More from the Makeup Cabinet
Although eye makeup gave Egyptians a distinctive look that came to define our kohl-outlined image of them, they didn't stop there, developing everything from a rouge made of tinted clay to nail polish made from henna. What's more, they created perfumes from different plants and flowers, as well as deodorant produced from things like incense and porridge.
Sure, eye makeup might not rank alongside fire or the wheel as one of the most important discoveries in human history, but it gives the Egyptians a run for longevity. Since they first invented eye makeup as far back as 4000 B.C., it's never gone out of style. Even more impressive, some cosmetically-minded cultures still create makeup using the same techniques pioneered by the Egyptians thousands of years ago. They combined soot with a mineral called galena to create a black ointment known as kohl, which is still popular today. They could also create green eye makeup by combining a mineral called malachite with galena to tint the ointment.
For the Egyptians, makeup was not limited to women. Status and appearance went hand in hand, and as far as the upper class was concerned, the more makeup the better. Fashion was only part of the reason for the Egyptians' notoriously heavy hand when applying eyeliner. They also believed that applying a thick coating of the stuff could cure various eye diseases and even keep them from falling victim to the evil eye.