International Skincare Products We Love, or Around the Beauty World in 11 Ingredients
If you're not spinning the globe when it comes to your beauty routine, you're really missing out. After all, there are only so many skin-friendly nuts and seeds and oils that one country can produce — sometimes, you gotta borrow a beauty secret from your global neighbor. When I was a teenager, I tore a page from some magazine that detailed the DIY skincare secrets of international models, and the tips were life-changing: the girl from Russia used crushed strawberries to whiten her teeth, another lady used an avocado hair mask, and there was enough baking soda and sugar and yogurt to satisfy the most DIY of DIY freaks. I can't remember which country thought up which beauty trick, but that's the great thing about beauty secrets: they're democratic and (usually) copyright-free.
Savvy American women are aware that our international sisters know things we do not. We've had our eye on the French pharmacies for years, and now Korean skincare — full of sci-fi ingredients like snail slime and starfish extract — is becoming the mecca of international beauty. But what's truly amazing is that almost every country on earth has something rich and unique to offer the skincare market, whether it's the scent of jenipapo flowers from Brazil or a nearly religious essential oil from Oman. Here are some of the most exciting ingredients on the market from 11 countries across the globe (but really, this list could have been about 196 countries long).
Local ingredients: Babassu oil and jenipapo extract
Why we love them: Is Brazil the next big beauty destination for international skincare obsessives? I've noticed a number of brands rolling out Brazil-inspired or -sourced collections, and everybody's aware that Brazilian women know something that the rest of us don't. Anyway, babassu may be the new coconut oil — it's full of essential acids, it helps skin's elasticity, and absorbs quickly and non-greasily. The jenipapo tree grows in the Cerrado region of Brazil, and its golden flowers smells sunny, citrusy, and floral: the perfect scent for a summer in the South.
Local ingredient: Argan oil
Why we love it: Okay, you've probably been living under a rock (how's the skincare down there?) if you haven't heard of this miracle ingredient yet. "Liquid gold," as it's called, has been trending for years, but its booming popularity has led to important changes in Morocco, including increased opportunities for women to work. Win-win.
Try: Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil, $50, moroccanoil.com
3. New Zealand
Local ingredient: Manuka honey
Why we love it: Manuka honey is super popular among the DIY facial mask set, but plenty of people don't know where the stuff is from. Hint: not your local farmer's market! It's a powerful antibacterial honey from New Zealand that does wonders for skin.
Try: Manuka Doctor Apinourish Rejuvenating Face Mask with Purified Bee Venom and Manuka Honey, $85, sephora.com
Local ingredient: Bearberry
Why we like it: Bears like to eat it, so that's cool. But this berry has also been proven to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which, trust me, your skin is all about.
Try: Clear Line Cream with Bearberry, $8, russianshoppe.com
Local ingredient: Baobab fruit
Why we like it: It's ultra-moisturizing, full of fatty acids, and helps to bring back skin's lustre.
Try: Tiossan Fatale Body Scrub, $38, tiossan.com
Local ingredient: Wakame
Why we like it: This edible brown seaweed is one of Japan's best-kept beauty secrets. It's full of minerals, B vitamins, and helps prevent the body from breaking down hyaluronic acid — an acid that keeps skin looking youthful.
Try: Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil, $46, sephora.com
Local ingredient: Frankincense
Why we like it: Add an element of mystery and spirituality to your beauty routine with this ancient, precious oil. A drop in your facial cream may help with acne and general skin healing.
Try: Omani Royal Houjri Frankincense Oil, $43.68, healingartsandsciences.com
Local ingredient: Pili oil
Why we like it: This indigenous Philippino oil is full of vitamins A, E, and beta-carotene. It both hydrates skin and soothes redness/inflammation.
Try: My Prime Multi-Purpose Mattifying Moisturizer, $68, makemyyours.com
The ingredient: Noni
Why we like it: The gentle enzymes of the Noni fruit help buff away lifeless skin cells. Plus, Miranda Kerr has been drinking noni juice every day since she was a teenager, so that's convincing.
Try: Himalayan Superfruit Enzyme Polish, $81, epicuren.com
The ingredient: Kukui nut oil
Why we like it: The Kukui is Hawaii's state tree, and this ultra-moisturizing oil is packed with essential fatty acids — and it's a favorite of Lupita Nyong'o, who uses it on her face.
Try: Russell Organics Kukui Nut Oil, $18, russellorganics.com
11. United States mainland
The ingredient: Caffeine
Why we love it: Because we're a culture of coffee addicts. Oh, and it reduces redness and adds an extra kick to your morning toilette.
Try: Pacific Shaving Co. Caffeinated Shaving Cream & Aftershave Moisturizer Set, $15.99, pacificshaving.com