While science may be helping the skin care industry to progress in leaps and bounds, there is still something to be said for all of those natural ingredients that were used in ancient times. From pearl to saffron, many of these ingredients were first used thousands of years ago, but will still bring the same fantastic benefits to your skin.
Pearls have always been revered throughout history, but, when it comes to beauty, this is an ingredient that Asian cultures made full use of.
In the time of the Ming Dynasty in China, pearl powder was used to moisturize the skin, while traditional medicinal recipes from Korea call for the powder to be mixed with milk and then used to treat dark spots.
Of course, many would only believe this to be true if science is able to back it up, which it now is…
Studies have shown that pearl can have so many different benefits for the skin, including:
- Hydrating properties
- Reduces the production of melanin
- Packed with antioxidants
- Contains signal proteins that help to stimulate collagen production
- Rich in amino acids and trace minerals to support skin health
- Produces a light-diffusing glow when applied on to the skin, minimizing the visibility of blemishes
With so much research out there now backing up the many wonders of pearl, this is an ingredient that can be found in a wide variety of skin care products, from creams to specialized treatments.
While honey as a skin care ingredient is most commonly associated with the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, the use of honey can be traced back 8000 years ago, as it is seen in quite a few Stone Age paintings.
This is such a diverse ingredient, and can help your skin in a number of ways:
- Acne – since honey is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, it can help to destroy, as well as prevent the growth of, acne-causing bacteria
- Anti-aging – honey is packed with antioxidants, which can really help to slow down the aging process
- General complexion – honey is naturally moisturizing, and also promotes rehydration
- Cleansing – honey has cleansing and healing properties, and is also antimicrobial, making it great for cleansing
- Redness – honey has potent anti-inflammatory properties
There are many skin care products formulated with honey, but you can also buy a jar of it yourself to use on your skin.
However, not any honey will do…
Just like every other product out there, the different jars of honey you see on supermarket shelves are not all created equally.
You need to look for raw, rather than pasteurized, honey, as the pasteurization process kills off good enzymes and many of honey’s other healing properties.
If you can find a honey that is raw and unfiltered, this is the best type to use on your skin.
Because the fact that it has not been filtered means that it will contain small chunks of wax, propolis, and all of the other elements that end up in honey when it is harvested from the honeycomb. This might sound a little strange, but these all contain hundreds of beneficial compounds that your skin will love.
When it comes to actual types of honey, there are so many out there, from Manuka to Acacia to Buckwheat, the latter of which has been proven to raise antioxidant levels in the blood.
Neem Oil and Sandalwood Oil
Both neem oil and sandalwood oil are popular ingredients when it comes to ayurvedic medicinal skin care, which dates back to over 5000 years ago.
Both of these oils are naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making them extremely effective in the fight against acne.
Wondering how they compare to modern acne treatments?
Well, the majority of acne products out there significantly alter the skin’s pH level, while stripping it of its natural oils. Of course, you want these oils to be cleared away, but these products are often overly harsh, leading to severe dryness. In order to compensate, your skin begins to amp up its oil production, leading to breakouts once again.
On the other hand, neem oil and sandalwood oil will not only clear up any existing pimples in a gentle way, but will also kill any acne-causing bacteria, preventing further breakouts.
It may seem slightly crazy to apply oil to oily, acne-prone skin…
But, with thousands of years of use behind them, these two ingredients are definitely worth a try, especially if conventional acne treatments have not been working for you.
Rose water was first used by the Romans and the Ancient Egyptians, with it being believed that Cleopatra used to regularly bathe her face and body in fresh rose water.
Recently, the buzz around rose water has been building back up, thanks to the many skin benefits that it brings:
- Helps to re-balance the skin’s pH level
- Controls excess oil while clearing out blocked pores
- Anti-inflammatory properties can reduce redness and help to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne
- Moisturizes and hydrates the skin
- Contains antioxidants that help to strengthen skin cells
- Its antibacterial properties can speed up the healing of cuts and wounds
Want to know how to use rose water?
Make sure that you are purchasing a quality variety, and then pour this into a spray bottle. You can then give your face a spray with rose water after you have cleansed your skin, using it like a toner, or even spray it onto your face after applying makeup, to help everything set. Try soaking a cotton pad in some chilled rose water to reduce puffiness around your eyes, or you could even use it as a natural makeup remover.
Not only were avocados an important food source for the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, but this fruit was also commonly used for skin care purposes too, with the fruit pulp being spread all over the skin, sort of like a face mask.
It was not until the twentieth century that avocados started being commercially farmed, and began to be sold across the United States. However, there were a high percentage of avocados that could not be sold, due to them being blemished in some way, and this led to researchers looking into other ways in which the fruit could be used.
Wondering what came of this?
Avocado oil is the answer, and this was soon found to not only have a high vitamin content, but also had fantastic skin penetration qualities. With its low odor and long shelf life, avocado oil started being used as a carrier for other ingredients in a wide range of skin care products.
While it does cost more to extract than other plant oils, its benefits make this higher price tag more than worth it.
Whether you are purchasing avocado oil in its pure form, or are opting for a product that already contains it, you need to ensure that only cold-pressed avocado oil is used, as this enables all of the goodness of the oil to be preserved.
Aloe vera’s healing properties have been utilized for thousands of years, with the Ancient Egyptians referring to aloe vera as the plant of immortality.
So, what does it actually do in terms of skin care?
There have actually been a number of studies carried out on this ingredient, and they all prove the amazing benefits that this plant can bring:
- Helps to heal sunburn at the epithelial level of the skin
- Moisturizes the skin without leaving behind a greasy residue
- Contains two hormones that are able to treat acne
- Soothing properties can reduce inflammation, itching and blistering
- Antioxidants help to slow down the aging process
- Vitamins boost skin firmness and hydration
- Reduces the visibility of stretch marks
You have likely already seen plenty of skin care products out there with aloe vera in them, but using the gel directly from the plant will give you access to this ingredient in its purest form.
Did you know that there are more than 300 different varieties of the aloe vera plant?
This can make it difficult to know which one to buy.
The key here is to opt for a variety that will grow best in the region you live in, even if you plan on keeping it indoors on a windowsill. Then, all you need to do is break off a small portion of one of the plant’s leaves. Open this up to reveal the rich, green gel within, which can be scooped out and used immediately and directly on the skin.
Sea salt was used by many ancient coastal communities, including the geishas of Japan. As you can imagine, the appearance of their skin was extremely important to them, and sea salt played a significant role in their skincare routines.
In Japan, the geishas would mix some sea salt with a bit of whipped cream, creating their own body scrub that they would then use in the bath.
This would result in skin that was soft and luscious, with the severity of many skin conditions being reduced.
Wondering how this works?
Well, sea salt is actually packed with a wide range of different minerals, all of which benefit the skin in their own way.
It is also known for being able to help to detox the skin by drawing out any toxins, which is fantastic for those who suffer from acne.
Just like in ancient Japan, sea salt scrubs are once again becoming extremely popular today, and you will likely find many formulas available, designed to treat a variety of skin issues.
You could also try drawing yourself a sea salt bath and bathing in this for 10 to 15 minutes, giving your skin enough time to soak up all of the salt’s goodness.
However, make sure that you do not use table salt…
This is not beneficial at all, and could end up causing more harm than good.
Seaweed is packed with skin-boosting minerals, and those in ancient Europe seemed to know about this, as seaweed was an important part of many beauty treatments.
This is an ingredient that is making a comeback in a huge way, as more and more studies out there are pointing to the fact that algae could easily be considered to be a super ingredient.
For so many different reasons:
- Instantly hydrates and conditions the skin
- An antioxidant that can protect from free radical damage, as well as aging
- High in amino acids and proteins
- Contains high concentrations of vitamins A, B, C and E
- Can help with skin lightening
- Contains anti-acne properties
There are actually two different main types of algae out there. Macro is the first, and this is larger scale algae that can be seen by the naked eye, such as seaweed and kelp. Micro algae is the second type, and these are microscopic cells that are found both in water as well as sediment.
Fortunately, you do not need to worry too much about the differences between these, as just about every type of algae out there is beneficial to the skin.
Since this is such a gentle and nourishing ingredient, it would most benefit those who have dry and sensitive skin, although every skin type would be able to benefit from at least a few of algae’s properties.
It is easy to dismiss ingredients used in ancient times, especially with all of the powerful lab-created skin care ingredients available to us these days. However, each of these ingredients have really withstood the test of time, and are now making a huge comeback thanks to modern science backing up their benefits.