Throughout quarantine, I have become mildly obsessed with skincare and taking care of my skin. And by mildly, I mean I have completely changed my skincare routine about 20 times in the past few months. I’ve learned a lot about skincare over the summer, and used that information to alter my routine accordingly. And unfortunately, I cannot even tell you how many hours I have spent watching YouTube videos on skincare and reading the endless amounts of beauty reviews on Sephora’s website.
My newfound love for skincare made me curious about what skincare and beauty ingredients have been used throughout history. So, as a lover of skincare and Greek mythology, I thought I would take a look at the beauty and skincare beliefs, practices, and techniques used in Ancient Greece. And most importantly, try to figure out how to make my skin glow like a Greek goddess!
Skincare has been important in many different cultures and each culture has its own unique techniques to keep their skin glowing and healthy. Cosmetics and physical beauty were especially important in Ancient Greek culture, so having clear, smooth, and soft skin was a must. Clear and smooth skin is something that I definitely strive for at all times. I’m not always successful, but I give it my best try.
Unfortunately, not all the tips and tricks I found were super helpful. Ancient Greek societies did have some unsafe practices. For example, they used harmful chalks and lead to whiten their skin due to their society’s beauty standards that idolized light skin. With that exception, a majority of the ingredients that they used are still found in plenty of products today.
Women in high society in Ancient Greece culture wore makeup daily. Their cosmetic products used different flowers, herbs, pigments, and natural resources. To make eyeliner, they would use olive oil and charcoal. They even used olive oil and charcoal to fill in their brows. For their lips, they would mix beeswax and red iron oxide for a shiny lip balm. Iron oxides are still used in cosmetics products today, but, thankfully, are now made in a lab for safety! Naturally produced iron oxide in uncontrolled settings typically contain heavy metals. Beeswax is still a popular ingredient in lip moisturizing compounds and products today. The Mayo Clinic reported that it is one of the best ingredients to lock in moisture and even helps block the sun.
In terms of taking care of the skin, Ancient Greek women certainly had impressive DIY skills. Olive oil was an essential ingredient in Greek skincare. In products today, olive oil is still used to moisturize and renew skin cells. Herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits indigenous to Greece were used in addition to olive oil. The rose was considered to be the “queen of flowers.” Rose oil and rose water were used in a lot of products to soothe, cleanse, and nourish dry skin. Additional benefits of rose oil and rose water include anti-aging, hydration, repairing skin cells, and balancing pH levels.
Along with beeswax, honey was another beneficial and well-used ingredient in their skincare products. It was used in their face masks and body scrubs. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with the removal of dead skin cells. Lastly, milk and yogurt were considered to be luxury ingredients in Ancient Greece because of their skin-softening properties. Milk was often mixed with honey in many products, while yogurt was viewed as a special ingredient that soothed sunburns and helped remove dead skin cells.
With the help of modern technology and sciences, skincare and cosmetics brands have found their own ways to incorporate the key ingredients of Ancient Greek skincare into their products. In actuality, the basics of skincare in Ancient Greece and today are not that different, which means I’m basically already a Greek goddess. There are plenty of rose water toners, olive oil lotions, and milk and honey scrubs out on the market for us to try. At this point, I’ve probably tried about half of them, but cannot wait to try more!
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