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An Age-Old Issue: Skincare Delivery

For as many new skincare launches as the beauty industry debuts each year, it’s interesting to ponder that ingredient vehicles (lotions, ointments, and oils) are still the same as they were in the days of Ancient Greece. Droplette is changing the tide of dermatology by innovating around delivery, not ingredients, to improve efficacy of at-home therapies.

By Droplette Team ∙ November 22, 2019

Skincare -- particularly natural skincare -- hasn’t evolved as much as you might think since the days of the Ancient Greeks. Homer (legendary author of The Iliad and The Odyssey) makes several references to ambrosia and nectar, divine foods consumed by the gods, as skincare ointments, used to clean and care for mortal bodies. Modern-day ingredients such as honey, olive oil, rose, and milk were used back then to prepare skin for special occasions, even the embalming process.

As so many of these ingredients still appear on the ingredient listings of premium skincare products today, we agree that the ingredients must have some merit. But what may surprise you is that even the Ancient Greeks were experimenting with delivery techniques into skin, to ensure these ingredients could reach their potential.

In ancient Greece, skincare rituals were popular for a variety of reasons: cultural customs, spiritual beliefs, and medicinal therapies. But the Greeks had a particular practice before an athletic competition, when an athlete needed to achieve peak performance. The competitor -- usually an Olympic athlete -- would scrape his skin with a flat, hook-shaped tool called a strigil. (Imagine a larger version of today’s dermaplane device. What’s old is new again.) We know about strigils as they were often depicted in illustrations of athletes before their challenges.

Experts think the original idea here was to detoxify skin of dirt, sweat, and other toxins before taking on physical challenges. But interestingly, strigils have been found in the tombs of women as well, and it’s believed that scraping one’s skin before bathing with therapeutic ingredients was a common routine for many Greeks, not just male athletes. It seems the Greeks understood that the skin is a great barrier, and an advanced solution for delivery, such as Droplette, would be required to optimize ingredient benefits.

Disgustingly, athletes’ body-scrapings used to be bottled up and sold for their powers. Don’t worry, we aren’t inspired by all ancient skincare customs.