From Cleopatra’s milk baths to Korea’s globe-trotting product craze, women have been on a mission to find the newest (paint can manis!), quirkiest (the Japanese “sick trend”) and, yes, most effective beauty treatments from all over the world. Celebrity makeup artist Stephanie Flor is no exception, barring one difference: Stephanie travels the world discovering ancient practices that women still swear by today. She tells us, “I work in an industry where I have to recreate cookie cutter ideals of beauty, but I just knew women couldn’t possibly see beauty the same way everywhere.” She went on a hunt for beauty secrets that have been passed down from generation to generation. Lucky for us, Stephanie documents the search for her “beauty roots” on her blog, Around the World Beauty, and below here on our site! Scroll on to discover 10 of her favorite tricks that she’s picked up along the way.
1. Peppermint Oil Scalp Massage: Peppermint is indigenous to Europe and has been used holistically on the continent for centuries. “As a hairstylist, I always work with different brands, and I love seeing peppermint in the formulas, because it reminds me of how truly connected we all are. You might not know it, but the shampoo you’re using has ingredients that have been around for ages.”
Stephanie suggests putting the fragrant plant to work on your scalp. Mix two to four drops of peppermint oil with a few drops of olive or almond oil in your hand. Using your fingers, apply the oil to your scalp and massage in for five minutes. The oil will heal skin irritation and give you beautiful, healthy hair.
2. Henna for Your Nails: Stephanie got this beauty tip from the Muslim women in Zanzibar who purify themselves with water before prayer. The water must touch their fingernails, sans any varnish. The women found a way to respect the rules of their faith by using henna. “Painting the nails wasn’t just done by women, men took part in the ritual as well, because it was a way to cool the body naturally.” Since it is a natural dye, henna only stains, rather than covering the nail. It also lasts up to four weeks and strengthens the fingernail and the cuticle as well.
3. Turmeric for Dark Circles: “Turmeric is a skin brightener. It’s used not only for dark circles, but all over the body to give it a glow. It’s become a staple in my routine,” Stephanie says. To make a turmeric facial mask, you’ll need one teaspoon of turmeric powder, two teaspoons of chickpea flour and two tablespoons of milk. Mix the three ingredients in a bowl and apply to any dark areas with your ring finger. Leave the mixture on for twenty minutes and rinse off.
4. Rose Water Tonic for Oily Skin: Ecuador is one of the world’s biggest exporters of roses. While visiting, Stephanie learned all about the magic powers of rose water. For oily skin, she recommends a DIY lotion made from rose petals and glycerin. The rose water will help dry out any acne, while the glycerin locks in moisture without clogging pores. To make, boil half a cup of rose petals. After draining, add one fourth cup of glycerin to the rose water.
5. Lemon Juice for Dark Spots: Lemon juice is full of citric acid, which can brighten dark spots. It’s a popular hack throughout Asia and Central America for lightening elbows and knees. “My grandmother would use lemon oil to cure any darkness, which she tended to get as a darker-skinned Latina.” Stephanie suggests rubbing a halved lemon against a large area like elbows and squeezing some juice onto a Q-tip and applying it to dark spots on the face. She tells us, “I even like to add a little sugar and use it as an elbow scrub to lighten and exfoliate at once.”
6. Tomato Scrub Mask: This completely edible beauty secret comes from Hungary. Cut an organic, ripe tomato in half and scoop out the insides. Combine the tomato pulp in a bowl with two tablespoons of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Apply to your face and leave on for ten minutes. Stephanie says that this mask is especially great for acne-prone skin, as the tomato’s high acidity works to wipe out oil.
7. Floral Bath: Stephanie has partaken in a lot of bathing rituals over the years. Some involved squatting over smoking vegetation, others called for public nudity. To switch up your shower routine, try a floral bath. Before you begin, Stephanie suggests setting an intention for this special time with yourself. What do you want to let go of? What are you literally washing away? Make an offering of flowers, herbs and other plants that are meaningful to you in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let the floral mixture steep for ten minutes, preferably out in the sun. Add your floral water to your bath along with a few drops of essential oil and soak in all of the natural goodness.
8. Brown Rice Skin Wash: Often used by geishas, rice has been a part of Asian beauty culture for centuries. Stephanie’s rice wash recipe comes from Japan and tightens pores while giving your skin a glow. Mix equal parts water and organic brown rice in a bowl, stirring until you see a white cloud rise to the top of the water. Drain the rice and pour the milky water into a glass jar. Store the rice wash in the refrigerator until your skin needs a refresher. “In my home, we throw the used face wash out the door for good luck,” Stephanie adds.
9. Aloe Vera Conditioner: While she was in Peru, Stephanie got a lesson on using aloe. To get to the nutrient-rich jelly inside, cut an aloe leaf in half lengthwise and then, using a spoon, carefully scoop out the gel. The gel can then be applied directly to the scalp and hair as a conditioning treatment. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and let the aloe do its magic for 15 minutes. Rinse out with a gentle shampoo and enjoy your shiny, soft hair!
10. Clove Scrub: Brides in Zanzibar are scrubbed with a special mix of ground cloves and oils before the weddings. Rumor has it they keep some for later, as it is believed to have aphrodisiac properties. “The Muslim women laughed at me because I became incredibly shy when they talked about how the scrub is used on their husbands,” Stephanie confesses to us.
To make the blend, you’ll need three tablespoons of coarsely ground cloves, two tablespoons of rosewater, two tablespoons of coconut oil and three tablespoons of ground dried flowers, like roses, jasmine and ylang ylang. Mix all of the ingredients together and massage into dry skin vigorously. Once you rinse off, you’ll feel energized and smell wonderful.
Do you have any natural beauty secrets you’d like to share? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via @atwbeauty)