Several decades ago, far in the deserted Arab lands of Egypt, a young 18 year old from the dynasty of Macedonian rulers was crowned as the Queen. Her powerful aura, exotic beauty and powers of seduction soon got the entire city smitten by her charm. But young Cleopatra had her secrets when it came to beauty. One of her favourite ingredients to use was Rose. They say, she would bathe in rose petal-infused milk every day (Read about Cleopatra baths for millennials in ‘Cleopatra baths for millennials: The Wikka way‘) and that gave a certain rosy glow that entire Egypt craved for!
Rose, one of the many ingredients that we use when it comes to natural beauty products. Its fragrance and other healing properties can help the most stressed minds find some relief. Like Rose, several natural ingredients have been part of beauty secrets throughout world history. Back in the day, these ingredients had a divine significance and were used by the royalties only to be followed by the ordinary people in the modern age. The stories behind each element are fascinating. I always urge people to use the products of nature and trust the process. But I do feel the need to educate everyone on the rich history of the ingredients that I incorporate in my products through Wikka! Today, I’ll be spilling some facts about the uncelebrated heroes who make our natural beauty regime wholesome and rich. There is something about every ingredient that makes it so special. Let us discover the royal secrets, together!
The Royal Rose-
While Egypt saw Queen Cleopatra luxuriating in the richness of roses in her baths, years later France saw a similar obsession with Empress Joséphine. Her love for Rose was such that she collected every variety of it and planted it in her garden. In turkey, there is an entire town named Rose City and it produces the flower in such huge quantities that it is a sight to behold! Another interesting anecdote comes from our home ground. It is said that after seeing the roses in Vishnu’s celestial garden, Brahma acknowledged the supremacy of Rose over all the flowers including Lotus. Some even believe that Vishnu created Goddess Laksmi out of roses. While others think it was a lotus. The Mughal period saw the discovery of the very first Rose attar with Empress Nur Jehan as the discoverer. She discovered the scent while bathing and decided to preserve it.
Today, roses are used everywhere in skincare because of their qualities which include – Astringent and antibacterial properties, stimulates collagen, slows down skin ageing and more. Over-all, rose oil is also a highly uterine oil which is used to increase the fertility and stimulate the uterus.
Fun Facts about Rose- It takes roughly 30,000 rose petals to produce a single ounce of Rose oil.
Jasmine- The Queen of The Night
Mentioned in the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Kama Sutra, as well as in Sangam literature, Jasmine or Yasmin is the next one. Indian legends have Kama (The Love God) tipping his arrows with Jasmine blossoms and thus making it the Perfume of Love.
In Madurai, Tamil Nadu Jasmine is believed to be a symbol of romance and sensuality. The spring festival of Chithirai witnesses the use of all of the Jasmine flowers in the city in the decoration of Goddess Meenakshi while they prepare for her wedding to lord Sundareshwar. The deity is adorned with the flower of love from head to toe! Jasminum molle, commonly called Indian Jui, is also used in Hindu religious ceremonies.
Uses of Jasmine and Jasmine Oil -Jasmine is excellent for skin care (particularly dry skin), a hormonal balancer, prevents oily skin, reduces blemishes, is the most valued oil in childbirth, and a uterine tonic,
Fun Fact- Jasmine is picked at night and hence called The queen of the night.
The Noble Neroli
The name takes us back to Nerola, Italy. The place where Anna Marie Orsini, the 17th century Princess of Nerola became famous for her use of the Neroli in her bath as a perfume and to scent her gloves. Studies also show that neroli oil was a highly traded commodity used in ancient Egypt and traditional Chinese medicine. It was even used to fight the plague.
Uses of neroli -regenerative qualities, neroli oil is also antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving, treats oily skin, is a natural cure for stretch marks and more!
Fun fact- Some say, “Neroli oil is even added to Coca Cola’s famous secret recipe.”
Frankincense And Myrrh- A Fragrant Heritage
Wadi Dawkah, Oman, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the heart of the Land of Frankincense. A place where the locals call the beads “pearls of the desert.”
The history of Frankincense in beauty goes back to Egypt, where women utilized the ash of frankincense for personal use as well, like mixing it into their eye shadow.
The Godly Connection
Frankincense and Myrrh were widely available when the Magi visited the baby Jesus around 5 B.C and so the baby Jesus was gifted these when he was born. It’s in the Talmud, the Koran, and the Old Testament. To the Egyptians, it was the sweat of the gods and an afterlife essential. Pharaohs were also buried with their favourite perfumes which are believed to be highly expensive. When one such Pharaoh or the most famous one, King Tut’s tomb was opened in 1922, the researchers smelled, “wonderful things,”. These things are believed to be the magic ingredients!
Uses- Studies suggest that frankincense may be beneficial to sufferers of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis and collagenous colitis. Researchers have also discovered possible benefits of Myrrh in the treatment of gastric ulcers, tumours and parasites. They also serve as natural treatments for skin, regulate sebum and make skin health improve. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s said to relieve joint pain and balance emotions.
Love and Lavender
Another ingredient that was discovered in King Tut’s tomb was still-fragrant Lavender. The famous fragrance by which Queen Cleopatra used to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. Lavender is till date associated with love and sensuality. It is believed to be 2,500 years old.
Uses of Lavender Oil- Treats migraines, has antiseptic properties, is great for reproductive stimulation, lowers blood pressure and more!
Fun Fact- Lavender was a favourite ingredient in fragrant herbal baths of both Greeks and Romans.
Poor Man’s Jasmine or Ylang-ylang
Pronounced as Ill-ang ill-ang, it grows natively in tropical Asia. It is the heart of many leading fragrances including the globally acclaimed, Chanel No 5.
Uses- Helps treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS), insomnia, high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat. Its soothing and relaxing properties also make it effective for treating stress-related disorders such as depression, anxiety, and nervous tension. It also regulates oil production in skin and hair and is great for boosting Libido as well!
Fun Fact- The lower grade of the oil is used in detergents while the higher one is used in perfumes.
All these ingredients have their own story. Most of which involve famous Pharaohs, beauty icons and Gods as their favourite consumers. Today, with an increased focus on health and wellness, the use of natural ingredients has increased. But before putting anything on the skin one must know the ingredient. I use these ingredients all the time in making my secret recipes for my wellness brand, Wikka. The appeal will be to let the knowledge engulf you and make an attempt to change your lifestyle into a better one which increases the magical process of healing.