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 Tom’s 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 Maya lands, 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’s 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 exfoliant 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 from antiquity 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 it’s 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!
I love your attention and the wonderful sendings. Thanks a lot.
Best wishes for a good energy and initiatifs,
Thank you thank you! My daughter and I will be trying these recipes. Love what you do….
hi nick i love your news letter and these beauty tips are great but i wonder if you have any more advice on this subject and if you could put out a newsletter on this subject thanks and keep up the great work you do
It’s almost two years that I’ve thrown away all comericial cosmetics and creams I had and to only use coconut and argan oil. My skin is very gratefull. Thank you for posting these receipts, I’ll add them to severeal others I’ve collected browsing here and there. best, lila
Many thanks once again for all your information. I shall surely try this. I learnt sometime back that we should only use stuff on our skin or head that we can eat. Thought it strange then, but now I totally agree.
thanks for the formulas I love using food if you can eat it use it on the body
Maybe it takes a woman to know another woman’s needs… Anyhow, one must differentiate between Organic and Biological products. Chemical products may have some organic ingredient but are nonetheless chemical. Biological may not always be fully organic BUT have no harmful chemicals in them. Good brands that I know of and have tried are: John Master’s Organics, Dr Hauscka, Santé, Uertekram, Rosenserien (Swedish brand without any water, basic ingredient is pure Aloe Vera), Faith by Nature, Weleda. Check out their lists of ingredients!
Alexandra, do you write from outside USA?
As someone who is a chemist and grows his own vegetables naturally, I was amazed to learn what the word “organic” means here in the USA. Yes, it is incorrectly used for “biological”, i.e. not containing artificial/synthetic chemicals. Which both in the personal care and in agriculture are primarily organic molecules 🙂
And then there is of course the green washing which is so powerful today with labels “Natural”, “Organic” etc, which do not always translate as “good for you and/or the environment” 🙂
I had come to the computer to look up certain beauty products. The company starts with an O, ends with a Y. Checking email, I found this first. Thank you. I will try them, have most ingredients. Reminds me of a trip to Panama. We had a trip through the forest with the medicine man. Wish we could’ve taken home some of his fresh products and knowledge. Love your site!
Thank you Nick for the awesome article. Please thank your wife for me also. Blessings
Thank you so much Nick. I’m trying them right now. As a hairstylist suffering from extreme chemical sensitivity after years of exposure to all kinds of toxic chemicals, I love trying new diy recipes. I already make all my own products…toothpaste, rinse, cleanser, scrub, moisturizer utilizing natural oils and essential oils, etc. As well as making my own natural cleaning products. I have not tried these combinations before and can’t wait to see the results.
Thank you for the lovely recipes!
Can’t wait to get started!
are also really good organic brands!!!
Thank You. i love reading your blog. I used to use Toms toothpaste until I found that Carageean which is in it causes brain inflamation. I am now making my own toothpaste. You might want to do the same. Why do many of these “natural” companies still use fillers and perservatives?
Strange to see your wife both has a cabinet full of toxic chemicals (first sentence) and then at the same endorses a natural alternative (the end). Something is lost here in the story/product placement 🙂
At home I make even my own toothpaste (powder). Very picky on our soaps. No cosmetics. Perfumes – natural essential oils.
Glad to see your recipes. I just recently helped a 80+ year old relative back home get rid of nasty psoriasis with the help of Egyptian magic which is based on bee products only. The wisdom of the ancient has been tested with the time, not with the animals in the lab and the stock market price of the companies making them 🙂
Thank you so much for this information. I have been looking for all natural ways to care for my skin and hair. Please keep it coming, any additional information that you come across would be much appreciated. Is there a website where perhaps you can just buy these mixtures all ready made instead of doing it myself?
I’m SOO glad you mentioned the hair conditioner. I’ve been using it for over a year now as a deep conditioner, and I love it.
Just a couple tips:
Make sure you blend the avocado and banana well (a blender/ninja/bullet helps ALOT). If you don’t, it may be likely to get a couple clumps stuck in the hair, especially thicker and curlier/kinkier hair types.
Also, if you opt in for the egg (I don’t always use it), make sure you rinse your hair with cool water, so as not to cook/boil the egg in the hair. lol
These are just from my experiences
Sandalwood is in danger of being wiped because it is over harvested. It is crucial to find alternatives to using any form of sandalwood. Please provide an alternative to the recipe listed here.
Thank you Nick for the tips!
I am curious, in which country did you film the documentary of he 8 patients?
You might want to check your tooth paste for “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, not good stuff.
Last time I checked, Tom’s use it in their tooth paste as a foaming agent.
Thanks for all your great info.
Girls, these 3 recipes are great and easy!
Thank you, Nick. I am so grateful you are doing this!
Thanks Nick, your work is very much appreciated
Thank you so much for this. My daughter’s beautiful, long locks have recently been falling out , cause unknown, so have passed on this information to her. Thanks again!
I think you just brought me a little bit closer to chemical-free living; thanks!
HI there. Having oily, acne-prone skin, I would like to tell you about my own skincare regime which I’m quite in love with. I use diluted pure organic Apple Cider Vinegar as a skin toner- about one part ACV to two parts water – but use your intuition here. I have found my overall skin’s appearance has really improved. And I moisturise with a little bit of coconut oil.
Unfortunately, us Vegans cannot enjoy any of these. Honey, egg yolks and goat yogurt?
Maybe you can do an article on plant based beauty products and/or healing elixirs? We would love it!!! For the animals, our Planet and our health!
I simply LOVE your wisdom! Thank you for your posts. They always come in a most “timely” manner, and awaken bits of my soul’s ancient wisdom as well as confirm that the wanderer’s path is right below my feet and above my head, it is everywhere as it connects to everyone.
Touched by the Universe.
I just sampled a mullein seed,taken from the stalk of one of my mullein plants It was not hard yet so I presume immature but it made a nice snack like a sun flower seed, Ever heard of someone doing this. Are mullein seeds medicine?
Try the working from "home" route? I’ve been working freelance since graduating university; copywriting on Elance, social media work with Appen, and now an on-going gig as a copywriter/social media manager for a SME global logistics My minimum hourly is $14/hr, but many of my gigs end up being more than It’s not white-collar America level, but it allows me to set my own hours and live where I Right now my wife and I are living in Guatemala on $700 a month – the rest is going toward student loans and a travel Moral of the story: working online may not provide a living wage right out university in the States or Canada, but it can certainly support a travel lifestyle if you base yourself out of a low-budget
Hi Nick, thank you for all this valuable information,, really enjoyed it..Have a good Christmas,,,enjoy..xx
I’m a natural person and use many natural remedies including many you have written about with good results. Thank you!
je viens de découvrir votre page. Elle est vraiment enrichissante/ Je vais essayer os recette;
MERCI DU FOND DU COEUR.
You are so generous with your information; thank you Nick et al…
Just want to say thank you for all the hard work you put into these treasures. The recipes are true treasures. Blessings
Thanks for sharing this! Reading a book called “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” is what started my journey into researching health and nutrition. My personal guideline is to never use anything on my skin that I would not eat. My favorite skin moisturizers? Grassfed beef tallow and Walkabout Emu Oil. The tallow is almost identical to our own skin’s sebum and very inexpensive if you render it yourself. There are lots of family businesses that make tallow skin products, too. Calendula tincture (1 part tincture to 4 parts water) is another favorite for skin, especially for wound care. It speeds healing.
Thanks again and keep learning!
Very nice suggestions there, Katie! Thanks for sharing that with the community 🙂 Best on your continued learning into natural medicine and healthy living! Keep us posted.
Excellent work and all 3 beauty diy seem quite easy and effective thanks a lot fr sharing .
All I want to say is thank you, thank you for all that you do in your researcher and for sharing the amazing final product with me. I deeply appreciate you for all your shared research and knowledge that you pass on. Always curiously connected.
Nick, I am from Guatemala and I use avocado on my hair when weather is warm in Canada. Even plain mashed avocado do wonders for your hair. Smash it properly as clumps will be difficult to rinse out. Love Lake Atitlan! Wish I could retire there. Thanks for sharing these recipes.
I like the report on medicine known by the American native tribes. I liked to hear what the wise man would tell you about the cannabis plant.
Myself I got in 1949 a mild narcolepsy. Until today nobody could tell me why and by what medicine this nuisance could be eliminated.
So, our western pharma-medicine is to a great extent a disaster.
Regarding triclosan: it is a compound cousin of agent orange and breaks down into dioxin! Check your toothpaste and any other items in your bathroom, then continue to check labels on future purchases. Too many dangerous aspects to list.
Thank you for sharing …!!!🧘🏾♀️❤️🙏🏾🌿 🤗
Good day ,Thankyou for alerting me about all the nasties that we put on our faces ,hair and bodies.I am on a lot of meds for different illnesses so I don’t want to add to that list.I am going to be more alert about what I use in future.kind regards.
Nick there is nothing like this out there online as far as I know, You will make a difference. I love your blog and the opportunity to get to know you through your writing. I have been looking for better natural products to use on my skin and don’t want to go to a dermatologist anymore since I am not pleased about how my skin looks their way. Part of it is age, but the other part is not. Looking forward to reading your book on your trip to the Rain Forest.