Cleopatra bathed in milk for soft skin. Queen Esther used honey and myrrh.While modern science has given us an array of anti-aging products, legendary beauties have always had their secrets – most of which come straight from the kitchen.
So before you plunk down obscene amounts of money on the latest celebrity “must have” potion or procedure, take a moment to look around and see what women in other countries do. You may be surprised by how effective some of these centuries-old, anti-aging routines can be.
In addition to dressing beautifully, French women also tend to have beautiful skin and hair. It’s no accident. Starting around age 10, girls are taught to care for their skin religiously by cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen. Frenchwomen get or give themselves facials at least once a month, and they get their hair cut every 3 to 4 weeks.
What they don’t do is wear a lot of makeup – they prefer the natural look. Because they start early and are so disciplined, many Frenchwomen sail into their twilight years looking decades younger than women the same age from other countries. Those who don’t smoke look even younger.
We’ve all heard how a Mediterranean diet of fish, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and olive oil can reduce disease and promote long life. Not surprisingly, several of those ingredients can also contribute to beautiful skin. Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and vitamins. When applied topically, tomato acid can reduce oil and prevent acne. Have dry skin? Try moisturizing with olive oil. Have dry, cracked heels? Exfoliate with a mixture of olive oil and sea salt. Italian women don’t need expensive creams, just quality ingredients from the grocer. A favorite Italian facial? A layer of plain yogurt followed by a layer of freshly-squeezed tomato juice. Another? One egg white mixed with a ¼ cup of fresh grapefruit juice. Both facials tighten pores and give an instant glow.
Long before Bollywood, Indian women were known for their beauty. Tumeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger – spices made Indian rich, and Indian woman beautiful. Literally. Their biggest anti-aging secret? Frequent facials made with tumeric. Dark age spots? Fresh ginger rubbed on a clean face for several minutes over several weeks will lighten the spot considerably. Pesky blackheads? An exfoliating mask of freshly ground pepper and plain yogurt will flush out those clogged pores. Pimples? A bit of honey mixed with a bit of cinnamon applied directly to the blemish will make it go away. Like French women, Indian women learned long ago how to get clear, beautiful skin. A flawless complexion makes their dramatic eye makeup that much more arresting.
Japanese women are legendary for their beauty and youthful skin, and they use some of the most exotic ingredients in the world to get it. Rice, seaweed, beans, fruit – sometimes they’re eaten, sometimes they’re ground and applied to the face. White camellia nut oil has been consumed for centuries to hydrate, moisten, and soften the skin. Used topically, it can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars. It can also be used as a hair conditioner. But one of the most controversial Japanese beauty secrets is known as the “Geisha facial,” which comes from Nightingale droppings. The guano is put under ultra violet rays to kill bacteria, then ground into powder and mixed with paste to smooth and lighten the skin. It became popular after being shown on “Oprah” a few years ago, but like many Japanese beauty products, it’s been effectively used for centuries.
So what’s the bottom line?
Success leaves clues. If you want to look great at 40, 50, 60, and beyond, find women who look great at those ages and do what they did. Usually, it’s not because of a single product or procedure, but rather because of decades of constant care. If you’ve been giving your skin TLC for decades, good for you! If not, it’s not too late. Just find a regime that works for you and stick with it. It will pay off handsomely down the road.
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is the writer behind FashionForRealWomen.com, a blog that shows women how to dress well whatever their age, shape, size, or budget.