Women and vanity have always gone hand in hand whatever culture, country or time of history it might have been. Archaeologists have found makeup on buried women, beauty tools in their graves and even beauty manuals written by influential women of the time. The jaw dropping beauty rituals in our article bizarre beauty rituals from around the world fade in comparison to some of the death defying beauty secrets we have dug up from the ancient world history.
Take a look at how women from various parts of the world indulged themselves in beautification and cosmetics even thousands of years ago.
No other culture has been so influenced by the concept of beautification and body care as Egyptians. Egyptian queens like Nefertiti had their own blend of kohl which was found to have anti bacterial properties. But even the lowliest of citizens were supplied olive oil with their wages so that they could care for their bodies. Cleopatra, the famed Egyptian beauty, even wrote a book on beauty secrets and art of makeup. Ancient Egyptians had discovered secrets to treat conditions like wrinkles, stretch marks and scarring.
- Crocodile dung mixed with donkey’s milk was used by Cleopatra as a face mask. She also famously bathed in milk with rose petals for hours at end.
- Cheeks were blushed using a mixture of clay and crushed beetles. Only women from high class were allowed to have long hair and slave women had to cut their hair very short which were often used for making headpieces for the aristocrats.
- Although lead in makeup is a definite no-no today, ancient Egyptians made eyeliners from lead based kohl
There is a reason why an exceptionally beautiful woman is called a “Greek goddess”. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess, has long been the ideal with whom beautiful women are compared. Helen of Troy was even the cause of one of the bloodiest wars in Greek history. Since light complexion was favoured by all in the ancient Greece, women often wore very little makeup. Honey and olive oil were the favored ingredients in all cosmetics.
- White lead mixed with olive oil was often used to whiten the skin. Although this made their face visibly lighter, the women were also subjected to death by slow lead poisoning which was absorbed in their skin.
- Ancient Greeks liked connected eyebrows (unibrow) and would use dark powder to decorate their eyes.
- To achieve blond hair, which was highly coveted, women would drench their hair in vinegar to bleach them that would lead to hairfall and thus the popularity of wigs.
Although Japanese women have long been associated with clear, glossy and healthy skin, the poignant image that pops in your head when someone says Japanese beauty is that of a beautiful geisha. Geishas had to use elaborate make up routines to achieve that ghostly look with red bee stung lips.
- Geishas removed their eyebrows with tweezers and painted in thick, false eyebrows. During the Heian era geishas would blacken their teeth using a mixture of oxidised iron fillings steeped in an acidic solution.
- Geishas used rice flour powder based paste as a foundation. The women used to remove their heavy makeup with nightingale poop which did wonders for their skin. The active chemical in the bird poop is guanine which cleanses the skin and rejuvenates it.
- The beauty of Japanese women was often judged on the basis of their hair length and the ideal length was considered 2 feet below their waist.
Queen Elizabeth was the epitome of beauty and style for the women in Elizabethan era. English women went to great heights to emulate their monarch. Although cosmetics were considered a hazard because they were considered to block energy from the skin surface, women still strived for the pale and porcelain complexion thanks to their queen.
- A high forehead was considered the sign of aristocracy and women actually plucked their hairline to achieve this look.
- Raw egg whites were rubbed all over the face to achieve a smooth and glazed complexion.
- To achieve the much coveted pale pallor, women not only used lead in makeup but also consumed arsenic which gave a white glow to the skin while shortening their lifespan. Some women even used leeches which would bleed them out to achieve the naturally pale look.
- Most shocking probably would be the use of slimy tapeworms which women gladly swallowed as these worms digested most of their food keeping the women slim and trim.
No talk about beauty can be complete without mentioning the beauty secrets of my motherland – India. Indian women have been considered among the most beautiful thanks to their exotic complexion and striking eyes. Ancient Indians got the art of looking healthy and beautiful down to a science. Ayurveda, the science of life, is full of scriptures which have preserved many secrets of looking gorgeous using natural ingredients.
- In ancient India the beautification of any Indian bride would not be complete without Solah Singaar (Sixteen adornments). These sixteen steps covered head to toe and represented sixteen phases of the moon.
- Cow dung and urine was used in the ancient India for its medicinal properties. With its anti-infective properties cow urine was used for slimming, acne-fighting, healing cracked heels and cleansing your system.
- Women in the Mughal period thought of chewing betel leaves as an essential part of their beauty routine. Although this did give their lips a red stain it also left their teeth decayed.
So this is how women in ancient times kept up with their beauty routines and make up rituals. Not much has changed; women still go to great lengths to keep themselves looking attractive. What do you think of these shocking beauty secrets? Share your thoughts through comments below!This post has been written by our staff writer Swapna