Skincare in the Bible

By Recia Bruggeman

Biblical background
In the time of the Bible, people also knew how to use God’s herbal and fragrant gifts in nature for beauty care. People already used fragrant oils as body oils for skincare. They rubbed fragrant olive oils on their skin for skincare uses, to nourish dry skin, to prevent the skin from getting older (anti-wrinkle treatment) and to smell nice. We can know this from the following verses in the Bible: II Samuel 12:20 “Then David got up off the ground, washed, anointed himself and changed his clothes”  (Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern). King David did this to clean his body from dirt, but this washing most probable meant something more in this verse. The King anointed himself here with olive oil after bathing; this was a part of the washing ritual.

Amos 6:6: “…and anoint yourselves with the finest oils….” (Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern).
Micah 6:15: “…you will press olives but not rub yourself with oil…” (Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern).Skincare when in mourningIn the book of II Samuel 14:2 (Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern) “… Please, pretend you’re a mourner. Put on mourning clothes, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but appear to be a woman who has mourned for the dead a long time.” From this verse we can learn that people usually rubbed their skins with fragrant oils, but not when they were fasting, sad or in mourning. Then they did not wash themselves and did not use oil to nourish their skin. In mourning, people did not care about their appearance.Esther and her beautycare, read Esther 2:12 (Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern)Each girl had her turn to appear before King Achashverosh after she had undergone the full twelve-month preparation period prescribed for the women, consisting of a six-month (beauty-)treatment with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and other cosmetics for women. The Dutch Bible translation says: “… six months with myrrh oil and six months with spices and other cosmetics.” Another Dutch Bible translation says: “…the beauty treatment …took six months with myrrh oil and six months with balm oil.”

Balm oil
In the Bible a balm oil can mean several things. It could be just pure olive oil, a fragrant volatile resin-oil (volatile, just like alcohol) dissolved or not dissolved in olive oil (fragrant olive oil). Or it could be an oily ointment for skincare uses (made with olive oil and bees wax) which contains volatile resin oils. These terms are used varying. A volatile resin oil comes from the crude resin which we get when we make a cut in the bark of a certain tree. The balm oil mentioned here can be Francincence-oil or Galbanum-oil. Frankincence-oil is a fragrant volatile resin-oil gained from the Franckincence Resin Tree, Olibanum Carterii. Also Spikenard oil is a fragrant resin-like oil, used in ointments for skincare uses, but it does not come from a resin, but from a root.

Anti-wrinkle in nature
Today we know that Myrrh oil, Spikenard oil and Franckincence oil are all strongly stimulating for the bloodcirculation in the skin (= firming the skin), skincell renewing (= antiwrinkle), desinfecting (= against inflammation), purifying and detoxifying for the skin (stimulates the removal of toxic waste from the skin) and more. Because of these good qualities for skincare, these antique, fragrant resin oils are ideal to use for irritation or inflammation of the skin, very dry and burst skin, wrinkles and other skin problems. Spikenard oil and Myrrh oil can also be very effective when suffering from dry or weeping eczema, possible in combination with the use of Lavender oil.Many beauticians use these beneficial oils in their selfmade antiwrinkle creams for very dry and elder skins. Personally I believe herbs, flowers and oils are a gift of HaShem to us people to make use of it for skincare and to maintain our health.

Fragrant olive oil
You want to know how people made fragrant olive oil in the time of the Bible? Well, they took crude resin, herbs, the peel of lemons or flower leaves and threw that in a large stone bottle with pure olive oil and placed that in the hot sun. The fragrant volatile oil came out of the herbs and went into the olive oil. The next morning they removed (strained) the empty, old herbs from the olive oil and replaced them for fresh new herbs. They placed the stone bottle once again in the hot sun. After a few days or weeks the olive oil smells lovely, like the herb which was used to scent the olive oil and the oil is ready to use. Oil that smelled weak was used as bodyoil, a very strong smelling oil could be used as a perfume oil. The fragrant oils made by soaking herbs in cold pressed plant oils are called infused oils or an infusion.

Making your own fragrant olive oil
Of course you also can make your own infused oil by placing a brown glass bottle with cold pressed olive or almond oil, full with herbs on the heater for a period of time. Or heat the bottle with oil and herbs au-bain-marie (place the bottle in a pan with hot water) for some time or just by placing it in the hot sun. Use this infused oil immediatly after showering on your wet skin to make sure the oil absorbs the skin completely. Your skin will not feel oily after using the oil like this. Have fun, making your own fragrant oils yourself!