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Hair coloring in Roman world

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Almost every Roman lady dyed her hair. Some have oxidized and lightened, others have darkened. For example, for dark hair, the prescription was taken over from the Egyptians, for whom black color on the head was an expression of beauty. In order to darken the hair, a mixture of lead oxide, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and water was used. A paste was thus obtained, which was then rubbed into the head.

An innovative idea of ​​the Romans to change the color of hair to black was in turn the use of a mixture of leeches and vinegar, which was to ferment for two months. After this period, the mixture was applied on the head and “happily” had to sit in the sun and let it absorb the mixture.

Another recipe, this time to lighten the hair, was taken from the Greeks. One of the methods recommended mixing wood ash with vinegar or soap liquor and rub the mixture into your hair. Today we know that such a mixture had side effects: odious smell, skin burning sensation. In addition, simply touching the hair could cause it to break if the paste was used too long on the head.

Rich Roman women, in order to emphasize their beauty, sometimes decided to gild their golden hair with golden powder. In order to achieve the gray color, the Romans used, in turn, potions made of ash, cooked shells of nuts and earthworms.

  • Boucher Francois, Historia mody, Warszawa 2003
  • Steele Philip, Clothes and Crafts in Roman Times

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