This is something that I’ve recently heard, and which has caught my attention.
Have you ever noticed how we tend to blame it on our “generation”? Go on and blame today’s society! And for each era, its scapegoat. But have social medias perverted us that much? Is our concern to look good and gorgeous the symptom of a generation hypnotized by screens and addicted to the “#LookIAmFabulous”?
If we look closer on the history of the cosmetics, we actually find an initial response.
It appears that self-care has been humans’ preoccupation since the dawn of time (all things considered…).
Just picture this, an Egyptian papyrus (the Edwin Smith Papyrus) came up with the conclusion that: “if we rub the skin with this product, its complexion becomes perfect. Baldness, freckles, aging spots and redness that damage the epidermis are healed by the same means”.
That is to say that all today’s little matters were actually already yesterday’s little matters.
You could argue that “yeah, but back then, products were not that complex”.
Well think again!
Papyri actually introduced very precise protocols with complex formulas.
Then, the Greco-Roman peoples legged us precious archeological gems and texts that have been studied.
Formulation were often anhydrous, sometimes with resins, flowers, gums, perfumed peels in order to create oils, balms, ointment, and plaster.
Modern physicochemical research and knowledges can confirm the dermo-cosmetic benefit of molecules used in those formulas. So this is not that far from what we use today!
And this is the most marveling thing. Nowadays’ technology allows us to understand the significance of ancestral know-how, and noble and natural materials.
For instance, at the Louvre Museum, we can see on a decor’s fragment of an Egyptian tomb (back in 6 B.C), women using the process of enfleurage with lily flowers.
Yet, we now know how active molecules influence our epidermis. Pancratium maritimum (Mediterranean lily) extract inhibits a protein responsible for melanogenesis and thus, pigmentary spots.
Also, let’s not forget that yesterday and just as today, dermo-cosmetic products play an important role in the protection of our skin from environmental conditions: sun, wind, drought, etc. – and I weight my words -. Indeed, the skin is a fundamental vital organ with vital functions in order for our organism to survive. So, let’s take care of our skin without second-guessing because taking care of our skin has nothing shallow!
Furthermore, dermo-cosmetic cares represent just a tiny fraction of our complex historical quest for embellishment. And this is a whole other subject: what drive our needs for embellishment, whatever they may be? Does this belong to human nature?
*« Pour transformer un vieillard en jeune homme (Papyrus Smith XIX, 9-XX, 10) ». Dans Mélanges Maspero, t. I, MIFAO, t. 66/1. Le Caire, 1935-1938, p. 853-877.