Italiana in fondo al cuore means "Italian at heart," and since I was a kid, that's how I've always felt. We Americans tend to value work over play, so I've always been fascinated by the passion for leisure that's pervaded Italian culture for so many centuries. From the stunning architecture of their ancient duomi to their colorful gelato flavors to their exuberant flair with fashion, Italians' passion for beautiful things and experiences seems to be in their DNA. That and a love for carbs. No wonder I've always wanted to be Italian.
But as far as international skincare, makeup, and haircare habits go, France and South Korea often steal the show. As a full-fledged Italophile, I thought it was high time we looked into the secret wonders of Italians' beauty routines. To do this, I got in touch with Italian model Mitzi Peirone of MSA Models, who moved to the U.S. from Italy five years ago, as well as Claudia Graziano of popular fashion blog, Human Hanger. They both gladly revealed their best beauty secrets from back home, all of which are utterly fascinating.
"I think that overall the greatest difference between American and Italian beauty is that American women might go for what makes them look good, but Italian women go for what makes them feel good," says Peirone.
Want the feel-good beauty routine of an Italian girl? Keep scrolling for eight skin, makeup, and hair secrets straight from Italy.
1. OLIVE OIL IS A SECRET BEAUTY WEAPON
It's not just a delicious topping for your pizza… Olive oil is truly at the center of Italian life and packs a ton of beauty benefts, like aniti-aging vitamin E and hydrating squalene. Sophia Loren was known for slathering olive oil all over her skin. Peirone says she remembers her mother putting olive oil on the ends of her hair after a long, hot bath to maintain a healthy shine. ("I learned pretty much everything I know about beauty from my mom, Maria," she tells me.) Olive oil also has incredible curative properties. Peirone says she even uses it to cure pink eye.
We're always searching for the "fountain of youth," whether it's in lotions, potions or in-office treatments that claim to turn back the hands of time. Researchers are hard at work trying to figure out the secret to slowing skin aging, and with each report that gets published, they get closer and closer.
One of the latest reports to spark some buzz in the anti-aging arena comes from researchers at the University of Maryland and was published in Scientific Reports this week. Their findings might surprise you: a chemical called methylene blue—it's actually an antioxidant, which makes it sound a lot less scary—that's been used in the medical field for years is now being linked to reducing signs of skin aging like lines and wrinkles by thickening the skin.
In a four-week study conducted on 3-D human skin created from cells of middle-aged subjects, researchers found that the antioxidant "improved skin viability, promoted wound healing, and increased skin hydration and dermis thickness."
Many doctors are excited about these findings and look forward to future science and studies on the subject.
"This is very exciting news!" says Troy, MI, plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD. "Antioxidants have long been known to fight free-radical damage, so antioxidants such as vitamin C are an integral component of any anti-aging skin care regimen. However, not all antioxidants are created equal. If it's true that methylene blue may have more powerful antioxidant properties than other more commonly used antioxidants, then it's possible that this ingredient could be added to topical serums and creams to help slow down the aging process. In surgery we often use methylene blue as a dye or stain, so the use of it in an anti-aging role could be new and exciting. As long as the person doesn't end up looking like a Smurf afterward!"
New York dermatologist Estee Williams, MD, adds, "What's intriguing about this molecule is that it is more than just a scavenger of "bad hombre" free radicals (essentially, the definition of an antioxidant)—it was shown to boost levels of collagen and elastin in the deep dermis, which are essential components of skin, without which, wrinkles and sagging ensue. The study is obviously well done and the authors left no stone unturned. It will be interesting to follow their next steps. There's a lot of promise here and the next step will be to translate these effects in vivo for anti-aging applications, as well as dermatological diseases."
Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, is also impressed with the results of the study. "This is an exciting addition to current anti-aging research," she says. "I envision that methylene blue will be added to various topicals, including lotions, creams and serums in the near future."
Shannon Braslavsky is licensed as an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner in the state of Arkansas. In addition, she is also the owner of Refine Medical Aesthetics which specializes in Botox, Fillers, Peels and most non-surgical injectables.
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