Women around the world have their own natural ingredients and local secrets that they swear by. Who better to shed some light than ELLE editors across the globe? In honor of Earth Day, see why Bulgarians swear by rose oil, Chinese love to wash their faces with rice water, and which detoxifying food ELLE Germany’s beauty editor loves, plus dozens more insider tips to looking (and feeling) naturally beautiful—and celebrating the planet while doing it.
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: Chamomile and Fullers earth clay. I drink [the chamomile] but also use it as face lotion after cleansing and before applying cream. I also use frozen tea bags on my eyes when they are puffy. I make a mask from the Fuller’s earth clay for deep cleaning once every two weeks.
Our country’s best beauty secret: Bulgaria is famous for its Rose valleys and I believe that the best natural products for the skin are the ones that come from the region you are living. Rose water [is our secret] for keeping the face clean and moisturized.
Our healthy diet staple: Yogurt is a typical Bulgarian food—the Bulgaricus lactobacillus bacteria was found in my country a long time ago.
A local tip: The Bulgarian climate is perfect for skin and hair, but pollution in big cities is the greatest problem. When we escape for a week or two, we see the difference!
My go-to natural beauty product: I prefer to mix and match rather than use purely natural products. My favorite is Weleda Wild Rose Oil which I’ve been using for years.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In China, we believe that pearl powder can make our skin look brighter and clear. Also, it is said that the water from cleaning rice can be used to wash your face, because some of the nutrients it contains help resolve the oil and dirt from the skin.
Our healthy diet staple: Vegetables, tremella (an edible white fungus), and edible bird’s nests.
A local tip: In Beijing and Shangai, there’s definitely air pollution. We wear face masks when it’s really bad, and luckily there are more and more skincare products that claim to protect skin from pollution.
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: For an itchy scalp, the best remedy is to wash it with nettles. After gathering nettles from the meadow, boil them in 3-4 liters of water. Once cooled, wash your hair (no need for shampoo).
Our country’s best beauty secret: Dalmatian olive oil. My mother is from a [Croatian] island where olives have been cultivated for centuries, and she believes there isn’t anything that olive oil can’t cure. We use it all over in our beauty regimes—when at the beach, we put it on our skin, face, and hair. After 15 minutes we just jump in the Mediterranean and wash off the residue. Voila! There is no better combination for silky skin and healthy hair than olive oil and sea water.
Our healthy diet staple: Since we live near the Mediterranean Sea it’s easy for us to eat fresh fish. We have lots of markets with organic food and lots of Croatians have gardens where we cultivate almost everything.
Local tip: We don’t have that many problems with the weather. But in every household you will find our favorite panacea balm, an original Croatian cream called Melem. It’s the cure for all kinds of skin ailments.
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Organic herbal teas. Elderflower and stinging nettle herb are both invigorating, while peppermint and Melissa are both comforting.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In Germany, Kneipp treatments—treading in cold water—are very popular. They are good for improving the immune system and activating blood circulation.
Our healthy diet staple: All kinds of local vegetables and fruits. Asparagus season is starting now, and it’s one of my favorite vegetables because of its draining and detoxifying effect.
Local tip: We are very lucky to live in a country where we don’t have an extreme climate or major pollution. I just try to practice outdoor sports in all kinds of weather, and go running three times a week. I never [get] a cold!
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: I love using cucumber slices on my eyes to cool them down. We also have a few brands that sell distilled herbal waters in a spray format—rose water, lavender water—which make lovely face mists.
Our country’s best beauty secret: This is quite Indian—we get sandalwood in powder form. You mix this with any liquid—water, milk, yogurt, or rose water—for a quick cooling mask. It clears out pores and soothes inflamed skin.
Our healthy diet staple: We add more spices to our foods, and they’re good for digestion and keep your metabolism going.
A local tip: The hair oiling ritual is probably one that almost every Indian woman follows, whether she’s from the city or elsewhere. My grandmother used to oil her hair and wash it every day. Of course, that’s a bit much, but I do try and do it once a week. I use a mix of coconut, almond, and olive oils.
My go-to natural beauty ingredients: Essential oils and bath salts made of freeze-dried salts from the Dead Sea. Rose essential oil makes your skin brighter and softer, and also revitalizes a female hormone. Salts have the great effect of inducing perspiration and keeping your body warm. I enjoy a Thalassotherapy bath with plenty of salts. A hot lemon bath also works.
Our country’s best beauty secret: In Japan, we use clay masks for the scalp as well as the face, because it gently absorbs facial dirt.
Our healthy diet staple: Soy products like natto and tofu, which are typical Japanese foods. Soy contains ample amounts of isoflavone, yet it is low calories and rich in protein. Many Japanese foods are also fermented, so they can properly supplement you with enzymes.
A local tip: UV rays are stronger in Japan than in the West, so I protect my skin from dryness and damage throughout the year with UV cut cream and lots of moisturizing.
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Cucumber. I often have a cucumber massage when my skin gets dry. It’s very simple: Slice cucumber thin, and put it on your clean face. It makes the skin so moisturized.
Our country’s best beauty secret: I’ve often used water from washing rice to wash my face or take a bath. Wash the rice until the water turns milky and then drain it out. Wash again, and use the second water [to wash your face or bathe]. It makes skin smoother, and rice is a daily food in Korea so its easy to get and good for the environment.
Our healthy diet staple: Ginseng. In terms of oriental medicine, my physiological body type is “SOEUM,” which means I have a cold body. The ginseng helps keep my body warm. The ginseng helps to keep my body warm. There are many ways to eat ginseng but the best way is eating raw. Ginseng is bitter to the taste and very expensive so I eat a bit by bit. I also eat ginseng with honey like a dipping sauce when I’m feeling low.
A local tip: Fine dust [blows in] from China. Cleansing is very important. I also wipe my face and neck with a cotton pad soaked in toner after deep cleansing.
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Turmeric. It not only has amazing healing properties, but it’s a great beauty product. I’ve discovered this DIY turmeric face mask: Mix flour, turmeric, honey, and milk to make a paste; apply it in a thin layer to your face; let dry for 20 minutes and rinse in the shower.
Our country’s best beauty secrets: We have a beautiful seaside coast that heals the soul, wonderful weather that gives us vitamin D (and a beautiful glow!), and delicious Portuguese red wines from the Alentejo and Douro regions that make us happy!
Our healthy diet staple: The Mediterranean diet: garlic, olive oil, oranges, apples, lots of greens, and the most wonderful fish.
A local tip: We have an old (and healthy) habit to start a meal with a vegetable soup.
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: I use pure shea butter as a body moisturizer in the winter. Frazer Parfum, a local beauty company, sources it from Mali. It is beautiful and natural, extremely moisturizing, and smells of the earth.
Our country’s best beauty secret: We have an outdoor culture due to our beautiful weather, and exercise is very much part of our daily life. A walk or hike through nature helps me feel healthy and active which is very much part of feeling beautiful.
Our healthy diet staple: Seasonal food is the best. Depending on what is available at the time of year, my everyday diet consists of avocado, biltong (air-dried beef), rooibos tea, unsalted nuts, fresh grapes, cape salmon, ostrich fillets, and a variety of green vegetables.
A local tip: Sun damage is high on the list [of climate complaints]—I use potent vitamin C/E serums for anti-oxidant protection followed by a high sunscreen of SPF50 all year long. I also wear SPF on my body in summer and only ever go to the beach from 4pm onwards—with umbrellas and hats!
My go-to natural beauty ingredient: Coconut oil. “Like so many people as of late, I have become addicted,” says Megan. “I use it for my hair and skin and have started oil pulling [for teeth whitening].” “I put it all over my face before bed,” concurs Justine. “I also put it on my arms after exfoliating as I suffer from a mild case of Keratosis Pilaris. I find that it really reduces its appearance.”
Our country’s best beauty secret: It’s not exactly unique to the US, but both editors swear by drinking water as the foundation for any beauty regime.
Our healthy diet staple: “Kale!” says Megan. Justine tries to stick to seasonal produce.
A local tip: Combat that city air. “I think the amount of pore-clogging dirt is unique to NYC,” says Justine. “I try to take off all my makeup when I get home, and use a Dr. Jart pore protector on my T-zone.” Megan agrees: “Living in the city, my skin is exposed to lots of elements, including pollution. This makes it even more dire that I wash my face every night. I use oil to get everything off my face before I cleanse, exfoliate two times a week, and try to get a facial every couple months.”