One place where bridal beauty regimens may actually be more involved than the United States? The Middle East, land of perfect, ageless skin and long, luscious hair. While they do, admittedly, have genetics on their side, they also have longstanding beauty rituals that have been passed down from generation to generation. We asked Dubai-based doctor Lamees Hamdan, founder of the new luxury organic skincare line Shiffa, to divulge some of the Middle Eastern secrets that our brides to be can incorporate into their own regimens right now.
1. Double cleanse at night.
"It's my new mantra!" Hamdan says. "With all of the makeup, sunscreen, and pollution we're exposed to, one wash doesn't take it all off. It's so important to have clean skin at night — it really makes a difference as to the radiance of your skin."
2. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.
Whether you do it at home or at a spa, bi-weekly exfoliating sessions will make your skin softer, healthier, and firmer. The scrub itself sloughs off dead skin, while the rubbing action boosts circulation and drains your lymph nodes. Follow up with a rich body lotion.
3. Make your own clay masks.
Clay has a high mineral content, which delivers nutrients into the skin and absorbs dirt and excess oil. For best results, mix dry or powdered clay with water. Rose and white kaolin clays are best for dry skin, while French green clay is great for oily skin. You can even mix the clay with rose water — it's a Middle Eastern skincare essential that stimulates the skin to promote blood flow, restore the skin's pH balance, tighten pores, and regulate sebum production.
4. Switch things up with honey masks.
"Honey is believed to be a popular healer, used both internally and topically," Hamdan says, and recommends applying it to cleansed skin, patting it gently around the face, and leaving it on for 20 minutes. You can add yogurt or turmeric — yogurt promotes cell renewal and turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties to prevent aging and acne.
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5. Oil up your hair.
"In Arabia, from the time children are young, mothers use their own special blend of oil to strengthen and thicken their hair," Hamdan says. "Luscious hair is an important mark of beauty there." Try Shiffa Invigorating Hair Oil, or make your own signature blend with coconut, olive, and almond oils, and Ayurvedic herbs like basil and turmeric. Massage it into your scalp before entering a shower or sauna — the heat and steam will help the oil penetrate.
6. Drink your greens.
"There's a definite link between your skin and the health of your intestines," says Hamdan who recommends drinking green powders daily for just this reason. She loves David Kirsch's Super Charged Greens Blend, which is packed with antioxidants and probiotics to give you clear skin, bright eyes, and improved digestion.
7. Load up on herbal tea.
Teas with ingredients like fennel and aniseed combat water retention, promote relaxation, hydration, and flush away excess toxins. Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Fennel Tea.
8. Eliminate stress.
Easier said than done, right? But this one's a biggie, since Hamdan says stress can wreak havoc on your skin. To chill out, add a drop or two of chamomile and lavender essential oils on your pillow to help you sleep, or consider taking Ashwagandha, an Indian herbal supplement that eases anxiety and insomnia. Weekly massages are also helpful, if you can afford that little pre-wedding indulgence.