The beauty industry is quick to point out what’s new, what’s never been seen before and the latest developments guaranteed to make you your most beautiful self. But it turns out much of what we deem new and trendy in beauty can actually be traced back generations.
Some centuries-old beauty rituals are still being used today. Here are just a few ancient beauty rituals that have stood the test of time.
Milk and honey
One of the first documented ways to moisturize skin, milk and honey mixtures can be found in hundreds of products that promise to restore elasticity to the skin and a dewy complexion. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra is believed to have regularly soaked in fermented mare’s milk and honey during her lifetime from 69 to 30 B.C. She is said to have had soft, smooth, wrinkle-free and glowing skin.
Egg whites have been lauded for years as a natural way to tighten skin and diminish pores. It turns out our English ancestors in the 16th century were some of the first to practice this beauty trick. Historians say women during the Elizabethan era valued tight, smooth skin and found eggs an easy and safe way to achieve results. (In contrast, to achieve the then-desirable ultra pale skin, women used risky methods, including consuming arsenic and applying leeches to their skin).
It’s believed the proteins from the eggs aided in restoring skin’s youthful glow. Today, egg white masks are offered as luxury treatments in high-end spas.
Lipstick and blush
Beauty standards regarding skin tone have changed over the years — pale skin was desirable in the Victorian era, while tan skin was the pinnacle of health and beauty in the 1970s and '80s. However, what has remained constant is the desire to have lips and cheeks with a rosy glow. And women throughout history have found various methods to achieve that glow.
The ancient Greeks of 800 to 500 B.C. used crushed berries and beets to brighten their skin. American pioneer women in the 1800s valued rosy cheeks as a sign of health and vitality. They used crushed flowers as a homemade blush. By the turn of the century, commercially produced rouge became the best-selling cosmetic in the United States.
Ancient Egyptians are believed to have created a sweet and natural method for removing hair. Sugaring is a hair removal method that combines sugar, lemon and water into a paste, which is then applied to the skin and peeled away along with hair. It went out of favor for centuries with the rise of razors and waxing, but a recent desire for natural products has reinvigorated the sugaring industry with a number of products now available.
Much like sugaring, eyebrow threading is trendy as a natural and less painful way to remove hair. The technique was created in ancient Asia and consists of using a single strand of thread to lasso individual hairs from the hair follicle. Unlike with waxing, the skin around the delicate eye area is not involved.
Threading is still not as popular in the United States, but the number of salons employing those trained in threading has risen in recent years.