Self preservation or beautification?  Early cultures used colors from natural substances to attract animals or to blend into the environment to enhance their hunting success.  Through the advances of modern objective science we have the information to back up the intelligent choices made by these early people through their subjective observations of the results of applying products to their skin.  Oils and granular substances kept skin lively and protected from harsh elements.  The Egyptians were the first to be extravagant in their beauty culture.  From personal grooming to religious ceremonies to burial preparations, they incorporated animals into their beautification for the believed connection to certain gods and goddesses and natural substances for cleansing and protecting their skin.   Henna dye which they used for hair dye, fingernail and tatoo art came from the shoots and leaves of the mignonette tree.  This dye is extremely popular even today.  All classes of people practiced cleanliness every day believing that cleanliness was connected to holiness.  They used sodium bicarbonate and myrrh to care for their teeth.  They lined their eyes for spiritual connection to a god but also to protect their eyes from glare.

The Hebrew were the nomads.  They picked up tips from the local people wherever they landed.    They believed their bodies were gifts to be cared for and their grooming revolved around self care.  They used myrrh for their teeth and for parasites they used myrrh and pommegranate.  They used olive oil and grapeseed oils to moisturize.  Sometimes they added Frankinsence and Rosemary.  They used hyssop and cinnamon balms for healing and keeping in body heat.

The Greeks gave us the word Cosmetics from Kosmeticos.  Their idea of beauty was the naked body of an athlete.  The body was considered a temple.   They bathed in oil and dusted in fine sand to exfoliate, protect from the sun and regulate body temperature.  They used honey and olive oil for protection against elements.  Galen developed the first cold cream.  White lead eyeliner was a popular cosmetic of the Greeks.

The Romans were famous for their baths. They enjoyed steam therapy, body scrubs, massage and the use of rich oils, fragrances from flowers, saffron, almonds at the baths.

The Asians adhered to a high standard of grooming and care.  In China the ruling class rubbed tinted gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax and egg whites to paint their nails black or crimson.  In Japan the Geisha removed their body hair by threading. Blackened teeth was considered attractive from the 10th to the 19th centuries (long time, eh?)  They used a paste made of sake (what a waste), tea and iron scraps.

The Africans, except for the Egyptian, (aren’t they part of the African continent?)  used their natural environment to create remedies and grooming aids.  People of African descent  have the cool hair so they were big on the intricate hairstyles.  Apparently they used the mignonette tree for toothpicks because they are antiseptic.

Don’t know need to know about Russia or the Americas for my exam but will look into it.  As far as northern Europe:  we go into the different Ages next.


As the civilized world spread it’s colonization class system a significant split was created between the peasants and the wealthy unhealthy practices using products such as lead and arsenic powders to adorn themselves according to accepted social trends.