Ancient Beauty Rituals For Skin And Hair That Actually Work

I’m a big, BIG fan of so-called “life hacks” but I’ve noticed that it’s oftentimes super necessary to separate the bad from the good. Especially when it comes to beauty, skincare, and hair care, I’m always on the lookout for a quick trick or two to add to my regimen.

By Gwen Farrell4 min read
John William Waterhouse - The Soul of the Rose, 1903 (1)

While we’re encouraged to look for the next “big thing,” what we should’ve been doing (basically this entire time) is looking to the past. Hear me out — as it turns out, there are tons of unique beauty practices from the ancient world that you should be adding to your nighttime beauty routines. Like ASAP. And what’s even cooler is that all of these products are natural, and you probably have most of them in your home right now. 

Struggling with breakouts, lackluster hair, dandruff, acne flare-ups? Never fear. Here are nine tips and tricks dating all the way back to ancient times from across the globe to give you the same great hair and skin our ancestors had.

A Honey Mask

It’s safe to say that most of us have probably been sleeping on honey, but that needs to stop.

What’s great about honey is that it’s not just for your tea before bed. Honey contains tons of restoring components and properties that make it an awesome addition to both hair and skin routines. Honey use for hair and skin dates back to Ancient Greece, interestingly enough.

Honey contains tons of restoring components and properties.

For skin, making a quick mask with hot water, a spoonful of honey, and olive oil (let a thin layer sit on the skin for 10 minutes before a shower or bath) can help with the skin’s maturation process, specifically in helping collagen production and encouraging elasticity. 

For hair, antioxidants and proteins in honey can help, among other things, with hair breakage, reducing frizziness, and moisturizing the scalp. A honey hair mask, which you can mix with hot water (to thin the honey, which should preferably be raw and organic) and with a ¼ cup of olive oil, can be left on the hair for around 30 minutes to add nourishment, shine, and softness to your weekly hair care routine. 

Use Coconut Oil (for Everything)

Coconut oil is similar to honey in that it’s not only ingestible, but also beneficial to the outside of our bodies. Coconut oil has proven antiviral and antibacterial components, and in the Sanskrit language it’s associated with a nourishing tree that supplies everything needed to thrive in health and wellness. 

Additionally, coconut oil is an amazing ingredient for deep conditioning your hair and preventing breakage. You can use it as a hair mask any time your hair needs a protein boost, or incorporate it into your regular regimen before shampooing and conditioning. 

Like honey, it’s also versatile in that it can be used for skin. Whether you’re using it as a lip scrub to exfoliate and soften lips, an oil-based balm for effective and quick (but not drying) makeup remover, or even an eye cream, the possibilities are endless.

Body Sugaring for Hair Removal

I had never heard of body sugaring until recently, when I was looking into other hair removal alternatives after a bad Nair experience (don’t ask). 

Nair can be finicky, waxing is painful, and shaving is tedious, but body sugaring can be a great alternative to all of these more conventional methods. Sugaring, sometimes called Persian waxing, dates all the way back to 1900 BC. Not only does it target hair right at the root, which other hair removal methods can’t, it also uses no chemical additives and all-natural ingredients, including water, lemon, and sugar (and if you can’t get the formula right, you’re still left with ingredients for lemonade). 

Sugaring, sometimes called Persian waxing, dates all the way back to 1900 BC.

Creating a paste-like consistency with those ingredients, you can slather on a layer and remove it along the direction of the hair growth. The process should be extremely quick and relatively painless. Because the formula can sometimes be tricky to get right if you’re doing it yourself, it’s recommended to find an expert. A quick Google search will likely lead you to trained aestheticians at spas or salons in your area. Bonus: frequent sugaring can lead to decreased hair growth. Win/win.

Turmeric, the Wonder Spice

Turmeric, which is a spice essential in Indian culture, can be used for all sorts of things. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to heal cracked heels and reduce wrinkles, as it helps with UV ray damage. (It’s also delicious in smoothies.) 

It can also prevent hair loss when taken orally as a supplement, and clear up breakouts. It should be noted though, if you plan to commit a crime, don’t apply a turmeric skin mask beforehand. The spice has an extremely vibrant and distinctive yellow tint which can stain a lot of surfaces, so use sparingly.

Rose Water Toner

Rose water use goes back to the ancient world, and its most famous figures are said to have used it — Cleopatra bathed in rose water, as the stories go, and it was commonly used in Persian baths. Not only does it smell amazing, but rose water has a plethora of amazing benefits for your skin. It can balance out the skin’s oil base, hydrate for a plumping and moisturized effect, and reduce redness. 

Rose water can balance the skin’s oil base, hydrate for a plumping effect, and reduce redness. 

For best results, use rose water as a toner after cleansing your skin and before moisturizing. 

Egg Whites for Your Hair

Egg masks are actually one of the oldest practices when it comes to ancient beauty routines (I know, I was surprised too.)

Egg whites in particular, as we know from eating them, are high in protein and even biotin. An egg white mask for your hair can nourish the scalp, prevent breakage, and promote hair growth when used three times a week.

Tea Tree Oil To Get Rid of Dandruff

If your anti-dandruff shampoo just isn’t cutting it, don’t worry. Using tea tree oil can help. If you suffer from dandruff as well as an itchy scalp, and oily skin and hair, tea tree oil’s antifungal and antibacterial properties can help out, whether through a hair mask or a tea tree oil cleanser. 

Tea tree oil was first discovered in Australia by explorers in the 18th century. 

Tea tree oil was first discovered in Australia by explorers in the 18th century. Before that, it was a staple used in skin and hair care by indigenous people.

Lemon Juice for Healthy-Looking Nails

Lemons have a long and interesting history. Ancient Chinese practices used them as antidotes to poisons and for cleansing wounds (ouch). They were also popular in India, before eventually making their way to the Mediterranean.

If you’re like me, you’re constantly abusing your nails through nail polish and countless failed DIY manicures. Lemon juice, which you can soak your nails in for just a few minutes (just make sure you don’t have any cuts or abrasions), can reduce stains and other debris and give your nails a clean and healthy appearance. 

Rice Water for Better Skin 

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past decade or so when it comes to skincare, it’s that Asian beauty routines have so much to teach us. Listen up.

Rice water can smooth your skin’s rough texture, improve brightening agents, and minimize pores.

Rice water can smooth out your skin’s rough patches or tough texture, as well as improve brightening agents and minimize pores, while increasing firmness. Sign me up. When used as a rinse in your skincare routine, all of these benefits (which are attributed to ancient Korean culture) can be yours. Next time you cook a stir fry, don’t be too quick to throw out the water you cook the rice in, however weird it sounds. 

Closing Thoughts

I’ve already tried a few of these, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised with the results. Maybe the secret to healthy hair and skin was with us all along! Give them a try if you’re fed up with the same-old same-old, tired of spending way too much time and money on useless hair and skin care hacks, and looking for unique, tried, and true ways to incorporate natural ingredients as well as ancient rituals into your daily beauty practices.