As skin is the largest organ in our body, it can act as a window into a person’s overall wellbeing. Skincare, therefore, plays an essential role in millions of people’s daily beauty routines with women and men alike on a continual quest to get brighter, softer, healthier and, ultimately, younger looking skin. But the trend for a youthful complexion isn’t a new one and has been around for centuries. So, while the skincare industry grows, with new products and formulas being created to decrease fine lines and wrinkles, minimize dark spots and rejuvenate the appearance of skin, some old-age skincare secrets, including natural remedies, have not been forgotten.
The use of plant extracts and herbs originated in ancient times, with the earliest records showing the Egyptians turning to nature for remedies to beautify their appearance. It is thought they used a mixture of honey combined with crushed lotus flowers and plant oils to help heal fade scars, protect them from the sun and ward off flies1.
If we roll back the decades we can see the Chinese have been using rice water as natural way to tone their skin2. They also adopted facial massage techniques which they believed improved circulation3. Leading beauty brands, such as Liz Earle, have adopted massage techniques which they claim wipes stress from the face and restores radiance4.
Ancient Greek ingredients
Always looking for new ways to improve health - from their nutrition to the appearance of skin - the Ancient Greeks experimented with local and natural ingredients to create new skincare products. Greek yogurt, for instance, was used to soothe skin and combat sunburn5. Now, due to its thick and creamy texture, source of calcium, high-protein and low sugar content, it's an important component of a healthy balanced diet these days. Another Greek favourite was olive oil. Due to the abundance of olive trees in the country, health enthusiasts used nutrient-dense olives as a moisturiser6. Years later, Marilyn Monroe was said to cover her face in olive oil to get glowing skin. Today, olives are recognised as a good source of monounsaturated fats which help maintain heart health7.
Fast forward a few hundred years to the 20th century and cosmetic companies started to use vitamin E in their skincare. Recognised as an important fat-soluble antioxidant, it still plays a key role in skincare management today8.
By the 1980's, the first anti-aging skincare products containing collagen were released. Studies have since found there is a link between collagen levels and the formation of wrinkles9.