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Natural is nothing new

It’s funny how we often package old trends as new. Like the organic DIY skin and hair product trend going on right now. You can’t swing a #catvideo on YouTube without hitting an all-natural beauty vlogger mixing her own hair and beauty products with items she found in her kitchen cupboards.

But here’s a little secret: this new craze is nothing new. Recently, I was talking to my grandmother about what it was like to grow up on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Here’s what she had to say about the beauty routine she and her sisters followed back in the day:

Haircare:

  • Egg yolk mask
  • Aloe vera
  • Pure honey straight from the honeycomb, for softness

Skincare:

  • Aloe vera mask (apply, let harden, rinse off)
  • Coconut oil mixed with petroleum jelly and lotion

Teeth:

  • Fresh guava or black sage branches (chew until bristly, then brush with your handmade toothbrush!)
  • Mint leaves

As you might have guessed, my grandmother and her sisters didn’t use these natural products because they were concerned about parabens and carcinogens.  The number one reason was that they couldn’t afford the store-bought beauty products of the day. Necessity really was the mother of invention for these women. Not only were they hardworking and thrifty, they were self-sufficient and didn’t let their lack of funds stop them from taking pride in their appearance. They sewed their own clothes and mixed their own beauty products because they could.

The second reason is that they lived in a country blooming with diverse plant life. My grandmother and her sisters were just using the natural products they had at hand. Island-born and bred, they knew every plant had its use, often more than one, the knowledge that had been passed down to them from their mothers and grandmothers.

I’m sure your grandmothers have similar stories, even if they didn’t grow up in the tropics. I imagine the shortages of various world wars and the Depression forced women to come up with inventive ways to beautify themselves. (

I think it’s great that we’re going back to the basics! Just the other day I mixed a bit of egg, olive oil and avocado to make a moisturizing mask for my hair. The results were amazing – and my hair smelled great too! So before we brag too loudly about the cleverness of our generations’ natural revolution, let’s not forget that we’re only rediscovering what our grandmothers already knew.

Hermione has a background in lifestyle and entertainment journalism. After graduating from Humber College’s journalism program, where she wrote for the school’s newspaper and various magazines, Hermione interned at TV Guide Canada, writing television reviews, and at Canadian Living, where she sampled goodies from the Test Kitchen.

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