3 Ethnic Skincare Hacks I Tried So You Don't Have To

With so many scrubs, treatments, ingredients and advice swirling around the internet about how to properly take care of our skin, sometimes it’s easy to get fed up with modern-day antics and look to old-school methods, instead. But which practices truly stand the test the time, and which should stay right where they were born, in the past? Luckily, I tested a few traditional beauty secrets so you wouldn’t have to. And let me tell you, the results were shocking. 


1. Turmeric Mask


Culture of Origin: South Asian (mainly India).


Smothering turmeric mixtures all over the bride’s (and sometimes groom’s) skin a night or two before the wedding ceremony continues to be a common practice in the Hindu faith. While intended to be a spiritual experience, turmeric is often said to also brighten the skin of the bride to be and reduce dark circles. In addition to radiating properties, turmeric is also supposed to reduce acne and slow facial hair growth.


Price Tag: $3.25

Convenience: The actual turmeric you can find at any grocery store for less than five bucks. Score! But you have to be careful when applying it. If you don’t get your measurements right, the mask can be a little drippy, which is a total no-no because if it gets on your skin, it’s probably going to stain for awhile. Either way, you can’t apply with your hands, either. I just grabbed a decently sized paint brush, but you can also use a face brush you don’t mind getting dirty.


Pros: This stuff seriously brightens your skin, like immediately! I started making turmeric masks a lot (turmeric powder, organic honey, lemon juice and plain greek yogurt) A LOT after spending entire days in the sun. Normally when I tan, my face starts to look super dull, but this left my skin perky, glowy, soft and refreshed. I also put it on my legs because I heard it could remove hair (which it didn’t) and my legs were instantly brightened, too.


Cons: The drip factor, as mentioned above isn’t necessarily a problem, but requires a little more time, preparation and precision. Also, it kind of has a funky smell. But it doesn’t linger when you wash it off, and if you add the honey (which I totally recommend), it masks the turmeric pretty well.


*Note: I didn’t have a problem with this because I have a darker skin tone, but because turmeric has a tendency to stain, fairer skin is probably going to look yellow upon initial wash-off. Don’t panic! It totally comes off, you just might need to wash your face off more than once.


Overall Impression: I didn’t notice an improvements in my acne or facial hair, but for brightening, this stuff is awesome. It’s not going to fix all your problems, but if you’re looking for a mask that’s going to make your skin feel fresh, radiant and soft to the touch, this is it!


2. African Black Soap


Culture of Origin: West Africa (mainly Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Togo).


Typically a mixture of water, plantain skin ashes, cocoa pod powder and palm oil, African black soap was originally created and handcrafted centuries ago by west African women whose job it was to harvest and sell produce. In the past, African black soap was often used by pregnant women to alleviate dry skin and stretch marks. Today, African black soap is used not only on faces, but also for bathing and as hair shampoo. It is said to dry out blemishes, fade acne scars, mitigate eczema and exfoliate the skin.


Price Tag: $3.59-$5.99

Convenience: I didn’t expect it to be so readily available, but you can pick it up at any Target (and Target Express!) for super cheap. At first, it looks like a really small bar for six bucks, but a little bit goes a long way with this product. Because it’s for the face, I wouldn’t treat this like other bar soaps. It is recommended that you keep it in a plastic baggie or sealed container so it doesn’t soften over time.  


Pros: I am not getting paid to say this, okay? This product saved my freaking skin! For weeks now, I’ve been having the worst hormonal acne of my entire life, to the point where I looked in the mirror one day, and felt like a pizza. Then I bought this, and almost all my breakouts were gone within a WEEK! It completely does away with redness and inflammation, dries out your pimples and keeps new breakouts at bay.


Cons: If you have dry or sensitive skin, you have to proceed with caution. This treatment is intense. As you're using it, the initial experience is totally unassuming; it feels like a regular cleanser. But about two minutes later, your face feels super tight, so there is no way you can skip on the moisturizer. In fact, I skipped the lotion and went straight to coconut oil. I know, “Oil on acne-prone skin? Isn’t that contradictory?” But trust me, facial oils works like a charm.


Overall Impression: This is hands down, my new holy grail skin product. If you’re struggling with acne, and you have no idea what to do next: try this out! My results were instantaneous, thrifty and exactly what I was hoping for.  


3. Dead Sea Mud Mask


Culture of Origin: Middle East Asia (mainly Jordan, Israel and Palestine)


The Dead Sea is known as one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world and is oftentimes referred to as one of the first ever “health resorts.” Centuries ago, people all across the Mediterranean started coming to the Dead Sea and rubbing themselves with its mud because they believed it to literally be the fountain of youth. It was densely rich in minerals, tightened skin and had anti-aging properties. Nowadays, Dead Sea mud masks retain their reputation, and are believed to control acne, restore your skin’s natural pH balance, lessen cellulite and reduce fine lines.  


Price Tag: $14.20

Convenience: I’m pretty sure you have to buy it online if you want the real thing, plus shipping and handling which is kind of a womp womp. It’s also a tad more expensive, but a little bit goes a long way with this product as well so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Unlike the turmeric mask, this product comes ready to spread on the face, no mixing or measuring involved. Plus, you get to use your fingers because it’s so thick. I love that!


Pros: It’s this really cool grey color, and feels amazing on the skin. The formula is earthy, but smooth and it glides onto your skin no problem. There’s also this warming effect that happens while you’re waiting to take it off, which feels great! My skin felt super clean afterwards, but still soft and moisturized.


Cons: As it dries, your face gets really stiff, which I kind of enjoy just because I think it’s pretty funny. But you don’t want to crack your mask, so you have to avoid laughing, talking and just people in general.


Overall Impression: I was so excited about this product, but in the end, I didn’t notice any significant changes. Yes, my skin felt great. Yes, I felt like I was being pampered (which is important to me). But I wouldn’t say it fixed any of my problems in a way worth noting. I think this might be something that produces results over time.


So what’s my conclusion? I honestly would recommend all of these products. Some pack more of a punch than others, but they all have their strengths. Take a break from all those commercialized products and respect your elders; they really do know best!