Whether they're from Halifax or Hanoi, Regina or Rome, women around the globe want gorgeous skin.
Many of us choose our skincare regime according to what we've stumbled upon at the local beauty counter or what we've been doing since we were a teenager. But if you broaden your horizons a bit, you might just discover that secret technique you've been searching for.
Here's a sampling of the skincare trends that women around the globe swear by:
Though they are mostly unknown in North America, BB Creams (short for "blemish balm" or "beauty balm") are an essential part of Asian skincare. These products, which combine moisturizer, sunscreen, concealer, serum and foundation all in one handy cream, help Korean and Japanese women keep their epidermis glowing, smooth and dewy. Western brands have been catching on too - Estee Lauder, Garnier, Maybelline and Clinique all offer BB creams for women who want more than just moisturizing coverage, but want to keep their skincare regime quick and easy. The building buzz around BB creams in North America right now means BB creams won't stay unknown for long.
After a long night out, many of us have probably skipped the makeup remover and just given our face a quick wash before hitting the sack. And maybe we had a breakout a couple days later to show for it. Women in Asia have long had a go-to secret to take the makeup off their faces -- oil cleansers. Shu Uemura introduced the product to the Japanese market back in the 60s as a way to remove makeup without stripping the skin of moisture, and women across Asia have been using it ever since. While many cleansing oils are made with (petroleum-based) mineral oil, here in North America, Philosophy offers a version made of all-natural oils, and Japanese company DHC offers a version made with extra virgin olive oil.
Unique Japanese Beauty Treatments
You've probably heard of some of the most notorious ones - there's the nightingale dropping facial, the bull semen treatment, the gold-leaf facial and the goldfish pedicure where your feet's dead skin is nibbled of by hungry fish (contrary to popular belief, they don't use piranhas, which aren't native to Japan). Though these wacky-sounding treatments aren't likely to turn up at your local spa any time soon, there are some uniquely Japanese beauty treatments that have found their way to our shores. For example, adzuki beans (which were traditionally used to scrub the faces of Imperial court beauties) seaweed and rice bran are turning up in both Japanese and international skincare lines (like Fresh and Dermalogica).
This beauty technique originated in France, but has grown in popularity in places like Argentina, where there is a large wine-making industry. The by-products of wine-making -- the seeds, skin and pulp of the grapes - are massaged into the skin. The potent polyphenols found in the grapes purportedly help fight aging by restoring collagen and elastic fibers (apparently even better than Vitamin C). Vinotherapy massage is offered at many European and South American spas, and French beauty line, Caudalie, derives its main ingredients from grapes. You can even get the vinotherapy treatment in Canada - the Vine Luxury Spa in Grande Prairie, Alberta uses grape mixtures in their facials and massages.
This technique was invented in France, but is used widely in Brazil, where beautiful skin is a national trait (Gisele, we're looking at you). It sounds a bit scary -- carbon dioxide gas is injected under the skin. But if you're willing to go under the needle, carboxytherapy is said to be a way to decrease under-eye circles, stretch marks and cellulite. Basically, the theory goes like this -- the injection of carbon dioxide is interpreted by the body as a deficit, so oxygen is pumped to that area, resulting in rapid cell restoration. There's not much down-time involved in the process (it only takes a few minutes for the injections), but if you have an existing medical condition, like hypertension or diabetes, it might not be right for you.
Hammams, or Turkish baths, are common sights in Morocco, where they have been a way of life for centuries. Men and women go to hammams to be bathed, scrubbed, massaged, and released into the world a smoother, more serene person. One of the most popular treatments at hammams is the argan oil massage. According to the Moroccans who have used it for generations, the oil of the argan nut will hydrate the skin, protect it from aging and strengthen muscle tissue. Another popular product indigenous to Morocco is rhassoul clay, used on hair and skin. It is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial and rich with minerals, said to draw out impurities in the skin and deposit minerals back in. Spas like Hammam in Toronto or Miraj Hammam in Vancouver offer the traditional Turkish bath experience, though most of us would probably prefer to travel to Morocco for the real deal.