Beauty Secrets: 19 Best Kept Hair Tips From Around The World

A few years ago I made the decision to go shampoo-free. I didn’t stick with it—I eventually switched to a natural shampoo—but it did get me started exploring alternative avenues to beauty. Since then I’ve spent a LOT of time on the internet researching beauty secrets from around the world for my hair, nails and skin, and I’ve discovered a lot of amazing recipes!

A few years ago I made the decision to go shampoo-free. I didn’t stick with it—I eventually switched to a natural shampoo—but it did get me started exploring alternative avenues to beauty. Since then I’ve spent a LOT of time on the internet researching beauty secrets from around the world for my hair, nails and skin, and I’ve discovered a lot of amazing recipes!

What’s cool about them is that you can do most of them without shopping for obscure ingredients. In fact, you probably have the ingredients for a lot of these hair masks, rinses, and treatments in your kitchen right now. I’m going to teach you a few of my favorites.

With these beauty secrets, I no longer need a corporate shampoo and conditioner. In fact, my hair looks way better than it did before!

1. Apple Cider Vinegar – I am not sure what part of the world this beauty secret comes from, but it is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve the texture and shine of your hair. You can actually replace your store-bought conditioner with it entirely, especially if you ditch your chemical shampoo for a natural alternative.

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The only vinegar I have ever tried this with is ACV, but Reddit user SawyerScott says that white vinegar works as well. “Just mix one part vinegar and one part water and put it in a spray bottle and then shampoo your hair like you normally would,” SawyerScott writes, “then spray the vinegar on your hair until its totally coated, let it sit for a minute or so, and then rinse it out and don’t condition your hair.  It should be super shiny because the vinegar pulls out all the oil and gunk that normally coats hair.”

This is the same effect I get when I use it, but I have a different method. I boil my favorite herbs for hair (I’ll give you some ideas later in this list!) in apple cider vinegar, and then pour it into a jar which I refrigerate. Each time I shower, I just put three tablespoons in a cup. I dilute it with water from the shower, wash my hair as usual, rinse it, and then I pour the cold mixture of water and vinegar over my head. I don’t rinse it out. Leaving it in gives a much better effect! Read more about vinegar hair rinses here (this company also sells ready-made herbal mixtures you can use in your vinegar rinses), and watch this video (she uses the spray bottle method; she doesn’t do the vinegar rinse nearly as often as I do either, but it probably depends on your hair type what you need to do).

2. Avocado (Columbia & Singapore) – Avocado is popular around the world, but it’s great for more than just eating, and the ladies of Columbia and Singapore are particularly versed in avocado’s beauty applications. In Columbia, avocado is used along with banana and olive oil to create a hair treatment. The recipe is super easy! Just combine a single avocado with a banana (mash them both up together), and stir in a tablespoon of olive oil. The result will be a thick paste you can work into your hair starting at the roots. Try and cover all your hair (if you have really long hair you may need to make more paste). After you have your hair totally coated in avocado paste, let it sit for half an hour. After that, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner of your choice (or not, if you are shampoo-free), and then rinse it all out. Your hair will be really shiny!

And here’s a bonus tip from Singapore.

Have some extra avocado left over? Mash it up and rub it onto your face as a facial mask. Wait for fifteen minutes, and then rinse the paste off. The oils from the avocado which are good for your hair are also good for your skin and provide great moisturizing.   Now you have something to do with those avocados which are just a little too ripe for your taste. Use them in your hair and on your face!

3. Nettles (Croatia) – Here’s a great beauty secret from Croatia which you will love if you suffer from dry scalp and dandruff! I get the worst dandruff ever, and this trick really does work wonders. In Croatia, nettles are very common, to the point where a lot of ladies just gather them directly from the meadows and boil them to create a hair rinse.

This works so well you don’t need shampoo!

If you can’t pick nettles in the fields, don’t worry, a lot of health food stores carry them in the herbs section. If not, you can order them online.

You can boil them in water like they do in Croatia to create a rinse, or you can make an apple cider vinegar rinse using nettles (and any other herbs you like). An ACV rinse can be diluted for each use, which means you can make a single batch and use it again and again (mine usually go for months). As long as you strain the nettles out before you create your rinse, you don’t have to rinse out your hair again afterward. Leave it in and you will get the best effect.

4. Rosemary (Greece) – Here’s another great trick for shiny hair, this time from the Mediterranean! I noticed how many Greek women have beautiful hair with a really lustrous shine, and I wondered how they did it. I did some research, and found out that they rinse their hair in water they’ve boiled with rosemary. Rosemary turns out to be one of the best all-around herbs you can use in your hair (that’s why you will find it in a lot of natural shampoos and conditioners). Rosemary cleanses your hair and removes mineral buildup, and also helps to nourish and strengthen your hair.

Bonus: Download these 10 Aloe Vera Hair Gel Recipes for longer, stronger and healthier hair you’ll fall in love with.

Usually I avoid using too much rosemary in my hair because I don’t want to darken my hair, and rosemary has a darkening effect. But if you are a natural brunette and you want to darken your hair and deepen the color, rosemary is a great way to do it. So you will have hair which is dark, shiny and beautiful! If you don’t want to darken your hair, just use rosemary in moderation, and consider balancing it out with some herbs that lighten your hair, like chamomile or calendula.

5. Yogurt and Olive Oil (Italy) – Those Mediterranean ladies sure know how to make hair beautiful. Another great trick I discovered is olive oil mixed with yogurt. The mixture is mostly yogurt. You need about a cup, along with a teaspoon of olive oil. Work it into your hair , and then wait for five minutes.

Jump in the shower and apply shampoo and conditioner, and then rinse it all out.

6. Egg Whites (Italy) – In southern Italy, apparently the air is ridiculously dry. To cope with the dry air, Italian women moisturize using egg whites. You have to whip them up so they take on a frothy consistency. After you do that, you can work them into your hair the way you do the yogurt mixture. Do this when your hair is wet, and then wait for ten minutes before you shampoo and rinse. I have really dry hair that breaks easily, and this definitely does a lot to lock the moisture in. Especially try this over the winter months! It helps to tame flyaways and frizz too (which are more of a problem for me with my hair type during the drier months; usually I do fine in humidity).

7. Poland, Egg Yolk (Poland) – In Poland, they do things the other way around. Polish women don’t use the egg whites, but instead go with the yolk, which is rich in nutrition.

For this hair mask, you get the yolk from an egg (or several, if you have long hair), and mix it up with lemon juice and some olive oil (you may want to skip the lemon juice if you do not want to lighten your hair, as lemon juice has a lightening effect).

Rub the mixture into your hair, and wait for fifteen minutes. After that, you can wash your hair, condition it, and rinse it all out. Do this regularly and it will strengthen your hair. If you have brittle hair that is prone to breakage, you should start seeing some improvements—fewer split ends!

8. Cranberry Juice (Spain) – If you want to intensify red hair or bring out red highlights in brown or blonde hair, you can do it using cranberry juice. This is a very common practice in Spain. Water down cranberry juice so that you have a mixture that is 50% juice and 50% water. Wash your hair, and then pour it over when you are done. You should rinse it out because it may be sticky. After you are done with that, head outside and enjoy some sunshine, as this can help to bring out those highlights even more.

9. Hibiscus (India) – Here is another great idea for red hair, but it also works well as a general enhancer. It is popular in India, where women mash up hibiscus leaves with water. This can be used as a shampoo and rinsed out. If you have red highlights in your hair, the hibiscus should bring them out. You hair will have a nice sheen afterwards as well.

Don’t have hibiscus leaves or flowers you can mash up? Buy hibiscus tea instead. Steep the hibiscus in water or apple cider vinegar (I am a big fan of ACV for hair, and will repeat this again and again!), and pour it over your head (no need to wash it out). Let it dry and you will get the same effect. If you are dying your hair with henna, adding in hibiscus can help you to get a deeper, truer red.

10. Chamomile, Calendula, and Lemon Juice (Estonia) – I didn’t know where this one comes from until recently, but I’ve used it with great success on my own hair. It turns out it comes from Estonia, according to Reddit user noys. If you are blonde and you want to lighten your hair and bring out the highlights, you can get a great effect by using a hair rinse with chamomile, calendula, and lemon juice.

Like with the hibiscus rinse above, you can use water or ACV, and of course I recommend you use the vinegar. Try and resist the urge to rinse it out. Just let it dry into your hair (I promise you will not smell the vinegar once your hair dries). Go out in the sunshine as much as you can, and this will enhance the effect of the chamomile, calendula and lemon juice. Do it diligently and after a few months, your hair should be noticeably lighter. I have gotten mine at least a couple of shades lighter this way.

11. Henna (India) – Henna mentioned earlier, is a natural hair dye which will turn your hair “red,” usually more in an orange/coppery vein, and not so much a true red. But what a lot of non-henna users don’t know is that henna is so much more than a hair dye. It is also a conditioner, and the effect it has is absolutely incredible!

When I put henna on my hair, I leave it on for about six hours. This isn’t necessary, but it gets me the deepest, richest color. When I rinse it out, the conditioning effect is actually my favorite part, arguably even more than the color. Henna leaves an incredible sheen on your hair that is absolutely mesmerizing to behold, and not something you are going to get with a standard bottled conditioner! Your hair literally gets silky and really manageable and clean. The silky sheen almost has a “glow” to it, because the henna color is brought out by light. The conditioning effect is really strong for the first week. After that it fades, but you will still see a hint of that sheen for months to come. If you want to use henna on your hair, I recommend you start with this page. It will teach you everything you need to know.

12. Aloe (The Philippines) –  Aloe vera is famous as a skin ointment for healing wounds and soothing irritation, but it also turns out that it’s great for your hair. This little beauty secret comes from the Philippines, where women use it to give their hair a glossy shine. If you have access to fresh aloe, you can break open a leaf and use the juice. Otherwise, you can purchase aloe vera gel (the same kind you use for your skin), and rub it into your hair. After you rinse it out, your hair should have a lovely shine.

13. Seaweed (Japan) – This one is a dietary tip from the Far East. Japanese men and women have a higher level of natural, easily absorbed iodine in their diets than people who live in the western world. This is because they eat seaweed as a regular part of their diets. Seaweed contains ample amounts of iodine, more than you will find in your table salt (iodine is added to table salt, but not in an easily-digested form). When you eat seaweed regularly, you give your body more iodine. This is not only great for your health overall, but will enhance your hair and make it shiny! Don’t know where to buy seaweed? You can usually find it at a local Asian grocery store, even a small one! It goes great in soups, salads, and makes a yummy snack!

14. Coconut Oil (India and Burma) – Reddit user bostonpancakes says,

My ex was Burmese and his mom always gave me little secrets. Coconut oil is absolutely amazing and anyone who doesn’t own virgin pressed coconut oil needs to buy some ASAP. The benefits are endless.

I’ve tried this one out too and had great results.
Just like bostonpancakes says, the benefits really are endless. It does a great job of taming frizz and flyaways, and adds a beautiful shine to your hair. I love putting it on the ends of my hair, because my hair is dry and I get split ends easily. It helps prevent more split ends from forming, and makes the ends of my hair look smoother and more substantial.

I’ve seen women from Singapore saying that it is a perfect solution if your hair hates humidity. Coconut oil incidentally is also great as a moisturizer for your skin! I love it, because I can use it to moisturize without breaking out in acne—which other oils cause me to do.

15. Argan Oil (Morocco) – Argan oil comes from the argan tree which is native to Morocco. There, they use the oil for pretty much everything you can imagine. It’s a culinary oil, just like olive oil, and is used in much the same manner. They dip bread in argan oil, just like olive oil in Italy. Argan oil has been getting a lot of attention around the globe lately, both as a food and as a higher-end cosmetic product. It’s kind of expensive, but a little is all you need to moisturize your hair or skin.

Don’t Overdo the Shampoo

This tip doesn’t come from anywhere in particular, except personal experience. I’ve found one of the worst beauty mistakes you can make is to shampoo your hair every single day. Why? When you do this, you dry out your hair, and if you happen to have naturally dry hair (like mine), it is a really bad idea. Why do we buy conditioners? In large part, it is because we have to repair the damage we’re creating with our shampoos! My recommendation is only to shampoo several times a week. The rest of the week, just wash your hair with water. You can also try switching to an all-natural shampoo, which will work wonders. An all-natural shampoo will not coat your hair with damaging residue, and will not dry it out nearly as much. You will not need to condition nearly as often!

Dry Shampoo

Sometimes it isn’t your shampoo that’s the problem but your water. Got really hard water or water that’s full of lime. Get around it with dry shampoo. You can use dry shampoo in your hair without getting your head wet, which allows you to just wash your hair under water several times a week, but keep it clean every day. I have never tried the stuff, but I hear it works wonders. It can be expensive, but the Batiste Dry Shampoo on Amazon.com seems to be quite affordable and well-received. The top review from user Jen Fordham says, “I have tried several dry shampoos ranging from inexpensive to pricey and this is hands down the best.”

Apply shampoo and conditioner the Smart way

 Reddit user celestialism recommends “shampooing only the roots and conditioning only the length.” This is a brilliant idea and I don’t know why I never thought of it. Shampoo after all has that drying effect, but sometimes you need that around your roots, which are more liable to getting greasy, especially if you don’t wash every day. The ends need the moisture from the conditioner far more than the roots. So apply both where you actually need them. No need to overuse either!

Skip the blow dryer

The last bit of great advice I can give from personal experience is to avoid your blow dryer unless you absolutely must get your hair dry right away. Blow drying your hair will destroy it faster than anything you can do to it! Subjecting your hair to that hot, dry air will just take the moisture right out of it, and you will have tons of split ends, static cling, and other annoying issues to deal with. It will also change the texture of your hair. When I was younger, I thought I had straight hair because my mother taught me to blow dry every day. I stopped blow drying on vacation one week, and discovered I had wavy hair with body and shine. You can imagine what a surprise that was!

I hope you enjoyed these beauty secrets! They made a difference for me, and they can make a difference for you too.

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