5 Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics



Perhaps because fragrance was so abundant in Egypt -- from scented flowers along the Nile to imported oils and tree resins -- the ancient Egyptians created a lot of perfume.

Their tastes ran toward things like frankincense, myrrh, cassia and cinnamon. Artisans would distill these with oils or fats to extract the scent. Using a method called enfleurage, they would soak flowers, resins or roots in layers of fat. After a while, they'd have lumps of scented creams or pomades. Egyptians would actually wear these pomades in the shape of a cone on the tops of their heads. As the day or evening progressed, the pomade began to melt and fragrant oil would run down the face and neck, scenting the hair and body.

In another process called maceration, Egyptians heated oil or fat to 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius). They added flowers, herbs or fruits to the hot mixture and then ran it through a sieve. After allowing the mixture to cool, they shaped it into cones or balls. This is the sort of solid perfume we still use today.

These oils also protected the skin against harsh elements like sun and sand.