Ancient Skincare Rituals for Summer Skin

For literal millennia, our ancestors intuited and embraced the power that particular skincare practices had in brightening our natural glow and boosting our overall health. Our goal at Woodlot is to reignite these sacred rituals by taking the same principles that our ancestors once held dear and incorporating them into contemporary traditions that can be passed down to future generations. 

At Woodlot, we believe that natural is best, and that ancient traditions for wellness have persevered for a reason - they work


As ancient civilizations would have been much more exposed to the elements than we are today, they would have been highly motivated to seek methods of skin protection and healing, especially those that lived in desert climates, such as the legendary beauty, Cleopatra

Ancient Egyptians wore a thick line of kohl beneath the eyes, which we’ve often seen on depictions of the Eqyptian Queen. While this was indeed cosmetic and intended to accentuate the eyes, kohl also had the added benefits of protecting the eyes from the glaring sun, repelling flies, and even preventing infection. 

Pale skin was a symbol of wealth and status in Ancient Egypt, as the upper class did not work outdoors, meaning they had very little sun exposure. Of course today, many of us strive for a beautiful tan, and getting several shades darker in the summer is a sign of an active lifestyle and good mental hygiene. But along with those positives, also comes the fact that too much sun exposure can dry out the skin, cause sunburn, and lead to sun spots and uneven skin tone

Today we share some of our favorite tried and true rituals for healthy, glowing summer skin. While ancient peoples had to find solutions in what was immediately available to them, in modern times we often forget that the perfect skincare solution could already be in our kitchen pantry

Milk and Honey 

Hippocrates wrote that Cleopatra bathed in the milk of 700 donkeys, but this ancient beauty ritual can still be conducted with about a half-gallon of whole goat milk and 1 cup of raw, unrefined honey to a full bathtub. 

Milk contains lactic acid, a mild exfoliant that can gently remove the dead skin from the top of a sunburn. Honey is a humectant, which means it helps the skin attract and retain moisture, for rehydration.

Whenever dry skin or sensitive skin is a concern, we also recommend blending our Rejuvenating Green Tea Mask with raw honey to help the skin retain moisture during this ritual. A potent detoxer, this mask is meant to pull impurities out of your skin, and antioxidant-rich green tea that helps protect against UV exposure make it a summer must-have, but we also want to be using it in a way that allows the skin to stay as hydrated as possible. Wear into a steamy bath for additional hydration

Rose Water 

Much like us, The Queen of the Nile was obsessed with scent, and particularly the scent of roses. It’s been said that her bed chamber and many of the other spaces she frequented were “half-a-meter deep in rose petals”. 

Shakespeare wrote in “Antony and Cleopatra” that she scented her fleet of ships so heavily with rose water that “the very winds were lovesick.” 

Lucky for her, it turns out that rose water has as much of a positive effect on the skin as it does to the senses. High in antioxidants, rose water can help skin appear smoother and reduce pigmentation caused by too much sun exposure. 

Many modern day toners contain alcohol intended to kill bacteria associated with acne, but alcohol can be very drying to the skin on a good day, and especially aggravating when you’ve suffered a recent sunburn. With our Facial Toner, we replace the alcohol with rose water which is extremely hydrating, and also rivals alcohol in reducing acne-causing bacteria to boot! 

Simply press this serum into the skin using a cotton pad or clean fingertips, beginning with the forehead, and moving down to the temples, under eyes, cheekbones, jawline, and chin. 

Our Rose & Palo Mist can also be a wonderful way to enjoy both the scent and skin-healthy benefits of rose. Soothe sun exposed skin instantly by carrying this mist with you in your beach tote! 

Olive Oil and Shea Butter 

A highly regarded substance of almost mythical status in Ancient Greece, olive oil was used by the Greeks as both a sunscreen as well as a treatment for the skin, but the former would not have been nearly as effective as the latter.

Today we know that olive oil has only an SPF of 7-8, and breaks down to even less when the oil is heated. While this on its own makes olive oil and ineffective method for sun protection, we also don’t recommend wearing any kind of oil in the direct sunlight. 

But our Greek Ancestors were on the right track using olive oil topically as apart of their beauty rituals. While olive oil isn’t especially moisturizing on its own, it does have properties that allow the skin to retain moisture, as it is partially composed of lipids called unsaponifiable fats. That said, while olive oil is made up of 1% unsaponifiable fats, shea butter is made up of 11%! 

Shea butter is extracted from the nut of the African shea tree and is frequently used to make soap and skincare products, and like olive oil, is edible and a staple in African cuisine. Shea butter was so loved by Cleopatra that the royal beauty would actually carry it around with her in clay pots

Using a quality shea butter on its own can certainly be effective, but for a newer sunburn, we recommend that shea be used only as a component of another product, as applying pure shea butter (or any butter) to a new burn could potentially trap heat inside the skin. 

A good quality shea butter will be soft at room temperature and absorb into the skin easily. It will also have a pungent scent. The natural aroma of shea butter is often described as earthy or nutty, but can be adjusted to the scent of your choice with the addition of essential oils. Our favourite oil for skincare is lavender, which can be added to DIY products via our Flora Essential Oil blend. Lavender is known to fight inflammation and decrease swelling and redness, among other things. Read more about this magical ingredient here.

If using the Rose Water Toner first to add hydration, you can follow up with pure shea butter or olive oil to lock that moisture in. Alternatively our Chamomile and Shea Moisturizer is water-based and includes both olive oil and shea butter, so you can add hydration and lock in moisture with just one product. Already a fan? Now you know why this moisturizer is so effective! 

Woodlot Nourishing Lotions are also water-based and include olive oil. Selecting the Recharge Lotion will up the ante as peppermint essential oil also has the ability to help skin retain moisture. 

Lastly, Woodlot Soap Bars are made with a base of both olive oil and shea butter, among additional oils and butters, and as you’re typically using a soap bar while washing your hands or bathing, the hydration part is well taken care of! This is also true of our Lemon + Petitgrain Cleansing Balm, which contains shea butter and is activated by water.

Food as Medicine 

While we have a full array of luscious skincare products at our disposal, our ancestors were lucky in that much of what was available to them to eat was generally healthy, organic, and unprocessed by default. And even though we always look forward to the modern treats of summer (gelato, iced coffees, tacos, kebabs ...we’re salivating already…) a consistently balanced diet is not always easy to achieve, and supplements can help ensure all our bases are covered or enhance our protection against a particular threat. 

Well Told Health’s Skin Nourisher is the ideal supplement to support healthy skin as we spend more time in that summer sun we all love to worship. A blend of collagen boosting cranberries, vitamin rich chlorella, and defense-enhancing sicilian blood orange, this vegan capsule is a must-have for beauties who love the heat, and therefore need some additional TLC for their most precious organ. 

Right now you can get a bottle FREE when you spend $75 or more on Woodlot Skincare. This includes only our facial line: Nourishing Cleansing BalmRejuvenating Green Tea MaskFresh Face ExfoliantFacial TonerFacial MoisturizerFacial OilGLOW Bundle, and Six Step Skincare Set.  

Once you’ve made your selections, add the Skin Nourisher to your cart and apply the code NOURISHME at checkout. So long as your other selections add up to at least $75, your Skin Nourisher will be FREE! But hurry, quantities are limited

Sending love and light to all you beauties! 

Woodlot xo 


All images included are by Britney Gill (@brit_gill)

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