History Of Skin Care Products

History Of Skin Care

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Thousands of years ago, body cleansing served mainly religious purposes. The peoples of primitive times painted their faces and bodies with mineral pigments and already knew of the fragrant and beneficial effects of various tree resins and plant oils.



Cosmetic Culture in Ancient Egypt

By the time of ancient Egypt, a full-fledged cleaning and makeup culture had developed. Egyptians did not use soap as we know it today, nor any specialized facial cleanser, such as toner or cleansing milk. It is known, however, that Egyptians added an ointment to their cleansing water, which lightly foamed when rubbed together with ash and clay. They washed before entering a temple, for example, because they wished to be clean and well-groomed when they encountered the gods. In contrast to today, the sun-bronzed skin was considered rather ordinary. Wealthy and aristocratic people were recognized by their pale complexion; as they did not need to work outside, their skin was spared from constant sun exposure.

History Of Skin Care
The Culture of Washing in Antiquity

The ancient Greeks and Romans adopted Egyptian cosmetic and washing culture and perfected it. Many public baths, or “thermae,” were opened in Roman Empire. During this period, the “upper ten thousand” would meet there, not only to bathe but also to interact. These baths became the most important element of social life and were often equipped with libraries, galleries, and parks.

History Of Skin Care

Bath Houses in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, crusaders brought back new knowledge and experiences from their countless campaigns, including fragrances and cosmetics. Throughout Europe, public baths were opened in newly the formed cities, although they were not nearly as luxurious and spacious as their Roman predecessors. These facilities were visited by men and women together—from all classes.

After some time, the public baths fell into disrepute, as they were linked to the rapid spread of epidemics such as the plague, cholera, and syphilis. Moreover, people feared an advancing moral decline due to the lack of separation of the sexes in the bathhouses. This led to the gradual closing of the baths by public authorities.

History Of Skin Care

Hygiene and the Sun King

In the age of absolutism under the “Sun King,” Louis XIV, facial care, and hygiene, on the whole, were badly neglected. In fact, it was even frowned upon to wash oneself with water. People masked unpleasant odors with elaborate fragrance creations. Nonetheless, it is known that the king himself had a “ghastly odor.” Even skin rashes were simply covered up with small “beauty patches,” instead of being treated with ointments.


The Shift

These practices finally changed for the better by the end of the 18th century. People had begun to recognize that a relationship existed between cleanliness and good health. Public baths, as well as bathtubs in private households, became more popular.

In addition, a better understanding had developed of the available facial care products and their ingredients. A manual for cosmetic advice from 1897 warned, for example, that “a paste of mercury rubbed on the skin causes loose teeth, sweet-smelling breath, salivation, etc.”

History Of Skin Care

New Product Forms

Scientific discovery and technological advancement brought about the introduction of mass-produced face and body care products during the second half of the 19th century. Chemists in Germany between 1920 and 1930 developed a range of new products, including skin creams and cleansing emulsions. This laid the foundation for the rapid growth of the skin care industry after the end of World War II. The production of deodorants, which were much more affordable than perfumes, led to the widespread distribution of pleasant smelling products among the population.

Today, it is hard to imagine life without our modern, widely available cosmetics and skin care products. Due to the development, production, and marketing of new and innovative products, we will continue to be confronted with an ever larger and more exciting range of products in the future.

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