Have you heard about the new trend to treat your skin exactly how a caveman (or woman) would? It stems from the same train of thought as the paleo diet - which reckons our bodies haven’t evolved much since the Paleolithic age despite the fact the world has changed a lot around us. This means we’re eating completely different things and looking after ourselves in different ways - unlike in caveman times, food is super-processed, we’re eating loads of wheat, sugar and fat, and so far as looking after our skin is concerned, we’re washing with all kinds of man made products full of added chemicals. So the paleo thinking goes, all this is wreaking a terrible toll on our body and we need to go back to more primitive ways.
The mantra for both of these are “if a caveman didn’t do it, then neither should I”. For caveman skin care this means not really doing anything to our skin. Back then, finding some organic nuts and a slice of wooly mammoth was our ancestors’ main concern, and skin care and flossing their teeth was way down the list. As far as we know from their cave paintings, acne breakouts were not a thing that troubled them.
The thinking behind this is that the skin will look after itself if you just leave it alone. The microbiome and acid mantle will protect you from bacteria and parasites, and sweat and sebum will lubricate and moisturise the skin. I’m guessing the cave-dwellers’ natural hairyness and over-developed brow bones gave them some modicum of sun protection.
Ok, so maybe it’s over-egging the pudding the caveman would never have eaten, but there really is some truth to this. Because washing with strong detergents and synthetic fragrances can remove more friendly bacteria from the skin than is good for this. Some soaps, gels or cremes can alter the pH of the skin, drying it out and preventing the acid mantle from doing its job of deterring viruses and unfriendly bacteria. But what if you really do need to clean yourself? It’s time to meet the in-laws, or you’ve just eaten a massive, greasy kebab. And what about personal hygiene? What did cavemen do about that?
For those of us who think the whole caveman thing is going a bit far, or can see the sense in some of the principles behind it and simply want a wiser, modern solution, there is another option. Whilst too much washing or using harsh products can stop your skin looking and feeling its best, there are lots of gentle cleansers available now that tackle the same problems caveman skin aims to solve; wrecked biome, pH changes and stripped skin oils - without having to regress 12,000 years. Our own shower creams have been designed with just this in mind. They go even further to tackle problems that we have now that cavemen couldn’t have dreamt up. We pack in antioxidants to tackle polluted skin actives rejuvenating actives because cavemen only lived on average 35 years and we’re just getting started by that age. So take this one with a pinch of whatever cavemen used so season their paleo diet - and smell nice and live modern life on your terms.