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Ancient Egyptian Eye Makeup Doubled As Germ Protector But Was Poisonous

Monday, November 28, 2016 18:10
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Ancient Egyptian Eye Makeup Doubled As Germ Protector But Was Poisonous

It’s sort of like the evil eye, but in reverse: the good eye, brought on by an application of lead-based kohl makeup that was unknowingly poisonous to ancient Egyptians but also had anti-microbial properties. Plus there was the magical aspect of invoking the gods Horus and Ra with an application of the black makeup and further protective properties.

In ancient Egypt, as modern archaeologists and Egyptologists can tell you, people from all classes, from laborers to royalty, applied kohl to their eyes. But this phenomenon of thick, black makeup has been known worldwide, and people still apply it in North Africa and Central Asia, says an article about the practice on

A man and his granddaughter in India with kohl around her eyes. Scholars are concerned about the presence of lead in today’s eyeliner in some regions of the world. This thick, black makeup also had lead in it in ancient times, but the ancients still may have benefited somewhat from antimicrobial properties of the beautifier. (Wikimedia Commons photo/Jorge Royan) – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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