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Eye Creams Throughout History: The Good, the Bad, and the Gross

Eye Creams Throughout History: The Good, the Bad, and the Gross

Standards of beauty vary widely between countries and throughout time. However, the idea of smooth skin has always been appealing. As a result, people have historically searched for a way to keep their skin moisturized and youthful which, as you may imagine, was pretty challenging without the uses of sunscreen and other modern tools. Here is a quick look at some of the notable historic creams and their ingredients, from eye creams to face creams and more.

Castor Oil Is Among the Oldest Eye Cream Ingredients

A little yukky and known to elicit diarrhea if consumed orally, castor oil may actually have some benefits. In fact, castor oil is thought to have been used by some of the earliest humans as a moisturizing ingredient in face cream.

Tar Cream May Have Killed Egypt’s Pharaoh

Hatshepsut is famous for seizing control of Egypt and ruling as pharaoh, a traditionally male title. In fact, Hatshepsut often had herself depicted as a male pharaoh complete with a beard and crown. Hatshepsut was an extremely successful ruler- her 22-year reign saw Egypt grow substantially and was considered an area of peace and prosperity- until she died in her mid-fifties. Researchers who found a vial that is thought to have belonged to Hatshepsut now think that the queen may have been killed by an ancient cream that was thought to be a remedy of eczema.

Among innocuous things like nutmeg, the vial also contained traces of carcinogenic tar which could ultimately have led to Hatshepsut’s demise. Was Hatshepsut poisoned, or were ancient physicians tapping into a deadly ingredient without their knowledge? There isn’t enough data to say. However, we can all agree that tar-cream trend is not making a come back

The First Cold Cream Recipe Was Published in 200 AD and was Used for Gladiators

Galen of Pergamon was a Greek physician who later settled in Rome and is credited with publishing the first cold cream recipe. Galen’s recipe featured mixing olive oil, beeswax, and various floral extracts. The recipe was first invented to help gladiators who were regularly fighting deal with chapped skin. Over time, however, cold cream became a popular way to rejuvenate the face overnight. Was Galen the inventor of cold cream? Probably not. But he was the first to write it down somewhere that could later be found by others.

The Breakfast Face-Cream

While modern face creams can smell pretty delicious, ancient Romans used to put a mashed mixture of honey, bread, and milk on their faces to keep their skin looking supple. Honey was known for its ability to preserve and was even used in some cultures as an embalming fluid. If you think that's a little weird it could have been a lot worse, considering the fact that the ancient Romans heavily relied on human urine. Given that there are even reports of urine being used as mouth wash-we’re just grateful that pee wasn’t included in the mix! We are so grateful for modern eye creams and moisturizers right now...

Cleopatra’s Beauty Regimen was Downright Inspirational

Cleopatra was a highly educated and shrewd politician. However, the Egyptian Queen is best remembered for her striking beauty. While history may be a little sexist in this respect, the Egyptian Queen’s beauty regimen has long been the subject of discussion. In addition to bathing in sour donkey milk, which, let’s be honest, is a little weird, Cleopatra also adapted beeswax, royal jelly, aloe leaf juice, and rose water.

Zhang Lihau's Cream Involved Egg and Powdered Vermillion

A famous imperial concubine named Zhang Lihau used powdered vermillion which she’d inject inside an egg yolk — a fairly complex process during the 600s. Her efforts seemed to have paid off, however, because Zhang was renowned for her beauty as well as her political influence. Some even went as far as to suspect witchcraft or divine intervention in Zhang’s beauty regimen.

Pond’s Witch Hazel Cream Changed the Game

During the mid-1800’s Theron Pond invented a burn cream where the major ingredient was witch hazel. The coolest part was the fact the cream would eventually dry — hence it became known as a vanishing cream. While we sort of expect modern creams to dry eventually, a lot of historical beauty creams probably needed their own removal regimen.

Petroleum Jelly Was A Game-Changer

We don’t really use petroleum jelly, or Vaseline, as face cream anymore — and if you do you should stop — but the invention of this substance helped begin the mass production of face creams and led to the beauty industry we know and love, from awesome eye creams to oil-free moisturizers with SPF and more.

While eye and face creams have come a long way, there are still plenty of folk remedies for keeping your skin and undereye area looking young, healthy, and pretty. Most of us aren’t proud to admit it, but we’ve probably done some silly things in the name of making our skin look great. Thank goodness for the all the great modern eye creams we can easily get now!

Resources— Uguentarium, History, The Vintage News

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