HomeLifestyleFashion & Beauty

Grandma's beauty tips: Pearls of wisdom or old wives' tales?

Grandma's beauty tips: Pearls of wisdom or old wives' tales?

What beauty tips have you inherited from your grandma? Samantha Priestley explores our grandmothers' beauty advice…and whether we should follow it

My grandmother once said to me, "Always moisturise your elbows, your age shows in your elbows.” I've always remembered her words, and I've always cared for my elbows. But is it true that age shows in your elbows? And does moisturising them really keep them young? As I pondered on this beauty tip from my grandmother, I decided to put some others to the test by collecting women’s beauty tips their grandmothers gave them and asking beauty experts to tell us if these tips are sound advice or if they should be consigned to the past.

Moisturising masterclass

Anna Paganelli, luxury lifestyle consultant from London, tells us how her Italian heritage came through in her nonna’s advice. “My nonna, or grandmother, told me to always use the best olive oil on your skin to stop it from drying out and to help keep it healthy, especially on your belly when you're pregnant! I have no stretch marks and I had a massive baby bump.”

"There is some truth in this recommendation, as olive oil is great for moisturising the skin and is often used as a base in many skincare products and soaps,” says Amish Patel, skincare expert at Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic. “However, it is heavy oil and should be used cautiously in those with sensitive skin and those prone to oily or acneic skin. To be safe, I would suggest sticking to professional pharmaceutical-grade skincare products recommended for use during pregnancy and whilst nursing."

Grandma Ina - Grandma beauty tips

The writer's grandma, Ina, believed in always moisturising your elbows!

Lisa Marley’s nan was ahead of her time with facial massage, but perhaps harking back to older times when it came to haircare. “My Irish nan was a fan of facial massage. She would say ‘always sweep up the face and brush your hair 100 times before bed’.”

“When it comes to moisturising it’s definitely worth applying in upward strokes,” says Savas Altan, medical aesthetic at The Vera Clinic. “As we get older, gravity naturally pulls our skin downward, causing sagging and wrinkles. There are ways we can combat this, including following a skincare routine and applying moisturiser in upward movement.”

"When it comes to moisturising it’s definitely worth applying in upward strokes"

Amish Patel addresses the idea of brushing our hair 100 times, which seems like something out of a fairy tale! “Brushing your hair excessively can cause breakage, but the idea behind it is that it stimulates blood flow to the scalp, which supports healthy skin and hair growth. A head massage will benefit your hair growth more favourably than vigorous brushing.”

While Nicola McGregor’s grandmother told her, “Cold water is the only toner you need,” Liat Hughes’ grandmother told her to, “Never wash your face with water, only use cleansing milk or similar as she thought water would dry the skin out.”

So, which is it? Ada Ooi, Celebrity Facialist, TCM Practitioner and founder of 001 Skincare says, “Cold water is great but moisturising toners are made of humectants that work like a water magnet, absorbing water molecules from the atmosphere to the epidermis. A humectant like hyaluronic acid can absorb and retain a huge amount of water within cells, so the more water content you layer, the more water is going to be absorbed and retained, giving a plumped and glowing complexion. Layering toners is a Korean skincare method to achieve deep hydration.”

Weird ingredients

Sonia Zhuravlyova’s granny had a tip for haircare that most of us might find a bit messy, but has some sound science behind it. “My great granny washed her hair with egg, not sure if it was egg white or the whole egg, instead of shampoo and swore by it!”

“Eggs are surprisingly great for our hair,” says Savas Altan. “Eggs work as a cleaning agent because of the lecithin they contain, and they can promote healthier hair growth due to their high volume of protein. Applying eggs directly to the roots helps infuse hair follicles with much-needed vitamins and minerals. This will also nourish the scalp which will encourage new hair to grow stronger and be less prone to breakage or shedding.”

"Eggs are surprisingly great for our hair"

And finally, one not for the faint hearted from Lydia and Alma, content creators and sisters from London. “Our great grandmother told us she used a baby’s wet nappy on her face, no number 2s!”

Sounds pretty horrific, but Amish Patel can see where this idea might have come from. 

"Urine is made up of water, urea, and other body waste products. Whilst urea is a super moisturiser and can be found in many moisturising creams, applying urine directly to the skin isn't something I would recommend! The concentration found in urine will not be the same as in creams, and remember that urine is made of waste products of the body, something that you don't want to be applying to the face!"

Grandma Ina (right) - grandma beauty tips

Grandma Ina (right) with her sister

So, what about my own grandmother’s advice? Will I now benefit from super young elbows?

Patel is pragmatic about it. "We rarely see people's elbows or focus on them, but there is certainly no harm in moisturising your elbows."

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...