We spent our recent summer holidays immersed in Greece. Fascinated by historical events of the Minoan civilisation 4000 B.C, we noticed how attractive the people are illustrated in the well-preserved fresco’s. Sparking conversations with my pre-teen, comparing the ancient frescoes images with how social media bombards our youth with what it deems as ‘beautiful’.
Why did they use cosmetics anyway?
Depending on the ancient era, the fresco paintings made a statement about wealth, prestige, independence, vanity, religious rituals and protection.
Rich Ancient Greek citizens were able to afford expensive luxuries like make-up. Images of those in higher-society had long golden hair and porcelain skin tones. They were wealthy, prestigious, financially secure, not needing to work in the fields to support themselves.
Irrespective of a citizen’s wealth or status, all Ancient Egyptians, they loved their make-up for vanity, protection from the sun, religious rituals and the after-life. They were all hygienic and frequently washed. Everyone in society moisturised their skin to prevent it drying and cracking under the sun’s harsh conditions.
With naturally darker skin tones, the Ancient Romans wanted their skin to look lighter. Initially make-up was used mainly for their rituals, but later became part of a woman’s daily life. Sourced from Germany and China, the wealthy imported the cosmetics to the regions. Rich women used female slaves to apply their make-up, who also created lotions and cosmetics for their wealthy owners. Poorer women settled for cheaper knockoffs, which required more frequent applications.
All natural skin care?
The Greeks applied creams with honey, combing olive oil for that special glow. For their lips and eye-shadows, they used earth-based pigments, ochre clays, red iron oxide, beeswax with ground charcoal, using darker powders to create the uni-brow! But the toxic white lead on their faces cut their glamorous wealthy lives short.
In the Egyptians’ cosmetics, they used Malachite, a mineral stone with extraordinary green colour. Its use is linked to death, after-life, fertility and new life. Other colours were obtained from ground lapis lazuli stones or Pivet trees, giving the reddish-brown dye called Henna, used to paint and the skin. To lengthened lashes and enhance eyebrows, they used black kohl, animal fat mixed with powdered lead sulphide.
The Romans combined Malachite with blue azurite for their eye-shadow, together with date stones and charred petal roses. Natural ingredients were used like poppy, mulberry juice, barley, honey, lentils, oregano seeds, vinegar as well as essence of rose or myrrh. Imported from Belgium was red ochre clays, thought wine dregs, sheep’s fat, blood and crocodile dung have to be the most interesting selections. To lightened their darker complexions they applied chalk powder, marl or toxic white lead.
Surely, Beauty products have evolved in the 21st Century?
Beauty products have changed since their inception over time. Though many wonderful ingredients have been replaced with non-natural chemical substances. Scarily these include solvents, parabens, nano-particles, asbestos, hormones and bleaching agents. The unnatural preservatives enable products to be stored for years in shopfront windows in direct sunlight. These toxins are absorbed and distributed by our cells throughout the body.
Found in every day products like hair dyes, cleansers, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioners, soaps, shaving gel, baby wipes, soft toys for infants and pets, bubble bath, deodorant and toothpaste, as well as lipstick, mascara, nail polish, body or sun lotions, foundation, talcum powder, bottled water, carbonated drinks and decaffeinated coffee.
These harmful ingredients can cause damage to the liver, heart, brain, lungs, central nervous system, birth defects, kidney and blood disorders. The body manifests hair loss, skin damage, itching, redness, dermatitis amongst other more serious problems.
Are there any beneficial ingredients in today’s products?
Yes! Modern times has allowed us to learn about the amazing benefits of plants, vegetables and butters when combined into our skincare products. Essential Oils generated from plants and flowers have natural gorgeous fragrances, with antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Vegetable oils are carriers, rich in vitamins that assist skin cell regeneration and protection. Some have the same pH as the body and re-balance human sebum. Others are natural preservatives, reduce cells stress and naturally assist the anti-ageing process. We’re able to create wonderful scrubs and exfoliants using ingredients found in the kitchen that don’t need preservatives if made fresh in small batches.
The scary message of Social Media about ourselves?
Whether we choose to buy expensive or cheaper brands of cosmetics, the frightening message Social Media is telling us about ourselves is ‘we’re not good enough, and we should hide who we are behind loads of make-up’.
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with wearing make-up to get glammed up, for going out and looking wonderful. But is it necessary to always feel the need to hide who we really are?
We’re following celebrities, famous and glamorous movie stars, singers and influencers. They’re rarely seen without a full-face or body make-up, some hiding blemishes, skin conditions and imperfections. I feel the ‘social media generation’ are constantly searching for role-models and images of what they perceive as beautiful.
The irony is that many use Social Media apps like Snapchat and Instagram filters to alter or enhance their real appearance, colour and size, to ensure they’re gaining more ‘likes and followers’. These ‘fun tools’ distort the way they see and accept themselves.
As a movement towards ‘Being My Own Kind of Beautiful’, I post photos on Instagram as a statement of self-love and acceptance. I’m wearing my all-natural skincare products which hydrate my skin without foundation. I threw out my paraben loaded brands and stopped applying 4 years ago. This is to show my followers that it’s better to deal and heal skin related issues through healthier nutritional options than to cover-up or worsen these conditions.
I hope we can re-educate the next generation of youth through history and shared stories to love their own beautiful, choosing better options for their long-term happiness and health.
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