Inside Germany's "Less Is More" Approach to Beauty

Updated 03/30/18
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It’s here: 31 days. 31 cities. 31 perspectives. Each day in the month of March, we’re profiling an inspiring woman from across the world and asking her to share her beauty routine, products, and wellness secrets. Consider this your firsthand look into the beauty traditions and cultures of your beauty-obsessed counterparts from Thailand, Nigeria, and more (and don’t forget to check our Instagram for a beauty-themed global takeover each day). Following French transplant and all-around cool-girl Clémence Polès, we have Krystyna Balaban, a Ukraine-born student who currently lives in Heidelberg, Germany.

German Beauty Secrets
Instagram/ @krystyna.ua

Name: Krystyna Balaban

Age: 23

City and country of residence:

I am originally from Ukraine, but I moved to Germany five years ago for my studies.

I have a mixed ethnic background, so even having a happy childhood and lots of friends still made me feel a little bit like an outcast. Whenever I traveled to Europe, I felt more comfortable and more accepted there. So growing up, I always knew I want to live abroad, where cities are filled with different cultures and backgrounds. Now I live in Heidelberg, a small but very famous student town in Germany, and it feels like home.

Your beauty icons:

Olivia Munn, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Alessandra Steinherr

The five skincare products you can’t live without:

My prescription retinoid and azelaic acid, Biore sunscreen ($12), Biologique Recherche P50 Lotion ($101), Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum ($165), Sunday Riley Good Genes ($158), and my caffeine serum ($7) from The Ordinary that puts my hooded Asian eyelid into place.

The five hair products you can’t live without:

Tangle Teezer ($15), salt spray from Lush ($17), Christophe Robin hair scrubs ($19), Moroccanoil conditioner ($25), marula oil from The Ordinary ($10), and Philip B Nordic Wood Shampoo ($39).

The five makeup products you can’t live without:

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64), Bobbi Brown Eye Brightener ($48), Glossier Boy Brow ($16), Lancôme Doll Lashes Mascara ($28) and my EOS lip balms ($3)—I have more than 10 of these!

However, since my skin was transformed, I barely use any foundation or concealer anymore!

German Beauty Secrets
@krystyna.ua

What countries and cultures do you find most inspirational when it comes to beauty, and why?

French beauty is my ultimate inspiration because Parisian girls can pull off that “I just got out of bed, put a lip stain on, and I look like a sexy boss” look. They are very minimalistic in fashion and beauty, but they also take risks and experiment with bold colors and unusual textures. Effortless chic will be always in fashion, and I think we should all observe and learn from Parisian girls.

Japanese beauty because women there take beauty very seriously from a very young age and they know the importance of skincare and sunscreen. Japanese skincare brands focus on ingredients (seaweed, matcha, rice wine, pearl powder) and traditions. They also approach beauty in a more natural and minimalistic way, as French women do. Whenever I think of Japanese beauty, I imagine a beautiful geisha (I was lucky enough to see one with my own eyes in Kyoto) who has porcelain white skin, perfect posture, and shiny strong hair.

The most popular beauty products and brands in your country right now:

I think Kiehl’s, French pharmacy brands, and K-beauty are very popular in Germany. We tend to be a bit slower than the rest of the world in terms of beauty. Sephora just launched last summer here!

In terms of beauty products, I think sheet masks and products based on natural ingredients are very in right now.

The most popular beauty trends in your country right now:

I don’t think German girls follow beauty trends around here, but I see women pay more attention to eyebrows now. Also, ever since The Ordinary launched, it seems like more and more women are getting serious with their skincare routines.

Favorite traditional beauty secret from your country:

Not overdoing it. Here, a lot of focus is on natural beauty brands and holistic and noninvasive approach to beauty. Even dermatologists and other doctors are very conservative with prescription medication here and people here tend to be very cautious with everything new. Germans drink water nonstop; students always carry around huge water bottles everywhere and fill it up over and over in the bathrooms. When you have a cold or a headache, you are offered to drink water as a remedy.

Where you buy beauty products:

Online, it’s Cult Beauty, Deciem, Amazon, and Mußler Beauty.

I always shop in local stores when I travel. If it’s Greece, I’d go for Korres or Apivita. If Paris, then a pharmacy haul and visit of the Biologique Recherche Ambassade.

What does “healthy living” mean to you?

Being active, not having any bad habits, eating healthy, and being able to cope with stress. Lately, I have been dealing with a lot of stress, and now I see how stress can affect your health and your skin

How do you define and practice self-care?

Self-care equals self-love. You should listen to your body and its needs.

I think beauty should be approached as a complex thing: With some good beauty habits, healthy lifestyle, and indulgences, you will look and feel better. Self-care also helps me to stay sane and not fall apart.

I have a few rituals that help me destress: either a masking session after the sauna or a stretching routine in bed before bed or simply lighting up my favorite Diptyque candle.

What’s your favorite way to stay active, and why?

Walking, dancing, swimming. Those are all fun activities and easy to fit into a busy schedule. These are also coincidentally types of physical activity that boost mental health.

Additionally, I do Pilates and DeepWork trainings a few times a week. Bodyweight exercises to me are the most rewarding: You get lean muscle, a strong core, and more flexibility.

What’s your favorite healthy meal?

Avocado toast with salmon and flaxseeds. Or oats cooked with coconut milk and topped with berries, cinnamon, and matcha. I also genuinely enjoy salads and veggies.

What are the most popular wellness trends in your country right now?

I think vegetarian and vegan lifestyles were very “in” over the last few years, and the trend will continue to grow.

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