What Makeup Products Did Egyptians Use?

In Ancient Egypt, the image of an individual often acted as a substitute for the body in the afterlife. Therefore, in funerary paintings, both males and females are shown in their best clothes, wigs and makeup. In life, the Egyptians utilised a variety of pigments to adorn the face. The most predominant of these was kohl, which was used to line the eyes. Kohl came from two sources: a green eye paint made of mineral malachite and a black liner derived from galena, a form of lead ore. Women used red ochre to form a light blush for cheeks and lips, while henna was used to paint the nails and dye the hair. Cosmetics were also applied for practical reasons – the military wore it to protect their eyes from the intense glare of the African Sun. Moreover, it had a religious resonance – each day, in the holy sanctuary of the temple, the god was anointed with makeup as a symbol of celestial regeneration.


Applicator – The applicator was used to add rouge to the lips. It was made of wood, ebony or ivory.

Wig – Because of lice infestations, Egyptians often shaved their head. They wore elaborate wigs of real human hair, which were adorned with flowers and braids.

Cosmetic spoons – These spoons are highly decorative – the one shown here is fashioned in the shape of a swimming girl.

Bronze mirror – The Egyptians used mirrors of polished bronze. The handle was often carved in the form of an Egyptian goddess.

Cosmetic jars – The Egyptians’ special oils and unguents were stored in containers made from glass, faience ceramic and stone.




'Boss bought 50 chairs in an online auction. It wasn't until we went to pick them up that we realised it was...