was the result of a combination of scientific innovation, practicality and cultural beliefs about beauty and health.
Among the most popular cosmetics used by ancient Egyptians were face and eye makeup. These products, which were made with natural ingredients, would help to soften the skin and protect it from the sun’s harsh rays. They also improved the appearance of a person’s eyes, which were thought to be especially important since they were believed to be connected to the gods.
Some of the most iconic makeup looks from ancient Egypt included dark kohl-rimmed eyes, which were created by mixing soot with galena, a blue-grey form of lead sulfide. This would then be applied to the upper and lower eyelids, forming thick lines that could be extended from the corner of the eyes to the face.
While this was a popular way to enhance one’s eyes, it wasn’t without its risks. Using kohl-based makeup over a long period of time could cause serious eye health problems, including blindness.
The earliest evidence of the use of eye and face cosmetics in Egypt dates back to the Early Predynastic Period, around 5000 BC. Malachite was one of the most common eye paints, while galena became increasingly popular in the Late Predynastic Period (around 3000 BCE).
Another product that was extremely popular for its color was henna. Nail care was also an important part of the beauty rituals of the Egyptians. In addition to painting their nails, Egyptians would also apply scented oils and creams that helped to keep the skin soft and supple.
Many of these products were manufactured by professionals who were aware that their work would have a lasting impact on their future in the afterlife, so they took their job seriously and made sure to produce a quality product. This meant sourcing the best natural ingredients and ensuring that the cosmetics were produced using the highest-quality manufacturing techniques.
In addition to these cosmetics, the Egyptians were also known for their wigs and jewellery. Wigs were a practical way to maintain a healthy hairstyle in a hot climate, while jewellery could be worn for decorative purposes or as a religious symbol. It was believed that jewellery possessed mystical powers that could transform someone’s life, so it was important to make sure that the jewelry was of high quality and durable.
The Greeks, like many other ancient cultures, were big admirers of physical beauty and they used cosmetics to enhance their looks. The word “cosmetics” comes from the Greek language and is a noun that translates to “skilled in adornment or arrangement.”
The first known cosmetics that the Greeks used were white lead powders to lighten their skin tone. They later switched to chalk which is a much safer and natural material that they could apply.
In antiquity, it was widely believed that a light complexion was the height of beauty and a pale face was a sign of wealth and prestige. This was true of both women and men.
To achieve a light skin tone, women in antiquity would often use a mixture of chalk and white lead. They would mix the two together with water until they had a smooth paste which they could use to lighten their skin and remove any blemishes or discoloration.
They also used a variety of herbs, flowers, pigments and natural resources to create a wide range of different cosmetic products such as eyeliner, lip tint, facial musk and rouge. This was done in order to maintain a natural and fresh look, which was the preferred beauty ideal among Greek women.
Another common makeup used by Greek women was egkhousa or enchosa, a red dye extracted from the root of Alkanna tinctoria (dyer’s alkanet). They would use this as a rouge to paint their cheeks.
It is thought that this makeup was extremely popular in Greece because it made their skin rosy and brighter. It is a safe and natural product that is still used today in products such as lipsticks and eyeliner.
Besides makeup, ancient Greeks also wore natural hair colors and a variety of hair accessories including diadem combs, jeweled tiaras and scarfs. These were all meant to add beauty and elegance to the wearer’s appearance and help them stand out in a crowd.
Ancient Greek women also favored the use of olive oil as part of their beauty regimen. It was rich in antioxidants and was known for its moisturizing properties that helped to keep the skin soft and supple. It was also used as a conditioner for the hair and as an exfoliator.
As with the previous cultures, ancient Romans wore make-up to improve their appearance and to enhance their reputation. It was also a way for women to show their wealth and status.
The Romans were a huge empire that stretched from modern day Italy to parts of Greece, Spain, and even North Africa. It was during this time that many of the innovations we take for granted today were invented and developed.
For example, apartment complexes, public toilets, locks and keys, newspapers, a postal system, shoes, cosmetics and even the concept of satire in literature were all influenced by or derived from the Romans. In addition, they were able to borrow from and improve upon the ideas, techniques, and tools that they found amongst their native inhabitants of those regions they conquered.
One of the most common ingredients used in ancient cosmetics was cinnabar, an ore of mercury. It was not only a popular choice for eyeshadows, but it was also often incorporated into lipsticks and blushes.
Another popular ingredient was frankincense, an oil that was imported from Arabia and Sudan. It was believed that it helped to tighten the skin, and remove wrinkles.
Other ingredients that were frequently used in the production of cosmetics included gum Arabic, almond oil, and kohl made with charcoal or ashes. There were also a range of different pigments such as alkanet, Tyrian vermillion, crocodile dung, red chalk, wine dregs and mulberry juice.
It was also common to mix a variety of colors in order to add more interest to their make-up. Some Romans even applied blue and green makeup to their eyes.
A recent discovery in London has shown that the Romans also used creams and ointments for their skin. Archaeologist Dr James Swain found a canister filled with a mixture of ointment, oil and water which was found at the site where two Roman temples once stood in Southwark, near the river Thames.
It is thought that cosmetics were a ritual practice for some, and a popular way to decorate the face of priests from certain cults. In addition, they were often a part of burial ceremonies.
The Middle East
The Middle East is a region of the world that spans the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is home to 13 out of the 18 UN-recognized countries. It is an area of geopolitical importance due to its proximity to Africa, Europe and Asia.
The Middle East has long been a major trading region and a source of raw materials used in the production of cosmetics. The earliest evidence for these products dates from the Predynastic Period. In Egypt, for example, the eyeliner and eye shadow so popular with Egyptian royals is made by grinding minerals such as green malachite and black galena to create a paste.
Another way that the ancients used to add colour to their faces was through the use of ocher. Ocher can be found in many tombs and is used to make a red tint for the lips or cheeks.
Other ingredients used in ancient cosmetics include lanolin, rose water and milk. These products were often mixed together in small pots or plates.
Lead carbonates were also an important ingredient in the making of cosmetics. These are composed of a combination of Pb3(CO3)2 and hydrocerussite, or PbCO3. The ancients found these to be extremely effective for coloring the skin and as a result they were used throughout Antiquity.
The use of natron and ash in the manufacture of cosmetics had a significant medicinal effect as well. These were sometimes used as a skin cleanser or to cure baldness, reverse greying hair and smooth wrinkles.
In addition to using these natural ingredients, the ancients also produced their own synthetic compounds and perfumes. They developed a variety of methods for making these, some of which were still in use until the early 20th century.
The Middle East is a region that includes many different ethnic groups and countries. It is home to Arabs, Jews, Kurds, Persians, Iranians, Greeks, Armenians, Turkmen, and other people. It also hosts a significant number of migrant populations, including Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians and Pakistanis.