Beauty rituals in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece was composed of hundreds of city-states, in which, with only minor exceptions, exactly the same 'laws' of beauty applied. The Hellenes had extremely high requirements in terms of their appearance, developed into complex mathematical calculations. Every single body part had to meet a certain standard and only a figure with perfect proportions could be called “beautiful”.
Perhaps, the home of the beautiful Helen was one of the first places where beauty contests were common practice. The large number of mirrors, found during archaeological excavations, is considered by scientists an evidence of the widespread vanity, inherent to the representatives of this ancient culture.
According to the Ancient Greeks, the appearance was directly linked to the soul and the mind, so beautiful people were automatically perceived as good and intelligent, too.
Athletic male body was particularly worshipped, achieved at the cost of prolonged physical exercises. The ideal of the female figure was the statues of the goddess of beauty Aphrodite, whose measures 86/69/93 (bust / waist / hips) are very reminiscent of those that until recently were regarded as perfect in the fashion circles.
Pale skin was considered a sign of elegance and prestige, but because only a scarce number of the inhabitants of Greece could boast of such, the use of cosmetic products was necessary. Women smeared their faces mainly with white lead and many of them literally became victims of beauty, as the poisonous ointment had the ability not only to lighten skin, but also to kill, after it accumulates in the body.
The Greeks preferred light color not only in terms of complexion, but also in terms of hair. Their standard for perfection again conflicted with the physical characteristics granted to them by Nature. To bleach themselves, the ancient aesthetes generously poured vinegar or lemon juice over their hairs, then stood in the sun to activate the "dye" This procedure, however, often proved to be too aggressive to the hair and required a subsequent use of restorative therapies. Then, the Greeks resorted to the miraculous power of plant oils, which quickly repaired the damages. The recipe for one of their favorite hair masks is still current nowadays, thanks to its excellent fortifying properties and its simple and affordable ingredients, eggs and olive oil.
The ancient Greeks called the olive oil "the elixir of life" and used it not only for their hair, but also as a component of their cosmetics for face and body. Mixed with sugar or salt, olive oil turns into a great exfoliator, while applied alone or in combination with honey – into an effective moisturizer and anti-aging agent.
Another practice, adored by the Greeks, was immersing in aromatic thermal baths filled with dried herbs. This spa ritual rejuvenates the skin, while in the same time relaxes the muscles.
The ancient Greeks bequeathed to future generations many beauty recipes, and perhaps only a few people know that even the word "cosmetics" itself, as well as the beauticians’ profession, are a legacy of this nation of aesthetes and perfectionists.