We hope you have enjoyed reading our previous blogs on how the ancient peoples of Greece and Egypt pursued beauty; today’s instalment will be on the Romans. The Romans are by far the most revered of Europe’s historical civilisations, often celebrated as an incredibly forward-thinking bunch for their governmental structures, architecture and infrastructure. Today we are going to tell you all about how these purveyors of policy and order protected and enhanced their appearance.
Like the Greeks and Egyptians before them, the Romans were also somewhat vain and image-obsessed. The Romans gained a great deal of influence from the Greeks and Egyptians who were not only admirable neighbours but trading partners too. In fact, South Italy was once referred to as Magna Graecia (Greater Greece), as it was occupied by Greek settlers. As a result of this proximity, the Romans adopted many traditional Greek ideas, such as temple building, comedic plays and, of course, their ideals of beauty and physical perfection.
Though many would suspect that the bathhouses of Ancient Rome were only used by the noble classes, they were actually rather widely used and accessible. These baths weren’t simply warm swimming pools, they were expertly engineered architectural structures split into different rooms which each had benefits for the body. By using warm and cold rooms and baths, the Romans could open and clean their pores through their bathing experience. Following bathing, Romans would often use olive oil to cleanse their skin. After covering their bodies in oil the Romans would scrape it off using a tool known as a striglis. Olive oil is packed full of skin-boosting benefits, it cleanses the skin, leaving it soft whilst also helping to fight environmental skin damage due to its high content of antioxidants. We use olive oil as a base for all of our products due to its natural qualities.
As well as enjoying a good bath, the Romans knew that there were other ways to cleanse, heal and improve the appearance of skin. The Romans were avid makeup wearers and made use of lipstick, foundation, nail polish, eye shadow and rouge, all sourced from nature. In terms of skincare they were equally as keen in pursuing beauty. By combining plant extracts, seed extracts and olive oil with honey and barley, Romans had created a very effective face cream for fighting wrinkles and dry skin. These products are still used widely in cosmetics today, our Body Scrub with Almond and Olive Stones makes use of honey and olive oil.
One of the more weird and wonderful of Roman beauty products was the use of the ashes of snails. Recent studies have found that the glycolic acid found in snails is incredibly beneficial for the skin as it aids the production of collagen, which helps to soothe the skin and remove scarring. Another odd ritual, which Cleopatra also used, was to bathe in asses’ milk. This process would act like a peel for the skin, helping to remove any unwanted debris and dirt from the skin’s surface, leaving it cleaned and softer. Our Renewal & Radiance Set has these exact same effects, fuelled by the natural products of the Mediterranean.
Ancient Origins, Modern Applications
By far the most impressive aspect of ancient Roman skincare was the way in which they utilised their knowledge of architecture and aqueducts to create giant structures with the sole purpose of cleaning and improving the skin. Additionally, the Romans made use of some fantastic natural ingredients which we still use in our products today, such as nuts, plant oils and honey.
As the Roman Empire dissipated and eventually disappeared, so too did cosmetics in Europe, in fact, they would not reappear for nearly a millennia. The Romans, like the Greeks and Egyptians, were well ahead of their time when it came to understanding and pursuing beauty intelligently. At Olivoderm, we have encapsulated the natural origins of beauty into our product ranges, and like the aforementioned ancient peoples, we use only the finest and natural Mediterranean ingredients in our products.