When I open the medicine cabinet in our bathroom, what I see is mesmerizing. About 7.5 of the 8 shelves in there are jam packed with mysterious creams, tonics, and scrubs that my wife Michelle swears by as part of her beauty regimen. On the remaining half shelf that has been assigned to me (nomadic Neanderthal husband), sits my toothbrush, herbal deodorant, dental floss, a razor, and a tube of natural toothpaste. You could say Michelle owns this particular piece of real estate in our house and until recently, she alone knew what each of those little bottles of goo were good for.
But while I was down in the Amazon, I came across some ancient beauty treatments still in use today that sparked my curiosity about what women in the States use on their skin and hair. Once I got back to California, I began looking at the contents of some of Michelle’s products and was pleasantly stunned to see that most of the active ingredients are not new. In fact, many of them have been used since antiquity.
The main difference is that: a) the key ingredients in these new formulas are diluted with a bunch of filler substances, b) there is no saying where these new products are sourced from – in fact, only 70% of the ingredients need to be organic to fulfill the FDA’s “Organic” requirement, and c) most of these natural products actually contain a number of potentially toxic chemicals.
I brought it up to Michelle and according to her, the only way to get 100% natural and effective skin and hair tonics is to either make them yourself, or seek out a mom & pop shop on a mountaintop somewhere. A sad state of affairs that will hopefully change soon, because the chemicals that these major natural brands are sneaking into their stuff are not good.
Inspired by this apparent blind spot in the beauty industry, we did a bunch of digging and found some effective and fun ancient beauty formulas that you can make at home. But before we get to those, here are a few of the sneaky intruders that you should be on the lookout for in your favorite organic lotions and shampoos:
1.) Parabens – An extremely common preservative that has been shown to disrupt estrogen production and has also been detected in malignant tumors.
2.) Phthalates – Usually hidden under the word “fragrance,” a known hormone disruptor linked to reproductive defects
3.) Benzoyl Peroxide – Known skin and eye irritant; linked to the promotion of tumor growth.
4.) Triclosan – According to the EPA, this is a serious pesticide. Enough said.
Now on to the good news! Below are some time-tested beauty formulas that are easy to make and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. As Marvin Gaye once said, “There ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!”
Cleopatra Honey Scrub
Let’s start with one of the most legendary beauties of all time – the woman who made the hearts of both Caesar and Marc Antony go pitter pat. Known throughout the Mediterranean world for her goddess-like appearance, archaeological evidence indicates that Cleopatra and many other Egyptian head turners might have had a little help.
In addition to the extravagant and expensive practice of bathing in milk and honey, women of Egyptian royalty used a variety of natural creams, masks, and exfoliants. Below is a skin scrub formula that was recently discovered on a piece of medical papyrus dating back to the court of Thuthmosis III (1425 BC). Someone was so enamored by this prized formula that they asked for its recipe to be buried with them – if that’s not a rave review, I don’t know what is!
1 part Honey
1 part Natron – naturally occurring mixture of alkaline sodium salts (or use baking soda as a substitute)
1 part Lower Egyptian Salt – (use sea salt)
In addition to the above ingredients, essential oils were most likely added to this base to give it a pleasant aroma and further medicinal qualities. Frankincense and myrrh essential oils were treasured in Ancient Egypt and were likely used in formulas like this. Just a few drops will do!
Making the scrub:
Grind all of the ingredients together thoroughly, let set for 20 minutes and apply when ready. This scrub would have been rubbed onto the skin and left on for a few minutes, before being washed off with warm water. Remember, always try homemade treatments like this on a tiny patch of skin first to make sure you don’t have any allergic reaction to them.
Maya Hair and Scalp Fortification Wrap
While we were in Lake Atitlan, I couldn’t help but notice how strong and shiny the local women’s hair was – and I’m not the type to notice this kind of thing. 🙂 I didn’t realize the Maya had a secret formula that gave their locks such vibrance!
This world renowned Maya hair therapy is the epitome of DIY beauty care. Come to think of it, I have all the necessary ingredients for this nourishing Mesoamerican formula sitting in my kitchen right now. Chances are, you do too!
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Egg Yolk
Making the wrap:
In a small mixing bowl, whip all ingredients together until they form a batter. Massage the mixture into the hair and cover it using either a shower cap or other moisture resistant wrap. Let it sit for an hour, and rinse using your shampoo of choice. For longer hair, use a whole avocado and banana.
Ayurvedic Skin Toner (for oily or acne-prone skin)
Some of the remedies we dig up are pretty bizarre, but others like the skin toner below just make sense. Examine the three ingredients that make up this powerful skin mask – each one of them packs a medicinal wallop.
Goat yogurt, the base of this recipe, is back in mainstream use due to its pro-biotic potency and nutrient density. The peppery turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory that is high in anti-oxidants – currently praised by natural and clinical doctors as a super-herb (particularly for its favorable effects on cancer cells). And the fragrant sandalwood tree has a long documented history of use in beauty formulas, both for its delightful aroma and its desirable toning effect on the skin.
(In addition to balancing out the oils on the skin, this toner has antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and functions as a gentle cleanser.)
3 tsp goat yogurt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp sandalwood powder
Making the mask:
Simply mix all the ingredients together and let stand for 1/2 an hour in the refrigerator. Apply it to your face and wash off with warm water after 10 minutes.
I hope you find these three ancient beauty formulas to be useful. If you’re the rugged male type who isn’t wild about pampering your skin, you might want to forward this on to your lovely partner, sister or mom – who will be shocked that you know a little something about the finer things in life. I know my wife was!
Last but NOT LEAST, when interrogating my wife about her products, she told me that there is one beauty brand with true integrity that she and all of her friends use, hailing their oils, mists, and hair tonics as being absolutely pure and heartfully crafted.
The company is called Annmarie Gianni Skin Care, and you can check out their line of wild-crafted serums, scrubs, and oils at the link below:
That’s all for now!