Egyptian Toiletries

Medical papyri mention recipes for creams and oils to keep the skin soft and supple after exposure to the hot Egyptian sun. Perfumes, some of which took months to prepare, were popular and were also worn by men during certain festivals. A popular form of incense cone was worn by women on top of the head at banquets to perfume the wig and garments.

The Egyptians were fond of cosmetics and men, women and children used facial make-up called kohl to create a dark line around their eyes. Besides being decorative, kohl protected the eyes against infection and stopped the glare of the sun. Red ochre was used to colour the cheeks and probably as lipstick, while henna was used as a hair colourant. Countless bronze mirrors have survived – which would originally have been highly polished – and a large variety of cosmetic vessels, spoons and applicators were also found in the tombs and ruins of Ancient Egypt.

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