The beauty world may be dominated by a plethora of skincare and cosmetics brands that offer consumers with a myriad of products to help them achieve their beauty goals. However, the natural path to beauty is becoming increasingly popular among those who are not keen on slathering their faces with a blend of chemicals and preservatives, or the skint among us who are unable to afford to spend our hard-earned money on a never-ending list of beauty products.
Do-it-yourself face masks, using various essential and carrier oils to create their own unique blend of moisturiser, or raiding their kitchen pantry for a cheap beauty hack are just some of the at-home methods people use to substitute commercial beauty products. You would think that these natural beauty alternatives only gained traction in recent years. On the contrary, many of them were actually influenced by the beauty history of the ancient world.
Looking to Our Beautiful Past
Obsession with beauty and the tips and tricks to attain it are not things people in the ancient world were immune to. Just look at the ancient Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, or the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. Both of these women were well-known for their beauty rituals, especially their knack for making use of various home remedies with ingredients sourced from mother nature. It is no wonder that many modern-day beauty aficionados look to these beauties from centuries past for obscure tips and tricks to up their skincare and makeup game, including:
Most popularly used as eyeliner, Kohl was a beauty go-to for the queens and women of nobility in ancient Egypt. Kohl is traditionally made by crushing a mineral called galena, also known as lead sulphide. Yes, you read that right. The main component of Kohl is lead, which is a known contaminant. This is why you would not find pure kohl (i.e. sourced from Galena) in the commercial beauty industry today. In fact, Kohl is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. So, if you do stumble upon kohl on the shelves of beauty stores, know that those are not actual kohl the ancient Egyptians used to wear. Now, a makeup product named “kohl” simply refers to the product’s deep, black shade.
Milk and Honey
This is a classic skincare combination among natural beauty lovers. These two ingredients make amazing skincare ingredients on their own, but bring them together and you get a moisturising powerhouse. Queen Cleopatra was well-known for the milk-and-honey baths that provided her with silky, smooth skin. Plus, the sweet smell of honey was also used to create an all-natural body fragrance. Many ancient Egyptian women also used milk and honey as a face mask. The anti-bacterial properties of honey made it an effective way to treat mild skin concerns, and its high level of hydration ensured the skin remained soft and moisturised.
Moringa oil is produced from the moringa oleifera tree. Another popular beauty go-to among the ancient Egyptians, moringa oil was most often used by the wealthy to help them in maintaining a youthful appearance. Due to its high amounts of anti-oxidants, moringa oil was an effective home remedy to aid in reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Of course, nowadays, there are many other options available to help us maintain our youthful appearance from commercial skincare products to professional treatments. But if you are interested in adding moringa oil to your skincare routine, do take note that it is highly comedogenic, which means it clogs pores easily. This makes moringa oil a less suitable option for those with oily to combination skin.
The high mineral content in sea salt makes it a condiment the ancient people often went to for their skincare needs. Another beauty tip taken from Queen Cleopatra’s book (she certainly knew her way around beauty, doesn’t she?), sea salt — more specifically, Dead Sea salt — was used for its natural healing properties contributed by the abundant amount of the sulphur mineral. Salt from the Dead Sea also acted as a natural exfoliant, helping to slough away the buildup of dead skin cells on the body. Another natural alternative to Dead Sea salt that people use nowadays is pink Himalayan sea salt, another gift from the sea that benefits our skin.
This was a home remedy Queen Elizabeth often used on her skin. She used to apply an egg white mask on her face to help treat skin concerns such as breakouts as well as any redness on the skin. It might seem a tad gross to apply egg whites onto your skin, but if even royalty did it, what are we lay people to argue against it?
A beauty trick taken from the past generations of people living in China, Japan and Korea, rice water was usually used as a facial cleanser to help their skin remain soft and supple. Rice water was also a well-known home remedy to treat mild skin concerns such as acne and eczema. So, the next time you cook some rice for your meal, remember to keep the leftover water aside to be used in your skincare routine.