The Art of Face Masks I. History of Face Masks

Welcome to the start of my 5 part mini-series on The Art of Face Masks. For the next two weeks ill be talking all things face masks from the history of face masks, benefits, what mask is for you, face mask do’s and don’ts and DIY recipes. I’ve been researching and working on this for about two months now so I’m so proud to finally publish it to the world. I hope you enjoy!

Now let’s get to the good stuff! The history of Face Masks.

Face masks in the ancient times

Face masks have been around for generations. Each culture displayed their own unique take on the face mask long before commercial cosmetic brands. The oldest record of face masks has been dated back to 3000 BC. 5000 years ago in India, Men and Woman took care of their skin, not for cosmetic purposes but religious purposes. The Ayurveda religion (standing for life and knowledge) would often apply mixtures of herbs and flowers to their face and body with the belief that it will aid healing and pure the soul. 

This is not the only place that face masks have been recorded. The women of Ancient Rome reported around 2500 BC, often used olive oil and vinegar as a mask to moisturise and tighten their skin. These common ingredients can be found in many mainstream products due to their amazing natural healing properties. We have the Romans to thank for that. 

Face masks between 1500-1800

Jumping from the BCs to somewhat more recent times the practice of wearing a face mask wasn’t as kind. In the Elizabethan era (the 1500’s) it was a common belief that the whiter you are the more youthful and wealthy you are (this also went for how fat you were. The fatter you are the more wealthy you look…which is what I like to tell myself). Women went to extream lengths to whiten their skin, mixing lead and vinegar together and apply it all over their face! This is poisonous as hell so don’t try this at home! I’ve read some horror stories about Asian women having severe burns in recent times from using too many skin whitening products, imagine what LEAD would do to your skin!

The use of lead for whitening was not only used in Europe. The Edo period in Japan (the 1600’s) Found many Japanese women desiring to have skin that isn’t white, but translucent. They would mix lead and vinegar with bird droppings and use it as a face mask. The Japanese would often use Bird droppings to remove stains from silk due to the high ammonia content it has. Many Geisha’s used Bird droppings (Uguisu no fun) on its own and not mixed as a foundation. Guys, lead + Vinegar + Ammonia is definitely NOT a good idea!  I must note that Uguisu no fun is completely safe to use on its own and it is still used today as an effective acne treatment. 

Face Masks 1900s- Today

The 1900’s showed women fear towards an ageing complexion. A popular anti Aging treatment (whilst I know isn’t a face mask but I needed to mention it here) was getting ‘radioactive beauty plasma’ injected into their skin. This beauty plasma was made from a mix of raw metals, radium and other chemicals. It was advertised as volcanic clay and caused significant health problems. 

Another popular trend in the 1900’s was raw meat facials where women would get a piece of fresh steak, lamb or pork and put it over their face. It was believed that the blood and enzymes in the meat would help break down the anti ageing process and make you look young.

Nowadays most popular face masks include ingredients such as charcoal, Matcha, Olive Oil and Clay. Clay masks are, dare I say it, the most popular masks out there on the market for their amazing purifying benefits. Clay throughout history has always been a useful medium and in ancient times was primarily used for medical purposes. Whilst there were most likely some civilisations that did use clay for cosmetic reasons, all my research found studies on today’s society rather than ancient times which isn’t a bad thing. 

Whilst this is a very brief history on face masks throughout the times, you can see how no matter what era everyone wanted to look good!

Tune in next time for part 2- Why face masks are good for you.

That’s all from me.
Until next time my lovely xxx
Sign Off


Art used to crate the header image from:
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