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Cheap Armani, or Eau de Gladiateur

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman mosaic depicting gladiators after fight
Roman mosaic depicting gladiators after fight

Did you know that in ancient Rome, the most sought-after cosmetic was… the sweat of gladiators? Rich ladies, in jars containing the sweat of warriors, searched for charm believing it to be the secret to eternal youth and attractiveness.

In the times when Rome resounded with the cries of gladiators and arenas filled with blood and sweat, Roman patricians found their way to beauty. The sweat of gladiators, dripping from their bodies after battles, was for them more than just evidence of brutal combats. It was considered an elixir of love, health, and beauty. Its application was believed to improve the complexion.

Before cleaning themselves after a fight, gladiators used a strigil, a tool for scraping sweat from the body, which was then collected, mixed with olive oil, and sold as a precious cosmetic. Adding ingredients from herbs, plants, and spices was intended to enhance its fragrance and aesthetic properties. Such sweat was valued not only as an aphrodisiac or perfume but also as a universal cosmetic for facial care.

Surprising? Maybe so, but on the other hand… are we really that different from our ancestors 2000 years ago? Like the great gladiators, we seek immortality, only on different battlefields. So, in an era where the cosmetics market competes in offering products with hyaluronic acid, collagen, snail slime, and even snake venom, does the Roman fascination with gladiator sweat seem all that strange?

Author: Tom Newton

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