5 Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics


Eye Paints

Probably the most distinctive look among the ancient Egyptians is the eye paint. The Egyptians used both black and green paints to decorate the area around their eyes. The black eye paint came from powdered galena (a type of crystal rock). Today, we call the galena powder kohl. The dark lines around the eyes helped protect them from the sun -- similar to why today's football players put black smudges under their eyes during play.

The green came from malachite powder (an emerald-colored mineral). Interestingly, scientists later found that the malachite powder actually helped protect the eyes from infection -- another good reason to wear this makeup [source: Filer].

To make the paints, Egyptians would powder the minerals on a palette and then mix them with something that would help the color adhere to the eye. Researchers believe they used ointments made from animal fat, judging from what's been discovered in ancient tombs. Egyptians applied this eye paint using either a finger or a custom applicator -- usually a little stick of bone or wood.