Each year, more and more “ground-breaking” beauty trends appear on the internet, promising to make every woman look and feel better than she ever has before. Though the beauty industry is always advancing, the truth is many of these new trends are recycled, repackaged and renamed techniques from the old world. Don’t ever underestimate our sisters from the villages of Ancient Greece and the far corners of the Roman Republic—ancient women knew more about health and beauty than most give them credit for.
Of course, as science has progressed, it’s been proven that some of the beauty techniques once used commonly in the ancient world don’t actually work. Worse, we now know that some of their methods were even dangerous. But we can still learn a lot from the techniques they perfected that were effective.
Every culture and age had its own foolproof beauty tricks that we can still benefit from today. The ancient people of Europe, India, China, North and Central America, Africa and the Middle East all used the resources available to them to discover some truly fantastic secrets which have found their way into the hair and beauty routines of women ever since. Read on to find out which old beauty secrets you should try, and which you shouldn’t.
30 Steal Cleopatra’s Famous Body Treatment
In addition to many other things, Cleopatra was known for boasting impeccable skin. Historians have gathered that the legendary Egyptian ruler relied on a fairly simple routine to remove the impurities from her pores and feel silky all over.
Basically, she frequently enjoyed baths filled with milk, honey, and olive oil.
Since these are all ingredients that the majority of people already have in their kitchens, it probably won’t cost you a cent to bathe like a queen!
29 The Hydration Powers Of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is like nature’s hydration serum, and the Native Americans were among the first to discover this. To keep their hair healthy and shiny, they used the gel from this plant, which particularly came in handy in dry conditions. You can make your own aloe vera shampoo, or you can buy one from health stores or drugstores. It’s especially effective at relieving dry, itchy scalps, and helping to protect long strands from becoming brittle and breaking off.
28 Heal The Skin With Frankincense
In the Bible, frankincense was one of the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the three wise men, so you know it must be worth something! Since those times, this resin has been used to heal skin irritations such as cuts and blemishes.
Thanks to its natural anti-bacterial qualities, frankincense was actually more valuable than gold for a time.
The brand Neal’s Yard Remedies has a great skin lotion called Frankincense Intense, which will allow you to reap all the benefits of this heavenly ingredient.
27 Use Roses To Feel Like Royalty
More than one ancient culture utilized the wonders of roses. The Babylonians, for example, prized rose water for its use as a skin conditioner and toner. They also knew that rose oil has an endless list of positive benefits, and when applied topically, can be used as an antiseptic, antiviral and antispasmodic agent. Roses also have aromatherapy uses and have historically been used as antidepressants and aphrodisiacs. Simply dab rose oil on your face, body or hair to start seeing the benefits.
26 Tone And Brighten The Skin With Saffron
This vibrantly colored spice was traditionally used as a toner and brightener, and if you get a hold of some saffron, you can make your own toning and brightening concoctions from home.
By mixing saffron with rose water, you can create a natural toner to restore the pH levels of the skin after cleansing.
To brighten the skin and achieve a glow with saffron, soak a few strands in milk and mix with sandalwood powder before leaving it on your face for twenty minutes.
25 Treat Your Skin To Green Tea
Considering the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea, it’s easy to understand why it’s been part of Chinese culture for centuries. Drinking one cup a day is said to boost your skincare from the inside by filling your body with antioxidants. You can also use it topically to treat eye bags, by placing a chilled wet tea bag on the area. Those looking to shed some weight can also turn to green tea since it helps to reduce appetite and speed up the metabolism.
24 Get Silky Hair With Curd
There is a natural trick to achieving impossibly silky hair, and it involves curd. Recipes tend to vary, but some DIY bloggers like to create a hair mask with curd as the star ingredient.
A paste is made from lemon juice, eggs, and honey, which is then added to the curd and applied to the hair.
After half an hour, the hair is washed like normal. Try this one out and see if your hair feels like a piece of silk sold in an ancient marketplace.
23 Remove Hair Like An Egyptian
In our society, the majority of people turn to waxing, shaving, or plucking when it comes to hair removal. If you have a bit of spare cash, you might like to try laser hair removal. But in Ancient Egypt, sugaring was all the rage. Not only is this method less painful than waxing, plucking and laser (and shaving if you count all the times you accidentally cut yourself), but it also exfoliates the skin in the process, and prevents skin irritations from occurring.
22 The Wonders Of Neem
The ancient people of India held the sacred neem plant in the highest regard. It was believed that all parts of the neem tree were beneficial, and could be used in some way.
In addition to soothing skin irritations and helping to get rid of pests like scabies, neem can also be used to reduce oiliness in the face.
Simply make your own face pack by mixing neem oil with yogurt and cucumber and apply to your skin to get rid of excess oil.
21 Heal Skin With Dead Sea Salts
Straddling Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan, the Dead Sea is perhaps one of the most famous bodies of water in history. The Dead Sea is known for its natural healing properties, and endless beauty brands have harvested its salts and minerals to use in their products. This isn’t a new phenomenon, by the way; Cleopatra is also said to have used salts from the Dead Sea on her skin to help replenish the minerals she lost from day to day.
20 Look For Roman-Inspired Face Masks
The Ancient Romans were an impressive people, and if we may, very vain.
Skin complexion was basically another god to these women, and they relied on face masks to achieve the ideal look just as much as modern women do.
A few Roman face mask ingredients have thankfully been lost to history, like animal sweat and placenta particles, but there are some ingredients which were super beneficial, and which we can still find in face masks today. They include basil, honey, fennel seeds, eggs, and oils.
19 Get Silky Skin With Argan Oil
Argan oil might seem like a new trend, but when it comes to skincare, it’s actually one of the oldest. This oil has been used as a topical skin treatment for thousands of years and is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s perfect for those who suffer from particularly dry or blotchy problem skin, as it works its magic by softening and moisturizing the skin for silkiness that actually lasts. You can find argan-infused products in most drugstores today.
18 Use Turmeric To Treat Cracked Heels
Cracked heels can ruin your look when you’re wearing a chic pair of heels, but you don’t have to run to the salon for a pedicure every time they appear.
Instead, follow in the footsteps of the ancient Indians and use turmeric to cure them.
All you have to do is mix the turmeric with coconut oil or castor oil, apply to the cracks and leave for fifteen minutes. Turmeric can also be used to reduce wrinkles and to lighten stretch marks.
17 Henna Hairstyles From The East
Modern hair dye can be your worst nightmare if you have a sensitive scalp. If coloring your hair makes you itch and flake like crazy, you can still switch up colors without turning to chemicals. Henna has been used for millennia to dye hair red, but also to moisturize the skin. Famous fans of henna included royal Egyptians Cleopatra and Nefertiti. It’s nowhere near as popular these days, but it’s still available if you’re looking for something a little different
16 Freshen Things Up With Mint
Mint was cheaper than other ingredients throughout the ancient world, so naturally, it was a go-to product for many women.
To create a super refreshing face mask, they would combine the mint with other ingredients such as cucumbers and honey, and allow it to sit on their faces.
The result would be skin that was radiant and glowing. If you want to make your own mint face mask, it’s best to use fresh mint leaves and pop them with the other ingredients in a blender.
15 Try Mung Beans For Acne
Mung beans are one of the lesser-known acne remedies out there, but the Chinese have sworn by them for ages (literally). There are numerous recipes online for mung bean acne treatment, but most of them call for fresh beans which are blended and sometimes mixed with other ingredients. They’re also a superfood to add to your diet, since they’re packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamin B6 and folate, and are especially helpful for women during pregnancy since they repair muscles and reduce stress.
14 The Super Powers Of Oil
Oil is what seems to bring all the other ancient super ingredients together and transform them into something that can act as a beauty miracle.
You could spend a lifetime discovering the benefits of every oil out there, or you can imitate the ancients by choosing their preferred oils.
Cleopatra is said to have liked almond oil as an anti-aging ingredient, while the Ancient Greeks cleared their complexions with olive oil. In India, oil pulling was one of the biggest ways to maintain top hygiene.
13 Pretend It’s The Renaissance And Put Egg On Your Face
Eggs have been used as ingredients in beauty regimes for centuries, and in the sixteenth century, they became all the rage. By applying just the protein-rich egg whites to their faces, women in Europe would tighten the overall texture of their skin. If cracking an egg and dabbing it on your face doesn’t really appeal to you, you can buy products online that contain both egg whites and yolks, and provide all their benefits, helping to increase elasticity and collagen levels.
12 Use Pearl Powder to Hydrate The Skin
Never heard of pearl powder before? You’re missing out!
Beauty gurus from the Ming Dynasty swore by pearl powder to moisturize their skin and even gave it to empresses to consume.
Today, evidence shows that pearl powder builds collagen, hydrates the skin and uses its natural calcium levels to solidify bones. Use this stuff, which can be purchased online, and you’ll find that your skin imperfections and red spots are minimized and your complexion boasts a light natural glow.
11 Keep Your Hands Young Like Marie Antoinette
Before the age of Botox and cosmetic injections, women put more emphasis on preventing the signs of aging. Marie Antoinette understood that the hands are the best place to start since they’re among the first areas of the body to show aging. She was said to have worn gloves that were lined with almond oil, wax and rose water every night to soften her hands. Gloves might be taking it too far, but the lesson is to never neglect your hands from your moisturizing regime.
10 Fix Your Energy Flow With Jade Rollers
The Chinese traditionally refer to the subtle energy flowing through the body as Qi, or Chi, and believe that it plays a super important role in your overall health. To allow the qui and blood circulation to flow properly, jade rollers were used in ancient times.
Not only would these polished rollers help the energy within to run on course, but they were also said to decrease wrinkles and de-puff the skin.
You can get your own jade roller today online.
9 Draw Out Impurities With Clay
Clay goes back to the days of the cavemen, so you can rest assured that it’s been trialed and tested properly. Animals use the stuff to cool their skin, and some even eat it to detox their systems. We know that clay purifies the body of toxins, which is why it’s such a popular ingredient that appears in many skincare products like scrubs and masks. Look for brands that also include oils, since clay on its own can be a little drying.
8 Avoid Over-Bathing To Keep Skin Healthy
If you’re lucky enough to have running water and enough money to pay the gas bill, the temptation to over-bathe is real.
But there is a downside to this, and the ancient world knew about it.
Excess bathing with different products tends to strip the skin of its healthy oils and free fatty acids. The result is the skin is left too dry to promote the health of good bacteria, which protect it. In most cases, a short shower a day is enough to stay clean.
7 Try Aztec Avocado Moisturizer
Just when you thought avocado couldn’t get any better! The Aztecs of central Mexico relied on avocado for many things, and especially enjoyed it as a skin moisturizer. The oil of avocado actually balances the skin by reducing the size of pores. Naturally, the stuff is really easily absorbed by human skin, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging up all your pores. There are plenty of avocado DIY recipes online, or you can buy avocado-infused skincare from many drugstores.
6 Hoax Alert: Lemons For Younger Skin
There are many benefits to lemons that the world has known about for thousands of years. Ancient societies documented the powers of lemons as brighteners and lighteners, leading the following generations of humans to turn to lemon as a skin color corrector and exfoliant. The truth?
Lemon juice is very acidic, which makes skin more prone to sun damage and will probably irritate it.
There are much better options when you’re looking for something to even up your tone.
5 Hoax Alert: Cucumbers To Reduce Under-Eye Swelling
The origins of cucumbers used to decrease eye bags aren’t commonly known, but this method has definitely been around for a while. Does it work? Technically, yes. Cucumbers can help relieve swelling around the eyes, but that’s not because cucumbers have magical powers. It’s just because they’re cold and wet. You could technically substitute them with anything else in your fridge to achieve a similar result. With all their caffeine and antioxidants, cold green tea bags are our best bet!
4 Hoax Alert: Corsets To Be More Appealing To Men
With celebrities promoting waist trainers on Instagram today, it’s clear that the trend of the corset is well and truly still alive.
In the 1800s, the undergarments of some women were laced so tightly that they restricted breathing.
And in the long term, they caused numerous internal issues like a misaligned spine, deformed ribcage, and muscle atrophy. Though they can re-shape a body, modern waist trainers can also restrict your ability to breathe, and some experts believe that they can cause damage when squeezing your organs.
3 Hoax Alert: Exfoliate With Sandpaper
Sandpaper isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to beauty regimes, but during times of poverty and lack (like during World War Two, for example), women used it for exfoliating and hair removal when nothing else was available. Though there are some popular products that use sandpaper to remove hair, using regular sandpaper from the hardware store is a terrible idea. There’s the chance of you really hurting your skin with its rough surface, or of contracting an infection.
2 Hoax Alert: Straighten Your Hair With Brown Sugar
Well before heat styling was a thing, women used natural products to mold their hair into styles that were trendy at the time.
Brown sugar has been said to make the hair straight naturally, but modern science has dispelled this myth.
There’s nothing within it strong enough to break the disulfide bonds that make curly hair. The most likely result of applying brown sugar to hair is a sticky mess, though if you’re lucky, it might act as a texturizer.
1 Hoax Alert: Use Kohl Instead Of Eyeliner
Kohl has been used for thousands of years to shape the eye and turn up the drama. This mixture of soot and minerals is still available today, but is it a good idea to use it instead of regular eyeliner? Kohl might give you a true Egyptian winged eye, but some experts believe that it’s also potentially dangerous. Some brands have high levels of lead because they’re made with lead sulfate. To stay totally safe, it’s better to stick to your regular Sephora go-to liner.
References: stylecaster.com, marieclaire.com, huffingtonpost.com, allure.com