Unusual cosmetics of antiquity – how were they painted before?

The variety of cosmetics in stores that we have today seemed like something unprecedented hundreds of years ago. What women (and men!) Didn’t have to go to in order to change their appearance for the better.

Some of the following remedies currently seem too bold and radical to be used on a face.

Cosmetics in antiquity1

The content of the article:

Eye makeup

It’s hard to imagine eye makeup without painted eyelashes. And this was understood by the women of Ancient Egypt, who used graphite, carbon black and even reptile waste!

It is also known that they had special brushes for applying such mascara, made from animal bones
In ancient Rome, everything was somewhat more poetic: girls used burnt flower petals mixed with a drop of olive oil.

Eye makeup in ancient Egypt

As eyeshadow dyes were used. It could be ocher, antimony, soot. A powder of crushed colored minerals was also used.

In ancient Egypt, the eyes were painted not only by women, but also by men. Such an action had a religious connotation: it was believed that let down eyes protect a person from the evil eye.

Powder and foundations for the face

There are many scary stories associated with this product. In general, since ancient times, white skin was considered a sign of aristocratic origin. Therefore, many people tried to “whiten” it with the help of cosmetics. A variety of means were used. So, for example, in ancient Rome, it was used as a face powder chalk… Everything would not be so bad if dangerous heavy metal was not added to this crushed chalk – lead

The use of such a powder caused significant damage to health, some people even lost their eyesight. However, at that time, few people associated such cases with the use of cosmetics. Unfortunately, they found out about this only many years later, because powder with lead was used until the early Middle Ages.

In ancient times, they also used white clay, diluted with water and covered her face. It was sometimes used in powder form.

Women in Ancient Rome

In the modern era, they used a safe rice powder, the recipe of which came to Europe from China.

It is known that in ancient Greece, for the first time, a remedy was obtained that resembles modern tone cream… To obtain it, a powder of chalk and lead was used, to which natural fats of vegetable or animal origin were added, as well as a small amount of dye – ocher – in order to obtain a shade reminiscent of skin color. The “cream” was actively used: it was used to paint not only the face, but also the décolleté area.


The women of Ancient Egypt were very fond of lipstick. Moreover, this was done by both noble persons and maids.
As a lipstick, mainly used colored clay… She allowed to give the lips a reddish tint.

There is a version that Queen Nefertiti painted her lips with a creamy substance mixed with rust.

Queen Nefertiti

And about Cleopatra it is known that the woman was one of the first to discover beneficial properties of beeswax for lips… To create the pigment, coloring components obtained from insects, for example, carmine dye, were added to the wax.

It is known that Egyptians were big fans of lipsticks received from seaweed… And to add extra shine to the lipstick, they used … fish scales! Even though it has been pretreated, it is still very unusual to present a lip product with a similar ingredient in the composition, isn’t it?


The most “harmless” products were used to make up the cheeks. Most often, these were products based on fruits and berries, rich in natural colors of the desired shades.

Blush of women of ancient Egypt

  • And, in the case of this cosmetic product, the women of Ancient Egypt again became the pioneers. They used any red berrieswho grew up in their region. It is known for certain that these were more often mulberries.
  • In ancient Greece, for such purposes, they preferred to use pounded strawberries
  • In Russia, it was used as a blush beet

The attitude to blush has changed throughout the history of mankind. If in the ancient world it was believed that blush gives a girl a healthy and blooming look, then in the Middle Ages an ascetic pallor was in fashion, and blush was forgotten until modern times.

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