Skincare Secrets (Part I: In Ancient Times)


While not everyone is super invested in taking care of their skin, there is at least one moisturizing cream in every household. These creams are especially handy during wintertime when our skin tends to get dry, especially after washing our hands. This modern comfort of having nice-smelling cream to make us feel soft and supple is nothing new; skincare has been around for thousands of years.

Oils were a key feature in Ancient Egyptians’ regimen, which included the likes of sesame, olive, and castor oil. These oils helped keep their skin well balanced and youthful, as well as moisturized. Many also applied masks, such as honey and milk; they also used scrubs made from aloe-vera, oils, and sometimes even mixed with sand, to exfoliate dead skin.

Across the Mediterranean, the Ancient Greeks followed some of these practices as well. Honey, milk, and yogurt were used for their anti-aging properties. Honey especially has antibacterial properties that protect the skin and deeply nourish it. The Greeks also realized the great properties to be found in fruits, especially berries; they would grind them up into a paste and apply them to the face. Berries have a multitude of benefits; they are rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and their acidic nature serve as a great exfoliant. The vitamins maintain a healthy level of collagen in the skin, which in turn provides that plump and youthful look to the skin.

In China, during the Qin Dynasty, recordings of an Empress skincare regimen survived and is interesting to examine given the different ingredients she used. For her, skincare was linked with ingested food; she believed that eating sesame seeds, black beans, as well as yam, were greatly beneficial. She also used seaweed and jellyfish for their cleansing properties; interestingly, seaweed is still used in skincare in parts of Asia to this day. Seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help protect and regenerate the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe acne, as well as rosacea and skin inflammation. The Empress also did facial massages, using hands or some utensils to help exercise and lift facial muscles. This practice is believed to help tone facial muscles, as well as propagate better blood circulation; therefore, keeping the elasticity of the face.

While our ancestors relied on natural ingredients that were not heavily processed, things are different for us. In addition to the natural path of our ancestors, we also have the option of buying ready-made skincare products that are specifically manufactured to help target specific skin concerns.


*This article was published in SCIplanet Printed Magazine, Winter 2018 Issue.

About Us

SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
Continue reading

Contact Us

P.O. Box 138, Chatby 21526, Alexandria, EGYPT
Tel.: +(203) 4839999
Ext.: 1737–1781

Become a member

© 2023 | Bibliotheca Alexandrina