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Egyptian eye make-up may have had health benefits

New research suggests that the heavy eye make-up worn by the ancient Egyptians may have have medical as well as aesthetic benefits.

Lead researcher Philippe Walter said: “We knew ancients Greeks and Romans too had noted the make-up had medicinal properties, but wanted to determine exactly how.”

The researchers used a tiny electrode, 1/10th the thickness of a human hair, to look at the effect of lead chloride salt synthesised by the Egyptians – laurionite – on a single cell.

Writing in the journal, they said: “In stimulating nonspecific immunological defences, one may argue that these lead compounds were deliberately manufactured and used in ancient Egyptian formulations to prevent and treat eye illnesses by promoting the action of immune cells.”

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