FRENCH BEAUTY products, drugstore and otherwise, get all the love. Although not as well known, cosmetics and skincare lotions and potions from other countries (Italy, Germany, and South Korea, for example) are worth a look. As I probably have mentioned before, I found Weleda’s Skin Food Ultra-Rich Cream in a Berlin drugstore. Given the thumbs-up by my niece (who’s also a fan of the brand’s sea buckthorn hand cream), I have been happily slathering it on for the past few months. Facial masks from South Korea are so popular you can find them on the shelves of Sephora and Ulta. One of the world’s oldest pharmacies, the Officina Profumo —Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence (with more than 75 branches worldwide) carries products that include a hand moisturizer made of almond paste, an anti-wrinkle eye gel and lotions made of freesia. A couple of these skin care creams (from Weleda and Lumene) are loved for their plant-based formulas and what they don’t or have very little of: chemicals, preservatives and fragrance.
Here are 13 products from all over the map—some I’ve tried, some I haven’t but intend to.
ClOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Israel-based Ahava‘s Mineral Hand Cream (3.4 ounces, $24) uses nutrient-rich Dead Sea water to achieve its soothing and smoothing effects. It’s been a best buddy for my dry hands. Founded by a Swiss scientist in 1921, Weleda‘s mission was to make products from natural ingredients. Its Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream (2.5 ounces, $18.99, Dermstore) moisturizes thirsty skin with vitamin E, organic pansy and calendula flower extract. Hanacure‘s All-in-One-Facial treatment mask from South Korea gets a lot of hype from beauty bloggers and the like for its skin-tightening-and-lifting prowess. I was reluctant to plunk down $110 for a set of four, but the single-use Starter Kit ($29, Violet Grey) has my attention. As does Lumene‘s Nordic C-Glow Boost Essence Serum (1 fluid ounce, $24.99, Target). The Finland-based company sources ingredients like arctic spring water, sea buckthorn, wild cloudberry and lingonberry from the surrounding forests. Anyway, who wouldn’t want to emulate the flawless skin of Finnish women. Santa Maria Novella has been making its refreshing Rose Water (8.4 ounces, $35) for centuries. Calm irritated skin or scent your bath water.
LEFT TO RIGHT: In 1950, a Parisian dermatologist, who specialized in skin diseases, created Lait-Crème Concentré (2.54 ounces, $28, Dermstore). The lightweight cream from Embryolisse gets high marks as a moisturizer and makeup primer. Samantha Banks, owner of D.C.’s Bespoke Studio, introduced me to Leonor Greyl products, using them on my curly but fine hair. Unlike most products, they didn’t make my waves go limp. It’s pricey, but I’m still game to try the brands’s alcohol-and sulfate-free Au Lotus Volumising Mousse (5.1 ounces, $46, Nordstrom). Have you noticed how Hungarian women have such plump, unlined skin? No doubt it’s their genes, but Omorovicza‘s Firming Body Oil ( 3.4 ounces, $75, Neiman Marcus), made from Budapest’s thermal waters, is tempting me as I fight the battle of dry skin. Ingredients like plum almond oil and apricot oil sound much better than Crisco, which some friends have said they used. Covering up bruises, discoloration on legs takes on new urgency in summer. Ireland-based Vita Liberata‘s odorless tanning lotion Instant Body-Blur HD Skin Finish (3.38 ounces,$45, Ulta) is kind of like wearing stockings. It covers imperfections with a natural-looking tint, but it can be washed off. Available in Latte Light for fair-to-medium skin tones; Latte and Mocha for those who want a deeper bronze.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Ellen Garrity of Chevy Chase, Maryland’s, Sloans & Kenyon auction house swears by British brand’s Boots‘ No. 7 Intense Volume Mascara ($7.99, Target). Although navy is not available stateside, she says, “I buy it when I go to London—or beg friends to pick me up a tube or two when they visit the UK; I’ve been using this for almost 20 years.” Creamy Eye Eyeshadow ($34, Neiman Marcus) from Netherlands-born makeup artist’s eponymous brand Ellis Faas doubles as an eye pencil. Its velvety formula comes in 21 very pretty shades including lilac, teal and mint green. Started in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the La Neige brand is a favorite among Asian women. The label’s leave-on Lip Sleeping Mask ($20, Sephora) reportedly makes your lips look smoother and moisturized overnight. I’ve heard good things about Maifanshi Aqua Foundation from Japanese skin-care line Koh Gen Do, such as it leaves skin glowing and minimizes pores. Can it really do that? Can I get a sample? It’s $70 at Violet Grey.