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We’ve all seen images of women sporting facial masks with cucumbers on the eyes and the hair wrapped up tightly in a towel. The images are almost synonymous with modern skincare. Interestingly enough, it’s also fairly common for people to assume that the deep cleansing mask is a relatively new invention. It’s not. Cleansing masks have been around for centuries.

The idea behind the facial mask is to deeply cleanse the skin while also nourishing it, removing toxins, and reducing damage done by environmental elements. As best we can tell, the use of deep cleansing masks goes as far back as ancient Egypt. It may go further back than that. We just don’t know because archeology and anthropology haven’t yet uncovered any evidence prior to the Egyptian Empire.

Facial Masks in the Ancient World

Research has shown that facial masks were fairly common in ancient Egypt and China. In Egypt, women were rather fond of makeup just as we are today. Therefore, it is believed that the deep cleansing mask was used to help remove makeup and rejuvenate the skin at the same time. It is thought that Cleopatra created her own facial masks using all sorts of natural products.

In China, the focus of facial masks is on the Tang Dynasty, thanks to a lady by the name of Yang Guifei. Yang was an Imperial consort and regarded as one of the most beautiful women of her day. Today she is still considered one of the “four great beauties” of Chinese history. She was big on facial masks.

Facial Masks in the Victorian Era

Fast forward to the Victorian era and we see deep cleansing facial masks coming-of-age in Europe. Mask recipes began making their way from Asia westward, despite some of them being harmful. The Korean lead facial is an excellent example. Though they didn’t know it back then, the white lead used in this popular recipe was dangerous to one’s health.

Facial Masks in the 18th and 19th Centuries

During the 18th century, Marie Antoinette was known to use a facial mask based on egg whites. It proved so popular that French women today still use a facial recipe similar to Marie Antoinette’s original.

By the turn of the 19th century, deep cleansing facial masks had taken on a medical element in addition to personal beauty. Facial mask creators started to understand that taking better care of the skin could lead to better health. Facial masks could also help restore skin damaged by both environmental exposure and certain illnesses.

Facial Masks in the Modern Era

Today, we’ve taken the idea of the deep cleansing facial mask to an entirely new level. Over hundreds of years of research, we have come to understand the importance of the skin as a part of the immune system. We have also come to realize that the skin endures a tremendous amount of stress due to all the things it is regularly exposed to.

Deep cleansing masks in the modern era are designed to do the same thing ancient masks did, but using organic ingredients that generate much better results. Organic producers like recipes using botanicals and other natural ingredients that rejuvenate the skin, detoxify, reduce UV damage, and restore a healthy, youthful complexion.

The facial mask has certainly come a long way since the days of Cleopatra and ancient Egypt. But the point of the facial mask is still the same: to take good care of the skin so that age and environmental exposure do not take their toll.