In the contemporary world, we are constantly bombarded with the latest solutions promising us a flawless, fresh and firm face. Why not ditch all the chemicals and get back to basics? Here are three natural beauty secrets renowned by ancient civilisations for their beautifying properties, the science behind them, and their performance.
Rosewater originated in 10th Century Persia, where it became a valuable global trade commodity. The Romans praised its medicinal properties and incorporated it into religious ceremonies, perfume and beauty routines. Like most ancient beauty secrets, rose water has been linked to Cleopatra, who is said to have bathed in it for hydration.
According to modern dermatologists, rosewater has gentle astringent effects making it an ideal facial toner for tightening the pores, controlling excess oil and maintaining pH balance. It can aid the recovery of acne, dermatitis, eczema and redness through its anti-inflammatory properties.
These dual hydrating and astringent values made rosewater appeal to me personally, as I have combination skin. I bought mine on amazon and tested it out between cleansing and moisturising. I wiped a few drops across my face with a cotton pad and immediately noticed the amazing scent, reminiscent of Turkish delight. It left my skin feeling cool, smooth and invigorated. This is one ancient beauty staple that definitely stands the test of time.
Natural oils, such as argan, coconut and avocado, are experiencing a revival in a big way. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to avoid them when looking for a natural moisturiser. For this reason, I decided to look slightly outside of the box and test the benefits of sweet almond oil, which is widely available in health food shops as well as on amazon. In the words of the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder, almond oil “effaces wrinkles on the skin, improves the complexion, and, in combination with honey, removes spots on the face”.
Chemically, the oil is made up of four active acids: Oleic, Linoleic, Stearic and Palmitic, making it anti-ageing, moisturising and emollient – sounds like a natural miracle!
To take a leaf out of Pliny the Elder’s book, I moisturised with almond oil before bed. My first impression was that it felt quite greasy and heavy, making me worry that I would wake up with breakouts. However, the next day I was surprised to find that my skin had absorbed most of the oil and felt supple and spot-free. Overall, I would recommend using almond oil sparingly, perhaps only as a weekly moisture boost treatment when your skin is feeling extra thirsty.
Dating back 4000 years to the Indian Vedic culture, turmeric has been hailed the first ever cosmetic. The root has been utilised for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years and is still a staple remedy for wounds and skin conditions, as well as a general skin brightening solution.
In current studies, turmeric has proved to promote healing, reduce scarring, and even inhibit the growth of carcinogenic cells. All the evidence points to turmeric being an ideal natural solution for irritation-prone skin.
Inspired by the ancients, I decided to test out a mask of ground turmeric, honey and coconut milk, all of which you can find in most local supermarkets. After mixing the ingredients and applying the paste, I waited fifteen minutes then rinsed it off. This one didn’t go exactly to plan – my skin stained a sickly yellow which I had to scrub hard with facewash and makeup wipes to remove. All this friction left my skin more inflamed than ever, making the effects of the turmeric difficult to assess. Maybe some ancient beauty secrets are best off kept secret…
There you have it – while the past holds some questionable cosmetic trends, it seems that when it came to toning and moisturising, the ancients had skincare sorted.
Image Credit: Pxhere