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Trotula De Ruggiero and the first cosmetic treatise

Abstract

Trotula De Ruggiero was an Italian woman who lived in the middle age. She was the author of the very first treatise to be written about body care and her legacy would have leaded the transition toward modern cosmetics.


Face and body painting is an ancient practice, which was born with the very first civilisations and later spread into places and cultures completely different and geographically distant from each other.

According to archaeological evidence, the Neanderthals used to paint their face with special pigments, such as juices extracted from berries or clay, for ritual and symbolic purposes. Similar habits were adopted thousands of years later by the Egyptians, who believed that beauty pleased the gods and that make-up could protect them from evil. 

In classical antiquity, the Greeks exalted beauty so much that Greek women did not go to sleep without first spreading a thick mask on their faces, made with natural ingredients such as olive oil, which was then removed in the morning with milk. The sophisticated Greek and Oriental habits strongly influenced the customs of the Romans: we know from the paintings of the time that women used a lot of make-up to be more beautiful.

In the Middle Ages, body care was largely neglected, partly due to the Church’s condemnation of paying excessive aesthetic attention to oneself. It ...




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