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Cleopatra, Queen of Ancient Egypt, took baths in donkey milk to preserve her beauty and youth

Alex A

In the Ancient world, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt was regarded as a great beauty. Plutarch remarked in the Life of Antony, “judging by the proofs which she had had before this of the effect of her beauty upon Caius Caesar and Gnaeus the son of Pompey, she had hopes that she would more easily bring Antony to her feet.

For Caesar and Pompey had known her when she was still a girl and inexperienced in affairs, but she was going to visit Antony at the very time when women have the most brilliant beauty.”


Bust believed to be of Cleopatra vii

Preserving that great beauty required great effort, and women from the ancient world utilized cosmetics made entirely from natural, though often rather questionable, ingredients. To preserve the vitality and beauty of her skin, it is said that Cleopatra regularly took baths in donkey milk. About 7,00 Donkeys were needed to provide enough milk for her daily bath.

Cleopatra was not the only who enjoyed the benefits of the donkey milk baths; historic records show that donkey milk was often used as a treatment to revitalize the skin.


Donkey in an Egyptian painting

The Roman author Pliny, described the virtues of the donkey milk for the skin:

“It is generally believed that ass milk effaces wrinkles in the face, renders the skin more delicate, and preserves its whiteness : and it is a well-known fact, that some women are in the habit of washing their face with it seven times daily, strictly observing that number.

Poppaea, the wife of the Emperor Nero, was the first to practice this; indeed, she had sitting-baths, prepared solely with ass milk, for which purpose whole troops of she- asses used to attend her on her journeys.”

It is also reported Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, used ass milk for her skin’s health care as well.

According to recent scientific studies, because of its components like minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, a bioactive enzyme, donkey milk is indeed beneficial for the skin.

Today, donkey milk is widely used in the manufacture of creams and soap.