Skincare around the world

From smoke baths to pearl powder, skincare is fascinating

East Asia

Here skincare is held in very high regard. To begin with, there’s one natural ingredient that the Chinese and Japanese have always used for skin and haircare - rice. Fermented rice water can be put on your skin directly or rice can be made into a powder and mixed with milk to form a paste that can be used as a face pack.

The skincare in this region is also set apart by the emphasis on application technique of products. Japanese and Korean women spend time and energy in massaging the products onto their skin for best absorption. Japanese women pat the product from their chin to upwards face and Korean women pat their face, often as much as fifty times, for the product to absorb into the skin.
Sheet masks which were made popular by Chizu Saiki have been inspired from the ancient Japanese moisturising practice wherein a kimono was dampened in flower oil or milk and rested on the face for several minutes for absorption.

Some more striking ingredients of Japanese and Chinese skincare are nightingale poop and pearl powder respectively. Nightingale’s poop is rich in guanine, which helps stimulate collagen in our skin and pearl powder is actually rich in calcium. Korean skincare routine has unique ingredients for moisturising, especially during the dry skin of winters - mixing egg yolk with liquor. This can be stored in an airtight container applied once a month.


From Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine to using your grandmother recipes, natural ingredients are the key to skincare in this region. Indian skincare focuses a lot on face masks, also known as ubtan(s) and lep(s). Ubtans are mostly used as exfoliators that help the skin to get rid of dead skin cells and toxins, giving it a healthy glow. They are also used to cleanse the skin. Whereas leps are used to nourish the skin with the right minerals.

A very basic form of ubtan is the one that is made of wheat flour mixed with turmeric, milk and honey. Wheat flour can also be replaced with red lentil (masoor) powder or gram flour(besan). Even leps are made with distinct ingredients like the crushed seeds of java plum (jamun) and the Indian gooseberry (amla). Mixing turmeric with honey and yogurt or lemon juice is a very common lep recipe used in this region.

It's commonly known that the Indian skincare is heavy on turmeric, neem and coconut oil but the skincare practices in this region go deeper than that. Morning saliva is considered to be rich in nutrients and good-bacteria and is applied to the skin to cleanse it. Another ancient practice is to drink water from copper vessels as they add necessary minerals to the water and make it cleaner.  Another ritual consists of cleaning the skin with water that has been cooled overnight under moonbeam.


Abundance of the African land is made evident by the nature of skincare practices that have been practiced in the region for centuries. Use of essential oils is a very major part of these skincare routines. According to an African beauty page, oils can either be used in pure form or in combination.

African beauty regimes are heavy on the usage of Shea butter and it sure works wonders with moisturizing and glow . Shea butter is a popular ingredient in the famous Black soap that has been handmade by African women for centuries, using sweet potato and cocoa leaves. A striking African beauty ritual is prevalent amongst Sudanese women - dukhan, the word means smoke in Arabic and this ritual is literally smoky. A woman disrobes and then sits upon a hole dug in the ground or a chair with a hole in the middle and covers herself with a cloth, making a personal tent. Burning through the hole are the fumes of charcoal covered with acacia and sandalwood. Dukhan leaves the woman with a slight orange tan and the scent of acacia for days and detoxifies the skin.
Milk, sea salt and neem (Azadirachta Indica), tomatoes and avocados are also applied by African women to healthify their skin and fortunately we don’t have to go to Africa everytime we want to extract these.

Latin America

Latin America has so many ingredients for skincare, you can try a new ingredient everyday! The region is rich in vegetation and they make use of it in their skin care ingredients. Jojoba is a kind of shrub, the seeds of which are used to extract Jojoba oil which is highly used in this region. Another natural asset of this region which is the cocoa tree is where the cocoa beans come from. These beans are used to extract cocoa butter which is very beneficial for nourishing the skin to keep it healthy in the longer run. While a lot of people know sunflower oil for cooking, it is a common ingredient in Latin American skincare which can prevent acne, blemishes, scarring and irritation among other things. Yucca, a tropical root vegetable, is famous for the skin benefits of its leaves, for curing sores and inflammation. 

The White clay found in the Amazonian basin of Ecuador is used by women as a face pack for skin tightening. Chilean women apply a face pack made of crushed red grapes which ,obviously, leaves the skin super glowing. Basically tropical fruits for the tropical glow, are the way to go. A really great skincare ingredient used by Brazilian women is actually sea sand. Due to its grainy texture it works as a great exfoliator. 

These skincare practices scattered around the world are brought together by one common string - they're organic and sustainable- The two elements that are crucial to the Gaia & Vie skincare range. 

About the Author
"I am a writer and content creator who has completed her Bachelor's in English Literature, Psychology & Sociology. I am easily fascinated and highly curious about people and culture. I absorb from what's around me and bring out something that can be everywhere." 
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1 comment

  • Damn never knew such organic stuff was so widely used around the world. Makes you look at the ancient civilisations in a new light :)


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