Sometimes the entire day was spent at the hammam
, enjoying the benefits of a massage or a hot steam-bath. Women would share expertise in cosmetics and skin care, such as the application of make-up and the concoction of scented moisturising creams mixed with powdered mineral salts or alum. They would share recipes or suppliers’ names for aromatic essences and perfumes, made from animal sources such as ambergris, or from flowers or plants. The Persian traveller Nassir Khusraw on a visit to Egypt during the Fatimid period noted that traders in violets, narcissuses, irises and lilies sold their products to perfume factories. Great care was extended in grooming hair, and elaborate combs survive which are often found to carry witty inscriptions, such as ‘I will not style other than a beauty’s hair’.