Cosmetics have been around for thousands of years, and they’ve played a huge role in cultures from around the world. Egypt is one of the most famous examples of an ancient culture that was big on makeup.
In ancient Egypt, both men and women of all classes wore makeup. It was a way to show off their wealth and to appeal to the Gods.
Cosmetics may seem like a modern phenomenon — the kind of beauty routine that involves brightening one’s eyes in the morning or adding a bit of glamour to a night out — but ancient people used these substances as part of their everyday life and religious rituals.
As archaeologists have studied the remains of tombs, they’ve discovered many small containers and spiky glass bottles that held unguents and pastes as well as perfumes and oils. These vessels were crafted from expensive materials, and they often contained stylized carved tools such as eyeliner brushes and fine kohl palettes that were shaped to resemble animals or goddesses.
But the ancient Egyptians didn’t just use cosmetics to improve their appearance: They believed that their makeup routine was important to their health and wellbeing. Living in a harsh climate, they needed to have their skin protected from the sun’s rays and to prevent diseases.
This led them to create a wide variety of products and practices that were essential for their well-being, including a wide range of lotions and potions to cleanse and protect the skin, as well as a variety of other beauty treatments and rituals.
These practices were a way for people to celebrate their lives and to honor their gods, but it was also a means of self-expression. They could be applied to the face or used to decorate the body and to mark graves, bodies and other objects.
During the European Dark Ages, cosmetics were banned by some kings and queens for being vulgar, and Church officials warned against their use. But eventually they re-emerged, and were widely accepted by the Romans and other Western cultures.
The view of beauty in the ancient Romans was influenced by Stoicism, an approach to philosophy that linked moral goodness with human reason. According to this philosophy, true beauty is not necessarily a beautiful physical form, but rather an attractive character. This was the opposite of what many women and men at the time thought about makeup, which, to them, was a vanity that implied self-indulgence or selfishness.
The history of cosmetics dates back to ancient times, and many of the products still used today are derived from those used by our ancestors. The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use scented oils and ointments to clean their skin, and they also used dyes to color it.
One of the most famous Egyptian cosmetics is kohl, a dark eyeliner and eye shadow made from ground green malachite or black galena. It was applied to the eyes to make them shiny and to give the eye area some protection from the sun. The same materials were used for blushing the cheeks and painting the nails, as well.
Other popular ingredients in ancient cosmetics include ocher, a natural red pigment, and natron or ash, which was used to cleanse the skin or to mark graves. It was also a common ingredient in perfumes.
Roman women, especially upper-class ones, used a variety of cosmetics to reduce the visible signs of aging and achieve glowing skin. They also used anti-aging masks made from fresh berries, milk or honey.
Some of these were also believed to have a health benefit, such as a face pack with bird’s nest, or a mixture of cornstarch and eggs that tightened the skin. They also incorporated gladiator sweat into their products, scraping it from the bodies of the famed Roman gladiators to create small pots that were sold outside fights.
These relics have been excavated from tombs, along with spiky glass bottles that held unguents and pastes as well as delicate tools to apply them. Some of these vessels were decorated with finely carved figures of women, which is likely to have reflected the popularity of such cosmetics in Roman society.
Other products included a powder made from crushed fennel seeds and lemon rind, which was said to have rejuvenating properties. It was also believed to reduce blotchiness and dryness.
Another ingredient was a mixture of gum of frankincense, moringa and sycamore juice that was used to treat wrinkles and scars. It was also a remedy for baldness, greying hair and poor breath.
Cosmetics were a major part of life in the ancient world. The World History Encyclopedia notes that the practice was widely observed by men and women from all social classes. They often painted their eyes, and applied lip liners, eyeshadow and lipstick.
Aside from the beauty benefits, these cosmetics were also considered to be a form of health and healing. For example, they were used to treat sun damage and other ailments like spots. The Ebers Medical Papyrus, dating from around 1500 BCE, describes a paste of clay and ash mixed with olive oil that could be used to cleanse the skin as well as nourish it.
Today, many of these same ingredients are still used in beauty products because of their nourishing effects on the skin. For instance, our Lumenez Vitamin Rich Creme is made with a blend of emollients that promote skin healing and hydration.
There was a thriving industry in the ancient world for making and selling cosmetics. There were a range of materials that could be used for their creation, including clay, wax and sand. Some of these ingredients were known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, while others were used for their soothing qualities.
The use of cosmetics was a way of expressing one’s social status and self-esteem. Those who had the means to create their own makeup were likely very proud of their work, with crucibles and containers carved from expensive materials to match their status.
As with other cultures, the use of cosmetics in ancient Egypt was highly regarded. In fact, burial sites have uncovered ornate jars and palettes for crushing mineral pigments, wig boxes and stylized tools that were used to apply cosmetics all found alongside elaborately prepared mummies.
In addition to their practical importance, the practice of cosmetics in ancient Egypt was a way of preparing the dead for their journey to the afterlife. It was believed that beauty and cleanliness were essential for achieving a clean and healthy environment in the afterlife.
It’s no wonder that so many people in the modern world are looking to ancient practices and ingredients for guidance when it comes to their beauty routines. Whether it’s Ayurvedic hair treatments, tongue scraping, or oil pulling, these ancient practices and ingredients are helping people feel their best and reduce their environmental impact.
Cosmetics have been around for centuries, but there was a time when they were considered a luxury bestowed on the wealthiest among us. In fact, a brief stint in the Roman empire saw the use of a variety of exotic compounds for hair dye, makeup and oh yes, skin moisturizer. While it is impossible to say how much the average Roman woman splurged on the fad, one can imagine a similar scenario in the more prosperous Chinese empires of the past. The cost of some of those products is still a fraction of what you pay today for the same baubles.