When it comes to beauty routines, the grass is always greener. Japanese women have it made with their long, glossy hair and Greek women’s olive-toned complexions are always luminous. But how do they do it? Put down your passport—you won’t need to go anywhere to find out. We got insider beauty information from experts on how women across the globe stay gorgeous. Read on to find out their secrets, and learn how you can recreate them at home.
From Cleopatra's milk bath to the ancient Roman habit of using ground oyster shell as a skin lightener, beauty rituals have abounded through generations and geographies.
But we've come a very long way since the days of using lead as a face mask and sheep sweat as night cream. Time has perfected our rituals -- we know what works and what doesn't. There's much to be learned, then, from the at-home beauty tips of women around the world. "Beauty rituals are as ancient as time. When I travel across the world, I see all sorts of natural remedies. And now, many of those products are being used in Western cosmetic.
Got a zit? Indian women swear by turmeric. Dry skin? South Americans recommend smearing an avocado. Want perfect teeth? Imitate the calcium-consuming habits of Masai women. I' ve compiled a list of the best tips from around the world.
Colombia: Avocado Hair Mask
Some Colombian grandmothers pass on their recipe for chicken soup, but stylist Lutz Karpf learned this instead: Combine two egg whites with half of a mashed-up avocado; leave it in hair for 15 minutes, then wash and condition. It's a fast and inexpensive natural remedy that leaves hair super-smooth.
Brazil: Coconut Hair Cocktail
Forget caipirinhas. Girls from Ipanema get a buzz from this shine-enhancing mixture. "Once a week, apply a cocoa butter treatment mask, let it sit for a half hour, then rinse it out with coconut water," says pro Marco Antonio De Biaggi of São Paulo. "The combination leaves hair incredibly soft and moisturized—it's a trick of many Brazilian women."
Argentina: Hydrate with Aloe Vera
It's all about length, says hair stylist Leonardo Rocco, who was born northwest of Buenos Aires. "Women in Argentina associate long hair with sensuality and glamour." To help keep long strands in shape, he recommends applying aloe vera directly to your scalp or adding it to your usual shampoo.
Mexico: Gelatin Hair Mask
South of the border, they fight frizz with a blend of 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp. cider vinegar. Massage the gel-like mixture through shampooed hair, leave it in for 5 minutes, then rinse. "It's a practice passed down for generations," says Ifergan.
Spain: Lived-in Highlights
In Spain, women have a less-is-more attitude when it comes to their hair color. Instead of drastic changes that require constant touch-ups, they'll go for sunny highlights with an uneven starting point so that the regrowth isn't noticeable, says Madrid stylist Pablo Iglesias, who works with Penélope Cruz
.Spanish women bring out natural, subtle highlights in their hair by rinsing it with cranberry juice, says Vadhera. Try mixing ¼ cup pure juice (not cocktail blends) with ¼ cup water and doing a final rinse with it in the shower. “If you’re going to be in the sun, the cranberry juice brings out the rich hues in your hair,” she says. “It works amazingly on brunettes, but if you’re blonde you’ll want to use lemon juice instead to avoid ending up with pink hair.”
“If you ever meet a Dominican woman, look at her nails––chances are they’re super-strong,” says Vadhera. What’s their secret? Women in the Dominican Republic swear by garlic to keep their nails tough as…well, nails. They chop up fresh garlic, add it to a bottle of clear nail polish and let it stew for 7 to 10 days. “There will be an initial smell, so if you want to ward off vampires this is a great way to do it,” jokes Vadhera. “But the scent goes away. Garlic has so many strengthening properties and is naturally antibacterial as well.”
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, now available at Target. 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,” says Strand. “The dry, clean heat rids your body of toxins.” 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.