Cleanser History

While we can’t confirm if kids throughout the ages liked or disliked bath time, what we can tell you is that cleansers of all types have been used throughout the millennia to remove oil and dirt, as well as dead skin cells and makeup from the skin (face and body).

The history of cleansing evolved as follows: initially it was practiced for hygiene, then religion, and then finally for appearance and vanity. For thousands of years, cleansers were used solely to prevent illness and disease. As time went on, man discovered the cleansing benefits of plant based cleansers and began using them as part of religious rituals. Fast forward to today, cleansers are used as a part of a relaxation routine, contributing to mental well-being and constituting a key ingredient in improving or maintaining skin health and appearance.

Components of today’s cleansers include water, surfactants (emulsifiers), moisturizers, binders (stabilizers) and preservatives (to inhibit microorganisms). Cleansers may also use fillers (to harden them), fragrance (to mask odors), dyes (to alter the base color) and lathering agents (to make them sudsy).

Cleansing methods through the ages

  • Prehistoric times: People rinsed dirt off their skin using water that was usually nearby and essential to life
  • 3150 BC: Scraping of the skin, using a tool called a strigil that was originally made from a bone or stone. In ancient Roman and Egyptian times you would have found a strigil in the gym bag of every male athlete along with a flask of olive oil which was applied all over the skin before scraping to remove dirt and oil after workouts
  • 2000 BC: First known soap: Sumarian clay tablets
  • 600 BC: Phoenicians used tree ash and animal fat to make cleansers (not too vegan)
  • 69 - 30 BC: Cleopatra used olive oil mixed with beeswax as a cleanser and moisturizer
  • 1775: First known record of bar soap through saponification (chemical combination of fat/oils and alkalai)
  • 1865: First liquid soap was patented
  • 1884: First marketing of bars of wrapped soap
  • 1898: A liquid soap comprised of palm and olive oil was introduced as Palmolive
  • 1948: Introduction of synthetic detergents
  • 1990s: The first modern liquid cleansers were introduced as an alternative to bar soap for face and body. These days, they are available in hundreds of scents and colors with a wide array of formulations that sit side by side on store shelves. Many include synthetically derived ingredients, while others are formulated using clean, plant-based ingredients.
  • 2010 - 2020: Indie Lee introduces antioxidant rich, botanically based facial cleansers that leave skin feeling soft, supple, clean, clear and hydrated. They are ideal for all skin types and are formulated without parabens, synthetic dyes and synthetic fragrance. 

Shop all Cleansers here.