Beauty Around The World: The Middle East

     As a kid I had neighbours from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and I was always fascinated at how beautiful and well-groomed the women were, with their gorgeous hair and lashes, amazing skin and beautiful outfits. So I always perk up my ears when I hear about the beauty routines of women from the Levant. Amalia from Amalias Log has been living in the Middle East for quite a while, and today she will share with you all the beauty tips that she has picked up from the local women. Enjoy!

   Can I tell you a secret today? There is more to the Middle East than the sounds of bombs and war. I have been there, and I can tell you for a fact that there are beauty secrets that are the basis to a lot of today’s modern products. Cleopatra and her famous goat milk bath, started from here after all.

Here I’m going to share the tips and secrets I learnt, and how they work:
* In most of the Arab Gulf countries, ladies apply castor oil on their eyelashes with a cotton pad. The results are strong long lashes that rarely fall down.

* Also in the Arab Gulf, woman usually gently heat oil (Castor again, but olive oil is extremely popular, and so is coconut oil of late), then add rosemary and mint to the mix. They then apply this to the hair, wrap it around or use a shower cap. They then wash it off a few hours later to reveal shiny lustrous hair. I have seen some people use dish washing soap*  to remove the oil when stuck. But I do not recommend that at all. Applying the shampoo straight onto dry hair will help remove the oil faster. Oil on hair goes a long way and you may need no more than a table-spoon or two. Mint and rosemary stimulate hair growth but boosting the circulation near the scalp. I think adding rosemary and peppermint essential oil, just a drop or two each, would give and even more potent mix.

* Aleppo Soap, is no longer a middle eastern secret, (and sadly, not that easily available any more either) but worth listing here, as people there use it not only as a shower and hair washing soap, but apply it to their face and leave it for ten minutes or so, for a wonderful cleansing mask, thanks to its high laurel oil content.

* Woman of the Levant have long known how taking fenugreek would boost milk production for breast feeding. But did you know that applying fenugreek extract straight on your breasts and massaging each breast in an outer to inner movement, will increase your breast size by one whole cup size within six months to a year? The reason for this is that fenugreek increases the progesterone levels in the body… a hormone vital for breast enhancement, among many other things.

* The benefits of a Moroccan bath to glowing skin, are almost second to none. The real secrets to this are two items. “Beldi soap” a soap paste, made from the whole olive and potassium hydroxide. And a kissa, or a bath mitt. To repeat the process at home, simply do this:
    Turn the hot water on, and into any basin, but don’t use it, we just want to fill the bathroom with steam. Sit in the steam. When your skin is damp enough, but not wet, apply the soap paste all over. Now sit in the steam for a further ten minutes or so. In summary the soap paste, is acting as an enzyme peel, softening the skin, as it preps for a thorough exfoliation. Next, take your DRY kissa mitt, and start sloughing away the dead skin in a circular motion. Preferably do this in the bath tub. Once you're done, if you want simply use your normal shower gel or soap, and take a quick shower. Or wash the dead skin off with water, then apply a body mask made of rhassoul clay powder (also easily found online) and yogurt. Wait ten minutes, and wash this off well. Moisturize as you please, or just simply enjoy your now softer, lighter super cleaner skin!

* Another little trick I found was using alum crystals. Alum crystals are usually found in spice shops, or next to spices on a spice rack, however they are not used in cooking! Simply take the crystal, and either dissolve it in ethyl alcohol**, or use the crystal itself after rounding its edges, and apply it to your under arms. You may need to this for 5-10 minutes. But the result is the absence of body odour even of skin that has been sweating so badly! People who live in really hot weather most of the year do know these tricks!

* And finally petrol. This is not a ‘crude’ joke, pun intended. But the scare from petroleum jelly products of the past few years is no more than a marketing gimmick. The way it is used in beauty products, has been safe for centuries and still is today. Vaseline is ‘big’ in the middle east, and is the cliché go to product for moisturized lips. But did you know applying ichthammol ointment onto some gauze and then applying that onto any painful spot, will draw the pus out, and cause it to heal within 3 to 7 days? Simply apply it at night before going to bed, place a band-aid to be extra secure. Then the next morning remove it to see how the most potent products are usually cheaply available at the local chemist, not the posh department store. Repeat the process every night till you get rid of it!
   And there you go, now you know how these ladies, who have to tolerate harsh weather and at times living condition, manage to keep their skin glowing, and looking as if they have never seen a stressful day of their lives.

* If you can't get the oil off, try using conditioner -- that really works!

** I have had success dissolving it in just water and using that as a spray.
And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. - See more at:
And if you're interested in participating in the Beauty Around The World Series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com. - See more at:

For more beauty inspirations from all over the globe, check out the Beauty Around The World Series. And if you're interested in writing a guest post for the series, drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com.

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