The history of skincare – Ancient Egypt
It’s not something I necessarily think about when I’m lathering on my cleansers, serums and creams every morning and evening but, everything has a history and I feel it is important to understand where the things I feel so passionate about come from. Hence, I’ve decided to delve into the history of these ancient rituals. Given that the earth is 4 billion years old I figured it might take a few posts to cover this topic, which I am going to try and break down as simplistically as possible (I’m a simple person).
The story starts in ancient Egypt, around 6000 years ago, which is relatively recent given the age of the earth. Although, we could assume a form of cosmetology has been around as long as humans, this is where the first archaeological evidence of cosmetic procedure comes from. The ancient Egyptians fondness of make-up and skincare has been well documented by the contemporary media. The reason it was invented was all down to need for both protection and for symbolism. Symbolism, introducing the refinement that contributes to the skincare we know now by the queens of that time; Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Thutu. It showed a sense of pride and immense wealth when people knew and could look after their skin. These particular queens were known to be avid students of beauty, bathing in milk and rubbing Aloe Vera on their bodies softening the skin. It can be said that the richest in society had all the very best knowledge when it came to beauty but we would be mistaken to assume that the lower classes had no access to it.
The hot, dry Egyptian climate meant that most people had some kind of access to products for sun protection. Sun protection being one of the important elements for the development of skincare as there was a constant need to want to keep the skin soft and supple, which is the direct opposite of the skin’s feel from sunlight. They achieved this with varying methods like; wearing wigs to protect their scalp or using plant oils to moisturize the body. Not dissimilarly to the Greek’s, the Egyptians placed a huge emphasis on hygiene fronting the deep knowledge on organic compounds and plants. Adding oils to the daily baths and using exfoliating scrubs made of Aloe Vera and sand were common practises for the noble people of ancient Egypt.
Natural products were all the more relevant then as the apparatus to make complicated synthetic chemicals were not available and so using ingredients such as fenugreek to treat anti-aging was not uncommon. If you’re unsure, fenugreek is a plant used in cooking that has potent medicinal and anti-aging properties as a concentrated oil. As mentioned previously another gloriously potent natural ingredient used in ancient Egypt was Aloe Vera, the plant of immortality. It is extremely useful in preventing and treating sunburns.
So here are a few of the most beloved rituals of that time; 1. Sea salt, which if you’ve been following my Instagram stories will know I have been LOVING to add into a bowl steam! I particularly love it for clearing up my sinuses but it also has elements that combats eczema and psoriasis. 2. Milk and honey face masks, I may have to try this soon. 3. Coconut and olive oil hair mask to strengthen and hydrate hair.
Give these go, as long as it is safe to do so – you’re not allergic to anything. If you do please let me know how you get along.