22 July 2022
Skincare Through The Ages: From Cleopatra To The Kardashians
Think skincare is something modern?
The truth is, humans have been obsessed with skincare for thousands of years!
After all, a glowing complexion is a sign of good health, youth and vitality. So it’s no wonder people have always looked for ways to keep their skin looking radiant.
In this post, you’ll discover how skincare has transformed over time… As well as some of the ancient skincare tips you should definitely NOT try today.
Ancient Egypt: The Origins Of Skincare
The Ancient Egyptians loved looking beautiful. In fact, they were the first ever humans to use cosmetics and skincare.
There’s evidence they used makeup and natural anti-ageing products as far back as 4000 BC! Including castor, sesame, and moringa oils to help fight fine lines and wrinkles. As well as honey and milk masks to hydrate and moisturise their skin.
In fact, Cleopatra – famed for her incredible beauty – even used to bathe in milk. To keep her skin silky-soft and wrinkle-free.
But as well as keeping themselves looking gorgeous, and protected from the hot Cairo sun… Skincare had a special place in Egyptian society. They took it so seriously – makeup was even used to honour their gods.
One example of this is the original Egyptian “smokey eye”. This features in a lot of Ancient Egyptian artwork (see below). To create this striking, dusky look, Egyptians used a mixture of chemicals known as “kohl”. However…
One of the main chemicals in kohl was lead – which we now know is very toxic and should not be used. Especially if applied to sensitive and delicate upper-eye skin.
Greeks And Romans: Skincare Secrets From Caesar And Socrates
The Ancient Greeks and Romans were two more skincare-loving societies. They actually used many of the Egyptians’ ideas – but took them a step further.
For example, while Ancient Egyptians might spend hours on their skincare rituals every day…
The Greeks and Romans would often spend entire days in spas, saunas and baths. To help “sweat out” toxins, increase circulation, and clean their skin.
What’s more, the Romans even had specially trained slaves called “cosmetae” (as in “cosmetic”) to pluck individual hairs, keeping their skin beautifully smooth.
If you were a wealthy Greek or Roman, you might have also used sand and natural oils to protect your skin from the sun. But this wasn’t because they were worried about sun damage…
Suntans were associated with lower-class manual workers, who worked long hours in the heat of the sun. People the wealthy elite did not want to be confused with!
Think that’s bad?
It’s nothing compared to what the Victorians did to “look after” their skin…
The Victorians: A Time Of Toxic Skincare
In Victorian Europe – there was one thing almost every woman wanted:
Pale, ivory-coloured skin.
And they would do almost ANYTHING to get it. Including smearing toxic chemicals on their skin! As well as using toxic white lead powder… Women also used deadly mercury to help their skin “glow”.
Now it was around this time people learnt the importance of moisturising and hydrating your skin. Sounds great, right?
However, the “moisturisers” they used were often full of mercury and sulphur. And would often do the exact opposite of what they claimed to…
Often causing severe and long-lasting skin damage.
As you can see, there was huge pressure for women to meet the beauty standards of this time. And it often came at a huge cost.
But thankfully, skincare has changed a lot since then. We’ve learnt many valuable lessons about how NOT to look after your skin.
And importantly, you don’t have to sacrifice your health just to look good.
1900s To Today: New Frontiers Of Skincare
From the 1900s, things started to change for the better. Skincare products became driven by science. And so they became much more affordable, effective, and most importantly…
At last, skincare wasn’t just for wealthy people – and not just for people with pale skin either.
Many of the products you know and love were created in the last 100 years. Scientific discoveries which helped millions of people achieve beautiful, radiant skin. For example:
Chapstick was first sold in 1912
Sun cream was invented in 1935
The 1960s saw the rise of laser skin treatments
Natural skincare products took off in the 1980s
As well as many individuals like Coco Chanel and Estée Lauder who pushed the boundaries of skincare.
Stem Cells And Sci-Fi: Skincare’s Bright Future
The skincare industry is one of the most exciting in the world. It’s constantly innovating and evolving… As scientists discover new breakthroughs.
Whether that’s “sleep-time skincare” – zero-effort products which rejuvenate your skin while you’re asleep.
Or the exciting horizons of “stem cells”…
Doctors have already used these incredible cells to treat diseases like leukaemia and promote healing. But many researchers believe they will revolutionise skincare. Thanks to their unique ability to regrow and regenerate skin tissue! 1
One thing is for sure – we’ve come a long way from using facemasks made of mercury, lead and sulphur.
But here’s the truth:
Skincare doesn’t have to be something complicated, dangerous, or even expensive. With the right routine, you can see fantastic results quickly. Because you see…
Skincare should ALWAYS help you feel the most authentic, beautiful and confident version of yourself.