World Beauty Traditions
The standards of beauty and perceptions of the 'ideal' beauty certainly differ among the various cultures globally, but what we share in common is the quest for healthy, radiant skin and lush tresses. Beauty practices worldwide evolved closely tied to religious events, festivities, and community celebrations and form a significant part of self-care routines to live a healthy and long life. These practices evolved using indigenous ingredients from nature.
It is common for women in India and South Asia to macerate oils like sesame, coconut with fragrant dried herbs, flowers like hibiscus, and seeds like fenugreek. These would then be lovingly massaged and combed through their daughters' hair, nieces, and granddaughters. Rituals like applying turmeric paste on the face and henna on the hands during weddings, festivals bring women together. They bond over shared stories and laughter.
Similarly, Argan oil has been a prized ingredient for treating aging skin, obtaining shiny hair in Morocco. Oils such as Andiroba and Buriti have been used for generations by communities in Brazil to soothe burns, nourish dry, dull skin, and hair damaged by salt, pollution. Homemade kohl using ghee (clarified butter) or castor oil is popular in the middle east and India.
Beauty tools such as those used for facial massages like Gua sha stone and jade rollers originated in China are now gaining attention in the West. These tools were treated as precious possessions and were passed down generations within the family. Rice, crushed jade, and powdered pearls were used in face masks to brighten Japanese women's complexion. A few thousand crushed safflowers made into a paste is one of the early lip colors called Komachi Beni, used by the Japanese to decorate their lips.
Various kinds of butter were used in Africa to help soothe the skin from the harsh sun and wind. Shea butter is one of the best-known nature's gifts from Africa. Floral waters made from millions of fresh flower petals or hydrolats have long been used to soothe and refresh the skin and also for perfumery. Rosewater, especially from the richly fragrant Damascus Rose, is among the famous floral waters used for generations in Iran, Turkey, Morocco.
A calm mind, free of stress, a healthy diet, and regular exercise form a part of a well-rounded beauty regimen. All cultures would agree that external beauty reflects the inner beauty that comes from the joy within us.