Beauty secrets from around the world
ELLE editors tell us about the beauty products they swear by
Germany: Barbara Huber, Beauty Director
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Organic herbal teas, for sure. Also, elderflower and stinging nettle herb are both invigorating, while peppermint and Melissa are both comforting.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In Germany, Kneipp treatments, which involve treading in cold water, are very popular. They are good for improving the immune system and activating blood circulation.
Our healthy diet staple: All kinds of local vegetables and fruits. In fact, asparagus season is starting now, and it’s one of my favourite vegetables because of its draining and detoxifying effect.
Local tip: We are very lucky to live in a country where we don’t have an extreme climate or major pollution. I just ensure I practise outdoor sports in all kinds of weather, and go running three times a week. I never get a cold!
India: Ridhima Sapre, Assistant Beauty Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: I love using cucumber slices on my eyes to cool them. We also have a few brands that sell distilled herbal waters in a spray format – like rose water or lavender water – which make lovely face mists.
Our country’s best beauty secret: We get sandalwood in powder form, which we mix with any liquid (water, milk, yoghurt or rose water), and this makes a quick cooling mask. It clears out pores and soothes inflamed skin.
Our healthy diet staple: We add a lot of spices to our food, and they’re excellent for digestion. They also keep the metabolism going.
A local tip: The hair oiling ritual is probably one that almost every Indian woman follows. My grandmother used to oil her hair and wash it every day. Of course, that’s a bit much today, but I do try and do it at least once a week. I use a mix of coconut, almond and olive oils.
Croatia: Mihaela Batinić, Beauty Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: The best remedy for an itchy scalp is a good washing with nettles. After gathering nettles from the meadow, boil them in three to four litres of water. Once cool, wash your hair with it; you don’t need to shampoo.
Our country’s best beauty secret: Dalmatian olive oil. My mother is from a Croatian island where olives have been cultivated for centuries, and she believes there isn’t anything that olive oil can’t cure. We use it in all our beauty regimens. We use it on our bodies, face, and hair when we’re at the beach, and after 15 minutes, we just swim into the Mediterranean sea, and then wash off the residue when we’re done. Voila! There is no better combination for silky skin and healthy hair than olive oil and seawater.
Our healthy diet staple: Since we live near the Mediterranean Sea, fresh fish is easily available. We have lots of markets with organic food and many Croatians have gardens where we cultivate almost everything.
Local tip: We don’t have many problems with the weather, but every household will have panacea balm – an original Croatian cream called Melem. It’s the cure for all kinds of skin ailments.
Women around the world swear by natural, locally available ingredients that work for them every single time, and ELLE editors across the globe are sharing their beauty secrets. See why Bulgarians live for rose oil, why the Chinese believe that rice water really makes the best face wash, and which detoxifying food the Germans love, plus dozens more insider tips to looking (and feeling) naturally beautiful — and celebrating the planet while doing it.
Japan: Yumiko Murata, Senior Beauty Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: Essential oils and bath salts made of freeze-dried salts from the Dead Sea. Rose essential oil makes your skin brighter and softer, and also revitalises a female hormone. Salts have the great effect of inducing perspiration and keeping your body warm. I enjoy a thalassotherapy bath with plenty of salts. A hot lemon bath also works.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In Japan, we use clay masks for the scalp as well as the face, because it gently absorbs facial dirt.
Our healthy diet staple: Soya products like natto and tofu, which are typical Japanese foods. Soya contains ample amounts of isoflavone, yet it is low-calorie and rich in protein. Many Japanese foods are also fermented, so they can properly supplement you with enzymes.
A local tip: UV rays are stronger in Japan than in the West, so I protect my skin from dryness and damage throughout the year with UV cut cream and lots of moisturising.
China: Lettie Tseng, Beauty Director
My go-to natural beauty product: I prefer to mix and match rather than use purely natural products. My favourite is Weleda Wild Rose Oil, which I’ve been using for years.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In China, we believe that pearl powder can make the skin look bright and clear. Also, it is said that the water from cleaning rice can be used to wash your face, because some of the nutrients it contains help remove oil and dirt from the skin.
Our healthy diet staple: Vegetables, tremella (an edible white fungus), and edible birds’ nests.
A local tip: In Beijing and Shanghai, there’s definitely air pollution. We wear face masks when it’s really bad, and luckily there are more and more skincare products that claim to protect skin from pollution.
Korea: Nari Chun, Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Cucumber. I often have a cucumber massage when my skin gets dry. It’s very simple: Slice cucumber thinly, and use it on your clean face. It makes the skin feel so moisturised.
Our country’s best beauty secret: Rice is a staple in Korea so it’s easy to get. I’ve often used water that’s left over from washing rice to wash my face or for a bath. Wash rice until the water turns milky and then drain it out. Wash again, and use the water from the second washing. It makes the skin really smooth.
Our healthy diet staple: Ginseng. In terms of oriental medicine, my physiological body type is SOEUM, which means I have a cold body. The ginseng helps keep my body warm. There are many ways to eat ginseng but it’s best in its raw form. Ginseng is bitter to the taste and very expensive so I eat a little of it at a time. I also eat ginseng, using honey to dip it in when I’m feeling low.
A local tip: Fine dust tends to blow in from China, so cleansing is very important. I also wipe my face and neck with a cotton pad soaked in toner after deep cleansing.
Portugal: Joana Brito, Beauty Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Turmeric. It not only has amazing healing properties, but it’s a great beauty product. I’ve discovered this DIY turmeric face mask: Mix flour, turmeric, honey and milk to make a paste. Apply a thin layer of it on your face. Let dry for 20 minutes and rinse.
Our country’s best beauty secrets: We have a beautiful coast that heals the soul, wonderful weather that gives us vitamin D (and a beautiful glow!), and delicious Portuguese red wines from the Alentejo and Douro regions that make us happy!
Our healthy diet staple: A Mediterranean diet of garlic, olive oil, oranges, apples, lots of greens and the most wonderful fish.
A local tip: We have an old (and healthy) habit of starting a meal with a vegetable soup.
United States of America: Justine Harman, Beauty and Features Editor and Megan Cahn, Market Editor, ELLE.com
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Megan: Coconut oil. Like so many people, I have become addicted. I use it for my hair and skin and have started oil pulling for teeth whitening. Justine: I put coconut oil all over my face before bed. I also put it on my arms after exfoliating as I suffer from a mild case of Keratosis Pilaris. I find that it really reduces its appearance.
Our country’s best beauty secret: It’s not exactly unique to the US, but both editors swear by drinking water as the foundation for any beauty regimen.
Our healthy diet staple: “Kale!” says Megan. Justine tries to stick to seasonal produce.
A local tip: Combat that city air. Justine: I think the amount of pore-clogging dirt is unique to NYC. I try to take off all my makeup when I get home, and use a Dr Jart pore protector on my T-zone. Megan: Living in the city, my skin is exposed to lots of elements, including pollution. This makes it even more necessary for me to wash my face every night. I use oil to get everything off my face before I cleanse, exfoliate two times a week, and try to get a facial every couple of months.”
This article first appeared on ELLE.com
South Africa: Sarah Hoberman, Beauty Editor
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: I use pure shea butter as a body moisturiser in the winter. Frazer Parfum, a local beauty company, sources it from Mali. It is beautiful and natural, extremely moisturising, and smells of the earth.
Our country’s best beauty secret: We have an excellent outdoor culture due to our beautiful weather, and exercise is very much a part of our daily life. A walk or hike through nature helps me feel healthy and active. It’s a big part of feeling beautiful.
Our healthy diet staple: Seasonal food is the best. Depending on what is available at that time of year, my everyday diet consists of avocado, biltong (air-dried beef), rooibos tea, unsalted nuts, fresh grapes, cape salmon, ostrich fillets and a variety of green vegetables.
A local tip: Sun damage is high on the list of complaints. I use potent vitamin C/E serums for antioxidant protection, followed by a high sunscreen of SPF50 all year long. I also wear SPF on my body in summer and only ever go to the beach from 4 pm onwards – and with an umbrella and hat!
Bulgaria: Maria Georgieva, Editor-in-Chief
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: Chamomile and Fuller’s earth clay. I drink chamomile tea, but also use it as a face lotion after cleansing and before applying cream. I also use frozen tea bags on my eyes when they are puffy. I make a mask from Fuller’s earth clay for deep cleansing once every two weeks.
Our country’s best beauty secret: Bulgaria is famous for its rose valleys and I believe that the best natural products for the skin are the ones that come from the region you come from. Rose water is our secret for keeping the face clean and moisturised.
Our healthy diet staple: Yoghurt is a typical Bulgarian food – the Bulgaricus lactobacillus bacteria was found in my country a long time ago.
A local tip: The Bulgarian climate is perfect for skin and hair, but pollution in big cities is the greatest problem. When we escape for a week or two, we see the difference!