5 minutes with natural beauty, Nefernil
FOUNDER OF ANCIENT PREPARATIONS
Every now and then (translation: very rarely) there’s a natural beauty brand that stops me in my tracks. The love at first sight kind of reaction. Ancient Preparations is one of them. Seasonal batch products made from organic and wildcrafted, vegan, cruelty-free, fair-trade ingredients inspired by historic formulations and created by an archaeologist … what’s not to swoon over. So, naturally I ordered one of everything to do a deep dive in to the world of Ancient Preparations. And oh my goodness me … I’m so glad I did. Night after night I indulged in the various skin, bath and body care products. The result .. oh so delicious, smooth, soft and glowing skin from top to toe. So, as you can imagine what a joy it is, to now be the Australian stockist of this brilliantly formulated range. I was desperate to find who it was that created Ancient Preparations so that I could share my excitement and love for this pure and natural, highly-effective and highly-addictive range with you. Meet Nefernil, the founder of Ancient Preparations.
What inspired you to create Ancient Preparations?
The idea for Ancient Preparations was seeded a few years ago when I was studying in Italy. I was fascinated by the tiny pharmacies that are attached to centuries-old churches. They are run by nuns or monks who also handcraft the soaps and tinctures being sold there. The tradition can be traced back to ancient Egypt where cosmetics, medicine and ritual were essentially one practice. This is what I had specialized in, and to see the living legacy of it inspired the creation of Ancient Preparations.
Ancient Preparations doesn’t necessarily strive to be like or unlike other cosmetic brands, but there are certainly aspects of it which I hope our clients will identify with on a personal level because its about more than just products.
It was really important to me that the line be completely authentic to its historical background. In the past there was no mass production, and the resulting pollution of our bodies and environment, as we know it today. This is the reason why Ancient Preparations products are artisan crafted in seasonal batches, beginning with natural ingredients and ending in glass and resin-based jars rather than plastic. Because many of our ingredients are sourced from the products’ ancient origin, we also take social responsibility very seriously. That means ensuring fair trade with modern locals. We also addressed environmental sustainability by replacing animal ingredients, such as honey and beeswax, with historical and compositionally appropriate plant substitutes. This was actually one of the hardest aspects to achieve.
Given the current events surrounding the destruction of World Heritage Sites, a proceed of our sales are also donated to UNESCO to help raise awareness. We live in a historically transitional time. Despite the global reach of the World Wide Web, digitization has led people to feel less and less connected to each other everyday. One reason for my forming of the line was to renew popular interest in our shared human history and its many cultures. After all, the study of archaeology is a passion for humanity itself.
By definition, archaeology is the study of the human past through material culture. It was once considered treasure hunting, but today it follows a rigid scientific method which works by referencing text with material. I’m particularly inspired by experimental archaeology which tests archaeological hypotheses through replication of the past. So far, the field has focused primarily on visual or functional aspects, the attempts to recreate Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch book designs for instance. Ancient Preparations is a project which strives to revive historical experiences – scents and textures, regimens and results.
Many resources were used to create Ancient Preparations products because each artifact is more like a super product of several known formulas rather than a simple replication. Ancient medical instructions, like Edwin Smith Papyrus, and the life works of early scientists, such as Pliny the Elder, have been essential. Physical evidence is also a key resource, which included the chemical analysis of mummies and ancient cosmetic jars. Residue of black seed oil, incorporated in Gift of the Nile Night Oil, was found in King Tut’s tomb for example.
Modern scientific research also went into ensuring the maximum effect of each formulaic combination. This is perhaps the most unique aspect in recreating historical products for Ancient Preparations. The line doesn’t sell novelty products or souvenirs, each artifact truly has scientific backing in its proposed usage and results.
As you know I have fallen in love with a couple of your products – Roman Bathhouse Oil Dermabrasion and Elizabeth Bathory’s Blood Bath in particular. Can you explain how best to integrate Ancient Preparations products in to one’s skin care ritual?
I was so happy to hear that you had great results with our products. Perhaps the best way to integrate Ancient Preparations products into your skincare ritual is to avoid attempting to fit them into modern skin product roles such as “face wash” or “moisturizer.” Cosmeceutical-type products go beyond these labels and should be approached more like cosmetic prescriptions. What needs does your skin or hair have that are not being met? African Black Soap Caffeine Exfoliant has been used for centuries to treat and soothe problem skin. Cleopatra and Nefertiti remedied their aging skin with oils like Gift of the Nile Night Oil. The science behind these formulations reveals that they have stood the test of time for a good reason.
I do believe that beauty comes from the inside. The skin is the body’s largest organ and no amount of topical applications will make it look healthy if you’re not also taking care of your physical and mental well-being. I practice yoga, eat fairly clean and incorporate only natural products in my daily routines. I follow yoga sessions with my favorite beauty ritual, a hot bath with a cup of licorice tea and a sachet of Ancient Preparations Bath Rituals. Elizabeth Bathory’s Blood Bath and Cleopatra’s Milk Bath are my two favorites. The colors and scents of these rituals create an immersive experience to relax in. Their peeling properties leave my skin renewed, while nutrient-rich oils restore natural moisture. I always set aside time each week to prescribe this beauty ritual, it’s one habit that keeps me feeling naturally well and beautiful.