This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Hair coloring was popular among Roman women

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman lady on the painting
Hair coloring was popular among Roman women

Hair dyeing was extremely popular among Roman women. The most famous colours were red, black and blonde. The latter was popular thanks to the Germans and Gauls with whom the Romans began to come into contact. Prostitutes were even legally obliged to have a blonde colour to distinguish themselves from ordinary Romans. However, this did not prevent the residents from dying their hair.

Individual dyes were obtained from various ingredients, incl. goat fat, beechwood ash, henna, saffron and bleach. Some Romans decorated their hair with golden sprinkles. In this way, he embellished his hair Emperor Commodus (reign in 180-192 CE).

Ancient Romans also used pastes made of powder (talcum powder) and various soaps made of nature in order to dye their hair. Boiled and crushed walnuts, burnt and charred ant eggs, the rotting game remains or various types of berries – these are some of the many ways to obtain the right dye. These eggs were most often used as a paste for dyeing eyebrows.

Pliny the Elder, in turn, suggested that black is best achieved using soaked and rotten leeches that were kept in red wine for 40 days1. To achieve the red colour, he recommended the use of a mixture of animal fat and beech ash2. Supposedly, the saffron was perfect for the zloty3. Ovid also mentioned that herbs and saffron are ideal for dyeing4.

  1. Pliny the Elder, Natural history, 32:23
  2. Pliny the Elder, Natural history, 28:51
  3. Tertullian, De Culti Feminarum, 2:6:1
  4. Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 3:158-64

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: