Did the wise men have good skin?

Posted on December 18th, 2011 by Michelle

Odds are, the three wise men weren’t the first traveling cosmetics salesmen, just generous guys with gifts for a baby.

But those gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – have been used in cosmetics and skin care since long before the Magi followed that star to Bethlehem and they can still be found in products today.  Poking around, it did occur to us that the three men, wise as they were, would have had a much easier time of it if they’d had wi-fi and GPS, but that’s another story.

It’s no surprise that gold was and is used in myriad products today, sometimes for color, but also for its effects on the skin. Rumor has it that Cleopatra slept in a gold mask.  It is said to increase blood flow to the areas where applied, “speeding up the cellular processes and activating regeneration,” according to information on the Oro Gold Cosmetics website. It is also said to work at a “deep cellular level … slowing down collagen depletion and the breakdown of elastin.”

Oro Gold is a luxury line, obviously, given the price of gold on the stock market these days.  But it’s also pretty interesting. All of the products in this pretty extensive line are infused with 24-karat gold. It includes everyday facial care, collagen boost series, masks, a men’s line and a “bionic facial expressions” series, which claims to give results similar to treatments like Botox, without the paralysis.  So much for diamonds being a girl’s best friend.

Frankincense and myrrh are in some appealing products, too.  Both are plant resins, most notable for their fragrances and used heavily in incense and as essential oils. But they have other healing properties as well.

Frankincense is a stress-reducer and has been found to encourage the growth of skin cells. It has long been used to heal everything from vomiting and sores to leprosy and gonorrhea.  The South African company Dermaxime uses it in a rejuvenating face wash that’s filled with stuff that helps the skin, including AHAs, BHAs, horse chestnut extract and a dozen or more ingredients like that.

Ren Skin Care and LUSH also use frankincense in products that we’re putting on our wish list.

Myrrh is primarily an effective skin care agent when the essential oil is mixed with a so-called carrier oil. It’s not the main ingredient, but can improve the look and glow of skin, and has soothing and calming effects to ease dry or severely dry skin.

Today, three guys showing up at your door carrying gold, frankincense and myrrh is probably going to seem a little like Ziggy Stardust at Woodstock, but hey, check out their skin. You might want to let them in.

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A short history of cosmetics

150BC Romans use yellow eye shadow.

The Romans preferred to use gold-colored eye shadow which was made from saffron and painted onto the area around the sides and under their eyes. Then they used powdered wood ash to color their eyelids black. This gold color was quite significant at the time because they saw themselves as the rulers of the Mediterranean.