Ancient Greek Makeup

Greek women are often praised for their beauty, perhaps due to the manner in which these ladies seized the idea of using makeup to complement their features. Evidence of women using makeup can be seen in wall paintings and palace fresco’s dating as far back as 1500 B.C. In places like Knossos, the royal city of legend located on the Ancient Greek Island of Crete.  Because of the cost, makeup was exclusive to those women who possessed influence and wealth.


Primers Of The Past:

Due to the harsh, potentially toxic composition of makeup in Ancient Greece, women protected their skin from the harsh effects of lead by first applying a layer of olive oil, lanolin, or tallow, to their skin.  Olive oil is great as a makeup remover, but these days you’ll probably want to go with your favorite primer if you don’t have any spare lanolin or tallow handy.


Flawless Foundation:

Athens was the fashion and cultural capital of Greece, noblewomen could often be found avoiding the sun as much as possible, a wise trend which has lasted throughout the ages.  These ladies took their beauty goals a bit further, though, painting the skin with a toxic brew of white lead and powdered chalk dissolved in water then applied to the shoulders, neck, face and arms.

Cosmetics have come a long way from the days of Ancient Greece, now you’ll find blends made from minerals and natural ingredients, gone are the days of lead-poisoning in pursuit of flawless skin. You can achieve the same look of fair skin by staying out of the sun, using a sunscreen with a high SPF, and using a foundation a shade lighter than your natural tone.


Natural Pigments:

Not all of the ingredients used to concoct the cosmetics of Ancient Greece were harsh and toxic, women often used crushed mulberries, flowers and seaweed to create a red pigment which they then applied to the cheeks and lips as a stain.  Seaweed has some great benefits for the skin and can still be used as a mask when ground up in water and rubbed onto the face.  To achieve the rosey flush desired by the women of Ancient Greece, apply a crème blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend just slightly, keeping the bulk of the color concentrated in one area.


Emphasizing the Eyes:

Soot has been used throughout the ages as a method of defining the eyes and Ancient Greece was no different.  Whether used as a shadow, liner or brow filler, the women of Ancient Greece were known for drawing their lines boldly, with dark, sweeping lines.  You can achieve this same look by pairing shades of black and gray shadow smudged across the lid, finished with a bold, crisp line of black khol eyeliner applied to the top and bottom lashes.  Don’t forget to emphasize your brows too.


To really complete the look, keep your hair simple with soft curls, a loose updo, and some braids for extra control and detail.  There’s no need for heavy amounts of contouring, remember that the ladies of Ancient Greece had a limited kit compared to what you may possess, so try to emulate their conditions by using as few  products as possible.

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