The magic of make up

The magic of make up

The history of make up in Egypt shows us just how long cosmetics have been around. Looking at art from ancient Egypt, you will see the dramatic eye makeup on both men and women. Ancient Egyptians took great pride in their appearance and enhanced their looks with makeup.

They had to work with what was available around them so they used the natural resources to create their cosmetics. Some of the most used materials for make up in Ancient Egypt were:

- Malachite, a copper ore, which provided the green eye makeup colour
- Kohl was used to draw thick, black lines around the eyes, giving them an almond shape
- Red ochre was used as rouge or lip color
- Henna was widely used to stain the fingertips and toes

The minerals were ground into powder and then mixed with a carrier agent (often animal fat) to make it easy to apply and stay on the skin.

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The eyes were the most important element, however, men and women both wanted to draw attention to their lips as well. This was usually done with the use of red ochre. Cleopatra wore a unique red lipstick created from flowers, red ochre, fish scales, crushed ants, carmine, and beeswax.

Ancient  Egypt & Egyptology
Decorative pot for storing kohl & applicator for the application of kohl around the eyes

Black kohl was mostly used around the eyes to create an almond or feline shape. Green pigment was placed all over the eyelid and underneath the brow bone. Though styles varied throughout the times, black and green were normally used in ancient Egypt. Eye makeup was also used for health and protection. Both men and women used it to protect the skin from the sun (kohl was believed to repel flies and ward off infections, among other things), and offer protection against evil (eyes without makeup were thought to be vulnerable to the Evil Eye).



There were many reasons that the Egyptians chose to accentuate the mouth. Not only did the bold colours draw attention to their mouth but the use of lipstick had links to social standing. Members of royalty and the upper class wore lip paints to highlight their status in society. Lipstick became a symbol of sophistication and importance, rather than just a beauty item.

Though poorer men and women also wore handmade lipsticks, it was largely regarded as something for the upper class and well-off women were often buried with two or more pots of lip paint.

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