Beauty Aids in Renaissance Italy
By Briana Etain MacKorkhill
Published Online (2007)
Introduction: Since the beginning of time, people have felt the need to make themselves more appealing by using herbal aids. The ancient Egyptians are among the first people documented to have utilized fragrances for both secular and nonsecular use. The temples were filled with the heavy odors of incense made from resins, flowers and herbs to please the senses of the gods and goddesses. Nobles of the time would often place cones of fat scented with fragrant oils and resins on their heads that would melt with their body heat in a sort of natural time-release.
In Medieval times, it was commonly believed that a pleasing scent was a “healthy” scent as well as masking foul odors. They were used in living area, on personal items such as pomanders and on their bodies, both to help fight disease and enhance personal appeal. Medieval man possessed a deep knowledge of and a great appreciation for the fragrances of the natural world. Herbs, flowers and perfumes formed a large part of every day existence and were inextricably linked with magic and medicine. Many of the elixirs and potions for beauty aids contained fragrance as an integral part of the “healing” or “active” ingredient.