Paleo is all the rage these days. Advocates of the paleo diet say it’s the key to cutting body fat, increasing energy levels, and looking and feeling your best. Here at Illuminaughty Boutique, we believe that it is more important to look good than to feel good, and we find ourselves wondering– could paleo cosmetics have the same benefits? Let’s find out!
Yep, that’s dirt– sweet, magical dirt. Ochre is one of the oldest substances humans used for decoration, and it’s not hard to see why. In both its red and yellow forms, it’s beautiful!
As far back as 100,000 years BCE, red ochre was used in ceremonial burial practices in the Levant, some theorize as a symbolic “rebirth” process. But the same red color can also bring a healthy flush to any skin tone.
The Himba people of Namibia are famous for their use of ochre both as a cosmetic and as a way to protect themselves from the arid climate in which they live. The ochre is mixed with butter and ash to form a paste called otjize, which is then applied to the skin and the hair. It doesn’t have to be high-tech to be stunning!
Henna has become fairly well known in the west, and is often associated with Indian wedding customs. In fact, its use is widespread over the past 6000 years throughout not only India but also a good portion of the Islamic world and eastern Africa, both to dye the skin and to color the hair a brilliant red.
A word of caution if you’re looking to try out henna– be sure you’re getting pure and authentic henna powder. While henna itself is extremely unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, cheaper products are sometimes doped with a chemical called p-phenylenediamine, which can cause permanent burns, swelling, and scars. We’ll stick with the basics, thank you very much!
Olive oil is a natural moisturizer both for skin and hair. It contains vitamins E and K as well beta carotene and a chemical known as squalene, which is a natural moisturizer for skin cells. Of course, the ancients didn’t know this. They just knew how oils could make their skin glow.
Along with its own benefits, olive oil is a great carrier for other essential oils to make fragrant ointments and perfumes. (The ancient Egyptians preferred something called balanos oil, but we haven’t seen that on our grocery store shelves.) Do you love the smell of a favorite flower or wood? Has your society figured out how to distill alcohol yet? If not, just soak it in oil and the smell is all yours, albeit with a little bit of greasiness.
Perhaps the most famous makeup of ancient Egypt, kohl is a black powder worn about the eyes. Chemical compositions varied, and it was sometimes made with stibnite or galena, and sometimes with a greener malachite for the bottom lid. It’s literally what makes the Eye of Horus stand out so well.
In addition to looking fabulous, the dark coloration may help reduce eye strain in high-glare situations like the desert– think of it like the eye black football players wear. It was also thought to help strengthen children’s eyes and ward off the “evil eye.” And just look at this attractive cosmetics case!
We’re not knocking the latest in beauty advances. In fact, we’re pretty excited about a new 3D cosmetics printer that may be on the way soon, allowing all 16.7 million colors of the digital rainbow on to your face at the touch of a button. But it’s important to remember that beauty is timeless. Our ancestors managed to do some pretty incredible things without aerosol hairspray and superstay 24-hour color.
When in doubt, get creative with it! Even our Neanderthal ancestors were experimenting with cosmetics as far back as 50,000 years ago. So never be afraid to mix and match and try new things!
ADAM WEISHAUPT is a Professor of Law at the University of Ingolstadt. His hobbies include rationalism, masonry, and opposition to Kantian idealism.