We all want what we can’t have. The Ancient Greeks were no different. They prized long and curly golden locks, and pale, porcelain skin. But so few of them looked like that naturally. So, they tried to fake it. Here’s how:
In Ancient Greece, pale skin was a sign of prestige and beauty. It meant women (and men) didn’t have to work for long hours in the fields to support themselves. They were wealthy enough, and their skin was proof of it.
But not everyone was born with porcelain skin. So, to lighten it, women painted their faces with white lead, a toxic substance that sadly shortened their already short lives. If lead wasn’t available, they’d turn to chalk. It was only a last resort, as chalk wears off very quickly and easily.
This paint needed a smooth foundation. So, women slathered creams made with honey all over their faces to keep it moisturized. If they wanted a shinier, glowier look, they’d add a few drops of olive oil.
Ancient Greek women, just like us, loved their cosmetics. But they were so expensive, only the rich could afford them! And when they put them on, they were hardly visible. The no-makeup makeup look was all the rage. Natural beauty (achieved with unnatural means) was the ideal.
Lips and cheeks were gently brightened with red-coloured pastes. Lipsticks were made with red iron oxide and ochre clays, or olive oil with beeswax. Olive oil was an essential ingredients of eyeshadows as well. It was mixed with ground charcoal.
But, the weirdest trend of all was the unibrow. Yep, that’s right. The Ancient Greeks, both male and female, used a dark powder to connect their brows!
In Ancient Greece, only female slaves wore their hair short. Free women had long hair, but could only wear it loose until they remained single. The moment they tied the knot, they’d tie it up, usually in a bun. If it was straight, they’d curl it. Diadem, jeweled combs, hair pins, scarfs, and other accessories completed the look.
Just like dark skin, dark hair wasn’t appreciated either. And most women had dark hair. So, they would lighten that too. How? By applying vinegar throughout their locks, and then sitting for hours in the sun. To prevent a tan, they’d wear broad-brimmed hats with a hole in the middle.
To keep their hair soft, moisturized, and shiny, they once again turned to olive oil. Applied and left on the hair for hours, it acts like a conditioning treatment. I do this too sometimes, and the result is amazing.
What do you think of the beauty secrets of the Ancient Greeks?