Ancient Egyptian Beauty Secrets
by Grace Schwartzstein
Today, women spend hundreds of dollars a year on beauty products in an attempt to make themselves look more attractive but this obsession with personal appearance is not a new phenomenon. Every time period and corner of the world had their own definition of beauty, embracing different trends to achieve their desired looks. Ancient Egypt was no exception, particularly within the time period between the Old Kingdom, 2686-2181, and the New Kingdom 1069-1550, although historians found the first traces of makeup in Egypt in 4000 B.C (Stead, 52). Egyptians were so serious about their obsession with beauty they carried cases full of cosmetics, grooming products and mirrors wherever they went so they could check on their appearance throughout the day. Some lowly Egyptians were even paid in cosmetics, they were that important to survival in their eyes! The Egyptians believed in the afterlife and therefore wanted to preserve their appearance using all kinds of skincare products and tactics to maintain a youthful complexion.
Beauty was so important to Egyptians because they felt the mind, body and spirit were all interconnected. For this reason, taking care of the body and ensuring its beauty meant beauty in mind and spirit as well. All beauty products from eye shadow to perfume served more than one purpose. Not only were these products used to enhance the appearance but many products also related to the wellness of the whole person, body, mind and soul.
Beauty also played a key factor in Egyptian’s lives because the Egyptians were human! No matter what date or place you look at, appearance is important. As humans, we constantly try to look our best. The Egyptians felt a lot of pressure to do this right in their lifetime since they would be stuck with the same appearance for all of eternity. No wonder they took beauty so seriously, forever is a long time!
Ancient Egypt is a fascinating time in history with great ingenuity. Researches often lump all of Ancient Egyptian history into one monolithic period. While these webpages attempt to look at the period between the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom (2686 BC- 1069 BC) this is sometimes difficult since a lot of research is not broken up at all. However, there are important differences between each Kingdom within this time that needs to be mentioned, such as changing technologies and trends. This is a big stretch of time within Egypt’s history, but also a fascinating one for the beauty lover in all of us.
Egyptian beauty can be split into three main sections although beauty these encompasses main categories, makeup, skincare and personal hygiene: click on one of the links below to learn more about the ingenious beauty practices of Ancient Egypt
Complete List of Sources:
- Birch, Samuel and John Gardner Wilkinson Sir. The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians Volume 2. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1878.
- Brier, Bob and Hoyt Hobbs. Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999.
- Budge, Wallis E. A. A History of the Egyptian People. New York: J. M Dent and Sons Limited, 1923.
- Budge, Wallis E.A. The Dwellers on the Nile. London: Harrison and Sons, 1926.
- David, Rosalie. Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: Facts on File Inc, 1998.
- Romano, James F. Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians. Pittsburgh: The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 1990.
- Ruffle, John. The Egyptians. New York: Phaidon Press Limited, Oxford Second printing, 1977.
- Stead, Miriam. Egyptian Life. Italy: British Museum, 1986.
- Strouhal, Eugen. Life of the Ancient Egyptians. London: University of Oklahoma Press,1992.
- White, Jon Manchip. Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: Capricorn Books, 1963.