Steatite cosmetics dish, Egypt, 14 BC-400 AD.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm

Steatite cosmetics dish, Egypt, 14 BC-400 AD.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


The convex lower surface of the upturned dish has been made to resemble an oxyrhynchus fish. The ancient Egyptians were very conscious of their personal appearance and followed a regime of applying fragrant oils to their skin and hair, and applying make-up to their eyes and mouths. Eye make-up was usually black or green and acted as a fashion statement as well as preventing sand and dust from the desert getting into their eyes. The oils they used prevented chafing from the desert wind and also provided a scent. Unshaven men were deemed unclean and so a process of removing hair using razors and tweezers was commonplace. The wealthier ancient Egyptians also wore wigs constructed from human hair.

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