Normally when we travel abroad, it’s the unusual confectionery, silly hats and tacky souvenirs that seem to make our way into our suitcases and into the arms of bemused relatives (or is that just me?). But for something to really treasure, next time you visit foreign climes take a look at some of the local beauty products and their unique ingredients that you may find on the pharmacy shelves.
From the Amazon to Azerbaijan, many of the latest must-have beauty launches are packed with hard to find ingredients harvested in far-flung places and it is these exotic wonders that are the most sought after because of their traditional healing and beautifying properties. Here, are some of the best products that use traditional ingredients and which are now in demand all over the world. Perfect for transporting you to your dream destination from the comfort of your bathroom or, indeed, taking away with you.
Moroccan Oil was one of the first brands to catch on to the wonders of argan oil in its hair-care line. Used by the Berber women of Morocco for centuries, the oil is high in anti-oxidants and vitamin E. When the company was launched back in 2007, its original Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment found a cult following among hair professionals and beauty insiders. Strengthening and reconditioning, the non-greasy oil was found to give hair an amazing glossy shine and finish. The brand has since launched a whole range of products for your locks all infused with argan oil – think serums, masks and shine sprays. New this month are the Moroccan Oil Extra Volume Shampoo and Conditioner, both contain Tilicine, which is derived from the buds of the Linden plant and which is said to plump up the hair cuticle.
Italian brand Davines’ Absolute Beautifying Potion is a multi-functioning, ‘wonder’ product that conditions and styles at the same time. Its key ingredient is the Brazilian roucou oil, sourced (by fair trade) from the Amazon, and rich in beta carotene. It is said to stimulate hair growth and has an anti-fizz effect.
Due to launch at the start of 2012 is OSMO’s new Berber Oil range of hair products. The Light Radiance Spray also contains argan oil from Morocco, as well as avocado oil and coconut oil and is a light conditioning treatment as well as doubling up as a finishing shine mist that is packed with vitamins.
Perfect for that indulgent soak in the tub is REN’s latest collaboration with Liberty of London. The REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil what is known as the queen of flower oils – rose otto found in Morocco, Turkey and Egypt, as its main ingredient. It needs over 10,000 rose petals, picked at dawn, to make one bottle of the oil, so it’s no wonder that it is one of the world’s most expensive essential oils (even more expensive than gold). Perfect for sensitive skins, a tiny drop of the oil in your bath will leave your skin hydrated and soft to touch, delicately scented and soothed. Not only will it leave you looking good, it will enhance your bathroom, too, with its Liberty-print designed bottle.
If detoxifying, rather than luxuriating, is more your thing in the bath, then try Thalgo’s Thalassobath with Algae. It contains sea salt and brown algae sourced from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Spend 15 minutes soaking and the marine ingredients work – just as if you were in the sea – to relieve fluid retention, ease tired muscles and rehydrate the body.
Bliss’s Fat Girl Scrub is a brilliant way to start the day. Containing Himalayan pink salt and red algae, the body exfoliator sloughs off dead skin and aids circulation – keeping cellulite at bay. Perfect for knees, thighs, elbows and backs of arms, it gives a cool, refreshing sensation upon application.
The Connock London Comforting Body Wash, meanwhile, has to be one of the most sweet-smelling shower gels I’ve come across. Using Kukui Oil from Hawaii, it cleanses and leaves the skin smooth and gleaming. Kukui oil has been used by Hawaiians for centuries to keep skin soft and smooth. Traditionally newborn babies were bathed in the oil as a means of protection from the sun, winds and salt water. Despite its skin conditioning properties, it has, until recently, been largely unknown in other areas of the world.
Founded by Middle Eastern doctor Lamees Hamdan, the Shiffa range of luxe products hail from Dubai and call on the natural healing wisdom from the region’s ancient cultures. Made from precious combinations of ingredients, each product has its ‘history’ and source details written in a calligraphy script hidden within its hand-crafted packaging. The Soothing Body Oil is a delight to use after your shower or bath. The calming essence uses a blend of frankincense, bergamot and orange to soften skin and give a youthful glow.
Well-known Provence-based L’Occitane’s newest products are limited edition and, instead of their usual France, use Africa as their inspiration. The Shea Butter range of body creams, hand creams and lip balms come decorated in tribal print packaging inspired by the Bogolan cloth, a traditional fabric from West Africa. The range of scents are also derived from three African flowers – the Desert Rose from Morocco, the Egyptian Hibiscus and the Cocoa Flower from the Ivory Coast.
Lighter than a cream, so better suited when travelling to hot climes, is Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Body Serum. It is packed with exotic ingredients such as natural tuberose, ylang ylang and aloe vera. The non-greasy formula transforms dull and dry skin and leaves an uplifting aroma.
Ahava, meanwhile, is known for its utilization of the naturally therapeutic properties of the mud and minerals from Israel’s Dead Sea. The black mud, found along the shores of the Dead Sea, has been found to contain high concentrations of minerals that nourish even the direst of skin. It naturally cleanses and exfoliates the skin, aids lymphatic drainage and relieves muscle pain and stress. The Dermud Intensive Foot Cream is an ultra-rich formula that combats dry and cracked feet leaving them soft and supple.
New Zealand’s Living Nature label was one of the world’s first companies to produce a skin care line without the use of synthetic preservatives or parabens when it started in the late 80s. It is renowned for using the native healing plants of New Zealand that are organic and wild crafted, such as Manuka Honey, used in its Nourishing Hand & Body Cream, a winter skin essential for anyone with dry skin. As a natural humectant Manuka Honey attracts moisture, drawing it in and locking it in place to help hydrate dry skin. The 50ml bottle is the ideal handbag size, perfect for travelling.
Also from New Zealand is the Kiwiherb brand, created by medical herbalist Phil Rasmussen, and which offers a whole variety of natural products sourced from his home country, including Manuka. The Manuka Essential Oil is ideal for travelling and for use on all the family (even babies). The essential oil is derived from sustainably harvested Manuka trees in New Zealand’s North Island. “The Maori people have used Manuka for many years,” he says. “Especially on wounds and skin complaints, and now modern research also confirms the benefits of using this New Zealand essential oil to treat a variety of bacterial and fungal infections.” It’s effective on insect bites, minor abrasions and cuts.
Also hailing from the Antipodes is the Australian label Aesop. Its Moroccan Neroli Shaving Duet for men contains a serum for use during shaving, which minimises irritations. The Post-Shave Lotion hydrates and calms skin afterwards. Neroli, sourced from orange blossom trees found mainly in Morocco is known for its skin toning and antiseptic properties. It has a distinctive fruity smell, which is also commonly used in many fragrances.
Popular Greek beauty brand Korres’s yoghurt products are inspired by the long-lived Greek tradition of applying yoghurt onto sunburned skin. It still remains one of the only brands to use edible yoghurt in a cosmetic formula. The natural lactose, proteins, minerals and vitamins in the Moisturising Cream give a velvety texture and instantly hydrates and relieves dry and sunburned skin.
An exciting new launch this winter is Gazelli, surely one of the first beauty names to originate from Azerbaijan. Created by Dr Hamzayeva and her daughter Jamila, the range aims to scientifically harness active natural ingredients harvested by local communities in their native country. The Triple Youth Ultimate Firming Serum contains an Ancient White Healing Oil found beneath the plains of Naftalan, which is said to repair the skin from within. It is combined with wild pomegranate and Lipoic Acid to firm and tighten the complexion. Check out the charming packaging decorated with black and white ancient drawings of rural life.
Despite it being a new British organic beauty brand, Willow’s Face Oil Serum Liquid Gold contains argan oil and rose hip to plump skin and reduce fine lines. Sourced from the Middle East – argan oil (as well as being a great hair-care ingredient, see above) is packed with vitamin E and is rich in anti-oxidants.
New to the UK from France are A-listers’ favourite super-luxe products from Visoanska. Its Hypnotic Eye Potion (loved by Angelina Jolie and Kate Moss) may be pricy but it is said to miraculously combat dark circles and puffiness as well as illuminating and lifting the eye contour area. Its cocktail of ingredients are sourced from all over the world and include New Zealand fern extract, Swiss Edelwiess and African Baobab.
Most perfumes have a whole range of exotically sourced ingredients, so nothing new there, but there are a few covetable scents that have been created to recreate the very essence of a place. An ideal choice for those wanting a scent that differs from the norm.
Sicilian label Ortigia aims to capture the aromas of its homeland in its unique range of scents which use ingredients found on the island. Just launched are the handy rollerball perfume oils that come in Sicilian Lime, Pomegranate, Orange Blossom and Sandalo.
Staying with Italy are the unique Made in Italy Emotional Olfactive Landscapes. This collection of five Eau de Parfum fragrances aim to recreate a specific time and place in Italy – but not the obvious ones. Each five fragrances are named according to the place and time that its creator wanted to specifically remember – such as Cortina, Jan 28th, 3pm, Hotel Cristallo.
A sailing trip in the Caribbean Islands undertaken by Olivier and Erwin Creed provided the inspiration for their Creed Virgin Island Water. It uses Sicilian White Bergamot and Jamaican Lime, as well as Indian Jasmine and Tonkin Musk to conjure up a heavenly, tropical summer aroma.
Finally, Lisa Hoffman’s Variations fragrances also take inspiration from far-flung places. The choice of five different blends – such as French Clary Sage, Tuscan Fig, Tunisian Neroli, Madagascar Orchid and Japanese Agarwood – span the world in an olfactory fashion. Each fragrance comes contained in four different vials of differing concentration to be used at different times of the day, all beautifully packaged in a leather case.