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Ancient Cosmetics

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ancient cosmetics

In ancient times, women used a variety of cosmetics to improve their appearance. Many of them were based on natural ingredients.

They often used red lipstick and cheek stains made with red ochre (hydrated iron oxide). The ancient Egyptians believed that having these makeup items made them more powerful, protecting them from the “Evil Eye” and various diseases.

Eyeliner and Eye Shadow

Eyeliner and eye shadow are two cosmetics that are often used to enhance the eyes. They are a staple in ancient societies and have been around for thousands of years.

The oldest traces of makeup can be found in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, where wealthy people wore it to impress the gods. The first known evidence of eyeliner is a powder made from the metal kohl, which was used by men and women to line their eyes.

Early Egyptians and Chinese women also used green eyeshadow, which was made from malachite, a copper ore. It was a favorite color of the gods Horus and Re, and it helped the eyes appear larger.

Other common ingredients included soot, antimony and saffron. These were not considered safe for the skin but were used to enhance a woman’s beauty.

Another important part of ancient cosmetics was perfume. Many of these were made from various herbs and spices. They were often kept in a beautiful perfume jar and named after goddesses.

Some of these perfumes were expensive, but the rich used them to enhance their beauty and smell good. They were also important for keeping their skin healthy.

A common cosmetic in ancient Greece was rouge, which was used to add a touch of color to the cheeks and lips. Red ochre, which is a natural pigment from the earth, was also used in the process of preparing these products.

Other cosmetics included eyebrow paint and liner which was created from a powder that was mixed with soot, ash or antimony. Snail ash was also used for skin blemishes and wrinkles.

In other parts of the world, makeup was also used to protect the face from the sun and keep the skin healthy. It was also believed that certain makeup products could repel flies and help ward off infection.

Other common materials used to prepare cosmetics in ancient times were calcite jars that held unguent, a substance that was absorbed by the skin and used to keep it hydrated. These jars were usually made from glass or gold and were carved into animal forms or portraits of goddesses.


Lipsticks, or lip paints, have been around since ancient times. They were used to signal status, wealth, and confidence among many cultures, but they were also believed to offer mysterious powers or favor with the gods.

The first recorded use of lipstick dates back to 5,000 years ago in the city of Ur, in Mesopotamia (near modern-day Iraq). Queen Puabi, a highly respected figure, painted her lips with a powder concoction made from red rocks and white lead, which was then applied by her servants.

According to Schaffer, this mixture “was quite toxic, though it wasn’t as dangerous as most cosmetics products today.” In Egypt, men and women alike used lip makeup to indicate their social status, and Cleopatra is said to have worn a red tinted lipstick that was made by crushing carmine beetles and ants.

Other ancient civilizations such as the Indus Valley and Sumerians were also known for using makeup, which was often a blend of crushed gemstones and colored clay or wax. Some of these pigments had a medicinal purpose, such as natron and ash which were used for treating skin diseases or to cure baldness.

In Egypt, people would also apply a red dye made from fucus-algin, iodine and bromine mannite to their lips. It was a popular practice for both women and men and had a healing effect on the eyes, as well.

Throughout history, people have been fascinated with the idea of creating their own cosmetics and colors for themselves. They were experimenting with many different ingredients, and it is still possible to find ancient recipes for lip makeup.

A few of these early formulas contained beeswax, olive oil, and crushed insects. However, these ingredients were usually very unstable and could only last a few hours before turning rancid.

The lipsticks that are used today contain various waxes, oils, antioxidants and emollients. The waxes act as a base, which allows the color to be deposited and spread across the lips.

Another important ingredient is the wax that provides the structure of the solid lipstick. This wax may be ozokerite, candelilla, or beeswax.

Cheek Stains

The Romans, who were masters of the cosmetics industry, churned out a variety of colorfully tinted cheek and lip balms in a variety of flavors and shades. They also fashioned a surprisingly good line of haircare products. To create their best looking visage, they consulted the best cosmeticians in town and got down to business. Aside from the standard tee-hee-hee routine, they used a slew of fancy name brand ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter. Using these to their advantage, they achieved an impressive afro-styled glow without any of the mess and hassle of traditional waxing. The result was a healthy complexion and an improved mood. The best part was it didn’t cost a penny.

This is an excerpt from Like Mayflies in a Stream by Shauna Roberts, available on Amazon.


Kohl is an ancient cosmetic that has been widely used in civilisations around the world. It is most famously associated with the ancient Egyptians, where it was worn by both men and women of all social classes to accentuate their beauty and enhance their eye-lines.

It was used for both aesthetic and medical reasons, as it provided immunity against diseases and the evil eye. It also acted as a protection against sun exposure and solar damage.

The main ingredient of kohl was galena or lead sulphide, which was mixed with other ingredients such as ground frankincense and coral. These were then diluted with oils or animal fats before being applied to the face using a small kohl stick.

This thick black ointment was smeared over the eyelids to give them a dark rim and protect against the evil eye. It was also worn by noblewomen and queens as a sign of their status.

It is also believed that it can help with the prevention of a number of health problems, such as allergies, high blood pressure and eye strain. It can be used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes, though it is important to choose a safe and natural product to avoid any unwanted side effects.

While kohl is most commonly associated with Egypt, it has been used in a number of other civilisations including Rome, Greece and Arabia. It was a popular choice for both men and women in these cultures, but it can be a dangerous product if contaminated with lead.

In modern times, kohl is most commonly seen in the form of an eyeliner or mascara. It is often combined with a variety of other ingredients, such as saffron and fennel, to help fight against eye diseases.

The chemical makeup of kohl is very similar to that of today’s eyeliner and it is made from the mineral galena or lead sulfide, which is a blue-grey coloured form of the metal lead. Other elements were added to the lead powder such as saffron, neem, frankincense and fennel that are known for their medicinal properties.

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