Old-World Charm, Modern-Day Beauty
The first stamp on our passport begins with a journey through old-world charm, Baroque architecture, and cosmopolitan fashion capitals. It's a vacation through Belgium for some hearty beer, down the cobbled streets of France for the finest wines, and to the beaches of the Mediterranean for soaking up some sun and olive oil (not at the same time, of course). It's a European holiday that leaves you looking and feeling like a million euros. From the beaches of Monte Carlo to the Russian Kremlin, we'll discover beauty secrets and tips that make these women the envy of many. Our European adventure is one of artistic beauty, indulgent foods, and fashion trends that demand attention. So get ready, get set, and let's go!
European women, known to be some of the most beautiful women in the world, dominate the catwalk and exude confidence with their natural beauty and sense of style. From the smooth, flawless skin of the Nordic beauties to stunning chestnut highlights of the exotic Spaniards, women here use diet as much as natural beauty secrets to gain the upper hand on beauty, as well as gain a sense of well-being.
A Taste of the Region
Variety is the spice of life, and in Europe, the sky's the limit, but processed food is seen as a huge diet no-no. European women look to their diet to play a huge part in their overall beauty. "You are what you eat" is the universal mantra of many European women. Portion control is another way of life for these stunners. Whether you call it the French Paradox (that magical way French women always seem to stay thin despite all the cheese and chocolate) or just good sense, less is more. Listening to your body is how you best take care of your body. Deprivation leads to failure when it comes to dieting, so instead these gals indulge in all their favorite foods in moderation. Europeans say oui or sí to chocolate and cheese, but "no" to second helpings. Their trick is knowing when to stop, and not overindulging. Fresh fruits, vegetables, exotic cheeses, fluffy breads, and meats make up most of Europe's menu. While many countries have a signature dish or cuisine, within one country popular dishes may change regionally. Mussels and beer are favorites of the natives of Brussels, Belgium. Exotic delicacies like sheep testicles are saved for special occasions in regions like Iceland. (I may have to pass on that one!) And fish and chips is a must-have in England.
From the Swiss Alps to the beaches of Monte Carlo, the countries in Europe share a mostly mild climate. With rain and snow seasonally, European climate is cooler than in most other parts of the world. In northeastern Europe, bring your umbrella, because the winters tend to be windy, cold, and gray. Summers are mild, but the sun can hide behind clouds for weeks.
Beauty Secrets of Europe
Europe is one of my favorite places to visit. With countries steeped in history and art, down to the fabulous nightlife and extravagant shopping, it's a must-go destination. I am always struck by how style is visible everywhere. Paris is the beauty capital of the world; Milan corners the fashion market. Natural beauty also makes its mark, as one notices that in certain parts of Europe, many of the women wear little to no makeup at all. Even when keeping the makeup to a minimum, these European beauties still manage to look great (and healthy!) from head to toe.
A Makeup Remover So Sweet
French beauties treat their skin as delicately as a porcelain vase, especially around the eyes. Their secret to removing eye makeup while hydrating and keeping the eye area smooth? Sweet almond oil. That's right, these gals use a dab of sweet almond oil on a pure-cotton ball to remove makeup around this delicate area.
Give Your Feet a Treat
Our feet don't get the constant TLC they deserve, especially in the wintertime. Often neglected, our tootsies are usually left to our pedicurist for all the tough work. It's time to give your feet a treat at home and maintain beautiful-looking toes all year round. Here's a tip from our friends in the Mediterranean, using a traditional staple of many European mealtime dishes--olive oil.
Beautify your feet by dipping them in warm olive oil for a few minutes, and then buff with coarse salt, and rinse. You'll have soft, beautiful feet in no time!
Get Dirty, Girl!
As you clean, get dirty! French women soak up toxins with clay, which absorbs oil and impurities without drying or irritating the skin. It draws out toxins from the skin and improves circulation. The best way to find clay is in powdered form at your local natural grocery store. Mix it with a little water (just enough to form a paste), and then smooth it over your face and body. Let dry, rinse off, and feel the difference!
Lost Baggage? A Good Thing!
Cucumbers are great for reducing puffiness around your eyes . . . it's a trick that's not so tricky. Just slice a few, and lay them on closed eyelids for a few minutes. One new secret I learned from my friends in Germany was to use chamomile tea bags to get the same effect. Just steep the tea bags in hot water for a few minutes, and let them cool. Place each bag over the eye, and relax for a few minutes. Take them off, and voilà! Your puffiness is gone!
Think Mink for Anti-Aging
And you thought that only the rich and famous wore mink! Wrap your skin in luxury with rejuvenating mink oil. This amazing oil is recommended by many European dermatologists to reduce the look of aging skin. In fact, research by Belgium's Health Department has proven that mink oil is the easiest to absorb and the most compatible oil for human skin. It's perfect for tackling fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, as well as blemishes, stretch marks, scars, and irritated skin. Use it as a face moisturizer and makeup setter (a few drops of the mink oil spread evenly over your wet face or mixed with foundation), a nourishing treatment for thinning hair (a quick massage with a few drops), and a nourishing bath treatment (1 to 2 teaspoons in the tub).
Grab the Honey, Honey
Here is some sweet beauty. Polish women apply honey to their faces as an intensive moisturizer. Just a thin layer does the trick. This sweet, golden goo's firming and moisture-retaining properties make it popular with the older ladies as well, while also helping to protect the skin from the damage of UV rays. Smooth it on, then rinse away after a few minutes for softer skin!
Russian women mean business when it comes to keeping their skin healthy looking. Even when their skin is feeling a little blue--black and blue, I mean. They use arnica cream to stimulate white blood cells to fight bacteria around a bruise. The arnica flowers blossom in Russia's Siberian mountains and have tremendous healing power. Although herbal arnica is tough to find, search any natural foods store for topical creams and gels that have arnica as the main ingredient. They do the trick!
Scottish Sea Kelp
Like a Scottish lass, turn to the sea and restore hair's shine with sea kelp. High in vitamins A, B, C, and E, kelp fortifies follicles and adds shine to hair. The hairdresser's shop is full of several shampoos with sea kelp as a main ingredient. Mix 1 tablespoon of kelp powder and 2 cups of warm water, and massage it into your scalp for two minutes. Then rinse away to fortified follicles!
French Flour Formula for Shiny, Silky Hair
This simple flouring technique is all the rage in France, where women are known for their beauty. This easy formula is the key to lustrous, manageable hair. Evidently, flour smoothes the scales of the hair shaft. Magnifique!
Venetian Gold--The Perfect Hair Color
In Venice, the women once were obsessed with dyeing their hair blond with different concoctions (sometimes using the oddest ingredients, like alum and oriental crocus), choosing the hottest moment of the day to sit outside, and letting the sun bleach away the color. They still knew the importance of keeping skin safe from the sun's harmful rays. These lovelies wore a wide-brimmed hat called a solana to protect their faces from the sun while bleaching their hair.
Don't risk your hair's beauty--apply sunscreen on your hair. After all, it needs shielding from the drying summer elements like salt, chlorine, sand, and sun . . . especially if you already have bleached color. Look for sunscreen made specifically for color-treated hair.
Tapped into Beauty
Turn off the tap, and turn instead to thermal water for what your skin needs. French women have started adding thermal water to their skin-care creams and cleansers to help relieve dryness and irritation. This water contains selenium, an anti-inflammatory that gets rid of redness; tap water, on the other hand, can strip away the skin's protective lipids and increase sensitivity.
Perk Up Your Summer
When summertime hits, Parisian women have nothing to worry about when it comes to perky breasts in their bikini tops! Follow the French and splash on cold water for breast-firming benefits. These flirty women use pulsing, ice-cold shower water to boost circulation, which allows their skin to absorb their favorite breast-firming creams more easily. They also believe that hot baths and steam treatments can cause sagging bust muscles--a definite no-no when it comes to hitting the beach!
A Quick Brit Fix for Winter Skin
Wintertime in England can be harsh on the skin. With whipping winds causing chapping on lips, hands, and any other exposed skin, English lasses ask their local chemist for a glycerin fix for their dry skin. My friend Diane says she and her family swear by glycerin to soften up any chapped areas.
Hydrate for Beauty
Scandinavian women know that beautiful skin is just a splash away. These beauties simply drink at least 11/2 liters of pure spring water every day, and begin and end their day with 15 to 20 splashes of ice-cold spring mineral water after cleansing, which is said to encourage the skin's own natural functions. In other words, they can skip spending tons of money on expensive skin-care regimens that exfoliate and rejuvenate. The ice-cold water takes care of that for them! Ice-cold water also helps to reduce puffiness while bringing on a rosy glow.
Spice Up Your Mood
There's nothing like a zesty fragrance to get the heart pumping, the mind going . . . and the mood soaring! Women in Spain know that the trick to elevating their mood starts in the kitchen and ends in the bath. Try enveloping your body at home in this zesty bath, sure to kick up any grumpy day.
Lash Out at Lame Lashes!
I used to work with an exquisite model who had the most amazing lashes. She told me about a little secret she picked up in Romania--castor oil. Placed carefully on the eyelashes, it helps to strengthen and stimulate lash growth. It's also good for hair regeneration. Castor oil can rescue your thin, brittle lashes and locks.
A Carrot a Day Keeps the Acne Away
Hungarian women reach for the carrot to relieve unsightly blemishes and to cleanse oily skin. They dab carrot oil lightly on the offending areas. Women in general have been using carrot oil to treat skin diseases since the sixteenth century. It's rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which nourish new cells.
A Good Witch
In England, girls who suffer from oily skin and breakouts turn to witch hazel for skin therapy. Witch hazel, a natural astringent, is used once a day to dry out breakouts and to reduce oil on the face. Make your own oil-control astringent by mixing 1 part witch hazel and 2 parts rose water.
European Facial--A True Skin Treat
Nothing says beauty like a facial! Sources tell me that it's the second most popular spa treatment after massage therapy. After a facial, you leave the spa feeling like you just stepped out of a glamour magazine. A European facial involves a few basic steps: deep cleansing, skin analysis, steam, exfoliation, massage, and extraction of blackheads. This routine is followed by an application of products (either a mask or moisturizer) targeted to your skin type, whether it's dry, oily, mixed, sensitive, or mature. With all that close attention and special care, your skin will thank you with a healthy glow.
Wake Up Your Feet
Hard day on your feet? Wake up your tired dogs with mint as the British beauties do. The refreshing oils in mint stimulate the circulation and get your toes a-tinglin'. Soak your feet in warm water, then smooth on peppermint oil. Prop up your tootsies on a few pillows, and feel your hard day ebb away. Or mix peppermint oil into unscented body lotion, and give your entire body a minty, refreshing treat!
Get Deeper Color
Brunette beauties in Romania often maintain their naturally deep, luscious hair color by rinsing with an infusion of walnut tree leaves. The concoction is made by steeping the leaves in hot water and then straining them out, and it helps to bring out the hair's dark reflexes. Their blond counterparts choose a rinse of chamomile tea for golden hair shine.
Swedish Massage to the Rescue
A relaxing Swedish massage is all I need to unwind from a day of the crazies. Traditional Swedish massage was developed by a doctor in the 1700s and is based on the theory that by applying pressure and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart, you'll relax the muscles. This practice uses five main strokes to achieve its relaxing and healing effects. Through kneading and friction techniques on the more superficial layers of the muscles (so it's not as painful as those deep tissue massages), you will drift away!
Copyright © 2006 by Shalini Vadhera Shalini Vadhera, celebrity make-up artist, has extensive broadcast and print media experience. She has appeared on The Early Show, Fox News, Entertainment Tonight, and has written articles and given interviews in Glamour, Shape, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Self among others. She has recently launched a make-up and skincare line called Global Goddess.