Historical Beauty; While Ovid’s suggestions were generally sensible, other authors preferred to highlight the artifice of cosmetics. Roman satirists couldn’t resist the allure of absurd, exotic, or repellent ingredients, and one of the most notorious materials, cited by many authors, was a skin-lightening preparation called crocodileacrocodile dung. Typically, we know this fact because it was often mentioned by men arguing against the use of cosmetics, but it was also described by Pliny the Elder, who explained that the particular land-dwelling crocodile whose dung was used in skincare lived on a diet of herbs and flowers, so that its intestines smelled €œpleasantly fragrant. He recommended that crocodilea be mixed with starch, chalk, or dried starling droppings to lighten and tint the skin. Roman women may indeed have applied reptile feces to their faces, but some modern historians suspect that crocodilea was in fact the popular name of a white clay sourced in Ethiopia, the land believed by the Romans to be the source of the Nile, well known to be a river in which crocodiles thrived. If you think of cultures historically associated with pale or white skin, East Asia certainly springs to mindparticularly Japan, where the eggshell-white maquillage of the geishas is a clich of national identity. The admiration of white or pale skin in the region is timeworn, with ancient China being one of the first civilizations to strive to enhance pallor: One of the first skin whiteners to be recorded was rice powder, a harmless substance made by finely grinding the grain into rice bran and used cosmetically by both the Chinese and Japanese.