Natural skin care has come a long, long way. The tales of creative, often-questionable methods and products people throughout history have used to scrub, exfoliate, bathe, and generally maintain a healthy body and skin is really worth its own Netflix series. When you open up the field to communities from all around the world, it becomes ever more interesting.
Four different continents, four different time period, and four different tales of natural skin care. Let’s take a look below at the unique contributions to skin health by Ancient Egyptians, Middle Age Europeans, Native Americans, and Japanese Courtesans
Natural Skin Care in Ancient Egypt
Long before Beyonce – the Queen Bee we all know so well today, there was Cleopatra. One of the largest beauty icons in known history, Queen Cleopatra – the last ruler of Egypt before its absorption into the Roman Empire, and other Egyptian royalty like her, relied on both sour milk baths and Dead Sea salt scrubs for her royal glow. That’s right – the queen of Egypt bathed in sour milk.
Lactic acid, found in sour milk, is often attributed with such benefits as reducing lines in the skin and preventing breakouts from too much oil buildup, and the large amount of nutritious minerals typically found in sea salts, which can also act an exfoliant, are now known to both help improve blood circulation and alleviate muscle soreness. Yet another way Queen C was ahead of her time….
Natural Skin Care in Middle-Age Europe
Some may cringe at the idea of pouring a nice bottle of aged wine into the tub instead of their stomach, but as far back as the 5th century, and lasting until the invention of a more effective chemical peel in the late 1800s, Europeans were applying the beverage to their skin as a form of chemical exfoliation.
The reason lies in aged wine’s high tartaric acid content. Without getting too scientific, tartaric acid contains alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), which have been shown to have a significant effect on the growth of new keratin cells in our body. Keratin, as explored in a previous article, is our body’s overprotective sibling, protecting our skin cells from damage and keeping us looking young in the process. Without a steady production of keratin, our skin would break down much more easily.
Natural Skin Care in Early Japan
Have you ever tried to guess the age of a Japanese woman? Not an easy thing to do. While we may never fully understand Japan’s secret ways, we do have a good jumping off point – the powder of the Azuki Bean. As far back as 9th century Japan, Japanese women have scrubbed their bodies with small, Azuki bean-filled cotton bags, or simply applied the powder directly to their skin as an effective form of natural skin care.
Azuki bean powder possesses a natural foaming agent called saponin, which among other benefits spanning outside of skin care, helps promote circulation, remove dead skin cells, and do away with excess oil. The powder is especially wonderful for those with sensitive skin as irritation associated with the natural product is next to none.
Natural Skin Care in Native America
North America is certainly not without its contributions to the vast world of natural skin care. An entire list of known natural remedies concocted and used by native North American communities would certainly require a post of its own, if not several posts, but one particularly well-established product is corn. With corn being as abundant of a product as it was, outside eating the crop, a common practice was allegedly to take dried corncobs and scrub one’s body all over, especially before large community events like weddings. A similar practice was often performed using other natural items like sand from riverbeds, wild mint, prickly pear (the leaves), and wild rose bush.
Products like corn not only helped to exfoliate the skin, but were also thought to help clear the body of harmful bacteria, relieve intense itching, treat chapped lips, moisturize skin and hair, and reduce wrinkles. Say what you want, but we undoubtedly have the immense experimentation conducted by native communities to thank for a large majority of effective ingredients found in commercial skin products today.
The stories are endless, but I suppose we’ll stop there. The evolution of medicine, both folk and scientific, is incredibly diverse when it comes to natural skin care. Trends in beauty continue to evolve, and, inevitably, will continue to evolve. The world will surely one day look back at 2017 and think to themselves, “They used what on their skin??”
Have any bizarre or interesting stories of skin care from the world you think people should know about? Please share below! In the meantime, while natural skin care is on the mind, head over to our product page for your first burst of Original Coffee Scrub.