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The world of oils
By Sandra Atilgan
The world of oils
The history of oils spans for thousands of years and it would be impossible to write it all, but to note that oils are part of Greek, Persian, Ayurvedic, Chinese and American Indian medical history, although it has been used extensively throughout the entire Eurasia. Egyptians, Romans and Greek were known to use oils in their beauty rituals. But less known parts of the world were equally keen in using oils and their indigenous communities marked a use of oils in their cultural heritage. In other words, oils have been part of our life for (ever) thousands of years.
Being one of the first civilizations on earth, papyrus documents and manuscripts from Egypt provide for a glimpse into the very first health and beauty rituals that were held in the ancient world. In fact, Egyptians were among the first to use essential oils in their rituals, with Myrrh being their most popular herb. Nut and herbal oils were also very popular and they were only used by Pharaohs and the royal family members. Most favoured oils were Moringa and Sweet almond oil infused with rose, jasmine or cinnamon.
Some of the better known beauty tricks were those of queen Cleopatra who used castor oil wraps for hair and sweet almond oil for skin care. She was also known for her indulgence in milk, honey and oil baths (all in one) and some more rarer texts refer to the use of Aloe Vera.
The ancient Indian healing system, Ayurveda focuses on the mind-body connection and prevention of diseases through diet and lifestyle used (and currently use) oils in practices such as self-massaging and oil pulling. The most popular oils of Ayurveda are coconut, sesame and sunflower.
Massage is extremely prominent in Ayurvedic texts. In fact, massage is an Ayurvedic healing technique that is known to provide relaxation, strength and encourage the healing from within. The more popular massage in Ayurveda is the Champi (head) with the areas of work such as shoulders, neck, scalp and face. Sesame and sweet almond oils are the oils more commonly used for Champi massage which is well known to help alleviate stress, promote circulation and thus strengthen the hair.
Avocados played an incredibly important role in the Aztec beauty rituals. The indigenous civilizations of South America used natural masks of mashed avocado and honey to moisturise the skin and help heal puffy eyes. They also used avocado oil for their facial skin care, where the oil is still used and regarded as a powerful skin treatment
Greeks were known for their love for bathing and massages, but also for their knowledge of oils which they adopted from Egyptians. Most popular oils used in ancient Greece were Olive and Castor oils.
Beauty-wise Greeks were incredibly body conscious as seen by their meticulous and vast heritage of sculpture. Olive oil and honey were popularly used for skin care and frankincense was widely recognised for its anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties.
From Morocco to India and Central and South America to Polynesia and Europe, indigenous communities from smaller parts of the world to those of largest civilizations on earth made oils part of their history and found authentic uses in both health and beauty.
With a growing awareness of ecological and ethical skin and health care products and their benefits (including ‘the good vibes’ as we say) there’s a new wave of appreciation for organic and traditional ingredients with simplicity and purity at the forefront which is why (we think) oils are suddenly gaining attention and acknowledgement they really deserve.
Indeed, traditional extraction methods allow for the higher vitamin and mineral content, which is why cold pressed and unrefined products are becoming increasingly popular in the market. Cold pressing uses minimum extraction temperature so as to not alter the original values of the nutrients. Unrefined oils and butters are particularly great for people with sensitivities as they are un-fragranced and unbleached, thus are more gentle when applied topically or taken internally.
Personalised skin care
With mountains of information on the world wide web (hello Google), everyone can now learn about the oils and their benefits. Our absolute favourite thing about oils is that anyone and everyone can make their very own blend of oils and personalise their skincare products, by blending or -insert your very own ‘home lab’ technique – to get the one of a kind concoction.
Here at Fushi.co.uk we draw our inspiration from Ayurveda, which is why we decided to bring a wide offering of oils - some more popular than others (Tamanu, anyone?). In total we have around 40 single blend oils and around 40 essential oils. We are constantly looking for new oils or blends and we’d like to think of ourselves as the ‘oil pioneers’ here in England.
So if you haven’t found the one oil yet – drop us a line or leave a comment below and we’ll bring it up in our next meeting (imagine a bunch of (cool) people in white coats and not).