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Face masks come in all colors and textures. They can be gritty or smooth, come with various purposes and promise to exfoliate, detox, rejuvenate, clarify, or soften our skin. One thing they all have in common is that the moment you smooth on a face mask, the world stops for a moment. The hopeful mixture on your face means you are captive in your home: no errands to run, no kids to drop off, no jogging to complete. You are forced to spend a little time doing nothing but caring for yourself. It’s an unspoken pat on the back. You get time to restore, and your face gets rejuvenated too.

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Who Used Face Masks First?

Let’s look back and see what techniques our ancestors used for glowing skin. (Warning - some of these are fairly gross.)

Ancient Egyptians mixed egg whites with cucumber juice to tighten their epidermis and fenugreek seeds to soften their skin. These sought-after seeds have been proven to contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredients: happy skin allowed them to worry less and build more. They also pioneered the use of avocado, almond oil, and honey to hydrate and nourish the skin, much like we use them today. 

Both men and women of Ancient Greece rubbed white lead across their faces in hopes of clearing “complexions of blemishes and to improve the color and texture of the skin,” says a 2001 article in the Clinics in Dermatology journal. These celebrated masks quickly brought on serious lead-induced side effects, including skin damage, psychotic episodes, and in some cases, infertility. Yikes!

The Ancient Romans sought out plants to heal and help their beauty woes. They would often rub antimicrobial plants like rose and myrrh on their face to help wrinkles and dry skin. The Ancient Romans would have enjoyed our own Nectar Nourishing Drops and Lip Repair

India has been experimenting with seasonally-influenced Ayurvedic cosmetics since 2500 B.C. They created a paste of masura, a lentil native to India, mixed with honey and then applied to the face for seven nights. These regimens were seen as a way to enhance your appearance, but more importantly, to give the beauty seeker punya and aayush, or good health and happiness. Lentils are rich in protein and help build and repair skin cells. 


Portrait of Marie Antoinette

Fast forward a few millennia to the mid-18th century, when the stunning Marie Antoinette had a well-known and hefty beauty regimen. She would often reach for a bottle of cognac to boost her glow. Nope, she wasn’t doing shots - she was putting cognac on her face (not an Osmia-approved technique, by the way). Cognac requires a lengthy distillation period, creating more anti-aging polyphenols. This boost in polyphenols, much like that in chocolate or olive oil, allegedly helps constrict pores, illuminate the complexion, and enhance circulation. But, Marie Antoinette’s most famous facial mask was made of indulgent lily flowers, fine white wine, crumbs of three French baguettes, and eight stewed pigeons —seriously disgusting, but not as toxic as the white lead regime, at least? After 18 days of distillation, she would apply her special concoction for skin renewal. Maybe Marie Antoinette was brilliant? Baguette crumbs would provide maximum exfoliation and lily flowers are known to benefit rosacea. Believe it or not, pigeon bone contains high levels of chondroitin boosting skin elasticity and improving circulation. Don’t worry, we’ll stick to vegetarian ingredients, but that is some seriously interesting face mask trivia!



Modern day facial innovations are no less shocking. Wacky mask methods including Japan’s wildly popular fire facials are gaining steam. Clients cover themselves in alcohol soaked towels, and—you guessed it—light themselves on fire. (We DEFINITELY do not recommend trying this technique!) Snail facials, gold facials, caviar facials, and Kardashian famous, vampire facials—these are real facial treatments happening all over the world right now.

Thanks to the lessons learned by creative beauty seekers out there, we at Osmia feel pretty confident that we don’t need to stew pigeons or harvest snails for clear skin. Instead, we rely on the simple concept that less is more: a few, carefully chosen plant ingredients can give us a brighter, fresher complexion without any risk of unwanted side effects or toxicity. Now, we can safely retreat to our bathrooms with our favorite mask and rub away the duties, the dirt, and the dishes.


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Wishing you love and a March full of masks from us to you,










Crawfold, Holly "Time-Warped Beauty." Elle Magazine April 8, 2009

Crezo, Adrienne "11 Bizarre Old Contraptions That Promised to Improve Your Looks." Mental Floss Oct. 2, 2012

Gupta, Sakshi "10 Amazing Health Benefits of Lily of the Valley" StyleCraze September 29, 2017

Herman, Beth "History's Beauty Secrets Revealed!" Farmers' Almanac February 24, 2014

Hirschlag, Allison "11 Tips From Marie Antoinette's Beauty Regimen" Mental Floss May 9, 2016

Patkar, Kunda B. "Herbal Cosmetics in Ancient India." US National Library of Medicine October, 2008

Poucher, W.A. Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps Vol. 2 



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