Beauty Tips From Ancient Rome

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Looking for new makeup, hair or skin care ideas? It might be a good idea to revisit the beauty hacks practiced for hundreds of years by women of ancient empires.  There is no better place to start than with Rome, one of the capitals of the ancient world. This is how they did it…


Close up of womans eyes.

Smokey eyes using kohl.

It’s safe to assume that large eyes were always in style and are not going out anytime soon either. The ladies of Ancient Rome used to outline their eyes with kohl to darken them and make them look bigger.


It seems that thick eyebrows were very much in style before they went out and came back in again. (Guess there really is nothing new under the sun.) For the Ancient Romans, thick looking eyebrows weren’t enough, they took it a step further and darkened their eyebrows with antimony or soot to extend them till they almost touched.


Woman smiling

Rosy cheeks were developed in Ancient Rome.

The fashionable ladies of Ancient Rome wouldn’t be caught dead in bronze or tanned skin or without blush. Pale skin with pink blush was the beautiful of the days and a sign of good health. Women used to whiten their skin with white lead or chalk powder and apply blush using red lead, mulberry juice, wine dregs, or poppy petals.

Red Lips

Egyptian Cleopatra’s visit to Rome in 46 B.C. inspired the ladies of Rome to copy the beauty icon’s habit of wearing her lips red. Today, red lipsticks are sold everywhere, but the ladies of Ancient Rome needed to do it themselves. They achieved scarlet lips using bromine, beetle juice, and henna combined with beeswax.


You can imagine that the interesting variety of makeup ingredients did not smell great, to say the least. To combat this problem, Roman ladies wore pungent perfumes to override the smell of lead and other nasty smelling products that they used. Perfumes were made from iris, rose petals, and alum.


Woman looking at hair in mirror.

Woman doing her hair in the mirror.

When it came to hair, there was one rule the ladies of Ancient Rome stuck to: the more complicated the updo, the better. Women wore intricate hairdos to symbolize wealth and social status. If you are ever in the mood to switch up your hair routine, you can try experimenting with updos, curls and all sorts of braids.


The Ancient Romans took care of their skin in a variety of ways. Milk baths, another beauty habit of Cleo, were one popular way to nourish the skin. The Ancient Romans also applied a paste made from barley flour and butter to smooth their skin.


Going natural and DIY can be quite an experience. If you feel like experimenting with something new (or should I say ancient?), go right ahead and try some of the safer beauty hacks from Ancient Rome. Just please do not try whitening your face or applying blush using poisonous lead!

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