Travelling with Nomadic Tribe is a life-changing experience that will allow you to discover remote cultures, with their traditions, their unique customs, their ancient beliefs, their incomparable habitats. When you have the opportunity to live one of our experiences, you will discover that surprisingly many times we have more things in common with other cultures than we think. One of them is beauty care.
Taking care of one’s self has almost always been in human nature. Beauty is a concept that till this day is at the centre of different discussions and studies, proving that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. For centuries Indigenous people have created their cosmetic products using minerals, oils and plants harvested from their local natural resources. Many ingredients in modern-day beauty and makeup products such as jojoba in face moisturiser, Aloe Vera for makeup removers or Yucca for firming facial serums were discovered by them hundreds of years ago.
Nowadays, the Indigenous beauty secrets of ancestors are useful. Thus, Native elders skincare or cosmetic products cannot be missing in our makeup bags. Not only these secrets have been proved and demonstrated to be effective after centuries of use, but these also show the resilience of the populations to work with natural resources and to still take care of themselves.
These secrets are so precious today more than ever. Especially if we consider today’s society, in which all the products we use on our bodies are generally reviewed, suggested and often coming from far away and delivered at our doorstep thanks to the click of a button.
But, what means to take care of oneself in hostile environments like deserts, rainforests and desert islands? Let’s discover together some of the Indigenous beauty secrets from different corners of the world and the reasons behind them!
Berbers - Beauty secrets from North Africa
Women making argan oil in Morocco.
Berber women of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Libya have a memorable tradition of using natural beauty remedies. Here are some examples and beauty advice to keep in mind.
Argan oil for skin and hair beauty Is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the Argan tree, mostly grown in Morocco. Used in both culinary and beauty products, is high in Vitamin E offering restorative and age-defying effects. It’s packed with antioxidants and good for skin, hair and nails.
Rosewater as a high-performance skin toner This beauty secret has been used by Berber women and is almost immediately effective. It can be used as an after-sun product, toner, makeup remover, moisturiser and a balm for eczema.
Savon Beldi and Kessa mitt for hammam ritual This Moroccan soap is the core of a traditional North African hammam ritual. Its exfoliating, nourishing and moisturising properties make it a favourite skin-enhancing beauty product. It has to be paired with a Kessa glove to get the best results.
Kohl: ancient smokey eye makeup It is used as the perfect product to create smoky eyes. Few people know that Kohl is beneficial for the eyes: it cleans the eye surface and stimulates eyelash growth.
Henna for hair and body It’s made out of dried plants that produce various shades of dye. Berber women used to decorate their body with henna during weddings and celebrations. Henna has great health benefits for the hair too, promoting hair growth and maintaining the natural sheen of the hair.
Myanmar - Sandalwood paste, a versatile beauty ingredient.
In Myanmar, indigenous women use a local type of sandalwood bark that’s ground into a white paste, called Thanaka, to wear on their faces to protect their skin from the sun. Apart from its protective action, this product is also used for facial decoration, applying it in several patterns. The paste smells good and more than this; it has a purifying and anti-acne effect too.
Peru - Mineral-infused pink salt is a bathing essential
Peruvian woman on Uros island, Lake Titicaca
In Peru, local markets are full of oils and nuts from the jungle. Between all these products, there’s a kind of local salt belonging to Andean highlands that was first mined by the Incas, used since years by the ancestors because it is considered very beneficial for health. Today women use the salts, which are high in several minerals, as scrubs and for bathing obtaining desirable results. Seeing is believing!
Mongolian nomads - Yogurt beauty secret
Woman milking a reindeer in northern Mongolia
Have you ever thought of yoghurt as a beauty product? In rural Mongolia, where a nomadic way of life still predominates, certain beauty and cultural practices are still intact. Homemade yoghurt is used on the face to help brighten the skin. The yoghurt comes from the milk produced by cows, reindeers and goats that graze on open land, treated and conserved in a natural way and without any pesticides. A more fermented yoghurt is also applied to the skin to treat acne and reduce skin inflammation.
Madagascar - Nature’s SPF
Woman with traditionally painted face, Madagascar
Sakalava and Vezo women wear natural SPF on their faces daily, which is believed to be the secret to their beautiful skin. The paste called Masonjaony is made from the grounded bark of wood with added water, resulting in a thick cream. This mask not only protects from the UV/UVA damages, but it repels mosquitos and works as a natural exfoliate too. The flowery designs are added to embellish the girl’s face, and it is its unique characteristic!
Himbas - Makeup is in the soil
Himba woman grinding red ochre
Himbas are well known for their intricate body embellishments and beauty customs. The most characteristic tradition is the initiation of a woman to the red-painted hair and body once entered into puberty. The red hair can incorporate animal fur or plants, and it becomes more and more elaborate as she grows up. The paste used is called Otjize, which is a type of clay mixed with water, and applied to the hair, body and face, each morning, and it helps to attract attention. The Otjize is also a natural insect repellent and a sun protector.
Sudanese and Somali Indigenous communities - Natural perfume, smelling like the Goddesses
The beauty custom of some of the Sudanese women is called dukhan, which means ‘smoke’ in Arabic, is a particular tradition believed to give the skin a slight tan, get rid of joint problems and arthritis. It consists of burning a few pieces of charcoal, putting them in a small container on the ground, adding some elements of acacia bark and sandalwood (which gives it its particular scent), and finally sitting on a chair or crouching above the pot covered in a blanket. This sort of “tent” allows the smoke to warm up the lower body working its magic. This ritual is performed at least once a week by many married women and goes back thousands of years to.
Similar to this practice is the ‘Uunsi’ done by Somali women. It consists of sugar resin, frankincense and oils added to the coal. The smoke has a very intense perfume which can last for different days on the skin. Furthermore, the Somali housewife usually wears Huruud (turmeric), Qasil and Oils on her face as a mask, which serves as a natural exfoliator and also as a natural “highlighter” for the skin. Henna is common on both hair and hands, with intricate designs. Dates are usually transformed into Ghee and used all over the body, hair and use as a face mask. The Basara Arab women of Chad have harvested themselves the ingredients that are later on transformed into oils or powders and applied to their beautiful hair, to keep them hydrated and shiny.
Yao tribe - The secret to the longest hair on earth
Yao women brush and style long hair
The Yao women have some of the most incredible hair in the word, and it is considered their most prized possession, and the reason why the “Long Hair Village” where they live, is even recognised by the Guinness world book of records as the “world’s longest hair village”. Usually, hair grows up to 2.1 meters (6.8 feet) long, as it symbolises longevity, wealth and good fortune. The shampoo used is fermented rice full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins. Once cooked the rice, they leave it to cool down at room temperature for a day, to ferment it, and then they rinse their hair carefully with it.
NOMADIC TRIBE TEAM
Read more about these cultures in our tribes section.
Cover photo Hmba couple iStock.com/nicolamargaret