12 Skin Care Tips from Around the Globe
Posted by ashley lake on August 23, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Are you a people watcher? It’s probably one of my favorite pastimes. If you've never done it, give yourself a day of active people watching the next time you visit a big city. What you'll discover: the seriously diverse beauty that comes from different cultures--whiteblond locks that can't be found in a bottle, complexions that appear poreless, and makeup techniques that aren't taught at a Sephora counter.
The women of the world have some seriously great skin. So what’s their secret? Well, I did some research and found the best skin care tips from around the world. The best part: in most cases, you don't have to travel any farther than the produce aisle of your supermarket to start reaping the benefits.
Japanese beauty rituals range from gross (facials of nightingale droppings) to downright scary (pedicures that include soaking feet in a basin swimming with flesh-eating fish). But one of the most beloved beauty ingredients is also one of the most common: rice. Each tiny kernel boasts an array of skin-friendly characteristics. It absorbs oil and is a highly effective exfoliant. Even sake, a rice-based liquor, has been prized as a beautifier since the time of the geishas, who would reportedly splash their faces with it to let the liquor’s naturally-occurring kojic acid help lighten discoloration and eliminate age spots. Simply soak rice in bottled water for 20 minutes. Strain the rice out of the water, then dunk a washcloth in it. Apply the damp cloth to your face for 10 minutes. Do this once a week.
Because humidity levels hover at 90 percent year-round in this country, women definitely pamper their skin and hair. For glowing skin, women mash either avocado or papaya, slather it on their face, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse with water. Avocado is loaded with skin-friendly oils, and papaya has papain, an exfoliating enzyme.
To temporarily shrink pores, combine equal parts orange juice and water and swab the mixture across your face (avoiding the eye area) with a cotton ball. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse. Another trick from these South American beauties: Want to get rid of redness or bumps on your elbows or armpits? Add the juice of two lemons to one tablespoon of baking soda; rub the paste onto skin for 20 minutes and rinse off with water. Follow up with a moisturizer.
Women all over West Africa use shea butter to soften their skin. Bonus: It's also applied thickly to hair as a hydrating mask, or in a smaller amount as a leave in conditioner. The "butter" is derived from nuts of the karite tree, which grows in the savannah region across West Africa. To order it, log on to sheayeleen.org ($20 for 4 oz). Shea Yeleen is a nonprofit company that imports shea butter produced at women-owned work cooperatives in Africa.
Mud from Israel's Dead Sea has long been used as a cleansing mask for the face and body. Sounds gross, but it's loaded with nourishing minerals. Women cover their bodies with the black mud, then float in the salty water, or they scoop the mud into a jar and use it at home. Since for most of us, the Dead Sea is a long flight away, you can buy Ahava Dead Sea Mineral Mud ($28) in the U.S. at ahavaus.com.
Got a zit? Combine baking soda with water to make a paste and dab it onto a pimple. As it dries and hardens, it sucks dirt and oil out of your pores. If your skin is dry and showing signs of age, add a drop of vitamin E oil to a squirt of your moisturizer and smooth the mix onto trouble spots (such as around your mouth and eyes)--it's a trick Jamaican ladies swear by. Besides being a skin hydrator, vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps skin stay young looking.
The wonder oil , Argan oil, comes from trees that once grew wild in Morocco’s arid semi-desert regions, but are now endangered and protected by UNESCO. The oil itself is packed with vitamin E, linoleic acid and beneficial mono and poly-unsaturated fats, which combine to nourish and smooth hair, and address fine lines, stretch marks and acne scars. Pick up anything from Josie Maran’s line of skin and hair products to start getting the benefits of Argan oil.
Cleopatra’s beauty is the stuff of legend, and one of her favorite rituals was a bath of milk and honey. The lactic acid, which occurs naturally in milk, acts as a mild exfoliant, whisking away dead skin cells, while vitamins A and D help nourish and soften. The white stuff can also work wonders on lackluster hair, sealing split follicles to give your mane a healthy shine. It seems that milk really does do a body good. Try adding 2 cups of powdered milk to your bath. It will make your skin look absolutely gorgeous and feel so smooth, silky and soft.
Chilean women credit the antioxidant powers of red grapes for their luminous skin. They create a paste by mashing up a handful of the fruit and adding 2 tablespoons of white flour. They then apply the mask to their face and leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it off. “It wakes up the appearance of tired and fatigued skin to give you an amazing glow,” says Shalini Vadhera, author of Passport to Beauty
The French woman is notorious for sticking to a scrupulous and preventive skin and body care routine. It’s not uncommon for her to have weekly facials, regular massages and of course, religiously take her makeup off each night. Try this at-home facial without the price tag of a spa: Mash up cherries and pomegranate seeds and apply as a mask to the skin for about 6 minutes. This mask will help brighten skin with natural enzymes while firming at the same time. Remove the mixture with a warm towel to help boost circulation.
Greek women are blessed with Mediterranean skin, which is light in color but has enough melanin to shield and absorb harmful UV rays. (My bestie enjoys this perk too…it’s just not fair!) But even if you aren’t genetically blessed, you can still take a cue from the women of Greece. There are other factors that contribute to their glowing complexion: They eat a Mediterranean diet high in fish, which provides skin-rejuvenating omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as fruits and vegetables, which provide antioxidants and vitamins. They also believe their intake of olive oil contributes to their great skin. So, start reaching for the olive oil instead of butter for better skin.
Swedish women attribute their glowing, healthy skin to their diet of antioxidant-packed fresh berries and grilled fish, says Petra Strand, Swedish makeup artist and creator of makeup line Pixi. Give yourself a hit of antioxidants by trying Strand’s at-home treatment: Boil mineral water with a green tea or white tea bag, let the tea infuse the water and then freeze it into ice cubes to use instead of a toner. Saunas are also a big part of Swedish culture. The dry, clean heat rids your body of toxins. So next time you hit the gym, pamper yourself after your workout and check out the sauna. To get the effect of a sauna at home, Strand says to take a handful of rock salt and add a dash of olive oil and about 10 drops of pure eucalyptus oil. Rub it all over your body and rinse with a blast of cold water.
Do you have any skin care secrets we missed? What’s your favorite at-home beauty treatment?
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