With an uncertain step Sef was advancing through the corridors of the palace holding a tray with a bowl and a carafe. Sef joined the pharaoh in the garden. In the shade of an acacia stood Ramses the great, intent on enjoying the coolness on that day of great heat. Sef poured the contents of the carafe into the bowl and offered it to Ramses, who drank greedily, narrowing his eyes, as if wanting to capture every power it contained. The drink was deep red, it was the sacred tea, a tea that only the pharaohs could drink to ensure a long and healthy life, it was hibiscus tea, which, according to legend, was prepared for the first time in Egypt. But the Egyptians did not use hibiscus only in the form of a drink to rejuvenate the body. For the Egyptians, hibiscus was also a powerful cosmetic for rejuvenating the skin, capable of counteracting aging. We like to imagine Nefertari, Ramses' wife, taking baths in tubs to which hibiscus tea had been added and spreading the body with lotions created from the corollas of this precious flower. So, let's find out how to capture the properties of hibiscus and how to create simple cosmetics at home, drawing inspiration from the knowledge of the ancient Egyptians. Let's close our eyes and accompany Sef to the kitchens of the palace to understand how to exploit the benefits of hibiscus for the beauty of our skin. But first, let's try to understand what science says about the cosmetic properties of hibiscus.
Hibiscus for the beauty of the skin
Hibiscus is a powerful anti-aging for the skin and protects it from the damage of photo-aging caused by UV rays. In particular, aqueous extracts of hibiscus have been shown to counteract the action of the collagenase enzyme, which is the enzyme that degrades collagen. Therefore, this plant counteracts wrinkles and keeps the skin toned and elastic. Not only that, hibiscus extracts have also proved useful in reducing the synthesis of melanin, thus favoring a homogeneous and spotless complexion (Li et al, J Sci Food Agric, 2020). And that's not all, hibiscus stimulates the healing and regeneration processes of the skin and makes it more hydrated, not for nothing was it considered by the ancient Egyptians an elixir of youth (di Martino et al, Biomed Res Int, 2017 - Builders et al, Indian J Pharm Sci., 2013)!
Cosmetics based on hibiscus
Let's see how to create a powerful anti-aging cosmetic based on hibiscus. The recipe we propose is a scrub mask. Separately, finely blend a tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers. Pour the hibiscus powder into a bowl and combine 1 tablespoon of white clay, which stimulates the formation of collagen in the skin (Valenti et al, Clin Exp Dermatol, 2012). Add as much rose water as needed to make a creamy mixture. An extra idea if you have acne-prone skin? Add two drops of lavender essential oil to the mask, which has a powerful antimicrobial action. After all, even lavender was much loved by the Egyptians. Did you know that jars containing lavender oil were found in Tutankhamun's tomb? So, here you go, your beauty mask inspired by the secrets of the ancient kings and queens of the past is ready! Distribute on a clean face and leave on for ten minutes, then rinse and continue with your usual treatment. And then another idea. Hibiscus tea can become a real cosmetic to be taken by mouth. In fact, hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidant substances, called anthocyanins, which act from within by increasing the synthesis of collagen and elastin in the skin, in short, like an anti-wrinkle cream (Herranz Lopez et al, Nutrients, 2017). So, let's see how to prepare Hibiscus tea, or the Pharaoh's drink. Bring one liter of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers. Let it rest for ten minutes, then filter and drink. If you want to sweeten the drink you can add a glass of pomegranate juice.