Fun Facts About Beauty in Ancient Pompeii
· As a woman in ancient Rome, the higher your social status, the more makeup you probably wore: foundation, blush, shadow and eyeliner. Certain cosmetics, especially those from France or the far East, became so expensive that they were actually banned by the conservative Roman government. This prohibition, of course, spurred the development of cheap Canal-Street style makeup and perfume knockoffs
· Wealthy Roman women had special slaves called ornatrices, who served as personal at-home hairdressers and makeup artists
· Super-pale skin--not tans--was prized as a feature of beautiful women in ancient Rome (sorry Snooki!). A typical face foundation would contain Iris root (still a popular ingredient in high-end skincare and perfumes) with powdered white lead, which gave great coverage but was also quite poisonous.
· In 2004, archaeologists found a preserved container of Roman face cream in London that dated to the 2nd century AD. An analysis of the cream showed that it was made from refined animal fat, starch and tin oxide. The cream was found in a beautifully worked container, much like the one we have on display in the exhibit.
· Much of what we know about Roman cosmetics comes from descriptions by ancient authors and the color frescos from Pompeii (as well as traces of paint on the marble statues--we have a great example in the Pompeii exhibit with eyeliner)
· Roman women loved eye-enhancing makeup, including kohl eyeliner, which would be applied from a container with a metal or wood stick in the same manner which many women in Asia and the Middle East still do today. (We have a great container like this in the Pompeii exhibit.)
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**I was compensated with tickets to this exhibit but no other compensation was given. The PR Release and Facts were written by Discovery Museum and their PR Department**