We know very well from the history lesson that hygiene care was not made popular until the 20th century. Even in the 19th century, which brought progress in many areas, personal hygiene was treated in a heartless way. It was no different from before. In fact, since the Middle Ages, many basic hygienic procedures such as regular baths were considered not only superfluous but in many cases even harmful.
For example, we all heard of Louis XIV – the French Sun King is known not only for his military successes and the consolidation of absolutism but also for the fact that throughout his life he bathed only once. This approach to hygiene in the Baroque and later enlightenment was nothing unusual. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that the situation in antiquity looked completely different. As confirmed by numerous sources, great importance was then attached to cleanliness and proper body care.
Already in ancient Egypt, great emphasis was placed on hygiene. This was especially true of the educated priesthood and Egyptian elites. The wealthy Egyptians eagerly used various types of treatments – not only baths but also massages. Make-up was also common.
The Egyptians rightly assumed that high temperature and high humidity over the Nile are factors conducive to the development of diseases. What may be surprising for us, already in ancient times it was recommended to maintain hygiene as the most effective means to fight diseases. Maintaining cleanliness and anointing the body with oils (or oils in the case of lower social security funds) was also dictated by religious considerations in Egypt. As a curiosity can be added that ancient Egyptians used many beauty products on a daily basis, not only for makeup. Various masks, creams and even pastes acting as modern peelings were popular.
Hygiene was also very important in ancient Greece. Initially, baths were not so much a way to take care of the body every day, but rather a kind of ritual. Already in the 7th century B.C. they bathed before every prayer. Given the fact that many gods were worshipped in Helladz, bathing quickly became a daily habit. In ancient Greece, numerous baths were often used. But that’s not all. In Greek houses, even those not very wealthy, baths lined with ceramics were built. Baths were combined with various cosmetic treatments, including anointing the body with oils. It was the norm that baths were offered to guests. As for the already mentioned Greek baths, they were very complex structures, which in a way resembled today’s spas. In the city baths, there were separate rooms for bathing in cold and hot water, as well as for various types of health baths.
The situation in ancient Rome was very similar. There is probably no person who would not have heard of Roman baths. In ancient times they were incredibly popular. Roman baths were not only a place of bathing and beauty treatments but also social meetings. Many hours of hot baths were one of the favorite entertainment of the ancient Romans.