Skin Care Throwback

Written by: Jennifer McClead

Luckily for us, we live in the 21st century with access to an overwhelming number of treatments and products to keep ourselves looking pretty and youthful. In my efforts to learn more about this industry, I decided to take a look back and see what skincare and beauty looked like for women and men throughout the last 100 years.

At the beginning of the 20th century there weren’t any mass-marketing campaigns for skincare and cosmetics, so most women relied on tried and true recipes passed down from their mothers and grandmothers to help with sun damage, acne, and maintaining a youthful appearance.
In the 1920s, tanning started to become the newest trend in beauty. Women looked to various powders to achieve that “sun-kissed” look. These early tanning products promised to protect skin from the sun, but actually provided little to no protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
The 1930s had two major breakthroughs for skincare: sunscreen and safe cosmetics. The very first sunscreen was used the same way we use sunscreen today; a lotion applied to the skin to absorb UV rays.
The second major breakthrough in the 30s was the Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. Prior to this law, women died from unsafe cosmetics with dangerous ingredients.
In the 1960s the tanning trend continued, but changed with the introduction of long-lasting tanning products. As the discovery of the link between sun damage and skin cancer came about, self-tanners promised a suntanned appearance without any sun exposure. The introduction of SPF ratings for sunscreen only solidified the beauty industry’s new standard for skin health. In addition to the tanning improvements, the very first lasers used for skin conditions were also made in the 60s. These lasers were used for skin rejuvenation, acne scarring, and laser hair removal.
The 70s major contribution to skincare was the discovery of effective chemical peels. Scientists had studied chemical peels and skin peeling for decades, but in the 70s the very first safe chemical peel was discovered. The ingredients used in these chemical peels have since been replaced with gentler exfoliants, but the original idea has been around for a while!
The late 80s paved the way for Dermatologist backed skincare products. The very first brand was inspired by a doctor who saw that traditional methods weren’t helping all of his patients, so he sought to create his own, more effective line. He paved the way for future brands, such as SkinMedica offered at L-Aesthetics & Longevity. Without this, who knows if we would’ve had all of our fantastic skincare brands we have today?
The 90s brought us some major improvements to established skincare trends. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like those used in our AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser by SkinMedica were recognized by the cosmetic industry for their ability to rejuvenate the top layer or our skin. The U.S. also caught up with Europe in the widespread use of microdermabrasion, which is the process of creating small wounds in the skin to stimulate new cell growth.
And who knows what new discoveries are on the horizon? If you ask me, 2021 should be the year of new, positive discoveries.
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