[2015] Grace Sullivan (Latin 8 Period 4): Cosmetics in Ancient Rome

by magistramartin
Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
Ancient History

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[2015] Grace Sullivan (Latin 8 Period 4): Cosmetics in Ancient Rome

Cosmetics in Ancient Rome

Roman hairstyles and the make-up worn by women became more intricate and a paramount sign of status. It soon became necessary for slaves to create the latest fashionable hairstyles and make-up. These slaves were finese. The Roman slave hairdressers were called ornatrices. They also doubled as make-up artist of wealthy Roman women.

The Ancient Romans used various perfumes apply from the fragrances obtained from flowers, plants, seeds. They were blended into a cream made from animal fats and oils. Myrrh, frankincense, cardamom and cinnamon was used to mix the exotic perfumes used by Roman women.

Roman women used a great variety of cosmetics: perfumes, hair dyes, and makeup. The higher the status of the woman, the more make-up they wore. However, the clothing styles and fashions of Roman women were relatively simple and unchanging. Wealthy Roman women wore expensive make-up with highly elaborate hairstyles and wigs to proclaim their wealth and status.

The first application of Roman Make-up consisted of a layer of foundation. This could sometimes be hazardous as the wealthy often favored a white lead paste which was poisonous. They also used chalk; orris root; mixture of fat; starch; and tin oxide.

The Roman women then applied rouge over the foundation layer of makeup to stain their cheeks. The rouge was also used as lip color to stain their lips as was a lip salve tinted with alkanet root and ochre. The red coloring used by Ancient Roman women in make up was achieved by the use of red ochre. Red ochre is a pigment made from naturally tinted clay.

Kohl was the main ingredient in eye makeup, and was composed of ashes or soot and antimony, with saffron usually added to improve the smell. Kohl was applied using a rounded stick, made of ivory, glass, bone, or wood that would be dipped in either oil or water first, before being used to apply the kohl. The use of kohl as makeup came from the east. In addition to kohl, charred rose petals and date stones could be used to darken the eyes.Colored eyeshadow was also applied by women to accentuate their eyes. Green eyeshadow came from poisonous malachite, while blue came from azurite.

Venus was known as the Roman godess of beauty and love.


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