Cosmetics were extensively used by both women and men in ancient Egypt.
Black eyeliner was used while Red Ochre was applied on the cheeks.
Oils and creams (which were often scented), were applied to the skin to maintain moisture in the dry climate. Occasionally cosmetics were also given as part of one’s earnings.
Ancient Egyptians believed cosmetics were imbued with magical powers ~ It was thought wearing green eye makeup (or awadju) would invoke the protection of Hathor ~ the goddess of beauty.
Cosmetics were regarded as a key to maintaining a youthful appearance, something the ancient Egyptians prized very highly and even in death, cosmetics were among the objects buried with the deceased in order to meet their needs in the afterlife.
The favourite colour of eye make-up was green, made from crushed malachite. Eyeliner was made from black kohl which was derived from a substance called galena and mixed with soot. The lead-based substances from the galena improve the production of nitric oxide in the skin, which strengthened the immune system against diseases ~ particularly eye infections. The soot helped by reducing the effects of sun glare on the eyes.
Cheeks were rouged with ochre while nails, hair and feet were coloured with henna.
For the ancient Egyptians, cosmetics were an everyday part of life and utensils such as cosmetic spoons, palettes on which kohl and ochre could be ground with polished stones, tubes for storing eyeliner, jars for moisturizing oils and creams and ivory hair combs have been found buried with the dead.
Cosmetic shops and perfumeries existed in ancient Egypt.
Author / Hair and Makeup Artist ~ Dana Harris
Model ~ Violet Shaban