Natural Remedies

6 DIY Beauty Customs From Around the World (and the Science Behind Why They Work)

As a celebrity makeup artist, Stephanie Flor has worked plenty of red carpets and fashion spreads, but her true passion is discovering beauty tips from all over the globe and sharing her experiences in Around the World Beauty.

“I wanted to discover a different perspective on beauty,” Flor says. “I’ve talked to women in more than 30 countries about their ingredients, and took part in their rituals.” Stephanie has stored up a treasure chest full of time-tested beauty recipes and gratefully credits the women she meets in her travels.

She shared with us a few of her favorite global DIY beauty recipes, and we consulted with dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., to learn exactly why these traditional treatments have stood the test of time, scientifically speaking.

1. Turmeric Mask, India

Turmeric is an essential ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine and is used to bring a warm golden color and slight bitterness to curries, make milk tea, and even treat inflammation—but it also does wonders for your face. “Turmeric is loaded with antioxidants, which help slow down the aging process by protecting and firming your skin,” Jaliman says. That said, turmeric can temporarily stain your skin, so best to try this mask on a rainy weekend in.

The other ingredients in this mask pack a punch too—honey is a natural moisturizer and has antimicrobial properties which can help with irritation and acne, while yogurt helps cool and soothe skin while also hydrating and improving brightness.

Recipe: Mix a couple tablespoons of full-fat, plain Greek yogurt; one teaspoon of turmeric; and one teaspoon of honey until smooth. Apply the mixture to your face and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.

2. Coffee Cellulite Scrub, Colombia

A cup of joe can perk up more than your morning (yes, we’re talking about butts). Although there’s no miracle cure for cellulite, this scrub can give you a tighter, more radiant backside—temporarily.

“It pulls water out of the skin, making the skin look less dimpled,” Jaliman explains. Caffeine is a popular anti-cellulite ingredient found in most pricey firming creams. With this scrub, you’ll not only save a wad of cash, but you’ll also get the exfoliating benefits of brown sugar particles and the nourishing, essential fatty acids found in coconut oil. “Your skin will be super soft—and you’ll smell amazing!” Stephanie says. (And you’ll probably taste pretty sweet too… just saying).

Recipe: Grind half a cup of Colombian coffee beans fairly fine (or smash them with a mortar and pestle). Add two tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Mix it up and start scrubbing, or transfer to a jar for later use. Wash off and admire.

3. Wine and Oat Mask, Argentina

Have you heard the latest wine news? Turns out, drinking might not be so good for you after all. While this is a major bummer, wine can be put to good use on your face. “Resveratrol, found in red wine, is a powerful antioxidant that can fight skin aging,” Jaliman says. Red wine also has anti-inflammatory properties, while oats are known for their ability to calm down skin irritation. But if you’re prone to rosacea, you might want to sit this one out.

Recipe: Combine a tablespoon of yogurt, two teaspoons of honey, and a handful of dry oats. Add a splash or two of red wine and mix. Apply to your face using circular motions and let sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off.

4. Rhassoul Clay Rubdown, Morocco

Flor got this traditional Berber recipe from La Roseraie Spa Retreat in Morocco. Rhassoul clay, found in the Atlas Mountains, is a staple in Moroccan beauty. It’s known for its exfoliating powers as well as its rich mineral content. “Minerals such as magnesium, silicon, potassium, and calcium all help to nourish the skin,” Jaliman says, and all are present in rhassoul clay. Be warned, this recipe is both labor- and time-intensive, but at least you can save the airfare and order the clay online.

Recipe: In a bowl, mix equal parts rhassoul clay and freshly steeped herbal tea with your hands, adjusting amounts of each until you get a paste. Flor suggests also adding a drop of essential oil, such as rose or lavender. Once you have a smooth consistency, free of lumps, transfer the clay to a pan to air dry for a couple of days.

When you’re ready to get your rub on, apply the paste to your face and body and let dry for 15-20 minutes. Turn on the warm water and, using an exfoliating glove or your hands, start rinsing the clay off in circular motions. This might taa whileile, but your body and a clearer mind will thank you.

5. Matcha Powder Hair Mask, Japan

Flor was introduced to matcha as a hair treatment for the first time in Japan. “Women were using it as a way to prevent hair loss and get some shine,” she says. “Matcha’s loaded with antioxidants, which, as we know, is always good for the skin,” Jaliman says.

Peppermint oil has a cooling effect on the skin, has been shown to stimulate hair growth, and may increase circulation to the scalp, although we’d love to see more studies demonstrating this. However, don’t overdo it! Like all essential oils, peppermint oil is highly concentrated, so keep the dosage super low. For most folks, though, you can use this mask once a week, and it won’t cause any irritation.

Recipe: Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a bowl with one teaspoon of high-grade matcha powder, stirring gently, since matcha is very delicate. Add 1 drop of peppermint oil and mix. Part your dry hair, and, working in sections, apply the paste to your whole scalp. Work the remainder of the mask into the ends, gently brush through, and wait 30 minutes before rinsing off and shampooing.

6. Clove Scrub, Zanzibar

This scrubdown is used by Zanzibar brides for a week before their nuptials to get their skin glowing and fragrant. “You’ll find cloves in a lot of skin products for acne-prone skin because of their antiseptic properties,” Jaliman says. “They’re also full of antioxidants.” And bonus: They smell divine! Rose water has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while coconut oil is all kinds of moisturizing.

Recipe: In a large bowl, combine three tablespoons of coarsely ground cloves, two tablespoons of rose water, two tablespoons of coconut oil, and three tablespoons of ground dried flowers. You can create a mix of your favorites, but Stephanie suggests roses, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. Mix all of the ingredients together and vigorously massage into dry skin for a few minutes before washing off.


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