BEAUTY means something different in every country around the world, and the more I travel, the more I realize that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. However, one thing is certain, women from Africa to North America all want to look and feel beautiful and will do whatever it takes to maintain a healthy confidence about their appearance. Over the years, I’ve collected tips and tricks on beauty from around the world and I thought it would be cool to share my discoveries with you.
The women featured are natural beauties, but more importantly they are strong, successful women who just happen to represent beauty in their home country. They range in age from 30-50, but are self-assured enough not to be intimidated by aging. In other words, they are comfortable in their own skin and most have adopted a less-is-more approach to beauty that I find inspiring.
BEAUTY SECRETS of AFRICA: Beauty in Africa is as diverse as the countries themselves, with black soap being a must to wash hair and treat skin in Ghana and pure palm oil being used for dry skin in Cameroon. Women in South Africa swear by a daily cup of Rooibos tea and, in Ethiopia, the women are fiercely loyal to non-processed Shea butter as a body moisturizer and conditioning hair treatment.
LIYA’s BEAUTY: Liya raves about the shea butter hair treatments in her home country, but to tame her curly hair, she favors Kerastase’s Nutritive line.
BEAUTY SECRETS of BRAZIL: Ahhh, Brazil, the country known for its ouch-inducing bikini waxes and cosmetic surgery, surprisingly has some pretty natural beauty treatments like using sand scrubs to treat cellulite, oatmeal baths to treat sunburn and applying aloe vera gel to the scalp for hair growth and added shine.
GISELE’s BEAUTY: Gisele doesn’t own a hair brush. (Actually, years ago, my stylist told me to go home and throw away my hair brush, so I don’t own a hair brush either.) She just washes her hair, combs it out, lets it dry naturally and applies a bit of hair serum to the ends, if needed. And what about pesky pimples? Gisele’s secret is Nelson’s Homeopathic Acne Gel.
BEAUTY SECRETS of CHINA: Chinese women know a thing or two about preventing pre-mature aging and rely on centuries old traditions like reflexology to maintain their health and beauty. A popular exfoliant used is a mixture of ground Chinese rice and plain yogurt applied to the face for a few minutes and then rinsed off. They also use a bit of almond oil around the eyes to prevent wrinkles and they drink an abundance of green or white tea for the anti-aging benefits.
FAN’s BEAUTY: Fan applies two face masks per day; one for moisturizing and one for whitening. She also avoids caffeine.
BEAUTY SECRETS of ENGLAND: English beauty traditions are very similar to America’s, but there is one skin cleansing method that was I introduced to by English aesthetician Liz Earle—the cleanse and polish hot cloth method.
THANDIE’s BEAUTY: Thandie adopted the Liz Earle method for removing her heavy make-up, but she uses Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm and a warm flannel cloth. She also has a genius idea for women of color who find that their tinted moisturizer is too ashy or too pink, Thandie adds turmeric to insure that her moisturizer matches her yellow undertones.
BEAUTY SECRETS of FRANCE: French women are some of the most admired in the world and their approach to beauty is preventative skin and body care like thalassotherapy treatments which improves circulation or the less expensive alternative cold showers. They also shy away from using traditional soap on their face and body (except certain “regions”). And French women don’t believe in gaining weight as you age, but enjoy a glass of red wine and food in moderation without feeling guilty.
EVA’s BEAUTY: Eva prefers light make up and lip balm during the day and at night, she simply adds a lipstick like MAC’s Russian Red.
BEAUTY SECRETS of GERMANY: German women swear by a beer rinse for making their hair bouncy and shiny. They’re also fans of warm milk baths to nourish and soften their skin.
DIANE’s BEAUTY: Diane sticks to a daily routine of washing her face with Cetaphil soap and moisturizing with Roséliane d’Ursiage cream to combat her rosacea. And since she has fine hair, she simply washes it, treats it with Moroccanoil and lets it dry naturally for better fullness.
BEAUTY SECRETS of INDIA: Who doesn’t admire Indian women’s gorgeous hair? Their secret? Indian women faithfully apply coconut oil hair mask weekly. They also use coconut oil to soften dry skin and they drink a freshly grated ginger tea with honey in the mornings to reduce fine lines. For dramatic eyes, they use Kajal eye liner made of ashes and almond butter oil.
AISHWARYA’s BEAUTY: Aishwarya believes in natural skin treatments like milk & yogurt face masks and the mind, body and spirit connection she gets from yoga.
BEAUTY SECRETS of ITALY: Italian women age gracefully and much is credited to their consumption of extra virgin olive oil which is loaded with Vitamins A and E that help to repair the skin. They also use extra virgin olive oil on their hair as a deep conditioner prior to shampooing and even on their nails to moisten cuticles.
MONICA’s BEAUTY: Monica likes olive oil hair masks and hour-long bubble baths when she needs to relax and unwind.
BEAUTY SECRETS of JAPAN: In Japan, sake baths are used to exfoliate the body. Simply add 24 oz. of sake to your bubble bath and soak for 10-15 minutes. Japanese women also apply white camellia nut oil to their scalps and ends to promote hair growth.
MIHO’s BEAUTY: Miho drinks green tea regularly to maintain her flawless skin.
BEAUTY SECRETS of MEXICO: Mexican women not only eat avocados, but use avocados on their face and hair too. Avocados add moisture to mature or dry skin. Simply wash your face, peel and mash an avocado, apply for 5 minutes, then rinse off. For your hair, dampen your hair, mash an avocado and mix with 1 tablespoon of almond or olive oil, apply for 20 minutes and shampoo.
SALMA’s BEAUTY: Salma shares her beauty secrets in a skin care line called Nuance based on her grandmother’s remedies. Also, if Salma cleans and moisturizes her face the night before, she doesn’t cleanse her face the next morning, instead she splashes her face with warm water and pats it dry.
BEAUTY SECRETS of RUSSIA: Saunas, called Banyas, are huge in Russia and so are their body scrubs which are honey-based and mixed with either sea salt or sugar. Russian women also believe in the power of milk products to enhance their skin.
NATALIA’s BEAUTY: When it comes to make up, Natalia is a firm believer in less is more and starts each day with yoga sun salutations. She likes La Roche Posay thermal water to refresh and hydrate her skin.
BEAUTY SECRETS of SPAIN: The beauty of Spanish women is credited to their traditional Mediterranean diet which consists of seasonal vegetables, legumes, fresh fish and extra virgin olive oil.
PENELOPE’s BEAUTY: Penelope follows the Mediterranean diet, drinks very little, doesn’t smoke and believes in 8 or more hours of beauty sleep every night.
BEAUTY SECRETS of USA: American beauty secrets are plentiful, so I picked several that I’ve tested myself and found to be effective like using daily moisturizer with spf 15+, not eating after 8pm to aid digestion, drinking hot water with lemon every morning to awake the system, brushing with baking soda to remove teeth stains and using a baking soda paste on stubborn zits. Also, lotions made with Hawaii’s kukui nut oil are excellent for sunburn and dry skin.
HALLE’s BEAUTY: Halle’s off duty style is low maintenance, she wears very little make-up and loves using body moisturizers with orange oil. For anti-aging, Halle likes Vitamin C serums or a light exfoliator like Kinara’s lactic acid hydrating serum.
References: Allure, CNN Global, Daily Makeover, Elle, Glamour, Hallewood, Into the Gloss, Lucky, Marie Claire, New York Times, Passport to Beauty, Style, Today Show, Vogue, Whole Living and Women’s Health.
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