Ancient Skincare Routines You Should Know About
Skincare routines are all the rage these days, but they have also been popular thousands of years ago in the form of ancient skincare. After all, who doesn’t want to have smooth and radiant skin, no matter what epoch you’re from?
Of course, back in the day, scientifically-researched anti-aging creams and products didn’t exist yet. Because of this, some ancient skincare products may have worked better than others. Other products can actually still be used today.
Ancient Skincare: The Ancient Greeks
The ancient Greeks love olive oil and honey just as much as they did thousands of years ago. They may have been onto something with the honey since honey has antibacterial properties. The Greeks seemed to have used honey and herbs such as thyme on their skin to soften and brighten their complexions.
Since honey also can retain moisture in the skin and is an antioxidant, these honey masks may have done everything from reducing skin redness and acne to softening the skin’s texture. The Greeks also loved using olive oil for their skin, and many people today still swear by olive oil’s skincare capabilities.
Olive oil can moisturize the skin and provide a healthy sheen. The Greeks also crushed up olives and used the seeds as exfoliants.
The Ancient Egyptians
The ancient Egyptians may be some of the first skincare gurus since there is archaeological evidence of Egyptian skincare practices that date back 6,000 years. But skincare in ancient Egypt wasn’t only for looking sharp. The Egyptians also had to protect their skin from the harsh, dry desert winds and scalding sun. This is not to mention pesky insects and swarms of locusts.
The ancient Egyptians, like the Greeks, loved to use various oils to keep wrinkles at bay and keep their skin supple. Instead of olive oil, the Egyptians preferred castor and sesame oil. They also loved honey masks as the Greeks did. However, Egyptian women seemed to be crazy about milk baths to keep their skin young and soft.
Since milk naturally contains retinol, those ladies may have had a good point. In their milk baths, they also used dead sea salt to exfoliate, a product that people still love to use today. If only photographs existed in that era, those ancient Egyptian women might be the envy of skincare aficionados today.
Ancient Skincare: The Dark Ages
The dark ages weren’t exactly known for their ingenuity. In fact, the Medieval times were a big step back technologically, philosophically, and self-care-wise. During this period, hardcore Christianity ruled much of Europe and many followed the Bible’s teachings perfectly… maybe too perfectly. Since the Holy Book condemns vanity, many took that as meaning that brushing your hair and bathing were terrible, ungodly things.
In fact, dirt and grime on the body were considered signs of holiness. People in that period must have loved lice as well since the critters were lovingly known as the “pearls of God.” Kings and monks alike boasted how long they had gone without bathing. However, some skincare practices still existed, especially among women.
It was popular for women to be very pale during this period. To accomplish this, women used certain herbal elixirs, although they likely didn’t do much. The primary moisturizer was animal fat and likely didn’t help those who had acne-prone skin. Thankfully, milk and honey were still used as face masks and may have helped to reduce the layers of grime that people wore around back then.
The Renaissance, also known as the era of rebirth. Coming out of the dark ages and entering a period of scientific and philosophical discovery, you would think that skincare would have taken leaps and bounds. Instead, women started smearing mercury and white lead on their skin to achieve the ultimate pale look.
This, of course, was not a sustainable skincare regimen. Women’s skin would break out in reaction to the lead paint or powder. Then, the women would use more lead to cover those blemishes until they started to feel sick. Many women died from lead-based skincare products which thankfully are no longer on the market.
Fortunately, the tried and true milk and honey masks persisted in this period. People also dabbed their skin with bread and rosewater which may have helped refresh their complexions somewhat.
The 1800s and 1900s
In the 1800s, fair skin was still popular. Instead of using lead and mercury, women of this period preferred to bleach their skin with lemon juice. Zinc oxide was also used, but many women were allergic to it so it didn’t become too popular. Egg yolks joined the milk and honey skincare lineup as did oatmeal as an exfoliant.
By the 1900s, the shelves were suddenly teeming with commercial skincare products. In the 1940s and 1950s, brands like Olay and Clinique popped up, offering creams, lotions, and much more. Ever since, skincare products have been living in a golden age. So, the next time you feel bad about your skin, remember that you live in an age of well-tested creams and cleansers and don’t have to apply lead paint to your skin every morning or boast about your pearls of God.
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