Egyptian Makeup

The Egyptians are thought to be the first civilization to wear makeup. Egyptian makeup was used for various reasons, including to denote social status and simply to improve the appearance. A substance called unguent was applied to the skin as a moisturizer to protect it from the elements and discourage wrinkles. Sometimes the unguent was scented. Various oils were also used to improve the skin. Both men and women used cosmetics in ancient Egypt, with the most common look being a white face with rimmed eyes and red lips.

Kohl was made from soot, manganese or carbon. It was applied around the eyes with a small stick that served as the world's first makeup applicator. Sometimes, green colored makeup was used. This green eye makeup was made with green minerals like malachite. The most commonly done eye makeup look in Egyptian times was thick lines extended out to the sides. To color the lips, red ochre was mixed with water and painted on with a brush. The Egyptians even had their own version of fingernail polish -- henna. Henna was used not only to color the nails but also the skin and hair. To this day henna is used as a natural hair dye that gives the hair a reddish hue.

Egyptians didn't just use cosmetics for Earthly purposes, either. Cosmetics were buried with deceased Egyptians so that they would look their best for eternal judgment. It was not uncommon for a high status Egyptian to be entombed with their eye makeup, ointment and fragrance. Speaking of fragrance, the Egyptians were also very much into fragrance. Most fragrances were oil based and contained essential oils such as various flowers, turpentine, cinnamon, even almonds. For solid perfume wax was added to the mixture.

Egyptian makeup is the oldest makeup known to man. Since Egyptian times, makeup has remained a part of society. Through the ages, there have been many trends. In Elizabethan days, women applied egg whites to their faces. Medieval women wore lead based face powder which was very toxic. In Victorian times, proper ladies never admitted to wearing makeup but when in private they reddened their lips and cheeks with beet juice and used glycerine as lip balm and mascara. There's no doubt that makeup is an institution, and is as popular today as it was in ancient Egyptian times.

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