Beauty products and cosmetics have a very interesting history. From 10 000 BC through to the 21st century, we have watched beauty products evolve alongside societies perception of beauty itself.

Roman philosopher Plautus said, ‘A woman without paint is like food without salt.’ Civilisations have made use of a variety of cosmetics and beauty products. These were usually used as part of religious rituals, as a way to symbolise and promote health and well-being. Below is a brief history of cosmetics in ancient times, starting with the Ancient Egyptians in 10 000 BC right up until the 20th century.

Beauty Products in the Ancient World

10 000 BC:

Both men and women used ointments and stunning scented oils to enhance their skins beauty and to hide body odour. Beauty products were an integral part of Egyptian culture. They used creams and oils to protect their skin against the dry and hot winds. They also made perfume by using a variety of ingredients, from rose and aloe through to olive oil, thyme and myrrh. These perfumes and oils were also used in religious rituals.

4000 BC:

In 4000 BC Egyptian women would apply a variety of pastes to their faces including a copper or lead ore galena mesdemet or malachite – a green paste made up of copper minerals. And then of course, there was the kohl eyeliner made fabulous by Cleopatra and which we still use today. The Egyptian women, much like the modern female, would take their cosmetics to events and apply when necessary.

100 AD:

Rome was a city known for its vanity and indulgence in all things beautiful. That said, the Roman people made sure that their skin was well looked after. They would apply a mixture of butter and flour to their skin as well as a somewhat frightening (but smart) mixture of blood and sheep fat to their finger nails (this was used as nail polish). They also created the ‘spa’ experience and would take relaxing mud baths to refresh and unwind.

300 – 400 AD:

We all know about Henna beauty products used in Indian culture which have made their way into Western consciousness. Well, Henna was first used in India to create the mehndi and as a hair dye. ithmid

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