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Beauty Practices Throughout The Ages

Throughout the ages the matter of beauty has been discussed using several methods from psychology, math and anthropology. Today the social debate has taken a new approach to explain beauty and what makes someone beautiful, is it the pre-set standards of which we were taught by the media, or is it an ancient convection that some physical attributes determine how beautiful someone is. As beauty was often used as a political and social weapon to convey subtle messages about rank, refinement, and power in the ancient world, we will take a look at some of the most bizarre yet popular beauty standards and methods from the past.

  • Ancient Egypt: In ancient Egypt, grooming and good appearance was crucial to both genders as it was a sign of wealth and good health. The Egyptians were the first to use advanced beauty techniques and tools as many artifacts show the use of makeup brushes and mixing palettes. The famous almond eye-liner was achieved by crushing minerals, insects and herbs that grew on the Nile, fragranced wig and oil were used for religious ceremonies as well as everyday life.


  • Ancient Greece/Rome: The women of ancient Greece and Rome were ever concerned about their appearance and this era witnessed the use of lead-based cosmetics for lightening the skin color and unfortunately the use of lead in beauty products carried well into the middle ages claiming many deaths and skin diseases. Fair skin had to match an equally fair hair and eyes, vinegar, goat fat, beech wood ash, and natural sunlight were reportedly used to achieve this color.



  • The Middle Ages: While vanity and taking pride in one’s appearance was frowned upon by the Catholic church it still didn’t diminish the need for setting beauty standards for women back then. The bad living conditions in this era lead to many deaths and diseases thus a shorter life-span which consequently contributed to the beauty ideal of the young, naturally beautiful and rosy-cheeked woman. Good hygiene and baths were strictly preserved for the higher rank of society, women used fragrances to conceal odor and lead-based cosmetics were used to conceal skin flaws.


  • The Victorian Era: The elaborate cosmetics, hairstyles, and fashions of previous eras were now considered vulgar. If you wore bold makeup during this time, Victorian beauty standards dictated that women appear pale and delicate creatures not to mention the agonizing and constrictive wear of corsets. Hairstyles were very modest as updos and soft curls were the norm, and if respectable women wore makeup it was with a very light touch, and in soft natural colors. The industrial age came with many beauty products such as cold cream which hydrated the skin and kept it looking fair and many other that paved the way for the next century.



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