What is Beauty Around the World: 21 Traditions and Ideals

What is Beauty Around the World: 21 Traditions and Ideals



Iran is the rhinoplasty capital of the world, and both men and women embrace the procedure. They see it as a route to ideal beauty, and a way to display their social status. Many will wear the bandages for much longer than needed, simply to display that they’ve received the procedure.

Irani Rhinoplasty



Brides in India will put often a mixture of turmeric, lemon and honey on their skin to appear glowing on their special day.  Many also embrace henna, and wear a kumkum(a small red dot on their forehead) to appear more attractive.




In France, some feel that the ideal woman is very thin, and has a very natural beauty. Laura Mercier told the New York Times that she wonders why American women wear so much makeup. Women in France want to look effortlessly chic, and spend a great amount of money on beauty products to help them do so.




Brazilian women, widely regarded for their incredible beauty, used to embrace the “guitar” shape: having wider hips and backside.  In recent years, however, western ideals have trickled into Brazil, making many women want to be thinner rather than curvy.  With the average weight of a Brazilian woman falling between 110-125 pounds, the culture has become obsessed with perfection, and they are the highest consumer of diet pills in the world.




 Some women in Japan swear by the droppings of the Nightingale: the feces are made into a powder and mixed with soap to make a face wash.  It is said that these “bird poop facials” are what keeps some women looking young.



Known as the Bird Poop Facial in New York and the Geisha Facial in London, this unique treatment stems from Japan and involves drying bird droppings under UV lights then mixing with rice bran and water and applying as a face mask, producing fresh and glowing skin.




This unorthodox anti-aging fad began in Japan and quickly spread to New York. It involves the physical consumption of collagen-rich pig’s feet to banish wrinkles and ensure smooth, youthful skin.

“Collagen helps your body retain moisture,” explains Himi Okajima, the owner of a chain of restaurants specialising in collagen cuisine in Japan. “Your hair and skin will look better, but it’s not just for looking beautiful now. If you begin eating collagen in your thirties, you will look younger in your forties.”




In China, height is seen as a sign of status, and even a prerequisite for success.  As a result, some men and women alike choose to undergo the extremely painful leg-lengthening procedure to add a few inches.

Another ideal for some women in China is to have fair skin.  Women spend a lot of money to purchase skin lighteners.

Patients sit in their beds recovering after having



Touted as the natural and organic alternative to Botox, this £55 face mask contains a bee venom ingredient that promises to immediately lift, tighten and firm facial muscles.

The product, released by Heaven by Deborah Mitchell, won an £100 million contract in China and is endorsed by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.





In England, bull semen is mixed with kateria root (an Iranian plant) and applied to hair.  It is said to benefit and revitalize damaged locks.


It may sound like something from There’s Something About Mary, but Hari’s hairdressers, in Knightsbridge, London, offers clients organically-produced bull’s semen combined with the root of protein-rich plant katera to massage into their hair as part of a deluxe blow-dry. Owner Hari Salem is quick to reassure that “the semen is refrigerated before use and doesn’t smell”. “It will be an ongoing treatment as long as the bulls perform,” he noted.




Many countries in Asia have a high rate of eye lift procedures: some Korean women choose to have this procedure done so that their eyes will appear bigger.  The procedure opens eyes, adds a crease in the eye lid, and makes them look more western.




As in China, pale skin is ideal for many.  It is hard to find beauty products in these countries without whitening agents.




The plastic surgery capital of the world, women in the U.S. strive daily to meet its own ideals by utilizing chemical peels and botox (youthful skin), breast augmentation (the most prominent procedure in the U.S.) and liposuction.



Madonna and Eva Longoria are among those rumoured to be fans of this unusual face cream made from sheep placenta protein extract, otherwise known as living cell therapy. According to EMK, one of the manufacturers to delevop such a treatment, “the placenta is known to improve metabolic processes, accelerate tissue regeneration, and stimulate immunity.”




Some parts of South America feel that snail secretions are good for your skin: from protecting skin against pollution and UV rays to helping skin regenerate.  These secretions are put in a lot of skin products!

A number of different beauty products use snail serum, which also goes by the name of Helix Aspersa Müller Glycoconjugates (a nice easy one to ask for at the beauty counter, then).

An organic, natural ingredient, it is gathered pure from live snails, mostly in laboratories in Chile (products highlight that snails are not harmed in the process). Its powerful biological properties are said to help relieve skin conditions such as acne, as well as reducing wrinkles and improving dull complexions.




Turkey isn’t the only country that acknowledges the beauty benefits of small fish.  Some individuals will sit in public pools full of small fish that will nibble at their skin – exfoliating and removing dead skin cells, and even helping with skin conditions such as psoriasis.

The use of tiny Garra Rufa fish has gained popularity in spas across the UK and the US. Clients can dunk their feet into tanks filled with the toothless carp, who have the thankless task of nibbling away dead skin. However, the technique is currently under investigation with fears it could lead to infection and disease.




The Maori culture in New Zealand embraces facial tattoos on many of its men and women.  They are called “moko” and are a sacred beauty ritual.

Maori woman

Maori woman



Parts of Western Africa go against the Western ideal of thin bodies, and find women to be the most beautiful when overweight, especially if she has stretch marks.  Though it is not as widely practiced anymore, families used to send their daughters to camps while young where they would be fed about 16,000 calories a day to achieve their ideal weight.




 Women in Oman put dried rose petals into boiling water, and rinse their hair with it.  They love the rose scent in their hair.




Whitening products are also popular in the Philippines, but  as we learned doing our own research, some of the ingredients used can seriously damage skin.




It’s all about the collagen.  Only difference? Women in the U.S. tend to inject collagen, while some women in Japan eat foods infused with it. While it’s still unknown whether eating collagen helps, these women say it makes them feel better and younger.



Just like in the U.S., women around the world undergo plastic surgery for their skin on a regular basis: whether it’s for the coloring, wrinkles, or spot removal.




What are your thoughts?