Want a makeup look that will turn you into a Greek goddess?
Looking for a glamorous Grecian inspired makeup look (wearable or fancy dress)? Our Greek goddess makeup tutorial retains some historically accurate elements of Greek culture – with a modern twist!
Prefer to keep your look entirely historically accurate? We also break down the exact makeup, hair, and fashion during the ancient Greece period. (Just promise us you’ll skip on the poisonous powder)!
Keep reading for a modern Greek goddess makeup tutorial & to learn about the history of ancient Greek beauty!
Modern Twist – Greek Goddess Makeup
No need to read all the history below if you’re not interested! We reference some of the history in this guide.
The modern Greek goddess makeup and fashion look is popular for brides. With good reason! It’s a beautiful, etherial look – and pairs well with the Grecian-style flowing wedding dress trend.
While the face was kept pretty natural in ancient Greece, the ‘Greek goddess’ makeup look is more glamorous, glowing, and quite heavier by comparison.
However, the modern goddess look is not completely divorced from Grecian culture. Many elements of the Greek goddess look are historically accurate – including the popularity of gold accessories, the sultry eye, the toga style dress, and the long, decorated flowing hair. Think of it as an ancient Greek-inspired look with a modern twist.
Dressing up for Halloween or a costume party? It’s good to know your fancy dress costume is truly inspired by ancient Greek makeup and fashion. However, this Greek goddess look has a definite modern twist. No need to go for the classic Grecian unibrow, and definitely avoid using poisonous ingredients like white lead on your skin! Huge no no!
Base: Dewy, Flawless, & Glowing Complexion
Use a luminous primer to prep your skin to glow like a goddess.
For a flawless-looking complexion opt for a high coverage dewy-satin finish foundation. While ancient Grecians loved the fair look, unless you’re completely committed to the ancient look, use a shade that matches your skin instead. Conceal any imperfections and dark circles for a healthy, glamorous look.
Eyes: Sultry Black & Gold Lids
For a sultry look, do as the Greeks do (or did) and apply black kohl and eyeshadow close to the eyes.
Don’t go overboard – too much black can be too harsh. Amp the look up a bit (in ode to the ancient Greek elite’s appreciation of gold) with some gold eyeshadow. Pack on plenty of your favorite mascara (and fake lashes) to balance out the eyes.
Face: Glowing & Sculpted Cheekbones
While ancient Greeks kept the face pretty natural, the Greek goddess makeup look is enhanced with a healthy dose of highlighter.
A gold shade on the cheeks will tie in beautifully with the eyeshadow, and act as a nod to the importance of gold in ancient Greece. Otherwise, a champagne or white color works well too. Apply to the top of the cheekbones, the inner corners of the eye, on the brow bone, down the nose, and on the cupid’s bow for an ultra ethereal glow.
The Grecians liked to stay super pale and kept their face as natural as possible. However, a bit of bronzer and contour can give a glamorous modern twist to the Greek look. Don’t be shy with the bronzer (especially if you also self tanned), the warm bronze shade will tie in nicely with the gold on the eyes and cheeks!
Looking for a kind-to-skin blush, highlight, bronzer, and contour combo? Check out our non comedogenic makeup recommendations.
Lips: Neutral, Natural Shades
When lip paint eventually caught on with the ancient Greeks, they kept the lips looking pretty natural. Stick with a subtle pink or light nude to balance out the glow and sultry eyes. Going for a fancy dress look? Apply some gold highlight to the center of your lips for an even greater luminous glow.
Related: Not feeling the Greek Goddess look for your Halloween or costume party? Check out our in depth 1920s flapper makeup and fashion breakdown instead!
Ancient Greece-Inspired Clothing & Hair For Fancy Dress
Dressing as a Greek goddess for Halloween or a party?
Ancient Greeks mainly wore tunics (similar to togas) or long flowing dresses. Opt for a boho style, long and flowing, white maxi dress to get this look. Waist emphasis with a belt (in a gold or white shade) is flattering on most body shapes.
On a budget, or just getting ready at the last minute? Grab a white bed sheet and tie it around your body for a quick Grecian-inspired outfit.
Long, curly hair was in fashion in ancient Greece and it complements this makeup look well. While blonde hair was highly coveted at the time, this entire look will work with any hair color. Add some accessories like a headband or leaf hair clips (the Greeks really did accessorize their hair) – keep them gold for extra historical accuracy!
Historically Accurate – The Real Ancient Greek Look
Makeup Trends In Ancient Greece
Women at the time were expected to look pure and modest.1 As a result, Grecian women opted for a more natural-looking face (with the exception of some heavier eye makeup).
Because women were generally excluded from the academic and intellectual world, men wrote the vast majority of information about makeup. And they wrote about it a lot! References to cosmetics pop up in tons of recovered ancient Greek materials – including poetry and letters.2
The general attitude of men towards makeup was strongly negative at the time.2 The use of cosmetics was widely criticized and satirized. In certain areas, such as Sparta, women didn’t wear any makeup at all.
The later Romans took inspiration from both the natural look of the Greeks and the more dramatic trends from Cleopatra’s Egypt. Ultimately the Romans met somewhere in the middle between these two styles.1
Related: Ever wondered how makeup transforms the way we look and others’ perception of us? We’ve previously explored the academic research on how we look before and after makeup.
Face: Pale Skin Was Achieved With Lead
Pale skin was in vogue for the ancient Greeks. It signified purity and was a symbol of wealth.3 If your skin was pale, it meant you didn’t need to spend all day enduring hard labor in the sun.2
Women in ancient Greece achieved the pale look with white lead, chalk, kaolin, ceruse, and plaster materials.2 Interestingly, Plato denounced these ingredients as harmful (ahead of his time)!2 White lead is a by-product of silver. Silver was produced in abundance in ancient Athens – possibly explaining why white lead was the ingredient of choice to whiten the face.2
Although lead is obviously harmful in its purest form, there’s some evidence that the ancient Greeks (and Egyptians) were able to chemically synthesize the lead in their cosmetics to make it safer.4 This interesting piece of cosmetic history highlights the intelligence of the people living in these ancient civilizations.
Beetroot, red wine, and aromatic resin were popular cosmetic ingredients.5 Olive oil was found in abundance in ancient Greece and women made good use of it. It was especially popular in skincare – acting as both a moisturizer and skin cleanser.5
Eyes: The Unibrow Look
Women mixed together ground charcoal and olive oil to create eye shadow. A dark eye look was in fashion – soot and kohl were applied to the eyebrows and lids.5
The unibrow trend is possibly the biggest difference in beauty standards between the ancient Greek time period and today.5 The dark powders applied to the lids and brows were also used in the middle of the brow to create the conjoined brow look.
Lips: Lip Tint Eventually Became Popular
Lipstick was worn (for the most part) only by ladies of the night. Due to the stigma around such work, the ancient Greeks regulated the use of lipstick.
However, a lip tint eventually became common among higher class Grecians. This lip tint was made from better ingredients than the lipstick of the lower classes, however it still contained dangerous ingredients like vermilion.
Interested in learning more about the history of lipstick? Check out our breakdown of the present, past, and future of lipstick ingredients and innovations.
Clothing & Accessories In Ancient Greece
Men and women wore long, loosely draped tunics suitable for the warm climate.6 They held their tunics in place with broaches and pins. Women also wore basic, sleeveless dresses called ‘peplos’.6 The only embellishment was a belt placed at the empire line for some waist emphasis.
While richer Grecians could afford expensive fabrics like imported silk and cotton, most had to make do spinning their own wool or linen at home.
Uncovered gold bracelets from the 4th and 5th century lend some credence to the stereotypical gold embellishment dress associated with this era.6 Gold was popular at the time because it was so rare in Greece. Another strong symbol of wealth, gold was highly valuable and imported from Egypt or Asia.6 Thin sheets of gold were shaped into wreaths and belts, especially for burial.6
Hair In Ancient Greece
Olive oil was also used in hair care as a conditioner for softer hair. While female slaves had short hair, the trend among free women was to keep it long. Hairstyles indicated marital status – single women left their hair free and loose, then tied it in a bun once they married.5 Women with straight hair curled it. In line with the modern-day stereotype, ancient Grecians loved hair accessories. Hairpins, scarfs, jeweled combs, and diadems were common.5
Blonde hair was considered beautiful in ancient Greece. Women added vinegar to their hair while in the sun to help lighten it.5 Women wore hats outside in an attempt to avoid tanning, but a lot of ladies pulled their hair through the hat to expose it to the sun.5 It’s even suspected that some women applied urine to their hair because it’s known for its bleaching abilities!5
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Ancient Greek Proverb. (More Beauty and Makeup Quotes here)
1. ‘Terrible and Toxic Makeup’ by Anita Croy
2. ‘Face Paint: The Story of Makeup‘ By Lisa Eldridge
3. ‘Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures‘ edited by Zoe Diana Draelos
4. ‘Absolute dating of lead carbonates in ancient cosmetics by radiocarbon‘ by Beck et. al
5. ‘Women in Ancient Greece‘ By Paul Chrystal
6. ‘Ancient Greece‘ By Richard Tames