By Sara Gouda
Egypt is remembered as the cradle of civilization and the place from which many arts and sciences spread across the world. It was also the place where cosmetics were first used.
Many popular and commonly used makeup looks from today, such as the dramatic cat-liner eye makeup, were present in drawings of both men and women in Egyptian art. Ancient Egyptians of both genders regularly wore makeup. They felt comfortable further enhancing their characteristics with makeup.
A person’s looks and appearance were so important that some spells from the Egyptian Book of the Dead specify that one can not speak out of it if one is not clean and presentable.
Spell 125 from the book prohibits one from speaking it unless one is “clean, dressed in fresh clothes, shod in white sandals, painted with eye-paint, anointed with the finest oil of myrrh.” The gods of ancient Egypt are regularly depicted wearing eye make-up, as are the souls in the afterlife, and cosmetics are among the most common items placed in tombs.
However, living in a desert with somewhat limited resources, the Egyptians had to work with what was available in their environment. And so they created cosmetics from natural resources such as sands, coal and insects.
In addition to enhancing personal appearance, they also used cosmetics to improve their health. The natural ingredients used in these ointments, oils and creams helped soften their skin, protect them from sunburn and protect their eyes.