Solid cosmetics are in fashion and are one of the most recent formats of daily body care products. From shampoo to conditioner, soap, toothpaste and deodorant, we have a wide range of options that allow us to make more environmentally friendly choices.

But is this fad really so recent?

Maybe not!

The use of substances and products designed to improve the appearance of the skin and also provide some comfort, date back to the dawn of civilization, with the exception of the Middle Ages, when we witnessed a real setback in terms of hygiene. We are mainly talking about ointments (balms) and soap, that is, solids and semi-solids, products that, due to their characteristics, contain little or no water.

Let's see a small historical approach to hygiene and cosmetic products.

In Neolithic times (7000 to 4000 BC) oils and fats were added to plant extracts, with which ointments were created for hygiene and also for therapeutic purposes.

Traces found during an excavation in Babylon show evidence of the production of soap-like materials around 2800 BC

Around the year 23-79 AD, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder recorded the method of obtaining hard and soft soap.

The first soap shops appear in Europe in the 10th century (Spain, France and Italy).

In Portugal, the first soap factory appeared in Porto, in 1887, by the hands of 2 Germans, Ferdinand Claus and George Schweder, later giving rise to the well-known ACH Brito e Co, Lda.

It is already in the 20th century that the first emulsion (cream) appears. In 1900, chemist Isaac Lifschutz, after decades of intense research, managed to create the first emulsifying agent (Eucerit) based on wax taken from sheep's wool (lanolin) and which allowed oil and water to mix and stay together. This discovery is at the base of the famous Nívea cream (the one in the blue can).

The development of non-ionic surfactants dates back to 1940. Surfactants are some of the ingredients that form the basis of the formulation of cosmetic products with cleaning properties, such as shower gel, shampoos, toothpaste.

Emulsifiers and surfactants are essential ingredients for obtaining cosmetic products in liquid form.

All this to say that cosmetic and hygiene products in liquid format are actually recent in human history, unlike the solid or semi-solid format that accompanied the beginnings of civilization.

Are we then going backwards?

In my opinion no! We are learning and adapting to the urgent need to overcome environmental issues and combat the scarcity of drinking water.

By opting in our daily routine for cosmetic products in solid format, we are avoiding the consumption of about 75% of water in its production, since on average a liquid cosmetic product contains between 60% and 85% of water. By reducing or eliminating water from its formulation, we are actively contributing to its savings.

Of course, environmental measures and the fight against saving water are not limited to replacing liquid products with solid ones, there is much more to be done, but it can be a good start!


Sandra Martins

CEO & Founder Magic Potion

Postgraduate in Cosmetology by FFUL

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