A very, very old beauty tip

Albumin molecule

I often start the day by dipping into the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  The stoical Roman emperor’s comments on life and philosophy are usually interesting and sometimes useful.  Yesterday I found one where he mentions that people use an egg and sponge treatment for sore eyes.  As it happened I was doing some work on an eye treatment.  And what was the key ingredient?  Egg powder.  The marketing people are going to call it something a bit fancier when they get their hands on it, but that is what it is.  The reason for using it is the protein it contains, albumin.  The picture what an albumin molecule looks like (thanks to Wikipedia)

Albumin is a big spindly molecule with lots of coils.  It contracts when it dries out and so makes the skin feel tighter and can hide up small wrinkles.

It works particularly well on the thin skin around the eyes.

We know the structure now so we can explain how it happens, but the Romans had already worked out how useful it could be centuries ago.   In fact there is nothing that special about albumin, lots of polymeric biopolymers will behave in the same way.  For example things like snail slime will probably work in much the same way.  There isn’t much that is genuinely new on the shelves.

4 thoughts on “A very, very old beauty tip”

  1. I’ve heard of using egg whites in home-remedy masks for longer than I can remember, and I’m pretty sure I have a serum sitting in my linen closet that features it as well. I’d read that albumin can irritate the skin though, which I would think would be of particular concern around the eyes- is there new information on that front?

  2. Yes you are right Jessica, albumin does irritate some people and I don’t think there is likely to be any change in that. And yes the skin around the eyes is particularly sensitive. I am sure people who make their own cosmetics are sensible enough to take care when doing so, but a reminder can’t do any harm so thanks for that.

  3. That and haemorrhoid cream. Who needs to spend silly money when the grocery store will do. Tho I wouldn’t advise egg white on your bum. Say, is that where the phrase “egg on your face” came from?

    1. Well another way to look at is that if you have got haemorrhoids then reading a stoic philosopher like Marcus Aurelius is probably going to help.

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