4 Women on How Cultural Background Shaped the Way They Approach Beauty

Updated 03/08/18
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This feature is dedicated to our #NoChangeNoFuture initiative. Between the Women’s March, Australia voting yes to same-sex marriage, and the #MeToo movement, 2017 taught us to look beyond ourselves and come together as a collective of powerful women who are writing our own history. Join us as we cancel setting one-dimensional personal resolutions this January and commit to being the change we want to see. Because without change, there is no future.

Today is International Women's Day, and at Byrdie, we're celebrating by diving into the cultural backgrounds of four amazing women, and how it's shaped their approach towards beauty. Below, we've got Amanda, Kit, Steph, and Nicole to talk us through their heritage, feelings towards inclusivity, and native beauty secrets. 

Keep reading for their thoughts, and Happy International Women's Day. 

4 Women on How Cultural Background Shaped the Way They Approach Beauty
Courtesy of Amanda Bardas

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

I adopt a holistic approach to beauty. It's not just what I put on my face but also what I put on the inside coupled with lifestyle.

How has your cultural background affected this?

My Greek heritage is all about nature and clean, wholesome food. We derive much of our beauty from olive oil, honey, mastic, saffron, an abundance of natural, wild herbs, goat's milk, and even the elixir of all milks, donkey's milk. Food also plays a major role in beauty in Greek culture. It has to be real, unprocessed and largely pescatarian. It also seems to taste much better. Tomatoes actually burst with flavor. The fruit has extra special sweetness and of course, eating this helps make your skin glow.

How does your culture define beauty?

Our Greek culture defines "beauty" as a combination of natural aesthetic, a thought-provoking mind, and being generous in spirit. It's not measured by cosmetic procedures but by utilizing what nature has bestowed in its best possible form.

Do you feel that modern brands are inclusive when it comes to representing different cultures?

I feel we have made considerable progress in this area. Different cultures are endowed with different skin types and skin tones. Gone are the days of the simple "wash, tone and moisturize". We now have a plethora of serums, botanicals, vitamin infusions, acids, treatments, essential oils and so on. You can practically have something tailor-made to your skin type or skin condition—so women and men today are better placed than they've ever been. Add to that the benefit of online research, and shopping for products specific to your skin type has never been easier—you can easily find the brand or product that suits you best.

What are some cultural beauty practices or rituals you can share?

I take a lot of my beauty practices from my mum. She has this inherent knack of knowing what to use for what and when. She's in her 50's and has skin tone and texture women years younger would kill for. She's my "go-to" guru (well, her and our senior beauty editor Lisa Patulny). She's very big on mitigating cell oxidization, meaning she feeds her skin with active antioxidants and stays away from nasties which cause cell breakdown. Every time mum visits, she’s armed with a few punnets of blueberries.

No matter how late I slump into bed from exhaustion, I never ever go to bed with makeup on. I slather on Egyptian Magic ($16) (made from natural ingredients) to help wash away the day. Right now, I’m using a nourishing saffron serum by Korres ($98) each night on my face and décolletage. Never neglect your neck and décolletage, as they show the worst signs of aging. For the skin on the rest of my body, I exfoliate with a natural olive oil scrub in the shower each night—it keeps my skin super supple (and smells delicious)

4 Women on How Cultural Background Shaped the Way They Approach Beauty
Courtesy of Stephanie Squadrito

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

My approach is pretty minimal and low-fuss. I prioritize skincare but love the confidence boost that comes with makeup.
How has your cultural background affected this?

I feel like my cultural background definitely affected me more when I was younger and I had more influence from my family. Now I definitely have adopted much more Australian ideals of beauty.
How does your culture define beauty?

Beauty in Italy is all about being ultra-feminine. Long hair and bronzed skin are two of the most important criteria. When I was younger I was obsessed with tanning and would spend hours cooking myself in the sun. This definitely came from Southern-Italian culture, where being 'abbronzata' or 'abbronzatissima' is the ultimate goal. I remember comparing tans with my sister and cousins as if it were a real competition. I have also had long hair my entire life. When I was younger I kept it as long as possible, and always wanted it to reach my bum.

When I first cut my hair short (still below shoulder-length) at age 21, my dad was so disappointed, as if my hair defined his image of me!

4 Women on How Cultural Background Shaped the Way They Approach Beauty
Courtesy of Kit Kilroy

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

I’d say that my beauty approach could be best described as "wants to be low maintenance". I try hard to keep my hair and skin healthy so that I feel like I could theoretically go without makeup or doing my hair. While that rarely happens, I do try to err more on the natural side with my beauty looks.

How has your cultural background affected this?

I was born in Colorado and then moved to California. Both states are known for being some of the most active in the country and have a laid-back attitude. I think because of that, people don’t want to look too done up; it just seems impractical.

How does your culture define beauty?

Americans tend to define beauty by the idea of perfection. Everyone wants perfect skin, perfect hair, the perfect body… I think it’s really damaging to a lot of girls’ self-confidence because it’s (obviously) an unattainable goal.

Do you feel that modern brands are inclusive when it comes to representing different cultures?

I think that brands are getting better at it. For example, you can now buy so many Korean skincare products at big beauty shops, whereas that was unheard of years ago. Still, though, you see instances where brands only make colors for lighter skin types. I think we still have a way to go.

What are some cultural beauty practices or rituals you can share?

I can’t think of any specifically American beauty practices that vary hugely from Australian ones. Maybe teeth whitening? While I don’t get my teeth professionally whitened, I sometimes brush them with a baking soda mixture every once in a while since it apparently brightens them.

4 Women on How Cultural Background Shaped the Way They Approach Beauty
Courtesy of Nicole Singh

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

My approach to beauty is easy, quick and natural.

How has your cultural background affected this?

I think my culture has significantly impacted my approach to beauty. Growing up there was a lot of pressure to keep my skin fair and my hair long! But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to embrace my darker shade and let go of what’s expected from my culture.

How does your culture define beauty?

Culture defines beauty significantly. As girls grow up, often mothers instinctively shape how they want their daughters or sons to look – which isn’t always a bad thing! What’s cool about globalization, is that we can learn from each other and choose the characteristics we like about each other.

Do you feel that modern brands are inclusive when it comes to representing different cultures?

I think they are getting better (slowly)! I’m only in my twenties, but I remember being a teen and often getting told that the brand didn’t stock my shade. However, now I can see not only a variation of shades but also diverse models representing them.

What are some cultural beauty practices or rituals you can share?

The only thing I’ve taken away from the Indian culture is threading your eyebrows. I think it gives a much more natural shape, and I can’t believe how effective a piece of string can be for shaping brows.

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