The Roman comic playwright Plautus said, “A woman without paint is like food without salt.” The use of cosmetics goes back far beyond the Romans, however. Paint-making tools have been found from 100,000 years ago, containing the same pigments used in ancient societies to decorate the body.
Makeup as we know it can be traced to the Egyptians. Egyptian men and women from all social classes applied a thick layer of dark kohl around their eyes. This had a religious symbolism, related to depictions of the gods, but it also had practical uses. The dark pigment helped to reduce the glare of the fierce Sun, repelled annoying insects away from the eyes, and caught dust and sand. Kohl contains toxic lead, but that was a risk worth paying for beauty. Roman women would use rouge made from an equally dangerous red lead compound.