Romans makeup included fair, white skin. However, they weren’t genuinely
pale so they had to rely on cosmetics to reduce their pigmentation. They would use
chalk powder, white marl and white lead, which was fatal. The Ancient Romans
liked large eyes with long eyelashes and eyebrows. They would darken their
eyebrows with soot and extend those inward. On their eyes, they wore kohl,
which they formed with saffron, ashes or soot to darken them. The kohl was
applied with a stick made from glass, wood, ivory or bone that had to be dipped
into water or oil before setting on the eyes. Another way to darken the eyes was
to use date stones and charred petal roses. But the Romans also used intense
eye shadows. To make greens, they used mineral malachite while blue was taken
from azurite. The Romans believed pink on the cheeks to be a sign of good
health. So, women would apply various substances on their face to achieve that look.
Men that wore makeup were considered immoral. Some men still used white powder
on their face to lighten their complexion. Men would often remove their hair
and use a perfume and this was acceptable. Hair styling was important for men
and woman and hair fashion changed often during the imperial period (27BCE –
3CE). Styles became increasingly elaborate and men generally kept their hair
short, neat and were clean shaven. During the Emperor’s Commodus times, dyeing
hair blonde become in fashion for men. Women wore wigs to hide hair damaged by
dyes. During the regal eras, these wigs were made with real hair. Blonde hair
was imported from Northern Europe, while black hair was imported from India.
The Romans also used dyes to accentuate the colours. Blonde hair was intensified
with a blend of Beeches Ash and goat’s fat while red was preserved by crushed
leaves of the Lawsonia Inermis, a plant in the henna origin. Black hair was enhanced
by black antimony with animal fat, cypress leaves that were prepared and then soaked
in vinegar. Gymnastics would curl their hair and pin it up. Curls were made
using heated metal tongs. Hair pomades and creams were made from animal
fats.  To create styles such as the
raised curls above, hair pieces or wigs were used. They would use poppy and
rose petals, red chalk, alkanet, Tyrian vermillion, crocodile dung, red ochre (this
being more expensive as it was imported from Belgium), mulberry juice, wine,
cinnabar and red lead (these two were toxic). The laurel reef was worn by
people of rank. Colours of their robes included purple dye which was the most extremely
treasured, only emperors, magistrates and priests could wear the high cost
purple edging. Perfume was applied used to scent the hair, ribbons were used to
create hair styles. Gold and pearls were also popular as hair accessories and
to create detailed hair styles. Social statuses determined whether the toga
could be worn and whether it would be coloured. A woman’s basic garment was a
stola which hung in pleats from the shoulders, were it fastened with a broach
or clasp called a fibulae. Over this ladies wore a palla (shall) which might
cover the head. Dyes were available and clothes were sometimes embroidered. The
dyes were madder(red) saffron(yellow) indigo(blue). The Roman Empire had
various trade routes that covered the Mediterranean and black Seas. The main
trading partners were Spain, France, The Middle East and Africa. They would
import iron, lead, leather, marble, olive oil, perfumes, dyes and wine. They
made trade as easy as possible, using currency. Most garments were made from
wool or linen but silk was imported for the rich. Foreign captives and slaves
wore a simple tunica and leather sandals or boots to protect their feet. Silk
was rare and expensive and affordable to the rich. Wool and linen was for the
majority of Romans. Due to weather conditions and the poor quality of
cosmetics, makeup needed to be reapplied many times a day, which wasn’t practical,
especially for lower-class women. The wealthy had slaves called Cosmetae’s,
whose position was to apply makeup on them as well as producing creams and
lotions. Roman slaves wore little unpretentious clothing. Their clothing was
determined upon their role and task they performed. Low-grade slaves were provided
primary clothing like cloth. The wealthy and poor had a very different
lifestyle. This is because the poor had to work constantly for very little pay
and what money they did have had to be spent on food. There was no money left
over to change the style of clothes or enhance appearance.

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