Italy boasts an impressively developed beauty industry, with a GDP in the cosmetics supply chain of approximately 12 billion euros and approximately 25 universities directly involved in cosmetics research. Italian consumers heavily embrace various beauty-related products, fragrances, and services – including beauty salons, hairdressing, facial makeup, and more. Despite new innovations in these areas, many Italians also continue to respect the traditional beauty secrets handed down from generation to generation. Read on to discover some of the most long standing.
Olive oil for skin and nail care
Italians can consume around 557,000 tons of olive oil in a given year, and they don’t only use it on their food. Olive oil contains high amounts of Vitamin E, which battles ageing, and squalene, which helps moisturise skin. This product can be used on the ends of hair after a bath to keep moisture locked in, but it also makes an excellent cuticle moisturizer. If you cure nail polish with LED lamps or UV lights, then you know that polish and heat can dry out your cuticles. When having a gel manicure, make sure to protect your skin after the polish has dried with an olive- or shea-based cuticle oil. Apply thin layers of polish over your base coat and under a top coat to ensure long lasting shine and to avoid having to remove nail polish (and therefore dry out the skin surrounding your nails) excessively.
The Mediterranean diet for great skin
It is no wonder that Italians are famed for their beautiful skin; they thrive on the Mediterranean diet, which comprises lean proteins, seasonal fruits and vegetables, pulses and nuts, and of course – healthy fats. As stated by beauty guru Leslie Kenton in her book Skin Revolution, the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats is 2:1, but in the modern Western diet, many consume them at a ratio of 22:1. Omega-3 fats have powerful inflammatory properties, which is good news considering that inflammation is one of the major causes of skin ageing. In addition to Omega-3s, try to include Omega-9 fats (which can be sourced in extra-virgin olive oil) and oleic acid (found in avocado oil) in your regular diet.
Soaking in the sun
The media is awash with warnings about the dangers of the sun for skin and while it is true that those living in sunny areas should be vigilant with their sunscreen use and control the times they go out into the sun, the Italian ethos embraces the importance of Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D helps boost the immune system and helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from one’s diet; it therefore plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. The sun also has a positive effect on mood, helping one feel more positive, energetic, and motivated. Studies indicate that the body is most efficient at making this vitamin at noon, but if you live in a very hot, sunny area in Italy, then spend no more than 10 minutes in the direct noon sunlight in the spring and summer; around 30 minutes in the autumn and up to 120 minutes in the winter (bearing in mind that only 10% of the body is exposed in the cooler months).
Italy, like many modern countries with a passion for beauty, is ultra savvy and sophisticated when it comes to beauty products and treatments. However, even younger generations embrace traditional remedies such as olive oil for the nails, skin and hair; the Mediterranean diet owing to its ability to fight the free radicals that cause aging; and the warmth of the sun. An extra tip is to try to avoid stress, which can cause you to adopt unhealthy habits that can interfere with your health, wellness, and beauty.