The Beauty Secrets of Ancient Asian Countries
It’s no secret that much of what makes-up (pun intended) the world of beauty these days has its roots deep in the past. For many ladies, the habits and techniques in our daily beauty routines were formed by simply observing our parents when we were little, which only made our mother, aunt and grandmother seem like experts when it came to everything beauty. We can probably all name a beauty tip or two that was shared with us by our mothers and grandmothers.
Here in Asia, we are blessed with a treasure trove of timeless beauty wisdom that has been passed down through the generations. From special plants that give us shiny silky skin, to using pearl to brighten the complexion, these are just some of the mysterious beauty tricks behind some of Asia’s flawless skin. In this week’s newsletter we are going to share with you 5 beauty secrets from around Asia that you definitely want to incorporate in your beauty routine. Last but not least, we would however recommend using our Asian beauty tips with caution and to make a little test to check and ensure that these beauty secrets are suitable for your skin-type before incorporating them totally into your daily routines.
Turmeric, just a culinary spice or something more? Other than being the ingredient that hangs out in your spice cabinet, this bright yellow spice has developed a glowing reputation in skin care.
You’ve probably noticed turmeric skin care recommendations, such as turmeric face mask treatments, popping up in your news feed. So, why the fascination? If you’ve only ever imagined reaching for this spice for your culinary escapades, think again. From fighting inflammation to brightening dark undereye circles, you may be surprised at the benefits this ingredient poses for your skin.
Coming from the ginger family, this spice was used daily in India for at least 6,000 years as a cooking spice, perfume, textile dye, in traditional medicine and yes, for beauty!
For skin, curcumin (the principal chemical compound of Turmeric, the ‘active’ ingredient you might say) inhibits a protein and enzyme needed for the creation of melanin, a skin pigment, and this process helps prevent dark spots. As a natural antioxidant with antibacterial properties, it can decrease UV damage and also helps neutralize free-radical damage that could lead to premature aging in skin. It also aids in stimulating new cell growth to reveal youthful-looking skin. And if you’re concerned with dark eye circles after burning the midnight oil, well turmeric’s got your back. When applied to skin, turmeric visibly brightens under eyes and reduces any puffiness.
Smooth tanned skin, shining silky hair, radiant smile — Thai women are masters of this glowing natural look. They have often been admired for their unique beauty and glowing complexions. With their love of makeup, they also highly appreciate natural beauty secrets, and know how to make good use of traditional recipes. And as with all the best recipes, the traditional Thai beauty recipes all come directly from nature.
Tamarind, a sweet, sour, tangy and tart fruit, not only serves as an excellent cooking ingredient, but it is also packed with health and beauty benefits. Vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals like potassium and magnesium will rejuvenate your skin and leave it nourished. For Thai brides, in the days leading up to the wedding, brides will typically use the tamarind pulp to scrub the skin to get the perfect smooth silky glowing skin in time for the wedding.
It is impossible to say, yet clues remain, that the use of ‘thanaka’ dates back to stone age times and probably adorned the stone dressing table of Wilma Flintstone. A rouge-colored mineral known as ochre (actually colours range from pale yellow, through the reds to a deep brown) has been discovered finely ground and ready for application inside a 100,000-year-old abalone shell in South Africa. Other archaeological finds suggest that cosmetic pigments were used by pre-human ancestors as long ago as a quarter of a million years. Vanity and the need for beauty is very old indeed.
For thousands of years people in Myanmar have been using thanaka to protect and care for their skin. Thanaka is made from grinding the bark of a Thanaka tree on a flat stone and the resulting powdered bark mixed with water to form a thick, yellow paste that is daubed in artful circles on the cheeks of children, women and men alike, all across Burma. The benefits attributed to the use of thanaka are many, as a sunscreen, an insect repellent and anti-aging. Tests have shown today that thanaka does have strong anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties, so there is some valuable truth in the ancient beliefs of thanaka’s skin-beautifying effects.
Unlike modern cosmetics, thanaka is not meant to be subtle, to hide flaws or accentuate features. It is a sun-bright symbol of health and beauty. It blazes on millions of cheeks and foreheads for all to see. Wizened old farmers in Myanmar slap on thanaka and children can be seen marching off to school with thanaka hastily smeared onto their faces by mothers in the typical morning rush to school.
Pearl or Zhen Zhu (translating as ‘Precious Ball’ in Chinese) has been used for over 2000 years by Chinese women to beautify their skin. It is said that Wu Ze Tian (625 AD – 705 AD), China’s only female emperor, used powdered pearl to maintain her youthful beauty. Even at 65, the age she was when she became Empress of China, she was renowned for her ‘youthful radiance’, but then again for the benefit of your own health, it’s best to never tell an Empress she isn’t looking youthful and gorgeous, or that her bum looks big in that outfit.
Pearl is documented in the most complete and comprehensive book on traditional Chinese medicine, the ‘Materia Medica’. Here it is described as having the ability to promote health both internally and externally. Primarily the use of pearl has been to slow the signs of aging and to achieve bright, glowing and almost pearl coloured skin. Pearl is still widely used in China, and other countries in Asia, today. Used in a powdered form, it is both ingested and used as a paste topically on the skin. Made as a mask mixed with egg white, milk and honey, or used as a night cream with a little of the powder mixed in with the preferred serum, oil or cream of choice. Modern science has validated many of ancient China’s claims in finding that pearl does in fact contain at least 30 trace minerals along with its main constituent, calcium, that contribute to healthy skin and promote good health generally. Pearl’s luminescence comes from conchiolin and this protein hydrates and repairs skin cells, giving skin a healthy glow. Compounds within pearl are also anti-inflammatory and are said to support and regenerate collagen to promote firm, youthful skin.
Green Tea, Japan
Now let’s talk about nourishing your beauty from within. Green Tea came to Japan in the 7th century when Japanese monks who had been to China to study Buddhism returned home with their new favourite beverage, green tea, and regaled their colleagues and townsfolk of the wonderful healing properties of this strange brew. In the following centuries, drinking green tea became a staple for Japanese monks who believed it enhanced their meditation practice, and their overall health generally.
Today, science has supported green tea’s long held reputation for promoting good health and for its anti-aging properties by discovering its high levels of antioxidants. Green tea’s claimed health benefits also include detoxing, anti-inflammatory, and good for reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol. While these impressive green tea health benefits can be enjoyed by simply drinking it, many cosmetics houses today offer a range of products that are used topically and contain green tea. From masks, to cleansers, skin toners to scrubs, the beauty market has got you covered…quite literally.