Reductress’s style editor, Emma Purcell, has always been game for anything in the name of beauty. So when we heard rumors that ancient Greek remedies might be modern beauty breakthroughs, she jumped at the opportunity—one that led to her untimely death. To her family and friends, we send our condolences. To our readers, here’s her exclusive take on these out-there, unadvisable beauty tricks!
The Greeks were one of the first civilizations to embrace epilation, which is Greek for “hair-yanking.” Women would take beeswax, heat it, rub it on their hairy parts, let it set for a few hours, then have the nearest slave rip off the solidified wax with his wretched bare hands. Today, we have aestheticians to do that job for us, but Emma, wanting to embrace the hands-on approach of our ancestors, insisted on sourcing the beeswax herself. Her doctors said later that the multiple beestings she sustained played a key role in weakening her immune system, which eventually contributed to her organs shutting down, one by one. Best to leave this tip where it belongs—in history! Her absence is deeply felt throughout the office.
Greeks called the rose the “emperor of the flowers.” Athenian women used to brew teas and perfumes out of the stuff to make themselves more alluring to men. And to properly emulate our ancient friends, Emma followed a cologne recipe found scrawled on papyrus. What she didn’t count on was the extreme potency of the old method compared to modern perfumes. After spending a full day fighting vines to gather enough roses for the recipe, Emma, exhausted, her limbs covered in thorns, almost collapsed from the smell of the finished product. As Emma said in her notes, “I wish I had diluted the perfume by 1000%.” Thanks Emma, we’ll be trying this with that in mind! We miss you every day.
Embrace the Sun
Long before doctors worried about the deadly repercussions of sun exposure, Greek women were harnessing rays to lighten their dark hair, even out their bronze skin, and to simply enjoy being warmed by the light of Helios. Following in their footsteps, Emma spent a week lying out in the sun, covered only in a burlap toga and a full bottle of olive oil. Afterward, she complained about large spots in her vision that would impede her work on the computer and also her long drives home every night. Uhh, we’ll stick with SPF, thanks! Emma we are not responsible for your death. Love you.
Since they weren’t allowed in the men-only bathhouses, Greek women concocted natural mixtures for relaxing baths. They brewed weekly herbal concoctions to throw into the steamy water, typically comprised of dried plants like hyssop, oregano, hibiscus, and sumac. Of course, in the wild, it’s easy to mistake sumac for the poisonous snakeweed, especially if you have large spots in your vision, so Emma’s bath accidentally eviscerated most of her nerve function. If she’d been able to speak or write, we think she’d have said in her signature sassy tone, “I’ll stick to Bath & Body Works, thanks!” You may be gone, but you live on in our hearts.
Olive Body Treatments
Greek women loved olives just as much as we do. Not just the oil, which they used in their hair and salad dressings, but the actual olives themselves. It was not uncommon to see a Greek woman’s beautifully contoured face masked by a thick paste of tapenade, which they believed helped with acne and psoriasis. Of course, olives are no more dangerous than they were 3000 years ago, but sadly for Emma, olive pits are just as easy to trip over as they have been for millennia. Shortly after applying a face-brightening mask, Emma, reaching for her notepad, slipped on a slick of olive oil on her bathroom floor and crack her head on her clawfoot bathtub (so cute!). If Emma hadn’t been legally dead on life support, we bet she’d have told you, “This tip is the pits! DITCH IT!!” You can never be replaced, girl.
While we may or may not be currently dealing with a lawsuit from Emma’s family, we figured Emma’s last thoughts would have been, “Please, please make sure my article on ancient Greek beauty routines gets finished.” What so many of us fail to realize is that in addition to having a great, all-natural beauty routine, Greek women didn’t tend to live much longer than thirty years of age. So in many ways, Emma, who was 32 when she passed, exceeded everyone’s expectations. And she owed it all to the incredible power of beauty routines!!