From hamman to rose water, these are the best beauty secrets we can steal from the past
Forget modern day innovations like CBD oil and Botox, sometimes turning to the past provides the best beauty secrets.
Indeed, beauty secrets have been passed down through the generations in South Asian countries like Pakistan and India, as well as in the Middle East, for centuries. Whilst the past has served us some rather quirky beauty treatments in the past (hello, leech and pigeon moisturisers), there have been some genius rituals we can bring into our modern beauty regimes. Here are some beauty rituals that have withstood the test of time because they actually work.
Turmeric or Haldi is an early staple of Ayurvedic, Southeast Asian and Chinese traditional medicine. The remarkable properties of turmeric are no secret. In the world of beauty, turmeric has always been used to take care of the skin and keep it healthy and beautiful. This sacred spice has a number of nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium that work together to deeply cleanse the skin by removing oil and dirt, prevent skin breakouts, repair and heal skin tissues, and also slow down the ageing process. The commonly available spice is cherished in Southeast Asia for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Haldi is also deeply rooted in Pakistani and Indian wedding traditions as a pre-wedding beauty ritual for brides-to-be.
Hammams, also called sauna baths, have been used by Arabic women for years. They were historically the most popular thermae during the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean. Even nowadays, many Moroccans attend their local hammams weekly, making them an essential part of their lifestyle. Bath culture thrives in the Northern Africa for their health, wellness, and beauty benefits. The best thing about relaxing at the hammam is how your skin is detoxified because of all the scrubbing and exfoliating within the steaming walls.
Applying kohl or kajal is a very popular Islamic beauty custom and is the OG smoky eye. The black powder has been used for centuries by women and men in the Middle East, Far East, and North Africa. Kajal is notoriously known as one of the best beauty customs of the region and is a beauty staple in Pakistan. Modern kohl is made from soot and ghee, whereas the traditional preparation sometimes contained lead, so be careful when buying kohl!
Henna is a flowering plant that is crushed and powdered, then used to dye the skin, hair and nails and is one of the most popular beauty rituals. Taking inspirations from Islamic religious transcripts, called hadiths, scholars argue that henna has been used by Muslim societies for arthritic pain, as well as beard and hair dye, though it’s most commonly used by women to stain their hands and feet for a natural reddish-brown pigment. Unlike chemical dyes, henna doesn’t do permanent damage to your hair; instead it strengthens, adds texture, boosts, and gives shine. Henna artists adorn women’s bodies with intricate, feminine patterns that turn dark red and can last for weeks.
Aloe Vera is an incredible medical herb from nature. It is a cactus-based plant belonging to the Liliaceae Family. The benefits of Aloe Vera Gel are numerous; it soothes and acts as a natural moisturiser for the skin and has anti-bacterial properties, making it excellent for combatting acne. Aloe Vera will not only soothe your sun burns, but will moisturise your skin, prevent dark spots, relieve skin irritation, and exfoliate skin.
Exclusively grown and produced in Morocco, Argan oil’s unique nutrient-richness makes it one of the most celebrated oils in the world. Its agricultural extraction, conducted by all-women local cooperatives, is a long process which requires patience and artisanal expertise. It’s full of essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that promote overall health by moisturising and protecting skin and hair from sun damage without a single toxin or additive. Traditionally, the oil has been applied as a topical ointment for ailments such as dry skin and acne. Today, argan oil has been scientifically-proven to be an efficient anti-sebum, in addition to its powerful moisturising benefits. Arab women have been using it head-to-toe since forever as it is an all-in-one beauty elixir.
Rose water, a liquid made from the steam distillation of rose petals, is a homeopathic beauty treatment used since ancient Egyptian times. Rose water has stood the test of time because of its one-of-a-kind skin-healing benefits. Being nature’s astringent, it decreases damage to the skin’s elastin fibers and helps to reduce and delay wrinkle formation. Pure rosewater is gentle in nature and helps maintains the skin’s pH balance. It has an anti-inflammatory property which reduces redness in the skin. Rose water gives a healthy glow to the skin and is good for boosting hydration. Besides its refreshing, brightening and toning effects, it also smells amazing. It was the product that princesses and queens used centuries ago and we can see why.