Gisele Bündchen, Shakira, Sofia Vergara, Alessandra Ambrosio, Izabel Goulart—all seemingly unicorns, but something else they share is that they're all from South America. We're not sure what it is about the women who hail from the continent—the weather? the food? the culture?—but one thing's for sure: Something's in the water in South America.
In hopes of garnering even an ounce of the intel these women know about looking gorgeous on a daily basis, we took a trip to seven different countries within the continent (from the comfort of our computers) and researched their best beauty secrets. The results? Thankfully (and surprisingly) home-grown ingredients and natural remedies are key. Keep scrolling to read what we discovered.
The Amazonian basin is 75% clay, so it's no wonder its inhabitants turn to the ingredient for a wide variety of needs including their skin woes. However, instead of the usual red clay you may be thinking of, Ecuadorian natives swear by the white variety. This cult favorite mask from Aztec Secret ($8) will do the trick.
A recent study found that maqui berries, a fruit native to Chile and Argentina, is much higher in antioxidants than strawberries and blackberries. If you're looking to get your own super-antioxidant fix (but aren't traveling to Chile anytime soon), try purchasing some maqui powder ($20).
"Argentine women are traumatized by body hair, so we consume a lot of hair removal products, from wax and razors to different treatments for lasting effects," Sol Garcia told Makeup.com. She explains that Argentine women prefer to do their hair removal at home; if you'd like to give it a go yourself, try this bikini and body wax kit from Completely Bare ($13).
"Brazilian women always keep feet soft and smooth by exfoliating and moisturizing, wearing cute shoes, and getting foot massages from someone special as often as possible," Camila Pierotti of Sol de Janeiro told us. Try the brand's Samba 2-Step Foot Fetish Care ($27), which includes a smoothing board and slip-free foot lotion.
"I grew up on the coast [of Colombia], so there was often a lot of exposed skin, so I learned early to make sure to care for the skin on my body—not just on my face. My grandmother taught me an incredible recipe for a DIY body mask that I still use before big events: Make a thick paste of ground oatmeal, honey, a bit of milk, some lemon juice, ground flour, rose water, and pink clay; apply all over; and rinse after 15 to 20 minutes. It leaves your skin amazingly soft and glowing," Tata Harper told Byrdie exclusively.
Very similar-tasting to green tea, yerba maté is a hugely popular plant in these Latin countries (and Argentina and Brazil, too). People drink it in the morning like coffee, but it's also a great skincare ingredient for a healthy, glowing complexion. Try Goodal Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam ($20).
Avocados are big in Latin American diets, but they're also popular mashed up and used as a mask or hair treatment. Bring the popular Venezuelan practice into your own home and DIY some masks (then use the leftovers for guac).
Want more global beauty posts? Check out how women in countries across to globe approach skincare.
Fuentes L, Figueroa CR, Valdenegro M, Vinet R. Patagonian berries: healthy potential and the path to becoming functional foods. Foods. 2019;8(8):289. doi:10.3390/foods8080289