As part of this month’s theme, Byrdie’s Eye View, we’ll be talking to women the world over to find out what typical beauty routines are like in their countries. Yes, we love French pharmacy buys, and Scandi trends are very much on our radar, but alongside these destinations, we’ll be shining a light on some of the lesser-known beauty cultures—unearthing the beauty ideals, go-to looks and skincare routines in these places too. First up, we’re speaking to Aurelie Ollivry, a London-based beauty PR professional from Mauritius and founder of Soleil Bazaar, a website selling beach baskets and clutches handmade by artisans of Mauritius and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Here, Ollivry reveals everything about Mauritian beauty—from the culture and beauty ideals to the trends and treatments the islanders love.
How would you describe a typical Mauritian beauty look?
I don’t believe there is a typical Mauritian beauty look. Like everywhere else in the world, makeup is a reflection of individual personalities, and just like in any other country, you will find a mix of different beauty looks and styles on the island. That being said, the tendency is a more natural makeup look, mainly due to the weather on the island. It’s hot and humid most of the year, making wearing heavy makeup almost impossible. Plus, having a year-round tan helps a lot.
What beauty tips and tricks are passed to women from grandmother to mother to daughter?
Protecting your skin from the sun or cleansing it after a long hot day. There are many different beauty tips passed on from mother to daughter in all Mauritian families, but the one you will most likely find in Mauritian traditions is the use of coconut oil. It might be a fairly new beauty trend in the West, but coconut oil has been the number one go-to beauty product for many generations of Mauritian women. Used mainly on the hair, we use it as a pre-shampoo treatment to nourish, condition and protect our hair from the drying, damaging effects of the sun. Growing up, I remember it being a Sunday evening ritual with my mum after a day spent playing in the sun and sea.
How does the island’s culture affect beauty ideals?
Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and religions all celebrated by one another. The vast majority of the population is of Indian origin, so South Asian style makeup is the beauty ideal for most Mauritian women who look up to Bollywood actresses and beauty queens such as Priyanka Chopra or Aishwarya Rai.
Has the rise of social media affected beauty ideals and trends on the island?
I think social media has made beauty trends much more accessible for Mauritian women. It has opened everyone’s eyes to the endless possibilities of makeup looks, skincare regimens, and brands. I see more and more Mauritian beauty bloggers popping up on my Instagram and have also recently seen a couple of beauty brand collaborations with local influencers.
What sort of products do women use? Do they tend to be more natural and use ingredients that are easily sourced on the island?
In the past, Mauritian women used more local natural products, but this was simply due to the fact that there was limited access to international brands and quality products. The few that were available on the island were quite pricey.
But now most international beauty brands are available on the island, and online shopping is growing. This has definitely made beauty more of an experience for Mauritians, who seem very open to trying new products and trends. The beauty industry has never been so prolific on the island as it is now.
Do Mauritian women tend to DIY their beauty products?
With brands being so easily accessible, I feel DIY beauty is becoming less popular, which is a shame because the Mauritian vegetation has so much to offer—most beauty secrets are in our backyards! I still DIY beauty treatments with fruits we get from the garden whenever I go back home, like homemade avocado or papaya masks.
My grandmother had a bilimbi tree in her garden (bilimbi is a small acidic fruit that only grows in the southern hemisphere). She taught me to apply the juice of the bilimbi fruit on my pimples to treat them—a real miracle worker that came in handy in my teenage years. Apparently, everybody on the island used to have one of these trees in their garden and would use its fruits and leaves to treat many skin and health conditions. It’s now become a rare tree, but we still have one at home, and I always do this little trick whenever I get a spot when I’m back in Mauritius.
Are there dermatologists or plastic surgeons who work on the island?
There are many great dermatologists on the island, but Mauritians tend to go to dermatologists for medical reasons, not for aesthetic purposes, and there’s only a handful of plastic surgeons. Plastic surgery (including fillers, Botox, etc.) is still very niche on the island, which I feel is quite refreshing.
What does a typical Mauritian beauty routine look like?
I can’t talk for all Mauritian women, but for my friends and family, the daily beauty routine tends to be very simple. Cleanse, moisturize and protect (SPF). Makeup is neutral in the daytime (again, due to the weather conditions) and stronger with a bright lip in the evening.
Which beauty brands are popular in Mauritius right now?
MAC has recently opened a stand-alone store in Mauritius, and it’s proving to be extremely popular.
Do Mauritian women practice self-care (going to spas, getting their hair done, etc.)?
Definitely. We Mauritian ladies love a pamper! Hairdressers and beauticians are very popular on the island, and I feel spas are definitely getting their moment too, with world-class five-star hotels opening their doors to locals by offering special rates for spa days.
Are beauty treatments more affordable in Mauritius?
Beauty treatments are very much a treat, but they’re definitely cheaper than in the UK—especially hairdressers.
Is wellness big on the island?
The incredible weather and nature only make it easier to be outdoors for islanders. Swimming, hiking, jogging on the beach is a way of life. That said, social media is playing a big part in Mauritians getting even more into their wellness, with more gyms, yoga and Pilates studios opening. There are also a couple of vegan restaurants worth a try.
In the UK, there has been a rise in men wearing makeup—are gender stereotypes still defined in Mauritius, or are men more open to beauty?
Gender stereotypes are still very much defined in Mauritius, but the younger generation is breaking boundaries, which makes me very happy and proud. I follow a couple of male Mauritian makeup artists on social media—they do makeup tutorials on themselves and are very talented.
Does your beauty routine change when you’re in London versus Mauritius?
I switch almost everything when it comes to my beauty routine when I go back to Mauritius—I definitely go lighter on skincare and makeup. I switch my cleanser to a less rich one and my day moisturizer to one with higher SPF, but I keep my night cream ultra-nourishing to help my skin repair from sun exposure overnight.
When it comes to makeup, I go very light, hoping my tan will do all the work, but I make sure to pack lots of highlighters and bright lip colors. Bodycare-wise, sun protection is the priority and I switch body creams for a dry oil with a hint of shimmer for a healthy glow.
I also take the opportunity to do lots of DIY natural face masks and scrubs with ingredients I would usually find in my mum’s kitchen and garden to gently hydrate and exfoliate my skin. I nourish my hair with natural coconut oil and argan oil.
When I’m in Mauritius I tend to…
Swap my BlinkBrowBar London Rose Cleansing Balm for Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanse ($55).
I use this night cream in London and Mauritius.
I use Beauty Pie Lipsticks ($25) in bright colors in Mauritius.
To keep shine at bay in Mauritius, I use Cover FX Custom Blot Drops ($21).
I also use the Hourglass Ambient Light Powders ($48).
My favorite sun protection is by Clarins ($36).