Chinese scientists discover skin whitening cream for a man from 2,700 years ago

Chinese scientists discover skin whitening cream for a man from 2,700 years ago

The 6-gram residue in an ornate and sealed bronze jar was found in the grave of an ancient Chinese nobleman dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Who doesn’t love to take the load off, sit down with a soothing cosmetic face mask and turn on the latest trending Netflix show. As it turns out, our ancestors may have enjoyed a similar activity – without Netflix, of course.

A team of Chinese scientists has discovered what they believe is 2,700-year-old cosmetics stored in an ornate bronze jar sealed for millennia.

In 2017, the team found the cream in the grave of a nobleman from the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 476BC), a largely feudal time that paved the way for the Warring States period of Chinese history.

The scientists spent years analysing the chemicals after discovering the grave at the Liujiawa archaeological site in Chengcheng county in the northwest Chinese province of Shaanxi.

“This is the oldest male-use cosmetics found in China and is also the country’s earliest face cream as we know,” Sun Zhanwei, chief researcher from the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology, who led the grave’s excavation, told China News Service. “Although we have no idea on what occasions the Liujiawa nobleman might have used the face cream, it should be regarded a precious item, as it was important enough to be put into a grave,” he said.

Researchers believe the jar contains a face whitening cream for men. “Nobles used cosmetics as a way to lead fashion trends and to express their cultural identity,” said Sun. Experts said the site was located in the capital of the Rui State in the early to middle part of the Spring and Autumn Period.

The grave is thought to belong to a musical official who was at the middle or low-level of the aristocracy at that time.

According to the researchers’ paper, published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Archaeometry in February, the residue was made of ruminant fat mixed with monohydrocalcite, a mineral formed by calcium carbonate and water.

China’s earliest written record of face cream comes from the agricultural book Qimin Yaoshu from the Northern Wei dynasty (386 – 557AD). The book says people used ox marrow or fat to make their facial cream.

The discovery shows that humans have been driven by cultural standards of beauty for thousands of years.

“Men using cosmetics is not only for the purpose of beautifying their skin, but is related with the drastically-changing social environment,” said Sun.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *