Ancient Egyptians influenced many things, including our perception of makeup and beauty. At the height of Egyptian civilization, men and women alike paid great attention to looking good and taking care of their skin, and history tells us that many makeup products, such as lipstick and eyeliner, became popular during that time.
When we think of beauty rituals in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra’s iconic blue eyeshadow and dramatic Kohl eyeliner come to mind, but that’s not all there is to it.
In 6000 B.C., beauty rituals were just as popular as makeup; perhaps, even more important, thanks to their spiritual and religious connotations. Thankfully, most ancient Egyptian beauty secrets aren’t as elusive as the construction of the pyramids, and today, you can follow the pampering rituals of Egyptian queens at home.
Here are just a few that you can try:
Milk baths & masks
Cleopatra is famous for taking baths in donkey milk, but did you know this wasn’t just a royal fad? The lactic acid in milk has mild exfoliating properties so, apart from feeling fabulous, it gently removes dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover. The same treatment worked for the face as well, and Egyptian women often made face masks with milk and honey, which served a dual purpose: the milk gently exfoliated the upper layer of the skin, while honey, thanks to its nourishing properties, kept the skin smooth and plump.
Milk and honey face masks are easy to make at home, but if you’d feel like filling the entire bathtub with milk, we totally get you. Fortunately, this classic formula can be found in many modern beauty products, so you can achieve the same results with body washes and body lotions. Just make sure you look at the ingredients because you don’t just want something that smells like milk and honey.
Ancient Egyptians took personal hygiene very seriously, and they believed that a dirty body was impure. Apart from applying scented incense pellets underarms as a deodorant, they also took many baths, and they’re one of the first civilizations to use soap. More specifically, they made a soap paste out of clay, natural oils, milk and sometimes dried scented flowers. Most of the time, soaps were used for cleansing, but they also had medicinal properties.
But isn’t soap bad for you, you might ask? Not if it’s made with quality natural ingredients. The cheap “beauty bars” you can find in supermarkets are filled with harsh cleansing agents that dry out your skin, but good soap is different. For example, you can use goat soaps, which are packed with vitamins and minerals that your skin loves. Goat milk soap also has fatty acids, amino acids, and enzymes that keep your skin soft and nourished, cleaning it gently without harming its natural biome.
Goat milk is actually a fantastic ingredient that the beauty world is beginning to rediscover. In addition to its nourishing properties, it also has anti-aging benefits, soothes irritations, and strengthens the skin’s protective barrier. It’s so gentle that the entire family can use it, including your kids!
When the beauty industry ditches a popular practice in favor of an ancient one, we should definitely be paying attention. Sugaring, the ancient Egyptian waxing practice that involves honey and sugar, is regaining popularity, and many upscale salons prefer it to the traditional hot wax because it’s less painful. That’s a good argument by itself, but the benefits of body sugaring don’t stop there. This practice is also safer because it only uses natural ingredients, it doesn’t burn your skin, and doesn’t leave that gross gooey residue that’s so difficult to remove.
Just like in the case of waxing, the results last for up to 4 weeks, but you won’t have to deal with the side-effects: sugaring causes minimal bumps and irritation, it’s safe for sensitive skin, and works as an exfoliating treatment too. What’s not to love?
Dead Sea salts exfoliation
Exfoliation is a great way to get rid of old skin cells and prep your skin for applying lotions. These days, we associate exfoliation with those harsh synthetic beads, but ancient Egyptians had a better, natural way of exfoliating their skin: Dead Sea salts. Since biblical times, the Dead Sea has been attributed health benefits and even miraculous properties.
As far as skincare goes, Dead Sea salts are recommended because they restore depleted minerals, balance pH levels, and improve circulation. If you’ve had a bad day, a short exfoliating session with Dead Sea salts will not only lift your spirits but also energize you and alleviate tension.
You can make your own Dead Sea salt exfoliant at home, by mixing one cup of salts with an oil of your choice (coconut, grapeseed, almond, etc.), and a teaspoon of vitamin E. For extra pampering, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.