Skin Care

By Tia Albright

Women throughout the world are revered in different ways in various cultures for their beautiful features. While much of it is genetics, beautiful skin can be attributed to the use of centuries old ancient remedies and secrets. Whether you’re dreaming of achieving a soft, milky complexion seen on many Asian women due to their use of rice products, or the healthy glowing skin of many Grecian women who use olive oil to moisturize, now is the best time to explore what the world has to offer.

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Our global research finds that in India, tumeric and lemon juice mixed together clears up blemishes, however, a yellowish tint can occur if left on too long; and Indian women keep their tresses beautiful by massaging coconut oil onto their scalp and hair which is then washed out with a shampoo made from the shikakai plant. Indonesian beauties detoxify their skin by getting ginger body wraps; and for skin as soft as velvet, they’ve created a treatment of crushed candlenuts mixed with mashed papaya and peppermint leaves which is rubbed all over the body, and then wrapped in banana leaves before being washed off. Sounds like heaven, sign me up!

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Only now have we begun to break down the barriers of global production, particularly in the beauty industry. Products that were once only discovered by well-traveled globe trotters are now available right down the block or a click away in cyberspace. We’ve uncovered some the best kept secrets around, and found products made in the native countries with the best and most effective ingredients. Find your inner goddess with innovative skin care products from around the world.

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Indonesian rice farmers have long understood the healing powers of rice grain. Rich in protein and amino acids, it helps regulate skin’s moisture balance. To treat acne-prone and wrinkling skin, they soak the grain in spring water and use the froth at the top of the water to wash their skin. Juara’s Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer uses this age-old secret to hydrate and improve skin elasticity. The sweet black tea, an ancient health tonic, neutralizes free radicals and improves skin radiance helping to prolong the look of youthful skin. With all the attention to the face and body, it’s easy to forget about the importance of maintaining supple lips. Juara’s Sweet Black Tea Lip Treatment, infused with candlenut oil goes on easily, is not sticky, and smoothes lines and wrinkles underneath lip gloss or lipstick. Avocado extracts help to seal in moisture and mend chapped, rough skin without leaving a greasy residue behind.

Available: Henri Bendel and www.mybeautifulplace.com

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Korean ginseng, also known as Panax, is an ancient remedy used for thousands of years in Asia to balance and maintain internal health, and to invigorate the body’s natural defense system to cleanse and increase its resistance to stress hormones. Used topically, this herb increases the production of collagen and improves circulation. Erborian’s Ginseng Infusion Total Eye combines medicinal ginseng, biloba, ginger, yeast, and zucchini seed extract for an ideal anti-aging cream. Luminance and brilliance is recognizable within a few days of using the product, and signs of fatigue, such as fine lines and wrinkles begin to disappear revealing smoother skin and brighter eyes.

Available: Space NK, 99 Greene St. and www.erborian.com

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With spring on the horizon, it’s time to scrub away remnants of a chilling winter. Take a hint from the beautiful Grecian goddesses who’ve used olive oil extracts and kernels to exfoliate and hydrate skin. Leave your skin soft and fresh by applying Semeli’s Face Peeling (Scrub) made with organic olive kernels. Once called “liquid gold” by renowned poet Homer, the olive oil anti-oxidant and rejuvenating properties have been worshipped for years. The olive kernels feel refreshing and reveal glowing skin. Living so close to the beautiful coast and spending much of the year in the sun, women in Greece make sure to protect their skin. Protect your skin with Semeli’s Natural Sun Care in SPF 15 which feels light and airy. The gentle product helps moisturize skin yet isn’t greasy under makeup.

Available: New London Pharmacy, 246 8th Ave. and www.semeli.net

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It’s all safari-chic with Quench’s new African Black Soap Facial Wash. Produced in Ghana, the soap is made from the peel of dried plantains, which contains high levels of vitamins A, E, and iron. The peel is dried in the sun and roasted in a clay oven and then mixed with coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils to create the liquid soap. Called Alata Samina or Anago Samina, from the Twi language in Northern Ghana, it’s used to heal rough patches, calm eczema and other irritations. The smooth oily soap foams up to create a wonderfully light lather, which is ideal for washing hair. Hyper-sensitive skin can get slightly red, but that disappears within minutes.

Available: University Chemists, 74 University Place and www.quenchbathandbody.com

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Touted for their sensitive skin-friendly products, VMV Hypoallergenics has been a household name in the Philippines for more than twenty years. This line of gentle cosmetics has made its way to the United States and its ILLUMINANTS Active Brilliance Toning Essence lives up to the hype. A multi-therapy formula, it uses gigawhite, a 7-compound Alpine plant extract, to balance uneven skin, brighten, tone and control melanin production. It’s important to follow directions closely, as the potent formula cannot be used everyday when first starting out. Another top pick, VMV’s Creammmy-Rich Intensive Moisture Milk provides sun protection and soothing lubrication with its “skin butter.” Made with coconut oil, which Filipino women massage into their hair and skin for added exuberance, the lotion leaves skin silky. Oh and by the way, not only is coconut oil good for hair growth and skin, but when eaten, it can help reduce cholesterol levels and improves heart health. Who knew that all those pina colada’s helped make me healthy?

Available:C.O. Bigelow, 414 Avenue of the Americas and www.vmvhypoallergenics.com

Originally published April 2008
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