Beauty Without Fuss

Friday 6 June 2014

Korres, Apivita and the Ancient Greeks

A selection of Ancient Greek makeup pots and mirrors.
By Tindara

A little while ago I spent a long weekend in Athens. It’s an amazing city, the Acropolis and museums are incredible and the food is gorgeous, and it’s totally doable in a weekend from the UK. If you get the chance do go, though if you’re a Brit you may be embarrassed by the Parthenon Marble gaps in the Acropolis Museum. Yeah guys, we should give them back. Honestly, it’s just completely shaming.

Obviously, there was something else I wanted to check out, Greek beauty products. Like most beauty geeks, I get a real thrill exploring a foreign pharmacy or three, and this weekend was no different. The little pots and colours and brands I know and others I’m not so familiar with are part of the whole holiday experience.

I had tried Korres products at home and was keen to see more of the range that would be available in Greece. When I went into the nearest pharmacy I picked up a Raspberry Twist Lipstick in Passion and a Zea Mays Blush in Pink.

The Raspberry Twist Lipstick is a Chubby Stick type affair that is twist up, so no requirement for a sharpener. I am loving the preponderance of these twist-up pencils of late, they’re super practical. The lipstick itself is very hydrating due to the raspberry oil included in the formulation. I am wearing this berry red a fair amount at the moment and never need any lip balm beforehand or after, as it’s so moisturising. The finish is pretty glossy so I wouldn’t say it’s the most long-lasting lipstick in the world, but it does leave a natural berry stain on your lips for most of the day. This would be a great lipstick for those that are a bit wary of stronger reds; it can be blotted down to a soft stain from the start, or layered for a more full-on lip later on if you’re going out.

The Zea Mays Blush in Pink was really good too, I chose this quite natural pinky brown shade because most of my powder blushers are pops of colour on my cheeks and I needed a subtle one for wearing underneath or on more neutral days. I could use this as a contour shade or bronzer at a push; it’s not a very deep pink at all. Not that I go in for bronzer or contouring much. I could probably do with a contouring masterclass in fact, but let’s not discuss my ruddy cheeks or double chin any further, there will be plenty of time for that in future posts, I am sure. I am doing facial exercises as we speak.

Apivita, like Korres are a Greek brand that are all about the natural ingredients and are paraben and silicone free. I tried their Euphoria Jasmine and White Tea Bath and Shower Gel and corresponding Body Milk. I chose these primarily for the scent, but these are good products irrespective of their glorious aroma. And it’s a beautiful scent, but I love jasmine anyway. There’s a touch of freshness to it too, which I’m finding really useful for this mini ‘heatwave’ we’re having in London. The Bath and Shower Gel foams well and the Body Milk moisturises nicely without being too sticky. It’s a light body milk, so not for the driest of skins but still enough to give a slight sheen. But oh, shall I say it again, the scent of this, it stays on for hours and wafts about you like a cloud of fresh white petals with a tannin and citrus hit. I love it and want to know if there’s a perfume similar so I can layer it all on together. Recommendations, please, for Jasmine scents, people!

I also spent a lot of time in the Archaeological Museum in Athens. I am a total museum nerd, having spent what felt like months at a time in the Cast Courts at the V&A sketching as a teenager, and a short time of my working life in a couple of London museums and galleries. So I never pass up the chance to go to an unfamiliar one when visiting new places. Where is she going with this you ask yourself? Well, there was a section of the museum that displayed objects associated with the average ancient Greeks’ toilette and I thought it might be interesting to have a look at some of them. Especially the beautiful hand mirrors that they used. There are what look like large compact mirrors, as well as hand held mirrors with intricate decorative work on the back and handle. Mirrors from 6BC with the short thin handles were usually sheathed in wood at the bottom like some of our hand mirrors and brushes today. The upright mirrors that were supported by female figures were also from the same period, but the folding portable mirrors were from the later 5 and 4BC. These mirrors had one or two decorative covers, usually of deities or mythological scenes. Sometimes, there was even a hook edge to hang up the mirror when it wasn’t in use. Practical, eh? There were also small pots used to contain cosmetics and ‘strigils’ which were scrapers used to remove cosmetic oils and ointments. I’m really hoping they didn’t remove their make-up with them though, it sounds harsh. What you want is a nice micellar water or hot cloth, ancient Greek Lady.

Limited Korres and Apivita products are available in the UK. Korres Zea May Blush is £17.50. The Raspberry Twist Lipstick is a new product and should be over here soon, look out for it. Apivita Euphoria Jasmine and White Tea Bath and Shower Gel is £12, while the Apivita Euphoria Jasmine and White Tea Body Milk is £13.

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  1. Thank you so much for your position to the Parthenon Marbles. Even if the return never happens, such a brave attitude is so soothing to us during these difficult times. Sunny kisses from Greece!

  2. Wow, how have I only just discovered this blog?! Thanks for the excellent recommendations and for raising awareness of Greek cosmetics. Do check out my mini city guide to Athens and more Greek destinations over at my blog J X


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