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  • Susan Porter

11 global beauty rituals to try at home Part 1

As a diehard traveler, I have done all sorts of escapist things to try to replicate my beloved globetrotting vibe while stuck at home during Covid. I’ve cooked traditional recipes from around the world, I’ve taken the time to organize my photos from past trips, I’ve read and watched countless transportive books and movies.

If you want to travel to Hawai'i...

...try a hibiscus + salt steam

First things first: for any Hawaiian ritual, the most important thing is to put good energy — i.e. aloha — into everything you do, advises Oʻahu native Kapua Browning, founder and CEO of Honua Hawaiian Skincare. “In Hawaiian culture, going into any tradition or ritual with aloha is really important,” she explains. Alo means “presence” or “share,” and ha means “the breath of life,” so aloha means honoring the idea that we are all connected — because we are all sharing the same breath of life. “Hawaiian products are so special because aloha is infused into their planting and harvesting, so be sure to thank them for their healing powers when you mix them,” Browning advises.

Her instructions for a traditional Hawaiian steam: gather some paʻakai (Hawaiian salt) and a handful of dried hibiscus leaves, and put them in a small wooden bowl that’s special to you. Most health food stores carry dried hibiscus leaves, and you can also order them online. If you don’t have Hawaiian salt, you can also use regular Himalayan sea salt.

Next, boil a pot of water, then pour the water into the wooden bowl over the hibiscus and salt. As soon as it starts to steam, put your face right above the bowl, and cover your head with a towel for about three minutes — all while channeling your aloha spirit and thinking good thoughts.

...or an ‘olena (turmeric) + kukui nut oil face mask

For centuries, Hawaiians have used ‘olena (turmeric) for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and kukui nut oil — a traditional Hawaiian healing oil — to keep their skin soft and fresh. “Ancient Hawaiians originally used the kukui nut oil for sun protection, as they didn’t understand cancer and all of those things,” Browning explains. “But they always knew that using the oil from the kukui nut kept their skin soft and youthful.”

To reap those health benefits yourself: mix a sprinkle of ‘olena and black pepper with two spoonfuls of pure kukui nut oil (you can buy it online). This will create a little paste, Browning explains, which you can then apply to your face and let sit for five to ten minutes. While using your fingers is fine for this, Browning recommends using a brush, instead, to make it feel more special and magical.

Once five to ten minutes have passed, rinse off the paste, towel dry your face, and finish it off with more kukui oil as your moisturizer. Alternatively, you can also use lā'au 'ala (Hawaiian sandalwood) hydrosol spray, which is another ancient Hawaiian healing ingredient that you can buy online or through Honua directly.

If you want to travel to Martinique…

...try a banana body exfoliating scrub

Ripe bananas are basically synonymous with tropics — but they aren’t just for eating. They are also rich in mucilages — a thick and gluey substance produced by plants — which creates a soothing and moisturizing mix, explains Shirley Billott, founder of the Creole-inspired sustainable banana science beauty brand Kadalys.

For the scrub: mash one ripe banana, three cups of sugarcane, and four teaspoons of oil (you can use any oil you like, though Billott recommends her Kadalys Radiance Oil). Rub it all over your body, then rinse. “The banana associated with sugarcane is more rich in vitamins and minerals, creating a perfect natural exfoliator that gently soothes dead skin,” Billott explains.

Store any leftovers in a glass jar with a small amount of freshly-cut lemon for freshness, and use within two days of making.

...or a banana peel face mask

Although the banana itself is most commonly used in beauty treatments, the interior of the peel — the white textured part — is filled with healing properties, too. “Banana peels are known to have healing properties that the banana growers use to disinfect and heal wounds,” Billott explains. “These nutrients can soothe and calm inflamed skin, and reduce acne or psoriasis.”

For the mask: scrape the inside of a banana peel, and mix it with one teaspoon of honey, plus two teaspoons of oil (ideally an olive oil over a sunflower oil, or Kadalys Radiance Oil). To soothe acne specifically, add two teaspoons of probiotic-rich yogurt to the mix. Apply directly to your skin where you are dealing with a breakout or any other inflammation, leave on for a few minutes, then rinse.

If you want to travel to Africa...

...try a Rwandan coffee scrub

“A-Beauty — or African Beauty — is all about celebrating beauty and simplicity, which is what I believe Africa is as a whole,” begins Ghana-based Valerie Obaze, founder and CEO of the African beauty brand R&R Luxury. “Africa as a continent is rich with raw materials and raw ingredients that derive from the Earth here. In our history, we’ve always just used what was available to us, and so, as a brand, we try to modernize the ancient African traditions and ingredients — like shea butter — that have been around for centuries and generations and have never failed.”

Case in point: on a recent trip to Rwanda, Obaze picked up some coffee at a local farm, and decided to make an all-natural body scrub with it. To follow her lead, mix a scoop of fresh Rwandan coffee with a spoonful of coconut oil and shea butter oil. (To support local coffee farmers in Rwanda, try using the same coffee Obaze picked up on her trip, Kivu Noir. Otherwise, any coffee will do.) Then, rub it all over your body and your face, followed by a rinse. “It’s simple, but so delightful,” Obaze explains. “It encapsulates East Africa and West Africa into one quick ritual that doesn’t require a lot of measuring and adding. Plus, the sensory aspect of it — the smell of the coffee and the coconut and the shea blended into one — is really soothing. And then the coffee granules themselves are super exfoliating, and the oils of course moisturize.”

...or a shea butter oil self-massage

In Ghana, Nigeria, and West Africa, babies are massaged with shea butter as a traditional welcome-to-the-world ritual — but Obaze says that the tradition can extend into adults’ lives, too. To work the softening magic of shea butter into your system, massage your entire body with shea butter oil for five minutes, either in the morning, in the evening, or both. While regular shea butter oil from Amazon will work fine for this, R&R Luxury also sells shea butter oils with a couple added ingredients particularly tailored to the time of day: Revive shea oil with invigorating lemongrass for the morning, and Serenity shea oil with soothing lavender, bergamot, and ylang ylang for the evening.

“When you look at the women who work in rural parts of Ghana, West Africa — the home of shea, which comes from the nut of the African shea tree — you may find it hard to believe that you’re looking at women in their 60s and 70s,” says Obaze. “All they use is shea butter and the natural resources that are available to them, and they look so young and their skin looks so fresh.” The lesson? “Sometimes we tend to overcomplicate things when we don’t need to,” she continues. “Shea butter is a traditional ingredient that has been used for centuries to soothe, soften, and protect skin, and often that’s all you need. The beauty of African beauty is the simplicity of it, the naturalness of it, and the rawness of it as well.”

If you’re longing for your next great adventure, let’s talk travel! Join in the upcoming February 2022 tour. You can get in contact with me by clicking below to schedule your over the phone complimentary planning session.

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