Friday, June 17, 2011

Essential Oil History: Cleopatra

As I researched Cleopatra two things became blatantly obvious. The first is that Cleopatra had controversy following her wherever she went. There is debate and scandal surrounding all aspects of her life from her lovers to her children and even to the color of her skin. Some say she was white with red hair and others argue that she was brown skinned with black hair. The second fact that becomes obvious is that she took her beauty routine very seriously and she loved essential oils. Several sources said she was “Clouded in a Scent of Mystery.”

With her knowledge of cosmetics and beauty she opened her own Oasis or Spa as we would call it today. Her spa was located on the En Ghedi near the Dead Sea. Her spa was also called a perfume factory or an Officina Aromatoria (aromatic workshop). The ruins of her spa show a waiting room with stone benches as well as several treatment rooms. Cleopatra also wrote a book called Cleopatra Gynaeciarum Libri around 50BC, which has unfortunately since been lost, but other references say that it contained recipes for essential oil combinations as well as beauty products.

There are stories of Cleopatra would drift down the Nile in her barge and the sails were scented with jasmine, patchouli and rose which are powerful aphrodisiacs. She was said to also have had skin that glistened with oil all the time adding to her alluring beauty. It is also said that she would use mudpacks mixed with crocodile manure to keep her healthy complexion. That is one beauty secret I’m not sure we can replicate.

Another beauty secret of hers that has been preserved is her milk baths. Milk is very nourishing and moisturizing to the skin and is wonderful to use in your soaps and to soak in your bath. Try it yourself tonight here is a recipe that is similar to what Cleopatra would have used.

Cleopatra’s Milk Bath


1/4 Cup Powdered Milk or ¼ cup of fresh milk
1/4 Cup Honey
1 teaspoon Jojoba or Almond Oil
One, two or all of the following oils equaling about 10-15 drops
Rose Essential Oil
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Moonlight Essential Oil
Frankincense Essential Oil
Myrrh Essential Oil
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly and add to your warm bath water under the spout as the tub is filling. Enjoy feeling like an Egyptian Queen for a night.

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