Historical Influences of Modern Day Skincare

Skincare, like everything else in life, is constantly evolving; improving and being added to. Just as it is important to look to the future of the industry, it is equally important to look to the past. Lauren Archer explores the natural skincare methods that have existed for centuries, and how we can learn a lot exploring the skincare routines of historical figures.


As many of us know, skincare isn’t something new or up and coming. It has been around for centuries, but in today’s day and age, I see us returning to many of our old methods. For this reason, I thought I’d share a brief history of skincare.

Most skincare can be traced back to one of the oldest civilizations we know, the ancient Egyptians. When it comes to natural remedies they are the experts, especially since they lived in a hot, dry environment which we know can be incredibly damaging for our skin. Historically, Egyptian queens took great care of their skin (we can’t ignore our biggest inspiration: Cleopatra) through resources like olive oil, ostrich eggs, milk, and plant/herb essential oils like Aloe Vera. Often these moisture rich ingredients were combined with the coarse sand to create the perfect body scrub. Some of the secret skincare ingredients we’ve gotten from them are aloe, sodium bicarbonate, myrrh and frankincense.

Another big contributor to the history of skincare is China! The Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty kept a meticulous book of her skincare hacks which included seaweed, jellyfish, and frequent daily facial massages. More importantly, she followed the path of beautiful skin through her diet as well which included black beans, sesame seeds and Chinese yam. A another popular ingredient which we are seeing in stores more and more today are mushrooms. They are incredible at water retention, are believed to help moisturize your skin and have anti-aging properties.

Finally, the Romans and the Greeks took these influences of oils and scrubs and created arguably one of the better movements of bathing culture! Previously people refused to bathe often because they believed it would keep a pale sheen to their skin, but it often left everyone’s skin to be quite dirty. The Romans and Greeks produced a new level of hygiene by scrubbing off their dirt and grime and then properly moisturizing. There is even a famous cold cream invented by them, made by melting beeswax and rose oil together with water.

All of these civilizations had lasting impacts on the skincare industry and as the world modernized, so did it. However, most recently we have seen many skincare brands rise up to promote all natural, silicone/paraben free products demonstrating modern-day society’s movement toward our previous all-natural methods. Skincare is a constantly changing routine for many different civilizations all over the world, but one thing I’d take from history is that when you find something that works for you, stick with it!