In death, too, personal appearance was crucial to Egyptian identity. Burial sites uncovered from the very beginning of the society’s history, in Predynastic times, show that it was common for Egyptians to include everyday items like combs, scented ointments, jewelry, and cosmetics (many examples found with makeup still inside them) in the graves of men, women, and children.
We might closely associate the Egyptians with their dramatic beauty looks largely because of their prolific use on mummies and death masks. Instead of depicting their subjects’ real features, these cartonnage masks and wooden coffins portray idealized youths with smooth skin and kohl-rimmed eyes. In fact, mummification itself followed many of the daily self-care rituals Egyptians followed while alive. Unguents for softening the skin took on religious significance when they were used to anoint the body, and even cosmetics were sometimes applied.