The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

London had several large bath houses. Some may have been run by the public authorities and others might have been set up for members of a particular group for which you paid an entrance fee. Gradually, richer families wanted to have their own en suite facilities and smaller baths were sometimes added to existing houses.

Every bath house had a series of rooms and the bathers undressed in the cold room (frigidarium) and moved through to the hot room (caldarium) where they got hot and sweaty before returning to a warm room (tepidarium) and then the cold room to cool down. The cold room contained either a plunge bath or a basin full of cold water where cold water was splashed over the skin to close the pores. Fresh perfumed oils were then rubbed into the skin leaving it feeling soft.

There were certain implements needed for the visit – perfumed oils kept in a glass bottle and a curved blade (strigil) to scrape off dead skin and old oils. As part of keeping clean, Roman Londoners used manicure sets with tweezers for plucking out unwanted hair and nail cleaners for keeping their nails clean. Women wanted to look good and applied eye shadow and make-up using palettes to mix the coloured powder (pigments). Men's hair was worn short and the fashion for beards was introduced by the Emperor Hadrian. Women always had long hair and their styles were held in place with numerous hairpins. Combs were used to keep their hair tidy and free of lice.