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Protect eyes using heavy make-up

Cleopatra's smokey eyes look is most endured by fashionistas even today. This look added to her glamourous appeal and this is what beauticians around the world know. But what they and most people do not know is that her smokey eye makeup also protected her eyes from infections, claims a recent French study.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 10, 2010 17:18 IST

Cleopatra's smokey eyes look is most endured by fashionistas even today. This look added to her glamourous appeal and this is what beauticians around the world know. But what they and most people do not know is that her smokey eye makeup also protected her eyes from infections, claims a recent French study.

The heavy eye make-up, which the ancient Egyptian queen donned, had both medical as well as aesthetic benefits, researchers at the Louvre museum in Paris have revealed.

According to the study published in journal Analytical Chemistry, Egyptians started the use of eyeliner around 4,000 years ago in order to ward off infections as the lead salts in the make-up protected their eyes against various diseases.
Lead is considered bad for health, but researchers found that at very low levels, lead salts produce nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system to fight off bacteria which can cause eye infections.

The team used a tiny electrode, a tenth of the thickness of human hair, to look at the effect of lead chloride salt synthesised by the Egyptians - laurionite - on a single cell. "We knew ancients Greeks and Romans too had noted that make-up has medicinal properties, but [we] wanted to determine exactly how," says a researcher.