The Authentic Beauty Movement encourages women to express their own authentic beauty and dare to be themselves. Beauty is not a universal value, but rather one that is influenced by culture. In addition, original natural hair textures and other physical features affect which looks are popular and can be achieved effortlessly.
Authentic hair and beauty in India, South Korea and Japan
In most Asian cultures, long hair and bright skin provide the foundation to regional variations of traditional beauty standards. While there are many differences between countries and cultures, a flawless face framed by an abundant mane of dark, healthy, shiny locks is widely considered beautiful. Length and thickness is especially important in countries like India, where long hair is the epitome of femininity.
South Korea’s highly advanced K-Beauty industry influences global trends, but mostly keeps it traditional when it comes to hair. Much like the infamous ten-step beauty regimen, the real beauty secret lies in clean and healthy hair, so using the right products for your hair type is essential.
In Japan, impossibly long hair and unbelievably white skin was considered covetable during the Heian period, which is still influential today. Nevertheless, the current hair trend is shorter – and a lot more colourful. Blunt bobs with straight bangs come in all shades of the rainbow. Layered and asymmetrical, edgy and experimental styles are all popular, especially in street style capital Tokyo.
One thing most Asian women pay attention to is UV protection. Being sun smart doesn’t just save skin from tanning and damage - staying in the shade, wearing a hat or even carrying a parasol is equally beneficial for the hair. Finish off any style with some working hairspray, which contains Benzophenone-4 to help protect against UV rays.
Authentic hair and beauty in Australia
Aussies are also raised to be sun smart, but instead of seeking a pale complexion, their beauty ideal is a safe, glowing tan achieved by an outdoorsy lifestyle coupled with the very best of sun protection. Needless to say, Australian women are also experts on after-sun care. It’s easy for Australian women to be authentic beach beauties when 85% of the population live within 50km of the coast. They only need to take a dip in the ocean to achieve tousled sea salt hair and natural sun-kissed highlights. To keep hair looking healthy, nourishing hair care ranges like Replenish for damaged hair provide the ideal post-beach pampering treatment.
Authentic hair and beauty in Scandinavia
Authentic hair and beauty in ScandinaviaSun or heat isn’t a problem most of the year in Northern Europe, but long, harsh winters, the accompanying cold outside and warm, dry air inside wreak havoc on hair and skin. A diet rich in healthy essential fatty acids, as well as hydrating hair and beauty products come in handy before, during and after a beloved Scandinavian beauty ritual: the sauna. It’s great for a radiant complexion and you can even avail of sauna time as a deep heat hair conditioning session.
Come summer, long hair is essential for the beautiful braided hairstyles that are particularly popular for celebrations. In Midsummer, when the sun (almost) never sets, Swedish women - and sometimes men - wear wildflowers in their loosely braided locks. It’s a look that happens to be on trend currently, but it’s also a timeless celebration of natural hair and beauty.
Authentic hair and beauty in France
Advice manuals on how to do things like French women do them are a dedicated genre. You just can’t help but be curious about the diet, lifestyle, fashion, hair and beauty secrets of les Françaises. In general, it boils down to “less is more” and “try to look like you’re not trying”. This rule of thumb also applies to skincare and hair styling. No-makeup makeup and tousled hair are the signature look of stylish Parisiennes from Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin to Vanessa Paradis and Marion Cotillard. To pull off this look, you need flawless skin and healthy, well-cut hair. Go for a textured cut that allows for natural movement and looks chic even when it’s completely undone. For an invisible touch that makes hair manageable and smooth without looking “done”, try the flawless primer. Spray it on before drying your hair, then simply run your fingers through and you’re ready to go. For an even more effortless undone look, add some shaping cream to your hair, braid it and let it dry naturally overnight.
Authentic hair and beauty in Mexico and Brazil
One of the most effective secrets we should steal from our South American sisters is beauty sleep, aka. the siesta. The practice originated in Spain, but made its way across the ocean. There’s no better way to boost energy levels and give yourself a fresh-faced makeover than by hitting the hay for a short afternoon nap like they do in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico.
Beauty ideals prevalent in Mexico have been influential in North America over the decades, with Latina, Chola and Chicana subcultures travelling seamlessly across borders. These persist today, but are also being redefined thanks to the Xicana movement, which questions archetypes of Latin American beauty. It involves analysing traditional ideas of what makes a woman beautiful and how narrow beauty ideals can be limiting. Nevertheless, many Xicana women strive to be authentic by embracing their heritage, including indigenous elements, and proudly wearing styles that emphasise their voluminous, heavy hair. Their looks often pay tribute to feminist icon Frida Kahlo, who in turn looked to the matriarchal society of Tehuantepec for hair, beauty and fashion inspiration.
American women south of the equator generally appreciate long, wavy and voluminous hair, often streaked with natural-looking highlights. For example, if you want to know which looks are trending on Ipanema Beach, look no further than supermodel Gisele Bündchen and the Brazilian Victoria's Secret Angels that have followed in the footsteps of Adriana Lima. However, Brazil can be humid, so anti-frizz treatments are as important as nourishing shampoo and conditioners. Velaterapia, also known as candle-cutting, gives a whole other meaning to the cliché of fiery Latin American beauty. The technique popularised globally by Brazilian models and their enviable hair involves burning split ends with a candle, giving a trim without losing length. If this seems a little intimidating, stick to a pampering care regime instead.
Authentic hair and beauty in Tanzania and Nigeria
The African continent is home to a multitude of ethnicities, cultures and beauty standards. In many of the hottest parts of Africa, women have traditionally kept their hair short, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. In ancient Egypt, hair removal was part of the beauty routine for men and women alike and many wore wigs instead of their natural hair.
For the Maasai, who live in the Serengeti desert, short hair is a typically female style. While male warriors wear plaits denoting their status, women sport buzzcuts, offset by colourful beaded headdresses and jewellery. The fierce look recently received a contemporary update thanks to box office smash Black Panther, which saw bareheaded female warriors from the fictional kingdom of Wakanda save the day, looking not entirely unlike Maasai women.
In other cultures, braiding, knotting and twisting techniques have gone from traditional to modern and have been exported all over the world. In Nigeria, braiders are particularly inventive, creative and influenced by styles from different tribes and ethnicities, like the shell-adorned braids of the Yoruba, the fanned hair combs of the Igbo and the tall Akaba style which became popular in the 1960s. One advantage of braided styles is that, despite the effort involved in first creating them, once a look is done, it lasts a long time, requiring minimum styling, but maximum care.
Whether her hair is high-maintenance or fuss free, whether she wears it in a traditional style or has an edgy modern look, what makes a woman beautiful is feeling comfortable in her own skin, with a style she loves. Being authentic is beautiful – all over the world!