Health and Beauty, An Ancient History

As I talked about before, the green beauty movement may seem like a new trend, but really it is a turning back to the wise ways of our ancestors who walked this planet before us and used the plants around them for health and beauty long before modern science deemed them valuable or trends deemed it cool.

The Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians had a great love of their cosmetics and skincare and used oil, gems, clays, soot, and animal products to achieve their desired effects. Fenugreek was one herb they used for the appearance of youth. They had a method of taking fenugreek through a long process that resulted in an concoction (an ungent) that allowed the oils of dried fenugreek to be massaged onto the body. It was said to make one appear young again. The process was a complicated one that seems to be part magic and part cosmetic but even today fenugreek is used in many facial mask recipes for it’s anti-aging and rejuvenating properties. (1)

The Egyptians were also known to mix barley with butter to heal skin imperfections like acne and pimples, and use a mixture of chalk and oil to remove their make up. (yes women have been wearing make-up forever!) (2)

The Celts

But they were not our only ancestors to use the gifts of the earth for beauty and skincare, the ancient Celts were very familiar with the plants and herbs that grew around them and how to use them for skin care. It is known that the Celts used burdock for healing the blood understanding that the blood affected the skin. Celtic shamans used to give concoctions of burdock root to teenagers to help with acne thus enhancing their beauty. (3)

In the same neck of the woods the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands were known to use Elder Flowers to heal and promote beauty in the skin through washes and face balms mixed with lard. Elder flower is used today in many formulas for its anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties.

The Greeks

The Greeks also had a love of beauty. They used cosmetics and took the time to care for their skin. They were a culture that had an understanding of the aging process so among their favorites were olive oil for keeping the skin soft and supple while protecting from the damaging effects of the sun. They also had a love of honey and used this in face masks and facial treatments. Both of which are still used today. (4)

The Eastern Indians

The Indians of the East have also been using herbs and plants for thousands of years to promote balance, health, and well being through their Ayurvedic traditions. Commonly used herbs of the ancient Indians were sandalwood, neem, turmeric, tusli and saffron. They would incorporate these into creams and masks to nurture and balance the skin. (4)

How did they know?

Without science and labs our ancestors understood the properties of the herbs that grew around them. How did they know the things they knew? They were observant. They understood the energies of the plants. They understood the environments that the plants grew in and how this translated to the properties the plant offered in healing. They were quiet in their spirits and used their intuition. And they observed the results of the herbs they used when they followed their intuition to use them. Of course they also passed the knowledge on others and shared what they knew for the benefit of others.

Today we are still using much of what our ancestors used for healing and beauty while discovering through science just how spot on they were.

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