Inner Insight

Natural Living - From Past to Present

It is not uncommon to find “natural products’ but containing less than 5 per cent of natural ingredients be it tea tree oil, cocoa butter or neem.

By Kenny Kong

Have you ever wondered what our ancestors used to treat their dry skin, brighten up their faces or clean their hair and body?

Skincare archaeological evidence dates way back to 6,000 years ago to ancient Egypt. Under extremely harsh climate, one would wonder how they managed to keep their skin healthy.

Evidently, they made exfoliating scrubs from aloe vera and sand, moisturizers from olive oil, lotions from fenugreek, castor and moringa oils, and face masks made from honey and milk.  

Similarly, the Ancient Greek men and women regularly moisturised their bodies with a mixture of honey and olive oil. It was a Greek physician who invented the first cream using rose water, beeswax and olive oil.

The Ancient Romans were particular about cleanliness and good skin health. The ingredients found in their facial cream were corn, flour, milk, butter, flower oils, almonds and saffron. The Ancient Chinese were equally concerned about skin care.  It was during the Shang Dynasty, around 1760 BC, that skin care really began in China. One of the cleansers ever recorded was made from seaweed, jellyfish and songyi mushrooms.

That being said, the Ancient Chinese placed a lot of emphasis on a holistic approach when it came to skin care. They made sure they ate a balanced diet, stayed away from sugar, dairy products, wheat and fried foods, kept the body hydrated, exfoliated regularly, had quality sleep every night, exercised and meditated consistently.

The Ancient Africans, on the other hand, implemented a lot of the natural elements from the African plants and trees into their beauty products. Besides rituals, the local ingredients used made their skin glow. Some of these notable ingredients include Mongongo nuts, argan oil, shea butter, kalahari melon seed oil, marula oil, rooibos and macadamia nut oil.

However, today, there are lots of studies being carried out to study the causes and effects of skincare products. Many of these studies have been funded by the skincare industries; hence, there is a likelihood that the findings may be skewed. As a consumer, we must be mindful of the choices we make and not be cajoled into the web of deceit.

For instance, a particular website on the internet cited some of the causes of skin cancer. According to, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide.  In the United States, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and at least two people die every hour due to skin cancer. Also, having lots of sunburns doubles the risk of contracting skin cancer. Even though the statistics is appalling, the author has deviated from the real cause of this deadly disease. Instead, UV rays from the sun and tanning beds have always been blamed; hence, the mushrooming of the synthetic sun screen lotion as a remedy to prevent sunburns. However, hardly anyone has revealed the harmful effects of the sun screen lotion.  

While the society is in full praise of innovation and convenience, we, as consumers, need to be mindful of the products we see on the shelf. It is not uncommon to find “natural products’ but containing less than 5 per cent of natural ingredients be it tea tree oil, cocoa butter or neem. Usually, these natural ingredients are mixed with chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol and petroleum which are all poisonous to the skin. The whitening and bleaching creams are equally detrimental; they contain chemicals such as mercury, steroids, monobenzone, hydroquinone, and niacinamide. These chemicals can lead to kidney damage, skin discoloration, excessive scarring, poor brain function and impaired speech and hearing.  Unknown to many, these chemicals can inhibit the production of key hormones.

Today, many skin care companies not only promote an entire line of skin care products to cater to one’s needs, but also include personalised services.  This is one way of enticing prospective customers and maintaining loyalty. When the products are marketed, it is made to seem so real that these skin care cosmetics can bring about change in one’s image. Little do these customers know that it is just an illusion; the chemicals in the products will not only damage the skin, but also the internal organs, eventually.

In conclusion, the world that we are living in is surrounded by illusions. If we look deep enough, we will find the truth. Many choices that we make daily are somewhat influenced by our previous experiences and memories. It is time to revisit our ancient past and liberate ourselves from the unhealthy patterns that is causing destruction to our lives.  We need to learn to say “NO” to chemical products.