Ancient Egyptian Eye Makeup – tutorial for men and women

The ancient Egyptian Eye Makeup is regarded as one of the most influential makeup looks of all times, a symbol of an era where skin care and makeup evolved to such extent that it laid the foundation of beauty products for years to come.

Centuries have passed since the falling of this mighty civilization, yet the Egyptian makeup worn by Cleopatra is still regarded as one of the most sensual and empowering looks of all times. In our times, it’s influences can be seen throughout fashion shows and fantasy makeup looks, as well as on Halloween, as one of the top choices for both men and women.

I personally believe it to be one of the most extraordinary looks you will come across, a symbol of beauty, opulence and power that is clearly visible in the graphic design of the Egyptian eye makeup as well as in the color schemes you’ll discover with each new approach on the look.

There are a variety of Egyptian makeup looks that you can try out and I will surely post other modern fashion looks influenced by this one in the future, but for now, I want give you a good idea of what the original makeup looked like. If you value realism in you makeup and costume design, I’m sure you will find this Egyptian Eye Makeup Tutorial most helpful, as it teaches you how to achieve the traditional ancient Egyptian eye makeup worn in those times, as shown in history books.

Egyptian Eye Makeup – facts and characteristics

The ancient Egyptians believed makeup had all sorts of benefits, from medical, to cosmetic and even religious. In ancient times, makeup was regarded as a mass culture, as Egyptians were thought from a young age, regardless of sex or class, to wear makeup.

The face was then considered sacred and personal, they alone were allowed to touch it, which I think was one of the reasons why their makeup resembles a mask.

Cleopatra motivated her excessive interest in makeup and beauty in general, thus detaching herself from the patriarchal society Egypt was prior to her ruling.

Cleopatra Eye makeup

Cleopatra Eye makeup

The famous Egyptian Eye One was designed similar to the feline eye, animals that were considered sacred in those times by lining them with one of the basic type of eye makeup in ancient times, Kohl or Mesdemet. This substance derived from lead sulfide and antimony sulfide, and

although they used it to protect against sun rays, bugs and disease, it was later ironicaly proved to be poisonous.

Ujdu was obtained from a green copper ore, also called malachite. Mount Sinai, a sacred mountain for the Egyptians was a treasure trove of this mineral, so they had unlimited access to it.

The Egyptian eye makeup varied in the way the eyeliner winged tails were created. While some were pointed, others flat tapered, there all were dramatic and striking, elongated towards the temples along with the eyebrows.

This ancient Egyptian cat eye, as some call it, is the focus point of this makeup and the most representative of the look. It might require some precision in drawing the graphic lines, but it’s not nearly as difficult as it might appear at a first glance.

Let me tell you an easy method to achieve the Egyptian makeup in a step-by-step tutorial. Enjoy!

Egyptian fashion makeup by Kevin Aucoin

Egyptian fashion makeup by Kevin Aucoin

Egyptian Makeup Tutorial

If you strive for realism, then your complexion for this makeup should be darker. If that’s your natural skin color, you’re lucky, if not, choose a foundation at least a shade darker than your skin tone and apply it liberally on the face and neck (and all skin visible from your Cleopatra costume :P). Any brand will do, I chose to work with an oil based foundation to achieve that dewy finish.

Powder the whole face but the eye area and continue with a contouring powder to achieve those sculptured features. I went with Ben Nye pressed contour powder, but if you don’t have this, you could also use Nars Lagura, Makeup Forever Compact Modeller, NYX Highlight & Contour Combo or any other.

Afterwards, you’ll want to highlight your cheekbones, forehead, the bridge of your nose and jaw line with a bronzing shimmering powder. I used Makeup Forever Shine On Loose Power #6, which I strongly recommend for this look, but any will do as long as it helps you achieve that wonderful, bronzed skin tone.

Egyptian Eye makeup

Egyptian Eye makeup

You can further emphasize this effect by using a shimmery gold-toned highlighter on the high points of your face. My favorite are Benefit’s High Beam and loose gold pigments.

Egyptians queens rouged their cheeks with red ochre, a pigment made from naturally tinted clay containing mineral oxides. For a deep hue, tint your cheeks with a deeper shade of cooper or brown/red. Benefit Dallas is always a nice touch.

This darker red shade is also the color of choice for the lips, so tap it lightly on the lips and pad some gold piment on the center of the bottom lip for a shimmery effect.

Ancient Egyptian Eye Makeup

Now that you have a nice base to work on, we can move on to the eye makeup. There are two ways to do the traditional Egyptian eye makeup, and I’m going to teach you how to do both.

Cleopatra makeup

Cleopatra makeup


First, outline the eye using a kohl black pencil or an eyeliner of your choice. You want to drag the wing horizontally after you’ve used the same eyeliner to darken your eyebrows, as a guide for the winged eyeliner shape.

Never forget that the eyebrows are extremely important, and are easily forgotten or neglected because of the focus is on making the cool eyes using liner. But the eyes and eyebrows go totally together in this genre, and if one isn’t done well, the other won’t work nearly as good.

Egyptian Eye Makeup

Egyptian Eye Makeup

After you’ve lined your eyebrows, use the eyeliner to drag the tail of your brows horizontally, toward your temples. Strive for a shape that’s gradually slimming towards the outer part of your brows, and finish the wing with a rectangular, tapered end, as shown in the pictures.

Now that you have an idea where the eyeliner wing should end, drag your pencil or eyeliner brush from the outer corner of the eye towards your eye, keeping in mind the two lines should be parallel. Your eyeliner wing should have the exact same rectangular, tapered shape as the eyebrow’s.

Contour the inner rims of the eyes using the a kohl eye pencil and fill the gap between the eye and the brow with a dark emerald green, shimmery shadow, from the inner corner of the eye, till the outside winged eyeliner shape.

Apply mascara liberally to the top and bottom lashes and there you have it – the classic Egyptian eye makeup, as shown in most Pharaoh’s depictions.


The second version of the traditional Egyptian eye makeup has a much more feminine appeal to it, as the eyeliner’s wing is thinner and more graceful, the eyebrow shape more elegant and your shadow scheme more elaborate.

Start off by contouring the eye with a black eyeliner or a kohl pencil, dragging the line in a sharp, thin wing, horizontally.

Fill in the brows with the same black eyeliner, by following your natural brow shape, and drag its tail in a sharp, thin wing, parallel to the eyeliner’s.

Egyptian Eye makeup tutorial

Egyptian Eye makeup tutorial

After you’ve mastered the design, on to the eye shadow scheme. Follow the natural shape of the mobile eyelid from the inside corner of the eye till the outside wing, filling in with a darker shade of shimmery blue shadow. Blend the edges and apply a shimmery gold shadow on the brow bone, as shown in the picture.

Use a dark emerald green shimmery shadow under the eye, and outline the whole area under the drawn eyeliner wing. You should achieve a pointed shape of black eyeliner, enclosed by dark blue on top and dark green underneath.

Follow with black kohl eye pencil on the inner rims of the eyes and mascara and the look is complete. You’ve channeled Cleopatra and achieved a classic Egyptian eye makeup that is perfect for Halloween or any costume party that you have planned.

Egyptian Makeup for men

The Egyptian makeup for men in its classic form is not that different from the women’s, as shown on the eye makeup featured on the tombs and paintings of pharaohs and gods like Tutankhamun,  Osiris, Imhotep and others.

As seen in these pictures, the eyeliner and eyebrow shapes of the two designs I showed you above is exactly the same. However, the eye makeup of Egyptian men relies solely on the black eyeliner, or dark blue in some cases, without the green or blue eye shadow on the lids.

Egyptian Makeup for men

Egyptian Makeup for men

If you’re planning to dress up as a Pharaoh for Halloween or a costume party, your Egyptian eye makeup will be the focus of your look. Pay attention to the step-by-step tutorial above and strive for elongated, parallel lines and a contoured face.

Hope you enjoyed my Egyptian eye makeup designs and you’ve found the step-by-step tutorial helpful in achieving a realistic character for your next costume party. The Cleopatra makeup is one perfect design for a fierce, but fun look.



As a professional make-up artist and beauty enthusiast, Luiza's expertise has become highly prized over the years. As owner of this site, she set her mind to create a publication for those who are focused not just on beauty trends and popular brands, but also on the industry's most well-kept secrets.

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