History Embalmed

Egyptian Make Up

The Ancient Egyptians, both men and women, wore distinct eye make up, rouge and perfumed oils that softened the skin and prevented burning in the sun and damage from the sandy winds.

Not only did the men and women of Egypt wear make up but also the statues of their gods and goddesses were adorned with all these different types of cosmetics. The higher the status of the person the more clothes and make-up they wore.

Egyptian Eye Make Up

The Ancient Egyptian eye make up was extremely elaborate and created the almond eye look which has become synonymous with the Ancient Egyptians.

Eye make up had a long history in Ancient Egypt and both men and women were using eye make as early as 4000BC. The eye make they used concentrated in providing color to their eye lashes, eye lids and eye brows.

The favorite eye make up colors were black and green. The powders used to create the eye make up were ground on a palette then mixed with water to form a paste.

Egyptian Black Eye Make Up - Kohl
The black coloring of Ancient Egyptian eye make up, favored in the Period of the New Kingdom, was achieved by the use of Kohl.

  • The eye make up Kohl was obtained from galena
  • Galena is a blue-grey natural mineral form of lead sulfide
  • Galena deposits were found and mined in the eastern dessert at Gebel el-Zeit
  • One of the earliest uses of galena was as kohl
  • Kohl is a mixture of soot and galena. The Egyptian eye make kohl was stored in richly decorated containers called kohl pots.

Egyptian Green Eye Make Up
The green coloring of Ancient Egyptian eye make up was achieved by the use green pigment called malachite.

  • Malachite is a copper ore, a carbonate mineral, copper carbonate hydroxide, which has a vibrant green color
  • Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in green paints dating from antiquity
  • Malachite was imported from the Sinai Desert
  • The malchite stone was crushed and then mixed as the green eye make up

Egyptian Face Make Up - Rouge
Ancient Egyptians used a type of rouge to stain their lips and cheeks. The red coloring used by Ancient Egyptian in make up was achieved by the use of ochre.

  • Red ochre is a pigment made from naturally tinted clay - hydrated iron oxide
  • Ochre has been used since prehistoric times
  • To make the ochre used for make up the clay was first mined from the ground, washed to separate sand from ochre and then dried in the sun and sometimes burned to enhance the natural color

Egyptian Make Up - Nail Polish and Hair Color
Ancient Egyptians used a form of henna to paint their nails and color their hair. The color and condition of nails have long been an indication of social status. The coloring used by Ancient Egyptian in this type make up was achieved by the use of henna.

  • Henna is a dye obtained from the leaves and shoots of the henna shrub which is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa
  • Dried, ground, sifted henna leaves are easily worked into a paste
  • To create the make up and cosmetics using henna the leaves or shoots were ground on a palette then mixed with water to form a paste.
  • Henna was also used as a healing plant and for cleansing and cooling the skin
  • Henna was used in ancient Egypt to stain the fingers and toes of Pharaohs and nobles prior to mummification
    • The earliest historical documentation of henna are the traces found upon the nails of mummified pharaohs

Reasons for using Ancient Egyptian Eye Make Up
The Ancient Egyptian eye make up had several purposes, uses and reasons for their application:

  • Cosmetic reasons - Ancient Egyptian Eye make up was used to define the eye for purely cosmetic reasons
  • Medical reasons - Ancient Egyptian Eye make up was used for medical purposes
    • Ancient Egyptian Physicians prescribed the use of kohl against eye diseases
    • Galena, which made the kohl, had disinfectant qualities
    • Kohl shielded the eye against the sun
    • Kohl also acted as a deterrent to flies!
  • Religious & Magical reasons - The green eye make up used by the Ancient Egyptians Eye was believed to induce or evoke the the eye of Horus, the God of the Sky & Sun
  • Traditional reasons - Egyptian mothers would apply kohl to the eyes of infants soon after they were born believing its application would strengthen the child's eyes and preventing the child from being cursed by an "evil eye"

Egyptian Make Up - Perfumes and Oils
The Ancient Egyptians used numerous perfumes obtained from the fragrances derived from flowers, plants, seeds. They were blended into a cream made from animal fats and oils such as the expensive oil called balanos or the more common castor oil. The Ancient Egyptians also used myrrh, frankincense, cardamom and cinnamon to mix their perfumes.

Egyptian Make Up
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Ancient Egyptians

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