Skin care has always been an extremely important subject among royals throughout history. Different civilizations and different royals have had their own preferences when it came to skin care, but royals from almost each and civilization were known to be obsessed with beautiful looking skin. And if the pictures and documents are anything to go by, most royals actually had beautiful skin. Here are some of the royal skin care secrets. Hopefully, you will find something worth adding to your own skin care routines.
Skin care started around the year 10000 BC, when the royalty of Ancient Egypt began to use ointments and scents to soften their body and mask their odor. This soon trickled down to the local populace and cosmetics became a highly integral part of Egyptian hygiene. Some of the basic ingredients used in Ancient Egypt for skin care include aloe, olive oil, rosemary, chamomile, lavender, almond oil and thyme. Around the year 4000 BC, the royals of Egypt began to use malachite (copper mineral paste) and galena mesdemet (copper and lead ore paste) on their face to give it color. They also used a unique combination of copper ores, ochre, almonds, oxidized copper, ash and lead. Royals carried their makeup in small boxes and kept them under their chairs in parties and social events.
Around the year 3,000 BC, the Chinese princesses used gelatin, beeswax and gum to stain their fingernails. Black and red were considered to be the colors of royalty and women from the lower classes were barred from using bright colors on their nails. Around the same time, the royalty in Ancient Egypt transformed their skin care methods following goddesses of beauty such as Queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti. It is believed that some of the tricks used in Ancient Egypt in this era was the use of gold in skin care, bathing in milk, rubbing the skin with aloe vera, the use of pumice stones to exfoliate the skin and the use of herbs and plant compounds as eye shadows.
Around the year 1,200 BC – 500 BC, the Shang Dynasty started a new era in the history of China. The country had already managed to build a developed society and most practices of the Ancient Chinese culture blossomed during this time. It is believed that the first lip powders and facial powders saw their way into Chinese society around this time. Great stress was put on the face and secrets of Chinese medicine were used in skin care. It is also believed that royals from the Shang and Zhou dynasties opted for a natural and healthy look. However, this look soon gave way to skin lighteners, face powders and makeup pallets.
The Archaic Period (750 BC – 500 BC) in Ancient Greece was one where Greece was considered to be one of the most developed societies in the world. Grecian royalty easily rivaled their Chinese and Egyptian counterparts in terms of skin care and beauty. In fact, their proximity to Egypt meant that trading routes were developed between the two countries and that items of skin care were exchanged. Egypt was known to import things like fruits, vegetables and nuts and share their recipes for skin care and techniques for sewing seeds. The use of Kohl to highlight the eyes was quite common among Greek women. Greek royals were also known for their berry red colored lips and their use of white lead or chalk to give their skin a lighter appearance. Wigs were not as common as Egypt, but some royals were known to use wigs to give their hair a thicker look. Dyes made out of henna were extremely popular with Grecian royalty as well.
Imperial China (361 BC – 206 BC) saw China transforming into the Qin dynasty. It saw the first of emperors in China and the emergence of Imperial China. The renowned Imperial Court was populated by concubines, court ladies and noble men and this gave the ideal platform for the development of cleansing regimes. According to reports, the first skin care routine in China was developed by an Empress, who was desperate to keep her skin youthful in order to compete with the other beautiful women in the court. She also recorded her methods so as to share them with other women in court. These books were believed to be the first written records of a skin care system. The empress based her methods on the age old methods of skin care and used herbal medicine, natural products and cleanliness to ensure that her skin looks young and beautiful. She believed that using cleansers made from seaweed and jelly fish would do wonders for the face and special massage techniques could help in boosting blood circulation and ensuring that the skin looks beautiful.
The Roman Republic (500 BC – 30 BC), best known for the size of its empire, was also famous for its skin care and sense of personal hygiene. However, the Roman tendencies for grandeur made them focus more on external and sensual pleasures rather than on advancing science and philosophy. Roman royalty were famous for their hygiene and the queens, princesses and royal concubines were famous for coming up with new skin care methods to cleanse their skin and make it look beautiful. Apart from the novel Roman bath system (the very first example of indoor plumbing), the Romans were also known to use skin lighteners and crocodile dung to keep their face soft and supple. Romans also used a number of natural substances to create moisturizers and lotions and rubbed them onto their skins to get soft and smooth skin. Honey, beeswax and plant oils were the most commonly used ingredients.
The Elizabethan Era (1500 AD – 1599 AD) saw yet another transformation in terms of skin care. Under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, England actually saw an expansion which allowed it to create colonies all over the world. These expansions and the wide scale developments in science and culture also helped to redefine skin care and beauty as new and improved practices were opened up to the empire. Queen Elizabeth was herself known for her flawless looking skin and her elaborate skin care routines. She was considered to be the first woman of her time to use a made-up appearance. Painting her face with a white powder that was made of carbonate, hydroxide and lead and using red paint to color the cheeks and lips was extremely common in this era.
Another piece of history worth mentioning is that of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria ushered a new age of modesty. Pale looks were still in fashion and women were constantly cautioned to stay out of the sun because of the damage it caused to their skin. Zinc oxide and lampblack eye shadows were used and delicate appearance was considered to be the need of the hour. To this effect, women rubbed their faces with lemon juices, drank vinegar in hopes that it would give them a pale complexion and pinch their cheeks to give themselves a feverish glow.
As is clearly evident, skin care has played an integral part throughout history and it continues to do so. Yes, modern day methods have evolved significantly, but they are entirely based on the practices and the use of natural ingredients of the bygone era.