Do we have to suffer for vanity’s sake? Since time immemorial humans have used a host of products to beautify the skin. Many of these historical ingredients were toxic and some even lethal. Cosmetics have an ugly side that shows how humans in their vanity are capable of suffering — a lot.
The beautiful Cleopatra eyes that we see in the movies are often achieved with galena (lead sulfide), a neurotoxic chemical. In the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, kohl, a paste made with ground galena, has been used for centuries as mascara. Galena is just one example of the long history of the use of lead in cosmetics. Read More
Soap, which is so ubiquitous today as a skincare product, has not always been around. Formerly a cleanser was made by boiling different types of fat with ashes. Soap has a curious history, starting with such ancient formulas and leading up to current scientifically grounded manufacturing methods. Soap always played and still plays an important role in modern societies. It has been a major weapon against epidemics, it ensures minimum standards of hygiene and is a major industry.
1. Babylon and ancient Egypt. The first soap of which we know was used in ancient Babylon about 2800 BCE. Inscriptions found in excavations reveal a formula based on ash and fats boiled together in water. The Ebers Papyrus, a medical treatise written in ancient Egypt around 1500 BCE, explains how animal or vegetable fats were combined with alkaline salts to form a kind of soap used to cure skin diseases. The ancient Greeks and Romans, meanwhile bathed with pumice, sand, clay and oils – but not soap. Read More
The concept of personal hygiene has always been associated with issues as diverse as health, morality and beauty. Maybe that's why the history of the toilette is full of surprising advances and retreats. Understanding how hygiene evolved gives us insights into humanity and our current personal care practices.
1. Cleanliness is (next to) godliness. The ancient Egyptians attached great importance to bathing — and also to natural body odours, which were accentuated with special perfumes for the genitals. The first bathtub on record dates from around 1700 BCE in Ancient Greece, while the invention of the steam bath is attributed to refined sybarites of the 8th century BCE. The fact that the word “hygiene” comes from the Greek goddess Hygeia is hardly surprising, as this goddess — of healing and cleansing — was especially popular during the plagues that devastated Athens in the 5th century BCE and Rome in the 3rd century BCE. Read More
The use of laser as a hair removal technique has become very popular in recent years. What are the risks for the skin? For which parts of the body is it not recommended? How should you choose a centre? Before making a decision, you need to be well informed and to consider the possible implications.
How is the hair removed? Laser is a technique, used since about ten years ago, that destroys the hair root using beams of light of a specific wavelength and intensity. Melanin, which is responsible for hair colour, absorbs the light’s energy and converts it into heat that destroys the root without damaging the surrounding areas (selective photothermolysis).
What kind of laser? Different types of laser, which are effective in different ways depending on the hair type, can be combined during treatment. For example, alexandrite laser is good for removing medium to thick hair, while diode laser is more appropriate for male hair. Other widely used lasers are Nd:YAG and intense pulsed light (IPL). Read More