Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt

These pages are edited by Prof. Hamed Abdel-reheem Ead, Professor of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science -University of Cairo, Giza, Egypt and director of the Science Heritage Center

Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt

Cosmetics are as old as vanity. In Egypt their use can be traced back almost to the earlist period of which burials have been found, and continues to the present day.
Cleanliness and personal appearance were highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians. For the priests in the service of the gods cleanliness was strictly prescribed. Not only did they have to wash several times a day, but they also had to be clean shaven all over, to keep at bay parasites, such as lice, eggs of which have been found in the hair of mummies. Water was plentiful, but there is little evidence that the ancient Egyptians used natural soaps or tooth powder. In a hot climate deodorants were much in demand. To repel body odour men and women alike were advised to rub pellets of ground carob(?) into the skin, or to place little balls of incense and porridge where limbs met.

Around 1400 BC three ladies of the court of Tuthmosis III were buried with costly royal funerary equipment, which included cosmetics. Two of the jars contained a cleansing cream made of oil and lime. Some prescriptions for body 'scrub' are given in the medical papyri

The 'red natron' was presumably natron tinted by an iron compound in the earth where the natron was extracted.

A lady wiping her face. Relief of unknown provenance; 11th Dynasty

(British Museum, 1658)

An allegedly successful remedy to treat wrinkles consisted of': gum of frankincense, wax, fresh moringa oil and cyperus grass; grounded finely and mixed with fermented plant juice applied daily.
A simple remedy of gum applied to the face after cleansing had a similar effect. If' the skin was marred by scars caused by burning, a special ointment was used to treat them and make them less obvious, as for example red ochre and kohl, ground and mixed with sycamore juice. An alternative treatment was a bandage of carob(?) and honey, or an ointment made of frankincense and honey.

Because of  their healthy diet and the lack of sugar the Egyptians did not suffer from tooth decay, but their bread contained particles of sand from the grain and grit from the grinding stone, which caused their teeth to become excessively worn. No evidence has been recovered to suggest that the Egyptians used a toothbrush in the manner of the miswak, a natural brush-cum-toothpaste from Salvadora persica, a tree native to southern Egypt and the Sudan. The root has been used for dental care by the Muslims since the days of the Prophet (PPUH). To improve on their breath the Egyptians chewed herbs, or they gargled with milk. Perhaps they also chewed frankincense like their descendants in the last century

As in other civilizations, the appearance of the hair was of paramount importance not only because of the visual effect, but also because of  the erotic symbolism conventionally conneted with hair. Men and women alike wore wigs made of human hair on festive occasions, but they also tried to keep their natural hair in good condition. Jars of what could be compared with 'setting lotion' have been found to contain a mixture of beeswax and resin. These were remedies for problems such as baldness and greying hair. To treat the latter, blood of a black ox or calf was boiled in oil to transfer the blackness of the animal to the greying hair, or the black horn of a gazelle was made into an unguent with oil to prevent grey hairs from appearing. These remedies are slightly more agreeable than another consisting of putrid donkey's liver steeped in oil, though they all had the same magic effect. A far more efficient remedy would be an ointment made of juniper berries and two unidentified plants kneaded into a paste with oil and heated. The natural colouring matter in the plants would rub off on the hair, and the astringent properties of juniper stimulate the scalp. In order to make the hair grow, chopped lettuce was placed on a bald patch, if the baldness occurred after an illness, or the head was anointed with equal parts of fir oil and another oil or fat.

The toilet casket of any man or woman would contain a razor for removing body hair, although a number of creams were sometimes used for the purpose. One such consisted of the boiled and crushed bones of a bird, mixed with fly dung, oil, sycamore juice, gum, and cucumber; this mixture would be heated and applied, presumably to be pulled off when cold, with the hair adhering to it.

The almond shape of the black Egyptian eyes was underlined by the application of black kohl or green malachite. Eyepaint was also considered as a treatment to cure or prevent eye diseases. A great number of prescriptions deal with preventing ingrowing eyelashes.
To cool the eyes a finely ground green mineral (jasper or serpentine) mixed with water was applied to the lids. Alternative preparations were ground carob(?) and fermented honey, or emmer grains steeped in water overnight. An eye wash was prepared from ground celery and hemp.

It was believed that eye make-up could ward off evil spirits and improve the sight. Even the poor wore eye make-up in ancient Egypt. The production of cosmetics during ancient Rome was usually done by female slaves called Cosmetae.

Eyepaint for an overnight treatment made of kohl and goose fat or a paste was mixed from kohl, green eyepaint, lapis lazuli, honey and ochre in equal parts, applied to the lids. The green eyepaint was usually malachite, a green ore of copper; kohl was made of galena, a dark grey ore of lead. It w as kept in lumps in little bags of linen or leather and was ground on a palette to a fine powder. The powder was poured into vases or tube-shaped containers from which it was extracted with a thin stick. It was applied either with the moistened stick, as is done by Egyptian women today, or, for medicinal purposes as quoted above, mixed with some fatty matter.

Malachite was brought to the Nile Valley from the mountainous regions of Sinai, whereas galena was obtained either near Aswan in Upper Egypt or at the Red Sea coast. But both were also imported as luxury commodities from Asia and Arabia. However, no matter which remedy was employed, the Egyptians knew that nothing made the eyes brighter than falling in love: 'Like eyepaint is my desire. When I see you, it makes my eyes sparkle', says a girl in a love poem.

Some Egyptians appear to have dyed their fingernails, but the nature of the red colour used is unknown. It may have been henna. Red was also required to paint the lips. The lip gloss, possibly made of fat with red ochre or with one of the plants used for dyeing, was applied with a brush or spatula. Red colour was used to give glow to the cheeks. A rouge consisting of red ochre and fiat, possibly with a little gull resin, has survived: it was some four thousand years old. Rouge in the form of powder was marketed a few years ago as a product of ancient Egyptian origin. The recipe which inspired the manufacturers was presumably one of those used for the purpose of camouflaging a burn.

Hemp powder

This is one of the most potent foods available, supporting optimal health and well being, for life. Raw hemp provides a broad spectrum of health benefits, including: weight loss, increased and sustained energy, rapid recovery from disease or injury, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in circulation and immune system as well as natural blood sugar control.

Heart Health and Lowered Blood Pressure:
Premature health failure may first appear as high blood pressure - a sign that the heart is over worked, required to force blood through too many miles of sluggish blood vessels.

Improved Digestion:
There are no known allergies to Hemp and they are of special benefit to those who are unable to eat gluten, lactose, sugar, fish, nuts, meat and other common foods. Combined with high fibre grains, fruits and vegetables in the diet, expect regular bowel movements synchronized with the frequency of meals - a sign of a naturally health bowel.

Losing Weight Naturally:
By taking Hemp as directed, expect to be hunger free until mid-afternoon. Expect reduced cravings for foods with stimulants, sugars, starches and saturated fats.

Healthy Cholesterol Levels:
Premature health failure appear as high cholesterol - a sign that veins and arteries have lost their elasticity as a result of an imperfect diet. Hemp are not only cholesterol free, but contain the optimum ratio of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6 - hemp oil contains 57% linoleic (LA) and 19% linolenic (LNA) acids. When added to the diet, in a whole, natural and a cold processed food, like Hemp, improves cholesterol profiles. Hemp oil also contains some GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) that is absent from the fats we normally eat, but considered to be beneficial to health by nutritional experts.

A Natural Way to Control Blood Sugars:
Premature health failure may also appear as Type II diabetes - a sign that relevant organs are no longer capable of processing the sweet and starchy foods that are too often consumed.

The first steps in naturally balancing blood sugars is to introduce a high quality lean protein in your diet - the glucagon released when you eat protein helps keep insulin in check, then incorporate essential fatty acids, both found in Hemp. By avoiding refined carbohydrates - sugars and starches, in favour of high fibre vegetable and whole grain foods, our customers naturally control their blood sugar levels. Diabetics especially, report that circulation improves, often to the extent that they no longer fear losing their feet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Spirulina is the ultimate natural nutritional supplement. It contains the most complete source of nutrients found in any single food. Spirulina typically contains over 65% protein, more than any other food including meat and fish. Proteins are necessary for maintaining tissues, sustaining growth and making hormones in the body. Spirulina contains the eight essential and 10 other amino acids and a greater concentration of vitamins and nutrients than any other natural food. Just 3 to 10 grams of Spirulina a day gives impressive amounts of beta carotene, B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, essential trace minerals and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Spirulina is also a major source of iron and calcium...and not only!... Spirulina can also be used as the ultimate DIY, 'MIRACLE', BEAUTY PRODUCT... read more below...

Our bodies are constantly subjected to an onslaught of toxic chemicals from the air, water, food and drugs and need to continually eliminate these toxins. It has long been known that spirulina accelerates detoxification especially during fasting as spirulina has a unique combination of phytonutrients that can help cleanse our bodies.

Immune Booster
Spirulina is a powerful tonic for the immune system. Research and experience indicate that spirulina is an immune regulating food. Small amounts can help balance and stabilise the immune system, freeing up more of our metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients.

Spirulina is an ideal nutritional food for diabetes patients because of its high content of protein and vitamins and low content of carbohydrate. Furthermore, GLA, zinc and magnesium in spirulina can promote the synthesization of natural insulin.

Spirulina is a superfood suited to a high intensity workout. Taken before exercise it delivers energy and improves stamina. Spirulina also helps to create and repair muscle and retain iron in the body. It is beneficial to hillwalkers, mountain climbers and marathon runners as it improves endurance and reduces cramp.

Iron is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide. Iron anaemia is prevalent in women, children, older people and especially women on weight-loss diets. Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells and a strong immune system, but typical iron supplements are not well absorbed by the human body.

GLA in spirulina can improve premenstrual symptom complex, such as headache, anxiety, oppression, etc.

Many people are aware of the value of food supplements for an aging population. It is well known that the antioxidants Vitamins C, E and beta carotene attack free radicals that roam throughout the body wreaking havoc on cells and organs increasing the aging effect and the risk of cancer. Anti-aging foods such as spirulina are ideal for older people who do not eat much, eat inappropriately or cannot absorb enough nutrients.

Wound healing
People use spirulina in face and body creams and body wraps. The Kanembu people in Chad use freshly harvested algae as a skin poultice for treating certain diseases. In France it has been found that pharmaceutical compounds containing spirulina accelerated wound healing. In Japan it has been shown that cosmetic products containing spirulina promoted skin metabolism and reduced scars.

Try our following beauty recipes at home:
  • Anti Aging Spirulina Facemask
1 ripe avocado
2 teaspoon Spirulina powder
3 drop Geranium Essential oil
3 drop Frankincense Essential oil

Mash the avocado and mix in the Spirel Spirulina powder. Apply to the face. Leave for 15-20 mins then rinse off with cool water.

  • Mini Lift  Facial mask (and skin whiting)
2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon spirulina
2 teaspoons Fuller's Earth Clay
1 teaspoon Argan oil
3 drops Lemon essential oil
(Due to the use of citrus essential oil, please make sure that mask is applied at least 8 hours before going into direct sunlight)

Mix Fuller's Earth and Spirulina powder together. Mix the lemon eo and the Argan oil together and mix with your dry ingredients. Add water and mix until you have a smooth paste (add more or less water depending on your preferred consistency). Apply to the face. Leave for 15-20 mins then rinse off with cool water.

  • Super Spirulina Body Scrub
1 teaspoon spirulina
1 teaspoon kaolin clay
3 tablespoons Epson salt (table salt can be an alternative aswell)
3 tablespoons Olive oil
5 drops of fennel essential oil

Mix all ingredients together well in a container. Apply on dry skin in circular motion. This scrub is excellent for it Detoxifying effects and as an anti-cellulite scrub.
(DO NOT use salts as facial scrubs as they are too harsh for the face. Alliteratively substitute salt with oatmeal to create a soothing yet cleansing facial scrub)

All items can be purchased from SoapCafe`, 46, St.Mary Street, Sliema. Malta