When we crawled out of the jungle in the first stages of our evolution into humans, we had all over body hair and moved about on all fours. What followed was the cause of, and the need for men’s skin care.
Soon (relatively) we had learned to walk upright, and at the same time we shed hair from most of our body. This left us exposed. Exposed to sunlight, scrapes, cuts and bruises. As we roamed further afield we encountered rough terrain, difficult vegetation, and the wind and rain. With sore bodies we needed something which soothed our skin. The answer was herbs.
Herbs soothed the skin of both men and women. But as we progressed to cave dwelling and then basic shelters, a more settled existence evolved. Women tended the homes and looked after the family, whilst men hunted, fished and later farmed. Thus it tended to be the men folk who arrived back from ‘work’ needing repair and alleviation from discomfort for their skin.
Fast forward through thousands of years of evolution to the ancient civilisations of the Middle East and Far East. Writings on papyrus in Egypt, Sumaria, China, India and Greece evidence the use of herbs as a moisturiser. Mention was made of basil, dill, thyme, coriander and parsley in the herb gardens of Mesopotamia. The Romans also used Chives and sage.
When the western part of the Roman Empire declined and collapsed over the first few centuries AD, it left the Middle East as the developer of herbs for moisturising. Baghdad and Cairo were the centres of herbal medicine and pharmacology which helped develop skin care. Britain and Western Europe fell into a cultural and literary backwater. Witchcraft developed and flourished and weird mixtures of bizarre substances were applied in place of herbs.
The monastries, however, did continue to cultivate and write about herbs through both the dark Ages and the Middle Ages. Skincare in the Middle Ages changed with fashion but was also heavily influenced by wars, plagues and religion. men used ‘cosmetics’ of various substances to colour and decolour their faces and this often led to the subsequent application of herbal remedies as a palliative. So skincare and moisturising continued to rely on herbs through the centuries.
By Victorian times Christianity was discouraging facial adornment and men’s skin care activities were considered evil. But into the twentieth century two wars and the rapid advancement of science heralded big changes in skincare. Herbs were scientifically analysed, extracts were refined and mixed, and the sources of skin care contents spread to a much wider range of vegetation from around the world.
The twenty first century has seen men’s skin care expand in a scientific way to give carefully formulated men’s skin care products such as moisturisers and cleansers which are specialised for different types of men’s skin, all of which are regulated to the highest standards. This modern wave of men’s skin care has led to the term metrosexual man, but it is without doubt that men’s skin care now has a wide ranging and broad appeal across men.