The Evolution of Skin Care
Ancient Ways of Skin Care
Skin care was given as much attention in the ancient world as it is today.
Skin care treatments were available in the 4th millennium BC in China and the Middle East, with ancient Egyptians developing recipes that included ingredients such as cucumber extracts, olive oil, moringa oil, plant resins and milk.
They recognised different skin needs and they used pigments such as kohl and malachite for cosmetic purposes (Hamton, 1987).
In India, an ancient holistic system designated Ayurveda, was developed to facilitate prolongation of life, in a healthy and balanced manner. The term “ayurveda” derives from Sanskrit and can be translated as the “science of life” or “the knowledge of life” (Raichur & Cohn, 1998).
While the practice of ayurveda is more than 5000 years old, the contemporary form of this system is based on texts written between 1500 BC and 400 AD. However, today’s skin care approach is more tailored to delivering solutions to compensate for the stress modern life imposes.
This system still encourages overall balance of life style as a form of holistic medicine. This system is based on a mix of three mind/body principles that create our characteristic. These are the doshas. For an in depth overview of this system see Raichur & Cohn (1998) and Chopra (http://www.chopra.com/ayurveda).
Modern Principals in Skin Care
In contrast to ancient ways to skin care, modern approaches are based on the scientific knowledge that underpins the physiology and biochemistry of the skin. In addition, the formulations developed have to meet high standards of efficacy, skin compatibility and aesthetic appeal.
To attain these, cosmetic companies have embarked on careful standardisation of ingredients and testing prior to launch in the market. To increase market differentiation, over the last 25 years companies have also began introducing technological developments to ensure better delivery of the active reagents.
Evidence for this is present in all media of advertising (Mennon & Wasan, 1988; Muller & Dingler, 1998; Schulz& Daniels, 2000).
However, this increased requirement for standardisation has also resulted in the use of synthetic agents, detergents and preservatives that have proved to be health hazards (Hampton, 1987).
This has had interesting consequences, as mainstream cosmetic houses have began focusing on developing new approaches that have a “natural” approach, using non-synthetic ingredients, following the trend started by the organic movement of the of the 1970’s, viewing beauty care and environmental sustainability interdependent (Hawn, 2008).
Fusion of Ancient and Modern Wisdom in Skin Care
The need for integrating ancient and modern ways for skin care is a natural consequence of having recipes that have been known to be effective as folklore, but that have been put to the test using modern day technology.
Thus, it is possibly to understand why ingredients such as almond oil, jojoba or vitamin E are effective agents in skin care ranges because we understand how these ingredients benefit cells.
For instance almond oil is a fantastic emollient, thereby providing the epidermis vegetable oils and fats that mix with those of the skin to reduce the roughness, giving rise to the smooth feeling skin. Jojoba has moisturising properties thereby maintaining the skin layer hydrated.
Vitamin E has anti-oxidant properties that are protective of free radicals and facilitated regeneration of damaged tissues (Hampton, 1987).
But, regardless of the modern or the more traditional ways of looking after our skin, it is also important to have fun to enable laughter and joy to help our physiological processes to repair and recover from stress in general.
There is no doubt that fun and relaxation are key to feeling great in our bodies and free in our souls.
Bibliography:Hampton, A. 1987. Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care. Organica Press. Tampa. Fl.
Hawn, C. 2008. Next Green: How luxury organic skin-care company Dr Hauschka has infused sustainability into its financial structure. Fast Company. (January Issue): 60-62.
Raichur, P. & Cohn, M. 1997. Absolute Beauty – Radiant skin and inner harmony through the ancient secrets of Ayurveda. Bantam Books. London.