We all have our sweeping generalizations surrounding the beauty ideals of different countries: Brazilians all have bronzed, hairless skin, French girls are all makeup-free and effortlessly cool. When you think of an Irish woman, what do you picture? Red hair and fair, freckled skin? Quite the contrary: You'll find more red-headed Brits than Irishmen/women (40% compared to the latter's 10%). In the same vein, Irish women consume the most sunless tanner per capita than any other European country (more on that later).
After chatting with Sonia Deasy, Irish inhabitant and founder of skincare brand Pestle & Mortar, we picked up on even more fascinating facts that made us want to dive into the Emerald Isle's beauty space even deeper.
Ahead, take a look at the country's most popular industry treatments and products, native beauty secrets, and much more.
Botox Was Founded in Ireland
No, it wasn't created in Beverly Hills (again, forgive the stereotype). Instead, it was created and is solely produced in Westport, Ireland. Surprisingly, you can't purchase Botox in Westport, but in Northern Ireland specifically, the number of users is increasing 20% every year: About 50% seek the treatment for cosmetic reasons, while the rest employ Botox as a medical treatment for issues like incontinence and teeth-grinding. When we asked Deasy about the Botox phenomenon, she says that dentists hold "clinics" (that book up fast) where women in town will come with their friends to get a treatment.
However, the identities of the injected are to remain close-mouthed among clinic-goers. Mervyn Patterson, MD, of Belfast says women don't want others to know they're doing it: "People here do not like to discuss their Botox openly," he says. "They want an extremely subtle look, which is the best Botox look anyway, but in general, they'd be mortified if anyone thought they'd had it done."
The Sunless Tanning Market Is Huge
"Ireland is the biggest consumer of fake tan per capita in the world," says Deasy. "It is estimated that over 40% of Irish women use fake tan on a regular basis. Irish women love to be tanned and much prefer this look over being fair-skinned." Considering the lack of sun in Ireland, we're not surprised women seek an artificial tan—you always want what you can't have, right?
There's a Uniform Beauty Look
Compared to American women, Irish women don't have as expansive of a beauty wardrobe. Says Deasy, "American beauty is vast. From one state to another, there are many different looks. We live in a small country, so I guess most Irish women have the same look—we prefer a more 'made-up' look."
They Sip Barley Tea
When applied to the skin topically, bioengineered barley made to mimic your skin's epidermal growth factors helps reduce signs of aging. When digested, sprouted and soaked, barley releases several antioxidants and nutrients like selenium for clear, younger-looking skin. Irish women have drunk barley tea for years not just for better skin, but for its anti-inflammatory properties within the body, too.
They Take Seaweed Baths
Since the 20th century, seaweed baths were built in Ireland and were pumped full of fresh sea water and actual seaweed leaves to heal body aches, boost circulation, and soothe the skin.
(You can experience similar benefits at home by washing with Seaweed Bath Co.'s bodywash, which is made with real bladderwrack seaweed and other skin-loving ingredients like green coffee extract and French clay.)
They Give Themselves Oatmeal Facials
Since the 1800s, Irish women have washed their faces with oatmeal and a wet component like buttermilk or rain water. Oatmeal is proven to be moisturizing, cleansing, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory, and it alleviates rashes, dry skin, and irritation.
Next up, check out these Italian beauty secrets.