The most common textile in Egypt was linen. It was mostly a spotless white. Dyes such as iron (red), indigo (blue) and shaffron (yellow) were sometimes used, but colored and patterned clothes were usually the mark of foreigner.

However, the Egyptians did decorate their clothes with beads and beautiful feathers. Wool was not used for weaving in ancient Egypt. Silk and cotton did not appear until foreign rulers came to power in Egypt, after about 1000 B.C.

The basic items of dress for men were a simple kilt, loin-cloth or tunic. Women wore a long, closely fitting dress of fine fabric. Fashions for both men and women varied over the ages, with changes in the straps, pleating and folds.

Although more elaborate styles of clothing did appear in the New Kingdom, clothing was relatively simple, with elaborate wigs, jewelry and eye makeup creating a more dramatic effect.

Looking Beautiful

Both Egyptian men and women wore cosmetics. Their makeup included green eyeshadow made from a mineral called malachite and black eyeliner made from galena, a type of lead. Lipsticks and blusher were made form red ocher, and the early Egyptians also liked tattoos.

Most Egyptians men were clean shaven.Priests also shaved their heads and the short haircut of the pharaoh was always kept covered in public. Wigs were worn by men and women, even by those who had plenty of hair of their own. Gray hair was dyed and there were various remedies for baldness. One was a lotion made from donkey's hoof, dog's paw, date stones and oil!