For artists throughout the centuries, Bathsheba inspired scenes of bathing or attending to her toilette. In biblical times, cleanliness and personal hygiene were closely associated with ritual purity and godliness. Among all the ancients, washing the face, hands and feet was a regular practice. Vigorous scrubbing with abrasive ash and other gritty substances exfoliated the skin’s outer layers and imparted a natural glow. Egyptian royalty used loofahs and pumice stones to smooth away roughness, while Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, is said to have bathed in mare’s milk. The lactic acid in the milk proteins – recognized today as an alpha hydroxy acid – functioned as a chemical exfoliant.
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