7 Not-So-Secret Skincare Ingredients From The Ancient World

Written by: Yeu-Gynn Yeung

How did our ancestors preserve their beauty before the era of essences, serums and sheet masks? We’re pretty sure they knew what they were doing, otherwise there wouldn’t be written poems dedicated to their beauty alone. Some of these ancient ingredients have been infused into our modern-day beauty products.

They’re not really a beauty secret. In fact, you’ve probably heard of these ingredients and their beauty benefits from your mom. It’s no wonder they work miracles from Cleopatra’s era ‘til now. If these ingredients were good enough for her, they’re probably good enough for us.

1) Rice water

Before cooking some rice for dinner, you may want to put some aside to reap it’s skincare benefits. Korean women were have been known to used rice-infused water to tone and brighten their complexion. Rice water moisturizes our skin and has calming effects, especially on redness and acne. Our every day meal staple also minimizes pores, smoothens rough texture and brightens our complexion. If you want to try this, just soak a bowl of uncooked brown or white rice in water for 30 minutes. Remember to wash the rice first, to get rid of any pesticides. After cleansing with your usual foam cleanser, soak a cotton pad with rice water apply onto your face, like how you would apply toner.

2) Green tea

Green tea can do more than just detox. There are so many green tea-infused products out there, so we know it must be really good for our skin. Green tea has anti-aging properties and helps promote DNA repair for damaged skin cells. If you’re a babe with oily skin, green tea can reduce the production of sebum so your skin won’t become a total oil-slick by the evening. Plus, if you’ve got those Prada-sized eyebags from burning the midnight oil watching Netflix (guilty!), green tea can actually reduce your eyebags. Just pop two used green tea bags in the freezer and place them on your tired eyes.

3) Pearl powder

This skincare secret dates back to ancient China. The only female empress of China, Empress Wu Zetian used pearl powder in her skincare routine. Her beauty was legendary as her skin glowed like that of a young woman’s even at the age of 65. It was rumoured that she consumed pearl powder as part of her diet too, so she could be beautiful inside and out. Pearl powder contains amino acids and minerals to combat acne and lighten freckles. Also, you’ll be glad to know that pearl powder has natural light-diffusing properties that minimizes imperfections. Hooray for team #NoFilter (but we really just used pearl powder!).

4) Saffron oil

Cleopatra added saffron oil to her milk baths so she could steep in some of its beautifying powers before meeting her male suitors. Although it’s an oil-based product, saffron oil has antibacterial properties that can help fight acne. The herb itself has antioxidants that can prevent skin cancer. It also moisturizes and calms your skin, especially if it gets inflamed easily from external factors like dust and pollution. If you’re not a fan of steeping your own saffron oil, the essential oil version will do just fine. Just add a drop or two to your everyday moisturizer and pat it onto your skin. Or you could do what Cleopatra did and add it to your bath before meeting your male suitor 😉 You never know.

5) Honey

You can do so much more with honey than just mixing it into your smoothie or drizzling it onto your pancakes. This sweet treat is actually suitable for all skin types, and is rich in antioxidants that promote healing for one’s skin. For example, Manuka honey reinforces the skin’s natural immunity and regenerates one’s skin barrier. It’s particularly effective if you have sensitive skin and skin issues like rosacea or eczema. Use honey as spot treatment for your acne or slather a moderate layer of honey on your face as a DIY face mask. If you’re not a fan of the sticky stuff, there are many honey-infused skincare products for you to try.

6) Watermelon

Did you know that the famous Watermelon Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe had a 5000-person waiting list? The mask claimed to soothe irritated and inflamed skin with it’s skin-restoring vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. Thankfully, you don’t need to put your name on a 5000-people waitlist to reap the beauty benefits of watermelon. Watermelon is not just rich in moisture, the fruit is loaded with vitamin A that encourages the growth of collagen. Yep – this fruit can help combat the signs of aging. Cut some slices of watermelon and leave them in the fridge to chill. Blend these slices into a juice and apply onto your face to soothe inflamed areas. The only con about this is the temptation to lick your watermelon face mask off!

7) Aloe vera

We really can’t leave aloe vera out of this list! It was one of Cleopatra’s faves too. How many of you girls would choose an aloe vera plant for Valentine’s Day over a bouquet of flowers? Your mom probably told you about the benefits of aloe vera before you got into the whole skincare craze. Honestly, if you’re on a beach vacation, there’s nothing more pleasant than applying aloe vera onto your skin a whole day in the sun. This miracle plant is rich in vitamins and moisture. It’s good for dry skin types as it can help moisturize dry skin cells. Get an aloe vera plant and cut off some gel from its leaves. Simply apply it directly onto your face for a soothing mask.

You may just find your ideal beauty product in a quick run to the grocery store. Are you a fan of any of these skincare ingredients? Let us know how you add these into your everyday skincare routine.