When I was in college, I worked abroad in France for a summer. On weekends, I’d go to a local pool and read while basking in the sun. And something miraculous happened: I never burned. French sunscreen just worked better than anything I’d found in the U.S. A little research showed that the ingredients allowed in the formulations differ between countries, and what France permitted certainly agreed with my fair skin.
Years later, I’m still a fan of French sunscreen, and there are plenty of other amazing beauty products found internationally. Here’s a handful worth trying.
Australia: Hair Styling Spray
For hair that even a mermaid would envy, Mr. Smith’s Sea Salt Spray delivers beachy waves thanks to three key extract ingredients: sea kelp, bladderwrack and coconut. The salty sea kelp extract soothes and moisturizes, while the antioxidant-rich coconut extract provides an energizing and revitalizing touch. As for the bladderwrack—that’s a type of seaweed—this extract has an innate ability to strengthen hair follicles, creating the thickness and shine that your locks love. The formula is vegan, free of sulfates and parabens, and offers UV protection.
→ For more information, visit mr-smith.com.au.
Squeaky clean skin that’s smooth and supple is a universal desire—leave it to Japan to quench our (skin’s) thirst with Cure’s Natural Aqua Gel. The water-based exfoliator uses rosemary, aloe vera and other ingredients (but not preservatives, fragrance, artificial coloring or alcohol) to lift dead skin cells away. It’s not a big commitment, either, as it’s designed to be used for 30 to 60 seconds twice a week. Plus, the process of massaging in the gel and seeing clumps form is satisfying—and the baby-soft results aren’t so bad either.
→ For more information, visit cureaquagel.com.
For long, lustrous lashes, look no further than IM Cosmetics’ Mascara para Pestañas con Aceite de Mamey. The not-so-secret ingredient is mamey seed oil, which goes a step beyond just defining lashes by helping them to lengthen and strengthen. Light, clump-free, and waterproof, it’s easy to wear and inexpensive, particularly when you purchase it in Mexico.
→ For more information, visit cosmetobellezaim.com.
Namibia: Lip Balm
Using ingredients indigenous to Namibia, a country in southern Africa, Desert Secrets creates products with components you might not be familiar with—but that you’ll definitely want to know about. One such ingredient in the Lip Balm is marula oil from the marula tree, which has been used for generations for its moisturizing properties. From a plant that’s an ancestor of the watermelon comes tsamma melon seed oil, which offers protection from the harsh African sun. And for the scent, the lip balm features the perfume of the Himba women, Namib myrrh, which has an earthy essence. The packaging lives up to its product inside, with a carved Makalani nut serving as a pretty container.
→ For more information, visit desert-secrets.com.
Canada: Bar Soap
When crafting their luxurious bar soaps, Rocky Mountain Soap Co. wanted to throw it back—way back. The Canmore-based company creates their soaps the same way it was done centuries ago, with ingredients you can recognize, like coconut oil, olive oil, mashed fruits, herbs, and essential oils. It’s a time-consuming process—it takes an entire day to make just one batch of soap, and then it must be cured for eight weeks—but the results are worth it. There are tons of scents available, from Fennel & Charcoal for acne-prone skin to Avocado for moisturizing the face to the Peppermint Shave Bar, which reduces nicks and razor burn.
→ For more information, visit rockymountainsoap.com.
Slovenia: Anti-Aging Serum
While the fountain of youth remains elusive, cosmetics companies work to develop their own anti-aging potion in a bottle. One of the latest entries in this market is from Medex in Slovenia, which produces Beesecret Serum. Slovenia has a love affair with beekeeping—consider that in a country of 2 million, 90,000 are beekeepers—so it makes sense that they would find a way to use far more than just the honey. With the help of bee venom, the product is designed to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, stimulating the production of elastin and collagen while nourishing multiple layers of skin. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used bee venom, and now you can see (and feel!) what it’s all about, too.
→ For more information, visit beesecret.net/en.
South Korea: Face Mask
When looking for the next big thing in the beauty industry, many eyes turn to South Korea, where skin care is taken super seriously. Get in on the innovation with the Rubber Masks from Dr. Jart. These two-step masks may look like something that nightmares are made of, but they’re actually a dream that can handle dryness, dullness, dark spots, uneven skin, acne, and other common issues. Just rub the serum on your skin, carefully place the two-piece rubber mask on your face, wait for the mask to do its magic, and take it off and massage in the remaining serum. The masks come in four flavors: Bright Lover, Clear Skin Lover, Firm Lover, and Hydration Lover.
→ For more information, visit us.drjart.com.
Sweden: Salt Scrub
The Saltskrubbs from L:A Bruket are beloved for their ability to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a spa, right from the comfort of your own bathroom. Based on Sweden’s west coast, the company takes its inspiration from the rituals developed to soothe skin from days spent surfing, sailing and sunbathing. With the organic sea salt scrubs, you’ll get exfoliation and moisturization, with essential oils that each have their own benefit. Scents include sage/rosemary/lavender, coriander/black pepper, wild rose, and marjoram/eucalyptus.
→ For more information, visit shop.labruket.se.