Celebrate International Women’s Day with beauty from around the world
Argan oil from Morocco
Argan oil, which comes from a Moroccan tree, is packed with vitamin E (a well-proven anti-ager). There is twice as much vitamin E in argan than olive and much more linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid). Here’s the breakdown: palmitic – 12.0%; stearic – 6.0%; oleic – 42.8%; linoleic – 36.8%; linolenic – <0.5%. Use argan oil on its own or above your favorite serum.
Kahina’s argan oil is harvested by Berber women in free-trade cooperatives. The company’s founder, Katharine Phillips L’Heureux, personally sources the oil and gives back 25% of the profits from the sales of Kahina Giving Beauty products to support initiatives to help the Berber women. And good causes can be chic and snazzy too, if the Kahina packaging is anything to go by. I am currently testing Kahina’s relatively new serum and liking it very much (I shall be posting a review soon).
Zinn’s Moroccan Argan Oil ($30 in the TIA shop) stands out from some other pure argan oils with its viscosity and lack of strong scent. Pale gold in color, it spreads easily and has good slip. Tilvee’s Argan Vitality Oil ($35 in the TIA shop) has pleasantly fragrant essential oils and is not greasy. Tilvee also pairs argan with sea buckthorn oil in its Age-Defying Crème ($35 in the TIA shop).
Manuka honey and bee venom from New Zealand
Manuka honey is produced by bees that feed exclusively on the New Zealand manuka bush, also called tea tree. The most striking thing about manuka honey is that it is a proven and powerful antibacterial agent and acne sufferers should make a bee-line for it. Nectar Ease is a combo of manuka honey and bee venom that is made by the New Zealand company Royal Nectar. Camilla (the British Royal) had the world buzzing about bee venom: it contains at least 18 active substances, most of which are peptides, and seems to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Royal Nectar has two great products that firm and hydrate, the Original Face Mask ($59 in the TIA shop) and the Moisturizing Face Lift ($49 in the TIA shop).
Stonecrop from Hungary
Hungarians have long been leaders in innovative skincare with a special emphasis on herbs and other botanicals. A big favorite for anti-aging skincare is stonecrop. Called “biting stonecrop” and, much more interestingly and confusingly, “welcome-home-husband-though-never-so-drunk,” stonecrop is a sedum. The ilike Organic Skin Care line is big on stonecrop as it contains quercetin, a strong antioxidant comparable to resveratrol. You can find stonecrop in ilike’s Stonecrop Whipped Moisturizer ($66 in the TIA shop), which is great for blotchy complexions.
Wine and pine from France
Everyone knows that the French are beautiful, hale and hearty as a result of olive oil and wine (well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it serves to justify my liking for the noble grape). Resveratrol is the component in grapes that has been associated with strong antioxidant powers, but recently flavonoids have been found called proanthocyanidins and they may be even more potent. As well as grapes, they are found in French Maritime Bark and the extract (look out for “pycogenol”) shows up in skincare products as it is believed to strengthen capillaries, repair collagen and help the body’s defenses against the sun’s rays. It can be found in Nutra-Lift’s Rejuvenating Nano Reneu ($39 in the TIA shop).
Red (rooibos) tea from South Africa
Rooibus can be drunk – and indeed is by my South African friends, who swear by its health-giving and soothing powers – but it isn’t actually tea, rather it is a member of the pea family. Researchers have identified 10 flavonoid antioxidants in rooibos. It is in Hugo Young’s Red Tea and Ylang Ylang Shampoo, Tilvee’s Cranberry Balancing Lotion ($31 in the TIA shop) and La Isha’s good enough to drink Gentle Aromatherapy Face Wash ($35 in the TIA shop).
Guarana from Brazil
Forget the Brazilian wax or straightener, there are safer and less painful beauty secrets from Brazil. Guarana is a kind of turbo-charged coffee bean that is made into a popular, energy-giving drink in Brazil. Although it is often taken for weight loss, it is an antioxidant and antibacterial that is finding its way into cosmetics. You can find it in Nutra-Lift’s White Chocolate Body Butter ($24) and SenZen’s Slough It Off facial scrub ($42 in the TIA shop).
Cranberry from America
Although nothing says America like apple pie, most of Europe could lay claim to it. For me, cranberries should be America’s national fruit. For one day a year, it arguably is. But that’s probably the only time most Americans consume cranberries – only 5% of cranberries produced every year are sold fresh to consumers. Some of the rest make it into skincare. As so they should; cranberries are a source of vitamin C, but they really come into their own as an antioxidant due to the high presence of polyphenols. Last Thanksgiving, I paid tribute to the bitter berry with a Five Best affordable beauty products with cranberry.