Anti-aging treatment history

Anti-aging: A Brief History of Treatments and Approaches

Wanting to look younger is not a new thing. Over the centuries, people have wanted to live longer and maintain a more youthful appearance.

Some of the anti-aging treatments we still use today can be traced back as far as the Egyptians.

Here we take a look at the history of anti-aging treatments and some of the approaches that women and men have used over the years, from ancient times to the modern day.


Famed for taking two baths a day in donkey milk, Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, is probably the first person we think of when ancient beauty regimes are explored. Milk contains alpha-hydroxy acids which play a role, it’s thought, in anti-aging. It’s also good for softening the skin as it is full of vitamins and minerals.

Other stories suggest that Cleopatra used to tone her face with apple cider vinegar and used honey as a moisturizer. Anti-aging products in recent times have returned to more natural ingredients and many treatments can be made at home.

Anti-aging cold cream


Galen was a Greek who became one of the leading physicians in the Roman Empire. It might be a surprise to find that he is also credited with creating the first-ever cold cream.

Cold creams are designed to remove makeup and clean the skin while leaving it soft to touch. Galen’s recipe used beeswax, olive oil and water. Modern cold creams are of course better manufactured, but they are still essentially a combination of oil and water.

Empress Wu Zetian

The first female ruler in China’s history, Wu Zetian was known for her skincare regimes.

Her most famous anti-aging approach was known as fairy powder, which was made from motherwort, a herb that is used widely in Chinese medicine today, mixed with cold water.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary was best known as being the adversary of Elizabeth I, but she was a royal also known for her desire to retain a youthful appearance and paid a lot of attention to her beauty regime. In particular, she used to take wine baths. Commonly called vinotherapy, this is a practice that is making a comeback in some places.

Wine bathing, in its purest form, uses the pulp and leftover bits after the wine has gone into the bottle. This pulp contains a range of anti-oxidants and was first used in Thracian times when it was called the elixir of youth.


In the late 19th century, Margaret Kroesen noticed that her daughter, a concert pianist, was developing unsightly frown lines. It led her to develop a system of clear tape that could be worn at night to help reduce wrinkles.

While this may seem to some people like a slightly strange solution, ‘Frownies’ are still available today and are used by many people to help slow down the signs of ageing.

Cosmetic Hormone Cream

Created by Florence Wall in 1927, the first cosmetic hormone cream claimed to reverse the signs of aging and reputedly contained glandular secretions from a tortoise. While not a success at the time, it began a revolution in cosmetics.

Anti-ageing treatments began to have more of a scientific base as we headed into the 20th century and the industry became the multi-billion dollar business we know today.


Retin-A was initially developed in the late 60s to treat acne but later in the 80s it became associated with reducing wrinkles and the appearance of ageing. It’s thought that the compound works by improving blood flow and making wrinkles less obvious.

Relaxation techniques improve all aspects of health, including helping to get a good night’s sleep so that they wake refreshed and full of energy.


One of the most popular anti-aging procedures used today is Botox. Injecting a toxin into the skin might not seem the best idea for reducing wrinkles, but it has been proven to work again and again.

Originally used to reduce muscle spasms, Botox works by blocking signals to the muscles which relax them and gives the face a smoother appearance.

Sunscreen Requirements

Exposure to high levels of UV light have been shown to age the skin and our increasing knowledge in this area means that sunscreens nowadays are not allowed to promise antiaging effects unless they have an SPF of 15 or higher.

Our understanding of the process of ageing has improved dramatically over the years. Advances in anti-aging products and new procedures such as Botox injections have significant effects.

Many are backed by clear science. Indeed, the cosmetic industry now puts a lot of time and money into research to provide treatments.

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