We’re seeing clean skincare everywhere. With all of the hype and media frenzy surrounding it, it seems like green beauty is the hottest trend in skincare…but it’s far from new. Truth is, clean beauty was originally the only type of skincare there was. For many cultures ‘clean skincare’ is just…well…skincare. All of the chemicals, perfumes, and fillers we commonly find in modern day skincare are actually fairly new. Over the years we have steered away from using the plethora of healing ingredients our planet has to offer us and have replaced them with synthetic ingredients that only try to mimic the benefits of the former. But why did we make such a drastic shift away from what skincare originally was? Let’s take a look through skincare’s past and present to understand how we got here and what the future of skincare may look like.
The first known use of skincare dates back to Ancient Egypt over 6,000 years ago. In fact, skincare was so culturally significant to the Egyptians that it was common to spend hours every day performing skincare and beauty rituals. They used ingredients such as olive oil, essential oils, aloe vera, and milk to moisturize, preserve youth, and protect their skin from the sun. Even back then, the Egyptians knew the importance of SPF! (PSA: remember your sunscreen)
Another group of OG skincare junkies were the Ancient Romans and Greeks. Fun fact: The word “cosmetics” originates from the Ancient Roman term “cosmetae.” Cosmetaes were female slaves that spent their days gathering skincare ingredients, creating beauty products, and performing beauty rituals on their masters. Much like the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks would spend hours, if not whole days, having treatments done to their skin. One of the most fascinating products created was adding oils and sand together to prevent tanning of the skin.
Under the Shang Dynasty, women in China used the resources around them to create lighter complexions. It was also common for these women to even bleach their skin permanently. Some ingredients utilized were lead, feces, and chalk.
As much as I would love to tell you that the use of harmful substances ended after this, that’s sadly not true. Throughout the Medieval times and the European Renaissance, toxic ingredients such as lead and arsenic were used to create products to clear and lighten the skin. To make matters worse, these products were rarely washed off. It was more common to just layer on more of the products over the old. Hey, I never told you all of these would all be winners.
As time went on and we crept closer to modern age, the development of manufactured skincare and makeup began to expand rapidly. More and more beauty companies began to enter the market and their products started becoming more readily available and accessible to the public.
Now let’s take a look at the beauty industry of today. The first thing you should know is that it’s MASSIVE. Currently, the global beauty industry market has an estimated value of $511 billion. There are thousands of companies competing to sell their products and become the next big brand in skincare. And now, because of advertising and social media, they are marketed to us more than ever before. However, it seems like the more crowded the skincare market becomes, the more disconnect there seems to be between people and product. We are becoming more likely to purchase products based on social media hype, trendy packaging, and sneaky terminology. This means we are focusing less on the ingredients and more on the marketing. We are stepping further away from the sacred ritualistic view of skincare from the past, which is unfortunate. We should use our skincare routines and what we do to take care of ourselves and nourish our skin.
Luckily, with the recent rise (or re-rise) in clean skincare, we are learning more and more about what products are actually beneficial for our skin and just how many powerful ingredients are all around us. I believe that we are at a turning point with skincare and beauty as a whole. The more knowledgeable we are becoming about this industry, the more we care about what’s in our products and what goes into them. I’m so excited to continue watching clean beauty thrive and change the way we view both our skin and how we take care of ourselves!
Knowing the history of clean skincare is important to recognize the cultural roots from which it began. And respect the powers of the ingredients provided from humble beginnings.
Go to https://prettywellbeauty.com to shop products that are good for your skin, the planet, and the people making them!
By Taylor Maness