Traveling around so frequently means that I need to be extra vigilant about staying healthy, avoiding illnesses, and responding to new environments. As often as possible, I try to learn more about the natural beauty routines, products, and processes used by locals in each area that I travel. Here are some of the gems I’ve picked up along the way:
- Argan Oil – now widely known for its beauty benefits for hair and skin, I fell in love with this oil (used both topically and in cooking) in Morocco. After spending time learning the process of harvesting the oil from a local herbalist, I stocked up. Argan oil is full of essential fatty acids, anti-oxidents, vitamins, and minerals, and acts as a natural moisturizer and strengthener for lips, skin, and hair. How I use it: I put a small amount on my lips before bed each night to smooth out flaky, dry skin. As a weekly hair treatment, I distribute a small amount throughout my hair, tie it up overnight (place a towel on your pillowcase to avoid getting oil in your bedsheets) and wash it out in the morning. Fabulous.
- Aloe Vera – this one wasn’t new to me. We all use it after spending too much time in the sun. But when I was visiting Israel, I was amazed at all of the products and uses that they had for aloe vera, beyond aftersun care. I bought an amazing infusion of aloe vera and dead sea salt but have soon found that the best aloe comes straight from growing it (aloe is very, very easy to grow) myself. You can carefully remove leaves (and baby shoots that you can replant and give away) without hurting the plant. How I use it: After removing a leaf, I strip away the peel and apply the aloe directly to my skin. It makes a great baselayer, before applying a moisturizing oil such as argan or coconut oil. Smaller bits of peel can also be used as a cooling and refreshing eye mask (who needs tea bags?).
- Matcha – Japan, and Asia in general, are widely known for their love of green tea. While matcha tea can be found all over the world (even Starbucks serves matcha tea lattes), the best instance I’ve had of this nutrient rich tea was in the valley of the Kii Mountain range in Japan. Maybe it was because I was staying with monks in one of the 150 Buddhist temples found in the area, in the middle of winter, but the finely powdered, antioxidant rich concoction was always a welcome treat first thing in the chilly morning, and throughout the day. Because matcha is made from high quality tea and the whole leaves are ingested, it’s a much more nutrient dense tea than regular steeped green tea. How I use it: By simply mixing a teaspoon of matcha powder with hot water or hot milk, I have a flavourful cup of tea. However, I’ve also used matcha in baking (matcha muffins, or cookies). Sipping on matcha always brings me back to meditating with the monks, so I also brew myself a cup and use it as a reminder to slow down during a busy day.
- Noni Oil – One of the greatest perks of being a yoga teacher is that I have something to easily share with others, opening doors and opportunities for energy exchange when I travel. I had such an opportunity to share my knowledge, teachings, and love of yoga while visiting the small island of San Andres, Colombia. One of the gifts I received in exchange was a small bottle of noni seed oil. Known for it’s anti-inflammatory and healing properties (used in Southeast Asia to soothe arthritic pain and treat minor skin problems), I was eager to try it out. This small bottle did wonders for my skin. How I use it: At the first sign of any irritation, pimple, or inflammation (including mosquito bites), I simply dab a drop of oil on the area and the unwanted nuisance quickly dissipates (sometimes, in literally minutes).
- Moringa – Although indigenous to NW India, I stumbled upon the growth, use, and benefits of moringa while researching farm crops in Nicaragua. This inconspicuous tree grows like wildfire in many parts of the world that resist sustaining life and has aided many organisations in helping to alleviate starvation and malnutrition in these areas. Commonly known as “the miracle tree” in India, it is believed to treat over 300 ailments and is one of the most nutrient dense foods available. As another source of anti-oxidents, I quickly incorporated this superfood into my daily routine. How I use it: There are many forms of moringa (powder, tea, oil). I add a teaspoon of moringa powder to my smoothies for additional nutrient intake, and have also experimented with it as an ingredient in baking, and ice cream (try my recipes). I use moringa oil as a topical treatment to soothe minor skin irritations such as insect bites, rashes, or patches of dry skin.
Liked this article? Please share! Have some cool travel gems to share? I’d love to hear about other health and wellness “secrets” to explore. Want to learn about more natural products from around the world? Connect with me and watch this space.