Lotions and Potions
Since the Ancient Egyptians believed in an after-life, maintaining a healthy, glowing and youthful complexion in their lifetime was essential for keeping a beautiful appearance after they died. Additionally, the harsh Egyptian climate with its intense heat, sun exposure and whipping winds at night had unfortunate consequences on the skin. For these reasons, the Ancient Egyptian’s became obsessed with skincare, devising at home remedies and recipes for skincare products and never being caught dead without their toiletry kit full of ointments. They were even buried with jars full of their favorite elixirs and creams in their tombs so they would never be without them! That is dedication.
Anti-aging products were the most popular skincare product since wrinkles and signs of premature aging were inescapable with the high sun exposure and lack of sun protection. There were, however, other creams addressing different skin care issues such as blemishes, dryness, dullness, sun spots, sun burn and freckles. Many products even served double duty and addressed more than one of these concerns at the same time.
Another beauty necessity was a makeup remover, since the Ancient Egyptians favored dark, heavy makeup which could not be removed with just plain water. These makeup removers, made from limestone or chalk and vegetable oil were massaged into the skin to break down the makeup and then washed with water.
Since all skincare and body care products were made of natural ingredients, creating your own mixtures based off the concoctions of the Ancient Egyptians is not difficult. To get great skin addressing a variety of different concerns, follow the recipes and tips below.
If you suffer from wrinkles and freckle Try Fenugreek oil
A well-known and readily available skincare ingredient of the time, Fenugreek oil was made by extracting the oil from Fenugreek seeds (Strouhal, 88). These seeds have a variety of anti-aging benefits such as protectingthe skin from free radicals which wreak havoc on skin and deteriorate collagen, leaving skin saggy and thin. Additionally it is effective at repairing skin cells which slows the aging process, softening wrinkles and fine lines. Fenugreek oil also has lightening properties which brighten sun spots. The ingredient also is a natural exfolient which sloughs off dead skin cells replacing them with new ones, leaving skin glowy in the process. Most importantly, the oil has properties that prevent sun damage, a miracle for Ancient Egyptian ladies trying to protect their skin from the harsh rays.
Below are some other popular recipes for Egyptian skin care products addressing a plethora of skin issues, so everyone is bound to found a product that will match their own epidermis concerns (Strouhal, 88)
If you suffer from wrinkles and blemises Try… The Sweet Donkey (White, 95)
- Donkey Milk
- Combine equal parts donkey milk, alabstron, natron and honey
- Mix ingredients until all combined and mixture forms a homogenous paste
- Apply liberally on skin in a thin layer
- Store remaining product in covered container
- Use daily for best results
High in protein, donkey milk is a natural hydrator containing various vitamins and fatty acids which help erase the signs of aging like fine lines and dullness by plumping the skin and leaving it hydrated. Easily absorbed into the skin and suitable for all skin times, donkey milk also has regenerative properties that help improve the skin’s texture- firming the skin. Natron is a really good gentle natural exfoliant, helping to slough off dead skin cells, which make skin look lackluster and dull. Additionally, natron is a cleanser that helps get rid of acne-causing build up in the pores. Honey is anti-bacterial so it acts as a natural cleanser and blemish treatment in this recipe. Additionally, the ingredient is very hydrating, plumping the skin, and contains anti-oxidants which protect against free radicals, which, over time degenerate the skins DNA and leads to sagging and lack of firmness. Try this product once and you will be hooked!
If you suffer from wrinkles and sensitive skin Try…Rest and Rewax (Strouhal, 88)
- Fresh been oil/ Moringa Oil
- Cyprus grass
- Plant oil of your choice
- Crush cyprus grass until finely milled
- Combine equal parts wax, terebinth resin, behen oil, plant oil and crushed cyprus
- Mix until well combined
- Place all over face avoiding eye area
- Apply every night before bed
Terebinth and Behen Oil are the most important ingredients in this recipe. Terebinth, also known as turpentine, is a natural anti-bacterial. This means the ingredient is good at cleaning the skin and is especially beneficial for acne and oily skin tones. Behen oil, or Moringa oil is a wonderful anti-aging product. The ingredient has properties to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, lightens dark spots and improves skin’s all around texture, tightening and brightening.
If you suffer from wrinkles and dryness… Try The Youthful Moisture Surge (David, 328)
- Moringa Oil
- Fermented Fruit Oil
- Crush grass until it is in powder-like form
- Obtain frankincense oil from the resin
- Combine equal parts frankincense oil, moringa oil, grass and fermented fruit oil
- Mix until thoroughly combined and concoction is smooth
- Apply all over face using circular motions
- Do not rinse off
- Apply daily
Frankincense and moringa are the star ingredients here. Frankincense has properties that lessen the appearance of dark sun spots, a tell-tale sign of mature skin. Additionally, the oil helps promote skin regeneration keep skin firm and plump as well as virtually erasing wrinkles. Moringa oil fights toxins and pollutants keeping asking youthful and glory. Additionally, Moringa oil also lightens dark spots caused from the sun. As if these benefits were not enough, Moringa oil also is chock full of antioxidants which slow the aging process and fight free radicals. The oil erases wrinkles and improves skin texture. Sounds like a winner!
The Egyptians endured great lengths to keep their skin soft and supple, a hard feat when they were constantly in the sun with no sunscreen to protect them from the sun’s damaging rays. Their skin was constantly burned, red, irritated, cracked and dry. Therefore, finding products to combat this unfortunate skin problem was imperative. Oils and ointments were crucial to keeping skin healthy- without these oils skin would be dry and cracked, which left a person vulnerable to the elements and more susceptible to illness and infection. Therefore, individuals, no matter what their socioeconomic standing or gender, rubbed down the body multiple times daily with some sort of moisturizing product. Using an oil throughout the day also kept the body cool in the unbearable desert. Practical and attractive, perfect combination!
While creams targeted for specific concerns existed, like stretch mark creams used after giving birth, most oils and ointments were generic and could be used by both sexes. The most popular oils used for basic skin hydration were balanos, castor, nut and kikki oil. Other oils such as flax, lettuce, olive, almond, selgam, coleseed and seegma oils were also used. Wealthy women liked to import their oils from the East, and preferred to moisturize with scented products. Poorer individuals could usually only afford to moisturize the body with castor oil although some used kikki oil. Egyptians even devised thicker, ointment like products to apply to their skin made from crocodile, cat or hippopotamus fat. Parts of the skin that were especially problematic and rough were buffed with a pumice stone.
Did You Know…
Manicures and Pedicures actually started in Ancient Egypt? That’s right, one of American women’s favorite spa treatments can actually be dated back to the Old Kingdom (Strouhal, 89). Women would use henna to dye and condition their nail beds. The henna often gave nails a yellowish or red stain that lasted a long time. Additionally, paintings have been recovered depicting a scene of a woman getting her nails dyed by another woman- resembling a picture of nail salons today. This pastime came at a hefty price tag though, and therefore was only truly adopted by the elite.
To learn about another important step in the Ancient Egyptian beauty routine, personal hygiene, click here