A lot of Americans idealize the skincare practices of the Italians, who always seem to be free of acne, blemishes, scars, and discoloration from their teens through their nineties. So what is their secret? The secret is that there is no secret. Over the last century, the beauty industry has become a multi-billion-dollar industry providing us with endless choices of skincare and makeup brands to enjoy. But by having all of the options to try, of all levels of quality, we are damaging our skin making us believe we need to buy more products to repair the damage. The secret of the Italians is that they avoid the damage early on so they never have to repair it. They are more careful with their diet, use higher quality makeup, and are still using practices inspired by the original skincare routines developed by their ancestors.
The citizens of Ancient Rome borrowed a lot of their skincare routines from neighboring countries. Similar to their Greek neighbors, they were highly-educated, but they also applied their knowledge to the development of beauty routines as they valued sensual experiences, great hygiene, and their overall physical appearance. Tanned, dry skin was associated with those in a lower class so the goal was to always strive to have smooth and pale skin. The rich went to great lengths to get pale skin by applying crocodile dung to permanently lighten their skin. Many also used white lead and chalk powder to lighten the skin on their face as a temporary fix, options that were less expensive and more affordable to the masses.
To soften the skin, the Romans used beeswax as well as oils extracted from plants, herbs, and almonds. They also valued hairless skin from head to toe, although most did still keep hair on their head. They were the first to develop razors and they often used pumice stones, tweezers, and developed many all-natural depilatory creams. While they didn’t develop soaps early on, they did use olive oil as a moisturizer.
In modern day Italy, the Italian outlook on beauty is still based on using Mother Nature’s ingredients as they use a lot of olive oil, oranges, grapefruits, and herbs in their products and home remedies. An easy way to think about skincare is to think if you wouldn’t ingest it, why would you put it on your skin? Although there are a few exceptions, this is a great rule to follow. As long as you read the labels on your makeup and treat your skin with respect, you shouldn’t have many issues to fix on your skin making your skincare routine a much easier and pleasurable experience over time.