Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Previous section
Religious beliefs in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Beauty and Accessories

Make-up Palette

Egyptians used palettes to grind and mix minerals like malachite and kohl, water and fat to make pigments (colour) for eye paint and make-up. People would put on the eye make-up using a copper or bone stick. 


Flat piece of slate that has been shaped into an oval.  The probe is long and thin piece of copper with a flatter bit at one end.
Ancient Egyptian Make-up Pallete and Probe

Both men and women wore it as they believed it would make them look handsome or beautiful by outlining their eyes. The eye was an important symbol of protection and power in Ancient Egypt. 

In the video below, Emily asks the question: What came first, Pharaohs or make-up? and examines related artefacts from Leeds Museums & Galleries collection.


Beaded Necklaces

Two beaded necklaces of different lengths are shown in the photograph below. They are clay and faience beads, coated in a shiny glaze to make them look more expensive. The Egyptians wore jewellery to look wealthy and beautiful and rich people's necklaces would be made out of gold and precious stones. Necklaces also sometimes had amulets and shabti figures included in their decoration.


Necklace made from assorted shaped beads in mostly blue colours, with a bit of a wooden comb showing very fine teeth
Ancient Egyptian Bead Necklaces and Wooden Comb


Wooden Comb

Pictured with the necklaces is a small wooden comb. Though some of the teeth are broken and missing, it is amazing that this object has survived for such a long time without the wood rotting. Looking good was very important to the ancient Egyptians and people would have used combs to make sure their hair was neat.


Alabaster Jar

Alabaster is as type of mineral which has been used for thousands of years for carvings and statues as it has a beautiful milky-white colour and can be carved with relative ease. 


Finely carved jar from almost translucent alabastar.
Ancient Egyptian Alabaster Jar

This jar was used to store perfume, oils and other cosmetics. The top of the bottle has been chipped and that the bottom is very rounded. Originally, there might have been a cork in the top of the bottle and it would possibly have been held on a stand to avoid spillages though we do not have direct evidence of these items. 

People would have used sticks of bone, wood or ivory to put the make up on, dipping the sticks into the jar and then spreading the make up on their face.



Alabaster - a white type of rock used to make ornaments

Cosmetics - different types of make up

Glaze - shiny coating

Ivory - a bone-like material made from elephant tusks

Palette - a flat surface used to hold or mix different colours of paint

Pigments - material that changes the colour of a surface