Did Viking Women Wear Makeup?

Viking Women Wear Makeup

The Vikings, renowned seafarers, and warriors of the late eighth to early eleventh century, have long captured the public’s imagination. Although most people are familiar with the image of the fierce Viking warrior, less is known about the daily lives of Viking women. The question of whether Viking women wore makeup is interesting and can offer insights into their culture and identity. In this article, we will explore the available evidence and attempt to answer this question while discussing how Viking women may have applied makeup, the looks they favored, and what their eye makeup may have consisted of.

What Did Women Look Like in Viking Times?

During the Viking Age, which spanned from the late eighth to the early eleventh century, women played a vital role in the functioning of society. Understanding their appearance and clothing during this period helps us appreciate their daily lives and the values they held dear. Although descriptions of Viking women in historical sources are limited, archaeological findings and expert interpretations have allowed us to paint a picture of their appearance.

Viking women were typically of a strong and sturdy build, as they engaged in numerous physical tasks such as farming, weaving, and food preparation. Their lifestyle demanded a level of physical fitness and strength that was considered attractive by their society’s standards. As a result, Viking women’s bodies would have been robust and healthy, reflecting the vitality and resilience required of their daily lives.

Hair played a significant role in the appearance of Viking women. They often had long hair, which was considered feminine and symbolized fertility. Hairstyles varied, but intricately braided hair and elaborate updos were popular choices. Women would adorn their hair with beads, ribbons, or metal trinkets, reflecting their status or wealth. Lighter hair tones, like blonde, were favored due to their association with youth and vitality.

When it came to clothing, Viking women primarily wore functional and practical garments. They wore ankle-length dresses made of wool, linen, or sometimes silk, depending on their status. These dresses were secured with brooches or pins and often worn over an underdress. A shawl or a cloak provided additional warmth in colder climates. Women also wore jewelry, such as necklaces, bracelets, and brooches, to signify their wealth or status.

Although makeup was not as prevalent as today, Viking women used natural pigments to enhance their features subtly. They would apply crushed berries or roots to create a rosy cheek or lip stain and use charcoal or crushed minerals to define their eyes. The emphasis was on achieving a fresh, natural appearance that aligned with the beauty standards of their society.

In Viking times, societal values and practical considerations heavily influenced women’s appearance. The focus was on natural beauty, physical strength, and functional clothing. Hairstyles and jewelry provided an opportunity for individual expression and display of wealth, while makeup was limited and subtle. The appearance of Viking women reflects their resilience, adaptability, and the importance they placed on their roles within their communities.

Viking Women Makeup: An Introduction

When thinking about Vikings, the image of battle-hardened warriors brandishing axes and swords may come to mind. It may be surprising to learn that archaeological evidence suggests that Viking women also had a penchant for makeup. Researchers have discovered cosmetic tools in several Viking burial sites, such as tweezers, combs, and small spoons or spatulas – items that could be used for makeup application. These findings suggest that Viking women likely took pride in their appearance and possibly used makeup to enhance their features.

What Were Viking Beauty Standards?

When we think of Vikings, we often envision fearsome warriors embarking on daring adventures across the seas. While this image may hold true, it is important to understand the beauty standards and aesthetic preferences that shaped Viking society, particularly for Viking women. This exploration provides an insight into the values and norms of the time and allows us to better understand their culture as a whole.

Viking beauty standards, much like other aspects of their culture, were shaped by practicality and a connection to nature. A key element of Viking aesthetics was cleanliness and personal grooming. Excavations of Viking settlements have revealed various grooming tools, such as combs and ear spoons, suggesting that cleanliness was held in high regard. Cleanliness was a sign of good health, and maintaining good hygiene practices would have been considered attractive.

Hair played a significant role in Viking beauty standards, with men and women dedicating time to grooming and styling their locks. Long hair was particularly prized among women, as it was viewed as a symbol of femininity and fertility. Intricate braids and elaborate updos were popular, often adorned with beads, ribbons, or metal trinkets to display wealth and status. Hair color may have also played a role, with lighter hair tones, such as blonde, being favored due to their association with youth and vitality.

While makeup was not as extensive as it is today, Viking women did apply natural pigments to their faces to enhance their features. Makeup was typically subtle and focused on creating a fresh, healthy appearance. Rosy cheeks, achieved through berry-based stains, were considered attractive, as were natural-looking eyes and lips.

Regarding physique, Viking beauty standards leaned towards strong, healthy, and well-built bodies. This emphasis on strength and vitality can be attributed to the demanding physical nature of their daily lives. Farming, fishing, and other labor-intensive tasks required physical prowess, making a fit, robust body desirable.

Viking beauty standards also incorporated elements of personal style and adornment. Jewelry, such as brooches, bracelets, and necklaces, was used to signal wealth, status, and individuality. Elaborate patterns and designs on clothing, often featuring symbolic imagery or motifs, showcased a person’s artistic skill and attention to detail.

How to Do Viking Women Makeup: Techniques and Ingredients

Even though no evidence of the makeup has been found in Viking settlements or graves, historians and archaeologists have inferred the ingredients and techniques Viking women may have used based on artifacts and historical accounts from neighboring cultures.

Viking women likely used natural ingredients such as berries, crushed minerals, and charcoal to create makeup pigments. It is believed that they used these pigments to make blush, eyeshadow, and even lip color. Crushed minerals like malachite were potentially used to create green eyeshadow, while berries and roots could have produced reds and purples for lips and cheeks. On the other hand, charcoal could have been used as a primitive form of eyeliner or mascara.

For application, Viking women may have used their fingers or small tools like spatulas to apply the pigments to their faces. Since mirrors were a rare luxury during the Viking Age, likely, the makeup application was not as precise as it is today.

How Did Viking Women Wear Makeup: Cultural Significance and Symbolism

While we cannot be entirely sure of the extent to which Viking women wore makeup, some suggest that it may have played a significant role in their lives. Makeup could have been used as a way to signal status or wealth, as well as to enhance their beauty.

Viking women were known to have adorned their hair with intricate braids and may have used makeup to complement these styles. Furthermore, certain colors may have held symbolic significance. For example, red could have represented fertility or love, while green may have been associated with nature and the earth.

Viking Makeup Female: Aesthetics and Beauty Standards

Beauty standards during the Viking Age likely differed from our modern-day ideals. Viking women may have used makeup to accentuate their features, but it is unlikely that they aimed for the dramatic, contoured look that is popular today. Instead, they probably sought a more natural appearance, using makeup to subtly enhance their eyes, lips, and cheeks.

Viking Makeup Looks: Creating an Authentic Viking-Inspired Look

If you’re interested in recreating an authentic Viking makeup look, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Start with a natural base. Viking women likely did not have access to foundation, so aim for a natural, fresh-faced appearance.
  2. Apply a subtle blush. Use a shade that mimics the natural flush of your cheeks to create a rosy, healthy glow.
  3. Enhance your eyes with earthy colors. Opt for eyeshadow shades such as greens, browns, or even deep blues to create a look that mimics the natural minerals Viking women might have used. Keep the application subtle and blended for a more authentic appearance.
  4. Use charcoal or dark brown eyeliner. Smudge it lightly around your lash line to create a softer, smokier look. You can also use a bit of mascara to add some definition to your lashes.
  5. Finish with a berry-toned lip stain. Instead of using bold lipstick, opt for a lip stain in a natural red or purple shade that would mimic the effect of crushed berries on the lips.

Viking Eye Makeup: A Closer Look

The eye makeup of Viking women, like the rest of their makeup, was likely quite simple compared to modern standards. As mentioned previously, they may have used crushed minerals or charcoal to create subtle, earthy eyeshadow looks. Eyeliner, made from charcoal or other dark materials, would have been smudged around the lash line to create definition without being overly dramatic.

Did Viking Women Wear Eyeliner?

Whether Viking women wore eyeliner may seem trivial, but delving into this topic sheds light on their beauty practices and daily life. While there is no definitive evidence that Viking women specifically wore eyeliner, it is believed that they used various natural materials to accentuate their eyes.

Archaeological findings have uncovered cosmetic tools such as tweezers, combs, and small spatulas in Viking burial sites, suggesting that Viking women had an interest in grooming and makeup application. Yet, no remnants of actual makeup have been discovered. Therefore, we can only infer the possibility of eyeliner use based on available evidence and historical context.

Viking women likely utilized charcoal or other dark materials, such as crushed minerals, to create a primitive form of eyeliner. The purpose of this eyeliner would have been to subtly define the eyes and enhance their natural shape. Since mirrors were a rarity during the Viking Age, the application would have been less precise and more focused on achieving a soft, smudged effect.

Using charcoal or mineral-based eyeliner aligns with the overall Viking aesthetic, favoring a more natural, earthy appearance. By accentuating their eyes with these materials, Viking women created a simple yet effective look that reflected the values of their society.

Body Art and Tattoos: A Glimpse into Viking Personal Expression

Tattoos and body art have been an integral part of human history and have served as a means of personal expression, cultural identity, and religious symbolism. In Viking society, there is evidence to suggest that tattoos may have also played a role in their personal and cultural expression.

Although definitive evidence of tattooing among the Vikings is limited, historical accounts and interpretations provide insight into this aspect of their culture. One such report comes from the Arab traveler and historian Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who described the appearance of the Norsemen he encountered during his journey to the Volga River in the tenth century. According to ibn Fadlan, these Norsemen were heavily tattooed with dark blue or dark green designs depicting trees, animals, and other symbols.

These tattoos, if accurately described by ibn Fadlan, likely held significant personal or cultural meanings. The designs may have been connected to Norse mythology, representing gods, goddesses, or mythological creatures. Alternatively, they could have symbolized a person’s family, social status, or achievements.

In addition to tattoos, Viking men and women may have used body paint or temporary markings during religious or cultural ceremonies. Such markings could have been created using natural pigments derived from plants, minerals, or charcoal.


While we cannot be sure about the specific makeup products or techniques Viking women used, archaeological evidence and historical context allow us to infer that they likely did wear makeup. Using natural ingredients like crushed minerals, berries, and charcoal, Viking women would have created simple, earthy makeup looks that enhanced their features and aligned with their cultural beliefs and aesthetics.

Today, those interested in embracing their inner Vikings can take inspiration from the makeup styles of these strong, independent women. By opting for a more natural look and using earthy colors, you can create a Viking-inspired makeup style that is both beautiful and historically relevant.