Hellenistic Skincare tips from the land of Aphrodite and Helen of Troy
Greece is a small but gorgeous place filled with azure blues and blazing whites and our wildest dreams. Greece is more infamous for its ancient obsession with beauty, symmetry, and perfection. They were always obsessed with and seeking new ways to improve their appearance through nutrition, athletics, and cosmetics. The word cosmetics come fromkosmetikos. Here are some ancient skincare secrets you can use today:
Honey and olive oil face mask: One of the most common Grecian mask preparations is to mix olive oil and honey. Honey is hygroscopic, which means that it can draw moisture out of the surrounding environment and absorb it into the skin like a sponge. It also dehydrates bacteria and its high sugar content and low-level pH can also prevent the microbiome on the skin from further growing.
While the honey is working ninja style on your face, the olive oil component which is non-comedogenic works with its healing and anti-inflammatory properties to nurse any previously sustained skin damage. Pour ¼ cup of honey in a bowl, you may add lukewarm water to loosen the consistency and make it more spreadable. Mix in the necessary amount of extra-virgin olive oil in with the honey. Apply with a clean paintbrush or makeup brush to your face. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, and remove with a washcloth dipped in warm water. This mask improves skin elasticity by increasing collagen produced and reduces the roughness thus providing a velvety texture.
Yogurt as a face peel: Like in India, dahi is part of the daily Greek routine, so why not apply it to our skin routine? Ancient Greeks used it to dissolve dead skin and tighten the pores. Like honey, yogurt has anti-bacterial properties as well as anti-fungal properties. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Yogurt is a natural form of lactic acid, so it’s a natural AHA (alpha hydroxy acid)peel. AHAs function to provide a plethora of benefits ranging from brightening the skin, boosting collagen expression and treating acne among others.
To additionally benefit from the previously mentioned benefits of olive oil add 1/3 of the amount of the yogurt you’re using- typically three tablespoons- to the mixture. Apply to the face and wait for 10 minutes. Your skin may tingle an indication that the natural AHA is at work. Remove with a warm washcloth.
Salt scrubs: Salt is used as an exfoliant that scrubs away dead skin and leaves your skin soft and smooth which is what they did in ancient Greece using salt from the Mediterranean sea. You can use any kind of salt, including table salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, Dead Sea salt, kosher salt, or Epsom salt. Mix equal parts salt and olive oil and rub on your elbows and body while you bathe.
Tea bath detox: Potpourri was used as an ancient Greek equivalent of modern-day bath bombs- that is they used dried flowers and herbs in their baths which detoxifies the skin, mind, and muscles.
If bath bombs are not an option you can do this relaxing DIY: Grab the unused tea bags sitting in the back of your cupboard and throw them in a warm, steamy bath. Let it infuse and then remove the bags. Soak for 20 minutes, the tea will energize your cells and create an aura of calm. This is perfect for a pre-bed ritual. Look for green tea; it’s a great antioxidant. You can also add essential oils.
If a bath soak isn’t an option use it as a steamer for your face. Boil water in a kettle and add the tea bags. Once you see a fair amount of steam coming out hold your face over it.