The status of the Roman men was reflected in the clothes that they wore such as the toga. However, the clothing styles and fashions of Roman women were relatively simple and unchanging and as women had no special dress that distinguished their status the wealthy women wore expensive make-up together with highly elaborate hairstyles and wigs to proclaim their wealth and status.
Roman Make-up - Make-up artists
As the Roman Hairstyles and the make-up worn by women became more elaborate and an important sign of status it became necessary for slaves to create the latest fashionable hairstyles and make-up. These slaves were highly skilled and valued. The Roman slave hairdressers were called ornatrices who also doubled as make-up artist of wealthy Roman women.
Roman Make-up - Cleansers
The Romans paid great attention to their hygiene and time was spent at the Roman baths which were also used as a place of meeting and socialising. Following their baths Roman women enjoyed applying a form of moisturising cream.
Roman Make-up - Foundation creams
The first application of Roman Make-up consisted of a layer of foundation. This could sometimes be dangerous as the wealthy often favored a white lead paste which was poisonous. Chalk and the orris root was also used to make foundation pastes and a mixture of fat, starch and tin oxide was also used.
Roman Make-up - Rouge and Lip color
The Roman women then applied rouge over the foundation layer of make-up to stain their cheeks. The rouge was also used as lip color to stain their lips as was a lip salve tinted with alkanet root and ochre. The red coloring used by Ancient Roman women in make up was achieved by the use of red ochre. Red ochre is a pigment made from naturally tinted clay - hydrated iron oxide. To prepare the ochre used for make- up the clay was first mined from the ground, washed to separate sand from ochre and then dried in the sun and sometimes burned to enhance the natural red color.
Roman Make-up - Eye Shadow and Eyeliner
The Roman women paid special attention to their eye make-up, especially emphasising the eyebrows. The black make-up applied was kohl which was made from galena and used as an eyeliner. Galena is a blue-grey natural mineral form of lead sulphide. Using a cosmetic grinder Kohl was produced from a mixture of soot and galena and stored in containers called kohl pots. Eye shadow was made from saffron. Eye shadow also changed as the Romans conquered different people, such as the Egyptians. The Romans used the green coloring of Ancient Egyptian eye make up which was made from the green pigment called malachite. The malchite stone was crushed and then mixed as the green eye make up.
Roman Make-up - Perfumes and Oils
The Ancient Romans used various perfumes obtained from the fragrances derived from flowers, plants, seeds. They were blended into a cream made from animal fats and oils. Myrrh, frankincense, cardamom and cinnamon was used to mix the exotic perfumes used by Roman women.