Skincare could be as old as civilization itself. Reliable information tells us that archeological evidence of cosmetics in Egypt dates back 6,000 years ago. Known as the Cradle of Civilization, Egypt and the Middle East are often the benchmark of early human activities. There had also been findings from other early civilizations in Ancient Greece where berries and honey were used for facial care.
Also, in the period that followed the Medieval Age up until the Renaissance, skincare products that come from natural sources have become staples in European culture. These products often include ointments from animal fat and herbal products believed to combat wrinkles, acne, and other types of skin blemishes. Nowadays, modern forms of those remedies are now conveniently packaged and can be found on the shelves of convenience stores and beauty shops.
Vanity may have been an age-old obsession but doesn’t it make you wonder how these age-old practices provided the foundation of skincare today as we know it?
Over the years, studies on the skin, its afflictions, its maintenance, and care have become intensive and deeper. This has been brought about by the growing demand and necessity to improve the condition of people’s skin and the incessant battle against aging. Here is an excerpt from the history of dermatology by the Rene Lorraine Foundation:
“The obvious exteriority of skin diseases is one of the reasons why it drew medical attention early in history. For instance, some writings dealing with skin lesions are dated 5000 BC, and the first pathologic classifications were drafted during the Roman Empire. It is known that Romans and Greeks would use a mix of pumice, incense, myrrh and tree resin to lighten the skin, remove freckles, and smooth wrinkles.
Also, Egyptian civilization is worth mentioning in the field of early dermatology, especially because of its huge contribution including some innovations still used in the modern era. As of 1500 BC, Egyptian doctors tested sandpaper to treat scars, which will become, in the 20th century, a common technique used in skin rejuvenation processes. Maybe more insightful is the fact that these doctors promoted the virtues of solar light, whereas current dermatology experiences an increased use of lasers and phototherapies. As for cosmetics, animal oils, salt, alabaster, and sour milk were in vogue at the time, and the latter was, allegedly, Cleopatra’s favourite product to fill her bath. Lastly, we need to specify that Egyptian dermatology was far from perfect, as the ironic use of carcinogenic arsenic to treat skin cancers shows it.”
Having a sense of history regarding past dermatological practices helps us to better understand the current skin issues we’re facing in the modern era. Nowadays, the most common skin problems that people experience are acne, eczema, shingles, hives, sunburn, contact dermatitis, rashes, rosacea, and athlete’s foot.
With the increasing availability of dermatology clinics and medical specialists, the easiest (and best) way to deal with the most common skin problems is to see your doctor. Equipping yourself with enough know-how on the matters of your skin could give you an idea about what your skin type is and what types of products your skin would most benefit from. After that, you have free rein on what type of skincare routine you want to adopt or develop.
“The goal of any skincare routine is to tune up your complexion so it’s functioning at its best, and also troubleshoot or target any areas you want to work on. Allow these three steps to become your daily ritual that fortifies your skin and grounds your day.” – Kari Molvar for The New York Times
If you think skincare isn’t something you should take seriously, think again. The World Health Organization has also weighed in on skincare and its significance to a person’s overall health. In a study named “Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd Edition,” researchers have made three points regarding proper skincare:
- First, skin diseases are so common and patients present in such large numbers in primary care settings that ignoring them is not a viable option. Children, in particular, tend to be affected, adding to the burden of disease among an already vulnerable group.
- Second, morbidity is significant through disfigurement, disability, or symptoms such as intractable itch, as is the reduction in quality of life.
- Third, the relative economic cost to families of treating even trivial skin complaints limits the uptake of therapies. Generally, families must meet such costs from an overstretched household budget, and such expenses, in turn, reduce the capacity to purchase such items as essential foods (Hay and others 1994).
In addition, Molvar’s article also focuses on three practical steps to ensure that your skincare routine is complete. The three main steps are cleansing, which is washing your skin; toning, to help balance your skin tone; and moisturizing, which means hydrating and softening the skin.
This three-step function should serve as the foundation of any type of skincare routine you would want to adapt or develop. The American Academy of Dermatology has also put out a guide about the proper way to wash your face:
- Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
- Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser.
- Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing may lead to irritation.
- Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
- Apply moisturizer if your skin feels dry or itchy.
- Limit washing to twice a day and after sweating.
Adopting a skincare routine wouldn’t always give you instant results. The science behind skin-care products has come a long way but there’s still no such thing as an “instant fix.” You need to give your skin enough time to adjust and produce results. It should also involve persistence and discipline from you when sticking to a routine. And, in the event that it doesn’t work the way you intended it to, you can always try again!
Remember, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.