Ahh, the DIY Spa: European Beauty Secrets

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If you want to skip spending money on expensive skin-care regimens that may or may not work, take a closer look in your pantry.

Honey, flour and olive oil are just a few common household items that many European women use to enhance their beauty. In her book Passport to Beauty, author Shalini Vadhera reveals some of their secrets.


If you’re looking for hair that is magnifique, reach for the sack of flour. Thought to smooth the scales of the hair shaft, this simple flouring technique is all the rage in France:

Flour Power

• 1/2 cup of white spelt flour
• 1/2 cup of barley flour
• 1 cup of distilled water
• 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
• Shower cap

Sift the flours together in a large bowl. Pour in the water and vinegar, and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into your dry hair, and smooth the paste all over the hair, avoiding the scalp. (While the treatment is not harmful for the scalp, the idea is to saturate individual strands of hair with the paste).

Cover treated hair with a shower cap and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes.

After removing cap, rinse hair thoroughly with cool water. (Hot water will make the flour stick to the hair shafts).

Shampoo as usual, rinsing with cool water.

A few other tips:

– Sweet almond oil is the product of choice for many French women for removing eye makeup while at the same time, hydrating and keeping the eye area smooth.

– To detoxify and improve circulation, use clay to absorb oil and impurities without drying or irritating the skin. Simply mix it with enough water to form a paste, and then smooth it over your face and body. Let it dry and then rinse off. (Clay can be found in powdered form at some health food or natural grocery stores.)


Mink oil is recommended by many European dermatologists to diminish the appearance of aging skin. Research by Belgium’s Health Department has shown that mink oil is the most absorbable and compatible oil for human skin. It is thought to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, stretch marks and scars. Mink oil can be used as a face moisturizer or mixed with foundation to set makeup. It is also used as a nourishing treatment for the bath or to revitalize thinning hair.


Polish women apply a thin layer of honey to their faces as an intensive moisturizer. The firming and moisture-retaining properties of honey make it a popular remedy for aging skin. The honey is applied to the face and allowed to sit for a few minutes before rinsing. The super moist facial treatment also helps to protect skin from damaging rays of the sun.

Polish teens also use honey to soften and plump their lips.


Scandinavian beauties make a habit of drinking at least 1 1/2 liters of pure spring water every day. Morning and bedtime skin-care rituals involve 15 to 20 splashes of ice-cold spring mineral water after cleansing, which is though to encourage the skin’s own natural functions. The ice cold water helps the skin to rejuvenate itself, as well as to reduce puffiness and bring on a rosy glow.


Exfoliate away rough skin the way the Greeks do — by using a body scrub made of olive oil and sugar. The oil loosens layers of dead skin, while the sugar sloughs them off.

Greek Sugar Body Scrub

• 1/4 cup of sugar
• 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix ingredients to form a thick paste. Apply liberally in the shower, and massage in a circular motion.


To reduce stress, try this simple Spanish bath soak:

• 1/4 cup of sesame oil
• 6 cloves
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 bay leaf
• Dash of dark rum

Combine ingredients and allow to steep for one hour in a dark glass bottle. Add three drops to your bath for a lifted mood and conditioned skin.