The beauty business is an international industry worth billions, but it’s not just product innovation that drives the market. These days, beauty vloggers and Instagrammers mean trends from faraway places are more influential and accessible than ever. Whether it’s the Korean love of luminous skin or the Japanese love of sheet masks, other parts of the world are a rich source of beauty inspiration.
‘There’s a growing trend for looks that are more individual, and for make-up that works with your skin, instead of masking it; what French and Korean women have been doing for years,’ says make-up artist and beauty expert Carly Hobbs, author of Supermodel Tips: Runway Secrets From The World’s Top Models (Ebury Press, £8.99). ‘Now you can choose the best products from all over the world and get them online, whether that’s Moroccan nut oils or Australian sunscreens.’ We’ve done the hard work for you and picked the best make-up styles and skincare tips from around the globe that’ll work for us Brits.
Korea’s game-changing makeup looks
When it comes to product innovation, Korean beauty (or K-beauty) leads the world. In Korea, it’s about achieving ‘Gwang’ (a fresh, dewy glow) via great skincare. ‘Korean women often double or triple cleanse,’ says make-up artist Carly Hobbs. ‘They might start with a gentle powdered exfoliator; follow with a foaming or cream cleanser; and finish with micellar water to remove all grime.’
Korean brands were the first to develop the multi-tasking BB and CC creams, that let real skin shine through. Eye make-up is subtle, too – neutral shades with a bit of shimmer and a little liner along the upper waterline to make lashes look thicker, with a touch of mascara on the upper lashes. Blush is creamy, in peach, barely there tones, to enhance ‘Gwang’. And lip colour is applied sparingly, so it looks more like a stain.
Morocco’s natural approach to beauty
Argan oil is the hero product in Morocco and defines its natural approach to beauty. Super-nourishing, it’s now a key ingredient in high street products, from moisturisers to shampoos. ‘It locks in moisture, and is packed with skin-friendly nutrients including vitamin E,’ explains Hobbs. ‘Use it straight after a shower to trap in moisture and leave skin silky-smooth. It works wonders on dry, damaged locks – apply to wet hair, wrap in a warm towel and relax for half an hour. Use a couple of drops before blow-drying to protect hair from heat, and smoothe a little on afterwards to nourish the ends.’
Steam cleansing in a hammam is also part of Moroccan culture. ‘It opens pores, makes you sweat and pushes out dirt, thus preventing spots,’ says skin expert Dr David Jack (drdavidjack.com). Add a nutrient-rich mud mask to the ritual, plus exfoliation, and your skin will glow.
Japan: flawless complexions
The number one beauty goal in Japan is flawless, porcelain skin, which means a diligent skincare regime, a daily SPF and perfect foundation. Sheet masks are Japan’s top at-home skin treatment. In fact, Japanese women buy them in bulk as they’re such an important part of their daily routine. These thin fabric masks are soaked in a serum with ingredients that perform specific roles, such as anti-ageing or brightening.
‘And it’s the weight of this on your face that gently pushes the ingredients into your skin. The sheet also slows down the evaporation of serum, allowing your skin to absorb more of it,’ explains Hobbs. ‘When you take off the mask, after about 15 minutes, you massage in the excess product, leaving your skin hydrated and plumped up. There’s no need to moisturise afterwards, but you still need to use an SPF or a BB to protect against sun damage.’
Australia: leading the way in suncare
It has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and, unlike in many other countries where sunscreens are considered cosmetics, in Australia they’re regulated as medicines and a SPF50+ is the norm. ‘Australia was ahead of the curve in sun protection advice because they had such a problem with melanoma and other types of skin cancer,’ says Dr Jack. ‘Most people still don’t apply enough sunscreen and don’t apply it often enough, so follow the Australian advice before going out in the sun: go for SPF50 and make sure you use enough (about two tablespoons to cover an adult body), apply it 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every two hours. Remember to check the expiry dates on products and replace them every year.’
France: barely-there make up and ‘pharmacie’ skincare
French girl beauty is back in vogue, with its emphasis on fresh skin and minimal make-up. Keeping skin looking as natural as possible means you can emphasise your eyes and lips, without looking overdone. ‘For eyes, go for graphic, defined liner with strong slicks of mascara for a full yet fluttery finish,’ says Hobbs. ‘Team with nude lips or a statement red. It’s an elegant look that never dates.’ And ‘pharmacie beauty is key,’ says Hobbs of the French practice of buying products in pharmacies as opposed to at the beauty counter. Two ‘pharmacie’ must-haves are micellar water and face mists. ‘Micelles are tiny oil molecules suspended in soft water that lift dirt and oil, rather than swiping it, without drying out skin,’ says Hobbs. ‘Mists are perfect for hydrating skin throughout the day, setting make-up, cooling a flushed complexion and giving you a dewy freshness.’