A young woman sits on the river bank in Egypt. She carefully mixes pure desert sand into an earthen bowl of aloe vera juice. She stands up and starts to gently scrub her skin with the mixture, massaging it into her shoulders, arms, face and neck, with the timing of a temple ritual. She wades into the Nile and rinses. The sand acts as a natural exfoliant; the aloe vera a toner and astringent. She is completing her skincare routine for the day. The year? 2000BC.
Natural skincare routines are as old and as mysterious as the Sphinx - it was only with the advent of modern laboratories that synthetics were added to, or began to replace natural ingredients in skincare products. In terms of a timeframe, the use of synthetic substances in skincare could be represented by just a single grain of sand...
So let's look at why we stopped the ways of the princesses of the pyramids - and what has prompted a return to the natural order in the noughties.
Why the move to machine-made methods? The main answer of course is - it's inexpensive. Once developed and created, synthetic skin and makeup ingredients are cheap and relatively easy to produce. Are companies going to go for a laboratory based product that can be replicated in the millions, or rely on a rare flower from the fields of Grasse that may or may not bloom depending on the weather? Glycerine is a lot easier to find than ginkgo biloba… and consumers like to pay less than the gross domestic product of Peru for a tube of moisturiser!
So why, since the late 90s, have we seen such an increase in demand for organic products? Several reasons really; nature rather than nurture is seen as healthier for our skin; there is an increasing ‘without additives’ element to the way we view beauty products. Interestingly though, a recent poll conducted by bellabox found that the primary reason for choosing organic products is that they are not tested on animals - not because they are chemical free or because they are seen as better for us.
Several boutique skincare and makeup brands - and a surprising number of large conglomerates' smaller branches - now sell just because they are known as '100% organic'. Aussie companies are doing very well on the world market - bush ingredients are beautiful!
Are Organics Extra-Ordinary?
The question remains - are organic skincare and makeup ingredients actually superior to synthetics? It seems to depend on taste and planetary pritorities - although some people are more outspoken than others!
Organic products can be safer for those with sensitive skin, although if you have allergies you should still check the ingredients carefully. Naturally produced products have definitely been shown to have better effects on people with serious health issues as well, such as cancer, immune-compromised conditions and 'fragile X' syndrome. Apart from anything else, most organic releases smell and feel amazing - and make your skin glow with happiness and health.
There is no pressure to be natural on anyone. If you do want to choose authentic over synthetic, bellabox has some of the best brands out there - so be eco-friendly easily by shopping online! No carbon-gobbling cars needed for a mall run by shopping the bellabox way...
Maybe that young Egyptian girl would have argued with her best friend about the best astringent to mix with the sand as a skin polish? She may even have wished for an easier way to wash her face and body - and would relish our modern methods. All we can do is take a lesson from her ritual - and use what nature has provided to make our skin the brightest and most beautiful it can possibly be. After all, who are we to argue with a people that produced one of the seven wonders of the ancient world?
Images sourced from - travel.nationalgeographic.com, unbeaujour.fr, microbiology-lab.com & beautyde.com