A Fascinating Look at What "Self-Care" Means Around the World



At Byrdie HQ, it's our MO to celebrate beauty from every corner of the world. The beauty customs of different cultures are unique and steeped in history, and by learning about them, we're able to expand our own perspectives (not to mention pick up a life-changing new tip or two). That's why we're proclaiming this week Global Beauty Week and paying special homage to women far and wide, from Thailand to Russia and beyond. Each day, we'll honor the beauty practices, trends, and traditions of our sisters around the globe—complex, intriguing, and versatile as they are. Enjoy!

It's hard to ignore that "self-care" is having a proverbial moment in the United States. Due to a combination of stress-inducing phenomena swirling in our culture at the moment (the current political climate not excluded), everything from foot scrubs to blowouts is being touted as a way to treat yourself.

But just as Kim Kardashian West did not invent contouring, the American beauty industry did not invent self-care. As Jessica Crispin, author of Why I'm Not a Feminist: a Feminist Manifesto, told The Muse earlier this year, "The self-care thing [has gotten] so warped and turned into something ridiculous. … It's not self-care if someone else is doing your hair." In other words, as self-care becomes a more popular mainstream trend, we find ourselves losing sight of what mental and physical healing really look like.

To get some perspective, we decided to look beyond America's modern wellness practices to see how other cultures do self-care. We spoke with beauty experts, models, and cultural specialists from 11 different countries and got their insights on the traditions and rituals that the rest of the world uses to maintain mental and physical health. Intrigued? Keep scrolling to learn the self-care practices of Japan, Pakistan, Argentina, and beyond.