Exfoliation Practices from ‘Round the World

Around the globe, a beauty practice that might seem totally normal in one place is likely to raise some eyebrows elsewhere. Exfoliation, one of the oldest beauty practices in the book, is no exception. Here’s an inside look at how people from other cultures swipe, scrub, and soak their way to stellar skin.

Finland

There’s nothing like a relaxing sauna session to detox the body and get the circulation going. And in Finland, they take full advantage of the sauna’s effects, by including exfoliation. Step 1—Sit, relax, and soak in the heat. Step 2—Scrub a dub, dub! Step 3—Cleanse.

Once the skin is receptive thanks to the heat and steam, it’s the perfect time to stimulate circulation with a bath brush or “whisk,” which the Finnish traditionally call a Vihta. Historically improvised from the branches of birch trees, the whisk is used to lightly whip the skin’s surface to get the blood flowing. This enhances the benefits of the sauna treatment and encourages the skin to generate new cells.

Once the steam session is over, it’s also common to wash once or even twice, sometimes with a shower mitt, to rid the skin of any toxins or sloughed-off cells. When all is said and done, the skin is left looking plump, rosy, and refreshed.

China

This one is a costly but apparently unparalleled exfoliation method…pearl powder. Yes, it’s literally made with ground up pearls that are used to scrub away the dead cells that rest on top of the skin. Applied dry in its powder form, a quick rub will supposedly result in noteworthy brightening.

Used for both facials and full-body treatments, it’s relied on by many in China to maintain beautiful, clear skin. Though this unique exfoliator may come from inside the rough-shelled oyster, it apparently has the opposite effect.

India

Though it’s become a bit of a buzzworthy ingredient only recently in the U.S., turmeric has been an essential spice for cooking, crafting, and maintaining good health in India for centuries. Ground up from its root form, turmeric becomes a nutrient-packed powerhouse touted for its impressive effects.

It’s commonly used in face masks in India, especially for brides in the days before the big ceremony. Often combined with sunflower oil, honey, yogurt, or water, turmeric can create a paste, that when allowed to dry on the skin for about 10 minutes, leaves behind remarkably radiant skin. However, it can also leave behind a light tint, so don’t be shocked. A touch of sugar scrub should take it right off.

Romania

If you’ve ever been to a California resort, the iconic mud bath is probably familiar to you. But if not, it might be worth adding to your bucket list. Mud baths have been used to restore and rejuvenate the skin throughout history and around the globe. But some locations are more famous than others for their magical mud.

One such place is Lake Techirghiol in Romania. The lake has a high salt content, which bathers praise for its swoon-worthy effects on their skin. The lake’s slippery contents are even referred to as “therapeutic mud.”

This “chemical” exfoliation method is a wet, messy, full body experience, during which you immerse your body in mud. These days, mud baths are offered as a staple at high-end spas everywhere, so it’s not hard to give it a whirl. But if you’re ever in Romania, you know what should be at the top of your list!