"Then she made her taller and fuller in appearance, and her skin whiter than newly sawn ivory"
An ancient Greek cosmetic or jewellery box (Pyxis), ca.470–60 BC
Public DomainAn ancient Greek cosmetic or jewellery box (Pyxis), ca.470–60 BC - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

The ancient Greeks considered it desirable for a woman to have skin as white as possible. A tan was the mark of a poor woman who was forced to spend time working in the sun, whereas white skin indicated a sophisticated, high-class lady. Ancient cosmetics included whitening agents such as chalk powder and white lead to artificially pale the skin; they would have considered it extremely peculiar to see the women of today applying fake tan!