Cosmetics were an important part of the life and culture of the Ancient Greeks. Their idea of beauty was pale skin, golden locks and natural makeup and, just like it happens nowadays, they would try everything to achieve it. However, only rich women used to wear makeup in Ancient Greece, which was probably due to its expensive price. Here are their beauty secrets:
The Ancient Greeks considered pale skin to be a sign of prestige and beauty. To lighten their complexions, women would paint their face with white lead, which we now nowadays to be toxic and may probably have shortened their lives. In alternative to lead, women also used chalk, but that would wear off easily and quickly. In addition, they used to take care of their skin by moisturizing it with honey. Olive oil was also used on their skin to make it look shiny.
Ancient Greek women used only minimal makeup because they wanted to look pale and natural. Their lipsticks were a paste made with red iron oxide and ochre clays or olive oil with beeswax. A red powder was also used on the cheeks. Eyeshadows were made with olive oil mixed with ground charcoal. Also, the Ancient Greeks liked connected eyebrows and to achieve them they would decorate their eyes with dark powder.
In Ancient Greece, only female slaves wore their hair short. Free women had long hair, but after they got married, they would wear it up, usually in a bun. Their hair was then decorated with a diadem, jeweled combs, hair pins, scarfs and other accessories. During Hellenistic times, Greek women also started to artificially wave and curl their hair.
In addition to lightening up their skin, Greek women, most of whom had dark hair, would lighten up their locks too. To do that, they would apply vinegar on their hair and then spend time in the sun. Archaeologists have found broad-brimmed hats with a hole in the middle which were probably used to lighten hair while keeping skin in the shade so that it would remain pale.
To take care of their hair, Ancient Greek women used olive oil. They would apply it on their hair as a deep conditioning treatment: it would make their hair soft, moisturized and shiny.