The History of Skincare
3000 BC Some of the first natural skincare products created by the Egyptians used olive oil, ostrich eggs, dough, milk and essential oils from plants and herbs such as frankincense. Scrubs made with aloe-vera and sand is made for exfoliating the face and body followed with plant oils for moisturising. Anti-aging serums with concentrated fenugreek oil were used to reduce wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage.
1500 BC Microdermabrasion is performed with sandpaper to exfoliate skin and smooth scars.
1600 BC In China, during the Shang Dynasty, people preferred a pale glow for which they used skin lighteners and brighteners such as pearl dust and rice flour.
700 BC Olive oil is used in baths in Ancient Greece and is followed up by fine sand being used to coat the body and protect the skin from tanning and sun damage
200 BC The first written records of a skin care system in China came during the Dynasty recorded and developed her skin care systems in a book. These are the first written records of skin care practices. Her approach was holistic and natural, using natural cleansers made from seaweed and jellyfish and facial massages and exercises to improve the circulation in the face.
30 BC Cleopatra’s skin care regimen famously included bathing in sour milk and saffron petals to exfoliate and brighten her skin.
1 BC Roman women used an anti-aging mask made of barley, narcissus bulbs, and honey to keep looking young.
In the Han Dynasty in China, women ate a mixed powder made with melon seeds, orange peels and peach blossoms several times a day for a month to whiten their complexions.
2 AD Roman citizens used sulphur mixed in their baths to unclog pores. Melon roots were crushed and applied to face and neck to clear blemishes and dark spots. Aristocratic women used a face mask of crocodile dung and a bath of crocodile feces to achieve exfoliated and soft skin.
100 AD Lead has by now been used for hundreds of years to whiten skin and clear blemishes until hundreds of years later when it is found to cause poisoning leading to scarring, infertility and madness.
500 AD In the early Middle Ages, wine was used to bathe in solely for making the skin silky smooth.
800 AD During the Tang dynasty, one of the most popular skin lighteners was songyi mushrooms, an ingredient that is used in many skin lighteners even today.
1100’s Skin is kept wrinkle free and taut with a cream made of barley, horseradish seeds, milk and chickpeas.
1400’s – Ming Dynasty women used pearl dust mixed with milk to correct dark spots.
1500’s During the Elizabethan Era, men and women rarely washed their faces and body. They would apply a white powder to keep looking white and apply new layers over existing older layers instead of washing off that which was previously applied. To effectively remove all the layers, people began trying baths with urine, donkey milk and red wine.
1600’s Herb-filled muslin pouches are held in the mouth to plump the cheeks and give the user a youthful appearance.
1700’s Marie Antoinette's use of white flour to powder her poufs enraged her poor and famine stricken subjects. She is a also famously credited with popularising 3-foot high hairstyles, complete with wire and gauze and accessorised with flowers, fruits and vegetables and little ships and figurines commemorating recent events.
1873 Salt based therapies are discovered to remove acne blemishes.
1906 - The American Medical Association published a paper on the recurring cases of lead palsy from use of a cream called Laird’s Bloom of Youth, directly leading to the formation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
1950’s – Moving away from the obsession with fair skin, artificial skin tanning aids are developed.
Exposes deriding industrialised agricultural and pesticides fuel the organic movement.
1960’s – “Natural” products based on botanical ingredients such as carrot juice and watermelon extract are introduced to the market.
1970’s Skin care becomes scientific, with chemists teaming up with beauticians to create products.
Endangered species protection legislations ban the use of musk derived from dwindling animal populations for the first time.
1990’s – The various personal grooming products industries enter the era of challenges of regulations and standards. Growing environmental and dangerous substance concerns require heavier documentation and legislation.
2000’s Spa culture is popularised, perpetuating a holistic approach to beauty and wellness and integrating yoga and natural skincare to achieve healthy and nourished skin.