Blog 16: Aromatherapy - The Beauty Secret of Cleopatra
Posted on July 13 2017
Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt is known as one of the most enigmatic women in history. The dramatic life of Cleopatra VII, the last of the Ptolemic rulers, had many secrets that remain to be unveiled. While her efforts for restoring the glory of her kingdom has been well noted in history, the legends ascribe much of her success to her beauty & sexuality.
She appeared in the historical scene of Egypt in 50 B.C.E. as an intelligent & ambitious young queen who also became the centre of interest of prominent Roman kings like Julius Caesar.
The secret of Cleopatra’s exquisite beauty has been a point of interest for women around the world. This charismatic ruler is known to have employed potent natural ingredients in her beauty regime to achieve dramatic results. She had the knowledge of using the rich plant & mineral resources of Egypt in super-perfected ways to enhance her charm.
Study of antique Egyptian notes recorded on papyrus & engravings on the temple walls have revealed precious information about the ancient Egyptian cosmetics & cosmetic preparation techniques. Remains of containers & bottles of perfumes have been unearthed & analysed to find the recipe of Egyptian beauty potions of the time of Cleopatra.
The findings have revealed that a sophisticated technique was in practice in ancient Egypt for extracting the floral essential oils. The technique which is now termed as Enfleurage employed layer of vegetable fat for absorbing the essence of the aromatic flowers, which was then dissolved in alcohol & the “absolute of that floral” thus achieved were used in cosmetics & toiletries. These oils were also applied, inhaled & even ingested to achieve various results.
So, we can conclude that aromatherapy had a significant role in the enchanting beauty of Cleopatra that made her the legendary glamour icon of Egypt. Cleopatra had a clear knowledge of different essential oils & how they can be used for different aesthetic purposes, starting from clearing the skin & fighting the excess oil to achieving eternal youth. Some of the essential oils that were used in Egyptian cosmetics during the reign of Cleopatra & thus must have made an invaluable part in her beauty regime include,
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): The old Egyptian name for this herb is Reehan & according to the hieroglyphics the leaves of this plant were used to extract their aromatic oil for use in cosmetics. The oil worked as an anti-microbial & natural preservative. Now you know how the mysterious lady enjoyed acne free skin.
Black Cumin Seed (Nigella sativa): Named as Habet Baraka in ancient Egypt, the oil extracted from these black seeds were used for stimulating hair growth & also for conditioning the hair. So, this was certainly the secret behind the lustrous traces of Cleopatra.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): In ancient Egypt, this annual herb was known as Helba & most probably it was one of the best kept secrets of the everlasting youth of Cleopatra. Oils extracted from Fenugreek were believed to transform even older women to younger ones. It was also used as a treatment for young & blemish free skin.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): The ancient Egyptians had a clear idea that exposure to sun rays can be harmful for the skin. The fragrant essential oil extracted from the petals of the geranium flower were used in preparations for sun care & healing skin irritations. This essential oil was also used as an effective ingredient for treating oily hair & dandruff.
Moringa (Moringa peregrina): This Egyptian treatment for repairing skin wrinkles might have been the actual secret of Cleopatra’s age defying beauty. The essential oil extracted from Hab Alba, the ancient Egyptian name for Moringa, was used along with frankincense, grounded cypress & fermented juice of some plants to get wrinkle free skin.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium): The neroli oil extracted from the leaves of the Neroli tree has aphrodisiac properties that help in uplifting the mood. Cleopatra is known to soak the sails of her ships in Neroli oil when she embarked on long voyages to the Roman empire. This oil was also used in cosmetics for treating scaly & itchy skin. It also works as an excellent natural deodorant.
Rose (Rosa sancta): Often termed as “the Queen of Flowers” in ancient Egypt, the essential oil extracted from Ward (rose) petals were used extensively by Cleopatra in skin care. The luxurious rose petal bath with milk that is known for being a part of Cleopatra’s regular regime for skin softness is still followed in spas along with other ingredients to achieve special results.
So, now you know that aromatic essential oils made a vital part of the best kept secrets of the legendary beauty of Cleopatra. These oils also promote overall well-being, mood upliftment & mental clarity & thus might have played a role in nurturing the clearheaded intelligence of Cleopatra that had made her ethereal beauty even more enigmatic.
Read this blog in Bengali