Anyone who writes historical fiction knows the amount of research you must put into some of the simplest things. There can be no assumptions about anything that was said or used or thought. It requires authors to spend hours and hours looking up little facts, but it's not as painstaking as you think. For those of us who love history, it can be hours of sublime happiness, especially when you find that one little fact that makes you say..."Wow! I never knew that."
Dark Chocolate: The first people known to make chocolate were the ancient Mayan and Aztecs of Mexico and Central America. The original recipe mixed ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, frothy drink. Spanish conquistadors eventually brought the drink back to Spain, where new recipes were developed and spread throughout Europe. New technologies have changed the texture and taste of chocolate, but it remains one of the world’s favorite flavors.
Lipstick: History tells us that 5,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Ur near Babylon, semi-precious stones were crushed and smeared on the lips. Ancient Egyptian women squeezed out purple-red color from iodine and bromine, which, due its dangerous nature, came to be known as “the kiss of death.” It is also said that Cleopatra’s lipstick was made from carmine beetles, which gave a red color pigment, and was mixed with a base of ant eggs. Henna was also one of the preferred substances among Egyptians, and fish scales were used to provide the shimmer to the lipstick.
Perfume: Though France is often considered the birthplace of perfume, it actually originated in Egypt, where it was used for a wide variety of reasons, such as cosmetics, medicinal, as toiletries, and even aphrodisiacs. The use of perfume spread to other countries across Europe and the Middle East, but it wasn’t until the reign of Louis XV in France that perfume became more popular and accessible to the masses.
Nail Polish: Around 3000 B.C. in ancient China, the early mixture of nail polish included beeswax, gelatin, gum Arabic (found in African trees) and egg whites. They also often added rose petals and orchids for color. Around the same time, upper class Egyptians wore nail polish similar to lacquer paint as a symbol of money and prosperity.