Posted by ANTARA Staff

History of Skin Care

Have you ever wondered about the history of facial skin care? It’s common knowledge that the skin is the body’s largest organ. Damaging sunlight, physical everyday wear and tear, and age all take their toll on the human body. As humans, however, we want to care for our skin just as humans have been caring for their bodies since before written language existed.

The human skin serves so many different functions that it makes sense that the history of facial skin care dates all the way back to the early civilizations in ancient China and lower Mesopotamia. Here are some surprising findings that scientists and archaeologists have uncovered over the centuries:

Ancient Egypt

Conveniently enough, the ancient Egyptians were kind enough to leave an extensive record of their skin care routines! Ancient Egyptians believed that body cleanliness was the root of health and long life. Because of this belief, they documented methods to protect themselves from the harsh desert, the blistering heat of the sun, and laid instructions on how to keep their skin healthy and protected. Ancient Egyptians also consumed and used hemp, which is a plant ingredient used in modern CBD skin care products!

Records show that hemp was used for a wide variety of ancient products such as textiles, medicines, paper products, incense, and likely was used for many other items. In addition to the use of hemp for skincare, they also used a variety of oils such as castor oil, sesame oil, tree nut oils (such as almond oil),  and olive oils. While they did not use CBD skin care products and CBD oils found in some modern skincare routines today, ancient Egyptians mixed these various oils with clay to create masks and also exfoliated using sea salt.

Ancient Egyptian skincare also included moisturizing steps. These steps often used animal milk (typically goat’s milk), the aforementioned litany of oils, and sometimes called for the use of honey.

When compared to ancient Egyptian routines, the human history of skin care seems to be mostly unchanged in modern times!

Ancient Asia 

The next era in the history of skin care is Ancient Asia. Similar to ancient Egyptian civilization beliefs, ancient Asian civilizations believed that cleanliness was a key factor in longevity. Like ancient Egyptians, Asian civilizations were aware of the harmful effects of sunlight exposure and valued having pale skin to appear more youthful. These Asian civilizations also believed in healthy nutrition, chi, herbal medicines. While “chi” is a somewhat controversial discussion among modern science, the other beliefs are proven and still practiced across the world today.

According to historians, the Qin Dynasty (the first imperial dynasty in China) documented an empress using jellyfish masks as a part of her skincare regimen! While this may sound unusual in the history of facial skin care, there is modern evidence that suggests jellyfish do possess antimicrobial properties. 

In addition to the unusual use of jellyfish, ancient Asian civilizations also consumed herbal teas, used turmeric face masks, and moisturized using milks and oils. Fortunately, modern skin care and modern CBD skin care products contain plenty of these properties without the use of jellyfish!

Ancient Greek and Roman Civilization

As we progress into the history of skin care, the next notable time period is ancient Greece and Roman civilization. While olive oil has been used for centuries by Egyptians and Asian civilizations, the Grecian and Roman people arguably worshiped olives and olive oil more than any other previous civilization.

Why was olive oil so popular in Ancient Greece? Olive oil was popular in Ancient Greece because it was plentiful and viewed as a sacred tree. Olive oil was used in almost all facets of Grecian life, from skincare to diet and even in sporting events.

Because of the ideal climate, olive trees were (and still are) widely abundant in ancient Greece. Grecian women used olive oil in their moisturizers and made clay masks similar to the Egyptians. The Greek and Roman peoples’ also used honey, milk and yogurt mixtures, sea salt, and a variety of berries in their skin care routines. 

Recipes for exfoliation mixtures were thoroughly documented. These mixtures consisted of pomegranate seeds, sea salt, and olive oil and were used by both men and women alike. Like the Egyptians, ancient Greeks and Romans used a variety of hemp products in their everyday life, and hemp is noted in several historical documents.

While ancient Greeks did not have modern scientific research on their side, we know today that there are antimicrobial properties in olive oil. Seems like ancient civilizations knew a thing or two about skin care and healthy lifestyles that we still practice today!

Medieval Europe and Renaissance

So far, the history of facial skin care up to the Greek era has been a series of tried and tested best practices. The same cannot be said for Medieval and Renaissance skin care routines.

Historical documents note that many medieval skin care ointments and cosmetics included dangerous substances like lead, arsenic, and mercury. Unfortunately for Medieval era Europeans, they were not equipped with modern knowledge and many users of these products became ill and likely suffered detrimental effects in the long term.

Fortunately, it was not all bad practice. Medieval Europeans used herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and camomile to create masks and ointments. Another common ingredient in this time period is different animal fats. Animal fat would be used as a moisturizer and as a binding agent for beauty ointments!

Modern Skin Care in the US

While the history of skin care is a roller coaster of best and worst practices, modern humans have the luxury of scientific research and government regulations to be sure that all products are safe to use! From ointments, lotions, facial cleansers, body wash, exfoliating wash, facial masks, and many more, the sheer number of skin care products would likely overwhelm our ancient ancestors!

While CBD skin care products have existed since ancient Egyptian times, they have been largely non-existent in the United States. Since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, hemp and hemp products (including CBD oils) have been banned in the United States and have only recently been reintroduced into the American market with a litany of restrictions and regulations.

Modern Conclusions

With advancements in technology and knowledge of microbiomes of the body and other relevant information, we now know that skin care products exceed just the exterior. Just as ancient Egyptians wrote, proper nutrition plays a large role in healthy skin.

Learn about CBD skin care products, tinctures, and what Antara Organics have to offer in your skin care routine today.

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