Author Archive | Canoe Group

4 Sunscreen Secrets You Never Knew

Tips to wear it well and make it lastApply, then reapply. We all know the basics, but we discovered some surprising facts about sunscreen that could change how you apply it. 

  1. It pays to prep. Sunscreen builds up in your stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin)1, so if you apply it daily for three weeks before a beach vacation, you’ll be less likely to burn.
  2. Some areas need more sunscreen. The areas where the rims of your sunglasses hit your checks are particularly prone to sunburn because the sunglasses reflect light. So are the highest points on your face (your cheekbones and nose). Your nose is especially vulnerable and one of the most common areas for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Sunscreens also break down fastest on oily skin, so reapply frequently.
  3. Some SPFs are harder to wash off. Water and sweat-resistant sunscreens work because they adhere to the skin. However, this can also make it trickier to wash off without leaving behind a residue that can ultimately clog pores and lead to breakouts. Thoroughly cleanse your skin by using a gentle scrub with microbeads, like NIA24 Physical Cleansing Scrub, and a cleansing brush.
  4. Your sunscreen already works well, but it could work even better if you apply an antioxidant serum first to help neutralize free radicals that get through your sunscreen before they can damage your skin2. We likeSkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, and NeoStrata Antioxidant Defense Serum—or switch to a sunscreen that contains antioxidants likeTopix Replenix Antioxidant Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 50+.
  1. Benson, H. A., Sarveiya, V., Risk, S., & Roberts, M. S. (2005). Influence of anatomical site and topical formulation on skin penetration of sunscreens. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 1(3), 209–218.
  2. Darr, D., Dunston, S., Faust, H., & Pinnell, S. (1996). Effectiveness of antioxidants (vitamin C and E) with and without sunscreens as topical photoprotectants. Acta dermato-venereologica, 76(4), 264–268.

The Best Ingredients to Smooth Out Pesky KP Bumps

Say Good-Bye to Chicken SkinIt may not be harmful, but gosh it can be annoying to those who have it.  Known as “chicken skin” (also called “strawberry skin”, which seems a bit more appealing to me) because of its goose-bump-like appearance, keratosis pilaris affects as many as 80 percent of teenagers and about 40 percent of adults, but is more common in women regardless. It can be mistaken for acne and is usually found on the arms, legs, and booty. Resulting from an excess production of keratin, a cream-colored protein, medical professionals aren’t sure why some folks get it and others don’t, but it may be hereditary. So what do we do about it? Read the Ingredients List!To treat your chicken skin, look for products with certain ingredients rather than products touting overnight KP banishment spells. A body wash, lotion, or serum with one or more of the following ingredients might just do the trick. There are kits, like the Glytone Retexturize Keratosis Pilaris Kit, which features a body wash and lotion made, in part, with glycolic acid. These work well, but keep in mind, the active ingredient is glycolic acid, which can just as easily be found in a number of other washes, lotions, toners, and serums. Whatever you choose, a kit or a product-by-ingredient, clearing takes time and a little experimentation. You can work with your dermatologist to find the best product with one or some of the following ingredients, but we’ve put together a small collection of products from SkinMedix.  

  • Alpha hydroxyl acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • A retinoid (adapalene, retinol, tazarotene, tretinoin)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Urea        

For Urea tryPCA Skin Hydrating Serum and Topix Replenix All-Trans-Retinol Smoothing Serum 3X). For Alpha hydroxy acids try NeoStrata Problem Dry Skin Cream and SkinMedica 15% AHA/BHA Face Cream.Jan Marine Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads are a good source of both glycolic and lactic acid in a convenient to-go pad. 



Move Over UV Rays, Stress Might Be Worse For Your Skin

What happens when a schizo schedule becomes totally routine? — Keep calm and read on.When you’re living your life in the fast lane, your skin is often the first thing to freak out. An external showing of internal workings. We have lots of great products to help counteract the damaging effects stress has on the skin, but let’s get one thing straight before continuing on. If you’re relying on products to magically heal your skin issues cause by stress, you’re on a fool’s errand. At best, these products will be like a band-aid for a recurring wound unless you accompany them with some mind-body and stress management practices. Acne, splotchy skin, premature wrinkling, and flaky dryness are very often stress-induced and will require more than topical treatment. In some cases, a hormonal imbalance might be at play. And in others, some stress If you’re trying products, and nothing is working, consider stress may be at play and/or, a deeper hormonal imbalance. Your dermatologist and general practitioner can help you make that determination.1Now that we’re clear on that, let’s talk about what products you can use to manage stress-affected skin alongside a healthy lifestyle. 

Stress factor: Agitation; No Downtime 

What you’ll see: Redness and BreakoutsChronic high levels of stress – a by-product of a “Go, Go, Go” culture and constant reachability – may trigger your brain to release neuropeptides that cause blushing and sensitivity. Additionally, your body releases an excess of androgen hormones that can bring on breakouts (especially seen in women). Calm It Down:

Stress factor: Partying Away Stress 

What you’ll see: Wrinkles and DullnessIf you’re managing stress with late nights out and drinking, well first, don’t. PERSON SUGGESTS taking up a new hobby, scheduling a visit with a therapist. There’s nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam; but if you’re making a habit of dealing with stress by drinking, you’re not doing your skin any favors. Drinking dehydrates the skin, making fine lines look deeper and complexion look dull. Your favorite cocktail or martini  – plus, the carby snacks you binge on at the bar – is packed with sugar and can make your skin look older faster, through a process called glycation. During this process, sugar impairs the production of collagen and elastin in the skin and can cause your skin to stiffen and lose its springiness. Another issue: smoking (whether you inhale it or not) is full of collagen-eating carcinogens that increase your risk of skin cancer.Party Smart:

Stress factor: Skimping on Sleep 

What you’ll see: Flakiness and DullnessFrequent late nights leave you playing “catch up” on ZZZs, but an erratic sleep schedule can throw off your natural time clock, inhibiting your skin’s ability to stay hydrated. Research shows2 that poor sleep weakens the barrier function, causing moisture to escape. And chronic sleep deprivation impairs collagen production. After six months of sleep loss, skin starts to lose its suppleness and glow.Fake Eight Hours:


  1. Feeling stressed? it can show in your skin, hair, and nails. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.-a).,on%20how%20our%20skin%20ages. 
  2. Altemus, M., Rao, B., Dhabhar, F. S., Ding, W., & Granstein, R. D. (2001). Stress-induced changes in skin barrier function in healthy women. The Journal of investigative dermatology, 117(2), 309–317.

Have You Been Duped Into Believing These 7 Skin Care Myths?

“Squeaky clean”? A cure for Acne? Anti-Agers? We look into the truth


Skin isn’t clean unless it feels “squeaky” and tightThe phrase “squeaky clean” came into fashion in the 1930s with hair care commercials. The saying referred to the “squeaky” sound hair would make when cleaned and stripped of oils. In skin care (or hair care), that’s not necessarily a good thing. A cleanser should clear out pores and excess oil, but if you’re coming away with a stripped or “squeaky clean” feeling, your skin may be at risk for dehydration and nutrient loss. Replace moisture with an oil-balancing cream.


Anti-Agers prevent agingThis is a half-truth we’re sorry to bust. As this 2016 study revealed, aging is going to happen1. Your favorite “anti-aging” products aren’t faux; they just do more to help you age than stop you from aging. All “anti-aging” products can do is make sure you age gracefully, which we think is better anyways. 


If a product doesn’t work quickly, it isn’t workingMost skincare products take time to show results. Don’t give up. A solid three months is recommended to gauge the effects on the skin with supervision from your dermatologist. 


Acne disappears after teen years If only. You keep your skin clean, you’re in your thirties, maybe even forties or fifties, but still, those pesky bumps keep popping up. Why? Even as adults, particularly women, we experience fluctuations in our hormones which can contribute to the occasional blemish. Other factors such as environment, food consumption, an overproduction of sebum, and stress could be culprits. Adult acne may never be far away, but it can be managed by lifestyle changes and with the help of your dermatologist. 


There’s a cure for acne Acne cannot be cured. Your acne is likely a result of multiple factors. “Acne is a multifactorial disease: genetic factors, stress, androgens, and excess sweating all influence its development and/or severity.”2 You and your dermatologist can manage your symptoms as they fluctuate. 


The more it stings the better it’s working Like the “squeaky clean” myth, if it stings, it’s stripping away protective barriers or the skin and doing more harm than good. Stop, reassess, and either try a different product or decrease use. Work with your dermatologist to find the best products and track your reactions. 


You don’t need a moisturizer if you have oily skinPeople with oily skin tend to have fewer wrinkles and thicker skin, but their skin isn’t invincible. Oily skin can still experience dryness, sometimes even as a result of not using a moisturizer. Using a moisturizer helps keep oil production balanced. 


How Your Skin Ages is 100% based on genetics Genetics do play a role, but skin aging is a little more complex. The environment you live in, your lifestyle, and your health habits all come into play. For example, if your tendency is to cinch your eyebrows you might find wrinkles appear sooner between your brows. If you maintain a smoking habit, your skin is more likely to see premature aging3

  1. Colchero, F., Aburto, J.M., Archie, E.A. et al. The long lives of primates and the ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis. Nat Commun 12, 3666 (2021).
  2. Ayer, J., & Burrows, N. (2006). Acne: more than skin deep. Postgraduate medical journal, 82(970), 500–506.
  3. Kadunce DP, Burr R, et al. “Cigarette smoking: risk factor for premature facial wrinkling.” Ann Intern Med. 1991 May 15;114(10):840-4.

4 Skin Care Personalities: Which Are You?

Minimalist, Trend-Seeker, Quick Fixer, or Connoisseur?I’ve been a minimalist since childhood.While my friends were chatty about the last skincare and makeup products, hair wands, and gels, taking a mall trip to visit Sephora and spending their allowance on little vials of this or that, I was happily clueless. Today, as I start to see signs of skin issues in my 30s, I do what I can do to keep my skin healthy, but my ultimate dream is still to live on a deserted island where (in my magical alternate reality) my skin is naturally buoyed and kept supple and glowing by a totally naturalistic lifestyle. *sigh* While that may be far from my reality, the heart of it rings true for me. I don’t want to spend time worrying about my skincare, or money lining my shelves with new products. To put more focus on my skin than I’m comfortable with, I’ve learned would only make me anxious and obsessive about my skincare. For others, it’s a completely different story. My friend LOVES spending a weekend evening trying out new products and reading article after article about their effects. She has beautiful skin because that works for her. A sharper focus on her skin and time spent on skincare is a form of self-love and pampering. For me, a simple facial cleanse, a serum and a quick moisturizer with SPF are all I need for my skin to feel good and keep healthy while keeping stress on the issue at bay. We all have a skincare personality; the trick is to recognize it and learn how to roll with it. Going against the grain of what works for you (and that might change through different seasons of your life), will result in more frustration, stress and oh-just-forget-it outbursts than is good for your skin. 

  1. The Minimalist

You favor a quick cleanser, and a moisturizer to make your skin feel more comfortable and less tight, but you aren’t over-fussy with brands or expensive products. You want utility and prefer a more natural approach that weaves well with your lifestyle. 

    • Pros: You won’t spend too much time worrying in front of a mirror.
    • Cons: You might experience some premature aging if you become neglectful of your skin.
    • If You Do One Thing: Choose a few good products to address skin moisture, skin suppleness, and an exfoliating cleanser. 
  1. The Trend-Seeker

You expect quick, visible results from your skincare, and always look for a new product that might work better than your last    investment. You have several pots of moisturizer, cleanser and masks on the go, ready to use for your skin’s changing needs.

    • Pros: Open to advice, Enthusiastic, Keeps a consistent routine 
    • Cons: Poor effective may be had on sensitive skin from switching up products and trying new things so often
    • If you do one thing: play around with non-essential products, but keep a consistent core product base.
  1. The Connoisseur 

You take skincare seriously, are well versed in the latest products, but unlike the Trend-Seeker, you’re not looking for a quick fix. You don’t mind taking the time to use a multi-step program, or investing in new technology with long-term trial periods. 

    • Pros: You’ll find what works and have fewer negative reactions to products.
    • Cons: Maintaining this level of commitment can be time-consuming and expensive. 
    • If you do one thing: Don’t forget that diet, exercise and lifestyle have a huge impact on the way your skin looks and behaves. You may find it easier to choose a new do-all cream with multi-benefits to cut out a step or two of your regimen.
  1. The Investor  

You’ve found a range of products you love and suit your skin. You stockpile when there’s a special offer on and see no reason to look for anything new. You’ve done your research and you’re investing in your long-term skin goals, and aren’t expecting to see any immediate effects on your overall skin health. 

    • Pros: less time spent worrying about skincare 
    • Cons: You could be affected by tachyphylaxis (when a product stops working for you from overuse). 
    • If you do one thing: Take inventory of your skin once a year for any changes due to aging, pregnancy or climate changes. Have a rotating arsenal of multiple products to interchange and avoid tachyphylaxis. 



Can You Peel Your Way To Perfect Skin?

All about chemical peels and the best at-home treatments.A chemical peel is a controlled injury to the skin which removes old, damaged cells and replaces them with fresh, unblemished cells. A trip to a licensed esthetician can run you anywhere from $200 on the low end to $6,000 on the high end as frequently as once per month (for superficial peels). The cost of beauty, right? Not exactly. 


History of Facial Peels As early as ancient times, people used a variation of what we now call a chemical peel. Most notably Egyptian women bathed in milk, specifically, Cleopatra who bathed in sour milk. While we might retch to think of the smell and (ew) clumps in her specially drawn milk bath, Cleopatra was unknowingly harnessing the power of a chemical peels driving ingredient, AHAs, found in lactic acid. The Greeks and Romans also joined the Egyptians in earring crushed grapes, and even wine, which contains another AHA, tantric acid.1 From there, not much changed until the 20th century, when the first intentionally formulated chemical peels were developed, their recipes and services kept under lock and key for the Hollywood elite. Until 1961, that is, when the Baker-Gordon peel recipe was released through the mainstream media and catapulted peels into widespread use.2 For the next forty to sixty years, most sought out chemical peel services from dermatologists and estheticians, and though some at-home products were available previously, COVID-19 completely changed the at-home market, and the DIY beauty confidence. 


Mainstream At-Home Use During the pandemic, we took our personal care into our own hands. We had to. We also had to face ourselves in the Zoom camera way too often. And what did we see? All the little blemishes staring back at me. “Face peel products have grown 150% from 2019 to 2020, according to analysis from 1010 data, with a 107% spike in sales in April 2020 compared to March 2020. Some beauty brands leading the online face peel market include The Ordinary, QRxLabs, Dr. Dennis Gross, M-61, Bliss and Neogen Dermalogy.”3 Lucky for us, these gentle new chemical exfoliators allow you to brighten your complexion from the comfort of your bathroom for way less than a similar spa treatment. What a time to be alive. With a variety of formulas to choose from, each of these peels promises smoother, softer, younger-looking skin, and fewer breakouts with regular use, but let’s see how they really measure up. (All of our offerings on SkinMedix, curated by our Clinical Director, Aaron Kozol, a licensed non-practicing pharmacist, have already been vetted for their quality and effectiveness.) 


Glytone Essentials Mini Peel – A weekly skin booster using 10.8% glycolic acid to thoroughly exfoliate and renew the complexion. Perfect for use between in-office peels and safe for all skin types, it works without irritation, resulting in a calm, comfortable finish.Murad Intesive-C Resurfacing Peel – Formulated with a blend of botanicals and resurfacing agents to replenish radiance while smoothing and softening the skin. Apply the mask after cleansing and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with a warm cloth to deep clean and brighten. Also available in travel size.Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel  – The first peel formulated for daily at-home use. Its unique two-step system of ready-to-use pads contains a precise blend of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E, soothing green tea extract.Warning: Skin can become vulnerable to UV rays after a peel. Use sunblock to prevent further damage after a treatment.

  1. “The history of facial peels and how they’ve changed over the years”. Versed Skin. (n.d.). 
  2. Brody, H.J., Monheit, G.D., Resnik, S.S. and Alt, T.H. (2000), A History of Chemical Peeling. Dermatologic Surgery, 26: 405-409.
      3. Larson, K. (2021, June 26). The demand for at-home chemical peels continues to surge. Forbes.   

Can We Eat Our Way to Healthy Skin?

Food. Just in the same way that certain foods can ruin your figure, some foods will ruin your skin. The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true. If you eat junk, your skin is likely to feel and reflect that. If you eat well and manage a healthy lifestyle, your skin will reflect it. MayoClinic dermatologist, Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. explains even though research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited, “antioxidant-rich foods still seem to have a protective effect for the skin”. But recent research has made a breakthrough in identifying skin-healthy foods. The pistachio nut, being on. Having been theorized to be skin-beneficial in the past (my mother always swore my Grandpa’s good skin was from his copious consumption of pistachios, and not just his Italian heritage) a recent 2022 study done at Cornell University has verified the anti-oxidant power of the pistachio, though it should be noted that the pistachios Cornell used to study the antioxidant capacity were sustainably grown pistachios from western America.1Meet the Expert: Lawrence E. Gibson is a practicing dermatologist in Minnesota and is associated with MayoClinic. With 21 years of experience, his specialty has been dermatopathology, the study and diagnostics of skin diseases. As such, he has paid special mind to the natural preventative measures one can take against  skin diseases and dysfunction. Consider these skin-friendly foods:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
  • Pistachios and other nuts 

“On the flip side, some foods seem to be associated with skin damage,” adds Dr. Gibson. “For example, some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging.”While some foods may specifically help create healthy skin, a good diet in general is a good place to start. Concentrate on Whole Foods, with as little processing as possible. The less chemical exposure and modification, the better. If you’re going to eat meats, dairy and vegetables as a part of a healthy diet, eat organic and pasture-raised. Limit sweets, but welcome honey and maple syrup into your diet.As always, work with a healthcare professional to find out what works best for you. 



  1. Yuan, W., Zheng, B., Li, T., & Liu, R. H. (2022). Quantification of Phytochemicals, Cellular Antioxidant Activities and Antiproliferative Activities of Raw and Roasted American Pistachios (Pistacia vera L.). Nutrients, 14(15), 3002.

Facial Scrub Tips for Glowing Skin and Why DIY Facial Scrubs Hardly Make the Cut

Key Word: GentleMost of us have likely tried the DIY sugar shower scrub and subsequently had to deal with encrusted sugar and sticky patches along the bathroom or shower floor, not to mention raw skin. And while such an endeavor begins with a good line of thinking — exfoliating is always a must — the American Academy of Dermatology1 suggests there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about a good facial scrub. At their best, facial scrubs can leave our skin with that baby-soft, dewy glow. At their worst, they can frighten the neighborhood children with Scarface nightmares, leaving skin red blotchy, or rubbed raw. Through one particularly zealous phase of scrubbing while in college, I scrubbed so hard and so often (I wanted to clear my skin of acne) that I created more acne, a common side effect of over-scrubbing. So I had a personal investment in how to find that elusive balance. I put away my sugar crystals (which I learned were actually far too coarse for the delicate facial epidermis2) and went on the hunt for a good exfoliant. My goals were simple; I wanted something I could use at least weekly, but preferably every other day, that wouldn’t dry out my skin but would remove dead skin buildup. I tend to get dead skin build up on my chin, right below my lower lip, and around my nose. 


As always, shop with your skin type in mind and work with your dermatologist to choose the best products for you. 


Avene Gentle ScrubIf you have sensitive skin, don’t buy products with the most heavy chemicals. Avene Gentle Scrub features Safflower Oil, an ancient skincare ingredient utilized by the Chinese and Indians.If your skin is oily, go with the oil-free options like SkinCeuticals Micro Exfoliating Scrub, designed to help open congested skin. This mild exfoliating gel combines natural microbeads with gentle cleansing and hydrating agents to thoroughly cleanse pores and promote healthy cell renewal without damaging or drying skin.  


For dry skin, exfoliating is crucial because your skin will absorb any moisturizer you use much better. Try Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant, a non-abrasive exfoliation treatment to thoroughly remove dulling surface debris, dramatically improving skin texture and combatting dryness.

  1. How to safely exfoliate at home. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). 
  2. Cherney, K. (2020, January 6). Sugar scrub for face: Side effects and why you should avoid it. Healthline.

Men, Skin Care Is Part of Your Health!

“As a dermatologist, my opinion is that the #1 problem in men’s skincare can be summed up in one word: NEGLECT.” -Dr. Susan Evans, MD, Expert Contributor to the Dr. Oz ShowMen’s health goes beyond working out and eating right. If you’re not taking care of your skin, you’re disregarding a major portion of your health. Your skin is different from women, with distinct needs, but it definitely has needs! This article is your sign to listen to the women in your life (and hopefully your dermatologist) telling you to get on top of a skincare routine if you haven’t already. Get cosmetics and beauty treatments out of your mind if that’s stopping you from owning your own skincare routine. Preventative care and health is what we’re about. More than half of the skin cancer cases are men, with the highest incidence in non-Hispanic white men. It comes down to protecting the skin. Protect Your SkinFirst, visit your dermatologist once a year for a thorough check-up, more than that if you have a history or family history of skin cancer. Second, use sunscreen! Men in their 20s and 30s are usually active, participating in outdoor activities, lounging by the pool, or working outside. “Institutes of Health show that, among adults, males between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk of UVR exposure. For the past decade, this group has consistently reported the highest percentage of sunburns, with 50.03% reporting sunburn in 2010. This group was also the least likely group to usually or always protect themselves from the sun by using sunscreen, with only 13.7% of males 18 to 24 years old reporting usually using sunscreen in 2010. While research to date has primarily focused on the sun protection and tanning behaviors of young adult females, the attitudes and behaviors of males were poorly understood.”1Point blank. Sunscreen. Everywhere skin is exposed. And yes, that even means on the top of your head if you’ve begun balding. Arguably, your scalp is even more sensitive than other areas of concern. We Recommend:For the best in sun protection, try SkinMedica Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 30.Sunscreen will help protect the skin from harmful UV rays, and preventative measures in caring for the aging of the skin is a concern, too. Aging is inevitable. When products tout “anti-aging” benefits, what they really mean is, “Here’s how you can gracefully age. For the disinterested male, keep it simple. Use a good cleanser, an exfoliant, an antioxidant serum, and a good moisturizer. Premature aging, blemishes, dry skin, and complications of shaving like ingrown hairs are all easily avoided if you take the time to take care. 


Take Care When ShavingShave using a manual razor with a single blade. The double and triple blades promise to give you a very close shave; this sounds good, but the closer you shave, the more likely you are to have those hairs curling below the surface of your skin resulting in razor bumps and infected hairs. Shave in the shower, if you can. When your face is very wet, you minimize the likelihood of developing razor burn from too much friction. After shaving, moisturize! Why is it that men find moisturizing their skin feminine? It’s not! Men’s skin is thicker, tougher, and more prone to chafe or crack; it needs extra moisture. Exfoliate! Keep up a daily habit of light exfoliation to further prevent a build-up of dead skin cells and in-grown hairs. My partner’s life changed when he tried using exfoliating gloves. We get them for less than $5, usually at Homegoods or Primark. 

  1. Shave using a single blade to prevent in-grown hairs
  2. Moisturize
  3. Exfoliate

We Recommend:Try Dermalogica Soothing Shave Kit to shave with comfort and ease. Follow with Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Washto gently exfoliate and unclog congested pores. Finish off with Neostrata Lotion Plus, a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that’s formulated with 15% glycolic acid to improve skin texture. 1-2-3…done! 🙂


  1. Melanoma incidence and mortality, United States—2012–2016. (2019). U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Briefs, 9.,men%20and%2031%2C845%20among%20women.

Ancient Beauty Secrets Are In Your Medicine Cabinet

We look at the ingredients beloved by ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Chinese and the products they’re in today. Skincare has been evolving for thousands of years. It should be no surprise that our ancient ancestors were just as concerned about preserving and treating their skin as we are today with the natural ingredients around them. It was the Greeks who first coined the term kosmos and then kosmētikos, or what we know as cosmetics. So it’s safe to say, it was big on their radar. At that time, all cosmetics were naturally formulated and handmade. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that synthetic and chemically manufactured products showed up on the market and entered our skincare routines. But in the 90s and 00s, with an increase in interest in natural ingredients (following the horrors of the twentieth century), we’ve been looking deeper into the past to unlock the secrets of ancient and even mythologized beauty. Thanks to archeological findings, historical writings, and anthropological studies of how people lived during ancient times, we’re able to create products today with the best that ancient and modern times offer. Good FoundationsIn India, cold cream was invented by mixing rose oil, water, and melted beeswax together. The Ancient Egyptians had an array of vegetable oils they used to keep their skin moisturized in the desert dryness. Oils and ingredients like thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil,  and almond oil were regularly used. We know from archaeologists that ancient Egyptians even made soapy cleansers out of mineral clay and olive oil and creams made with castor, sesame, and moringa oils. Used in the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC -24 AD), Chinese skincare included brightening and anti-aging products made from Chinese Waxgourd Seed, and Apricot seeds were used to make a cream that could relieve black spots and acne during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Today, we recognize apricot kernels and oil as widely used ingredients for the same skin issues. The Chinese also unlocked the powerful ingredients found in pearls. “Pearl powder has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine since the early part of the Common Era as a health, cosmetic, and nutrient supplement. The empress Wu Zetian (625–705 AD) consumed pearl powder and applied it to her face for its brightening/lightening properties.” Calcium carbonate, the most abundant ingredient in pearls, is used today as an oil-absorbent for creams and cosmetic products. Its presence in skincare formulas provides consumers with a smooth, silky matte finish to their skin. Calcium phosphates, too, are found in pearls and today utilized in protecting the skin from UV rays, and in cleansers to absorb sebum and promote skin turnover. Pliny the Elder detailed the use of certain ingredients in derma care in Ancient Rome. Honey, he noted, was used as an emollient and acne treatment. The bulb of narcissus (daffodil), removed blemishes and softened skin. Myrrh was another commonly cited ingredient. “Myrrh has been used to treat ailments of the skin since antiquity. It is obtained from the sap that is secreted as an exudate from the Commiphora myrrha tree. Myrrh is considered a natural remedy for wounds, infections, and acne and is also used as a perfume agent. “Eh…Think AgainIn Ancient Greece and Rome, where pale skin was a sign of aristocracy (i.e. money, please!), women used a powder of white lead, chalk, and crocodile dung to lighten their skin. Modern science has since revealed lead to be deadly – no duh. The Chinese in BC years went even a step further. They didn’t just powder their skin; they bleached their skin with a mixture of lead, rice, and gel from songyi mushrooms. This kind of skin-bleaching or lightning technique persisted around the world well into the 18th Century, particularly in Europe. We’ve come pretty far, even since the 1930s, when mascara dye was blinding women and a facial cream was covertly causing mercury poison. Thanks to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Administration we now have some ground rules to keep us safe when using skincare. We’ve learned from the past, taking the good and reformulating products that are safe and effective. And we’ve added some good things, too. Through scientific advancements, we’ve been able to develop skincare staples like Hyaluronic Acid. “In 1934, Karl Meyer and his colleague John Palmer were the first investigators who discovered and isolated HA from the vitreous body of cows’ eyes.” “The retinoid drug project was launched in 1968 to synthesize compounds similar to vitamin A by chemical manipulation of its molecule to improve clinical efficacy and safety. The use of these substances in therapy dates back some 3000 years to ancient Egypt, where liver was used to treat endemic night blindness. The modern history of retinoids, however, began in 1909 when an essential factor in the viability of an embryo in the fatty extract of the egg yolk, called vitamin A, was discovered. Retinoids finally were introduced into the treatment of dermatoses including photoaging more than two decades ago”Niacinamide was discovered in the 1930s and has since become a common ingredient found in skincare products. As always, read the ingredients on the products you buy and chat with a dermatologist about your specific needs. The more you educate yourself on what specific ingredients do, the better you can work with your dermatologist to custom-create your skincare routine. And in the meantime, be inspired by the past, and learn from it. But we can be thankful for the ingredients our modern science has given us. Find the best of both worlds in many of our products on SkinMedix.


Fakhari, A., & Berkland, C. (2013). Applications and emerging trends of hyaluronic acid in tissue engineering, as a dermal filler and in osteoarthritis treatment. Acta biomaterialia, 9(7), 7081–7092.
Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H. C., Roeder, A., & Weindl, G. (2006). Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clinical interventions in aging, 1(4), 327–348.
McMullen, Roger L., and Giorgio Dell’Acqua. 2023. “History of Natural Ingredients in Cosmetics” Cosmetics 10, no. 3: 71.
Carella, F., Degli Esposti, L., Adamiano, A., & Iafisco, M. (2021). The Use of Calcium Phosphates in Cosmetics, State of the Art and Future Perspectives. Materials (Basel, Switzerland), 14(21), 6398.
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