Italians are famous for their fashion and their hand-made leather shoes, olive oil and wine. Their culture is rich with everything from history, science, art, and music to delicious cuisine and beautiful women.
Italian ladies, besides their famous good looks, are also renowned for their lively, expressive personalities, rich dark thick hair and glowing bronze skin. Unlike those who hail from the East, we don't see Italians hiding away from the sun... They embrace it, bathing in the sun's warmth and glory at every opportunity. They are not afraid of sun damage nor do we see much wrinkles on their face. If anything, their laugh lines made them look natural and even more beautiful as they age.
Have you ever wondered, with the strong Tuscany sun (that's partly why Italian wines are famous), how do these Italian beauties keep their skin looking so bronzed yet tight and radiant?
"There is more of an emphasis on timelessness and less on trends," says Claudia Graziano, a popular Italian fashion blogger. Instead of buzzy new products and fad-jumping, Claudia says Italian women focus more on age-old ingredients that work.
These age-old ingredients, so simple and surprising, can be found right in your own kitchen:
We know about the health benefits of having olive oil in our diet. For the Italians, however, olive oil is not just for dressing up salads or for cooking pasta and grilling meat. Olive oil is truly at the center of Italian life.
Because Italian women value smooth, touchable skin, they dedicate the majority of their beauty routine to moisturizing. So it's not surprising to hear many would actually slather olive oil on their skin. Legendary actress Sophia Loren, for one, was known for routinely applying olive oil all over her skin and body.
So you must be wondering: why is Olive Oil such a great beauty secret?
One of the reasons is because olive oil contains a powerful anti-aging compound called squalene, and three major antioxidants: vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols, which together can help protect, heal and prevent premature aging.
Skin benefits of Olive Oil and How It Works
Applying Olive Oil on skin helps deep moisturizing and protects against premature aging.
Olive oil is a natural moisturizer that can penetrate deeply into the skin while providing an effective cleansing action. It helps to hold in your skin’s natural moisture, and prevents it from drying out. Because of its ability to retain moisture, olive oil can provide a long-lasting shield against the sun and also the cold, dry, winter air.
According to Medical News Today, olive oil has been shown to also have anti-bacterial properties, which can help prevent acne.
Aesthetic plastic surgeon, Paul Lorenc, M.D., adds that olive oil has been used on skin since ancient times. "Cleopatra was a fan," says Dr. Lorenc. "Olive oil contains antioxidants that fight free-radical damage and an ingredient called squalene, which is extremely hydrating.”
Squalene is a powerful anti-aging compound called naturally found in our own skin cells. Premature aging is triggered when our cells stop producing squalene as we age.
Why is squalene so important for our skin?
Squalene is a molecule produced by our body naturally, as well as by animals and plants. Squalene is found in the outer layer of our skin and plays a role in protecting against UV radiation. Without sufficient squalene, UV rays can induce inflammation in our skin, causing redness and skin cell damage.
Premature aging is triggered when our cells don’t produce enough squalene. A lack of squalene can cause early onset wrinkles and sagging skin. Squalene is a natural compound found most abundantly in olive oil and shark liver oil, and to a lesser extent in wheat germ and rice bran.
Applying just a few drops of pure, extra virgin, organic olive oil to your face before bed and leaving on overnight can replenish your skin’s supply of squalene, reverse signs of premature aging, and even significantly delay development of fine lines and wrinkles.
Olive oil also keeps our hands and cuticles moist and soft, and can promote strong, healthy nail growth.
This probably explains why Italian (and Greek) women apply olive oil on their skin before sun bathing, to keep their skin from drying out and also protect against damage from sun UV rays and premature aging.
Olive Oil Antioxidant Properties help prevent premature skin aging
Olive oil acts as an antioxidant, which is a substance that prevents oxidation. Oxidation is a process that can produce free radicals, which are compounds that can potentially damage cells and may contribute to cancer development.
Olive oil contains three major antioxidants: vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols. Antioxidants, when topically applied, may help protect the skin from premature skin aging.
Vitamin E partly accounts for the anti-aging benefits of olive oil because it helps restore skin smoothness and protects against ultraviolet light.
Hydroxytyrosol, a rather rare compound found in olive oil, also prevents free radical damage to the skin.
Olyphenolic compounds in olive oil act to reverse free radicals, which may help to prevent premature signs of aging. These compounds have been compared to traditional antioxidants used by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry to keep skin looking young and healthy, according to the Olive Oil Source website.
When applied to the skin, antioxidants may prevent premature aging. Also, some research suggests that putting olive oil on the skin after sun exposure may fight off cancer-causing cells.
What type of olive oil is good for skin?
Use only 100% certified-organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil because it is produced without the use of heat or chemical refining and contains the highest concentration of olive oil's beneficial compounds.
How to apply olive oil on your skin
Apply a few drops to slightly damp skin and massage in until absorbed. Remember olive oil is a heavy oil so a few drops is more than enough to do the job. Gently wipe off excess oil to prevent clogging pores.
Many Italian Grandmothers will attest to the powers of strawberries. No, we are not talking about eating tons of fresh strawberries, or even home-made strawberry pie.
So what does this delicious fruit have to offer for our skin, besides all the wonderful benefits for our health?
Did you know that strawberries have a higher vitamin C content than oranges? So it should not come as a surprise that one of the oldest Italian beauty secrets involves nothing more than a home-made Strawberry Scrub.
Strawberries contain many powerful antioxidants
According to the website Healthline, "strawberries are consistently ranked among the top sources of phenolic antioxidants, with levels up to 2-11 times greater than other fruits." The most visible of its phenols are the anthocyanins, which give the fruit's flesh its bright red color.
Anthocyanins are widely recognized antioxidants that studies have shown help defend cell structures in the body and protect the body’s organs. Another phenol found in high doses in strawberries is ellagitannin, which has anti-proliferative and antioxidant properties.
The combination of anthocyanins and ellagitannins, along with its high concentrations of vitamin C, folate, and potassium, push strawberries to the top of the list of antioxidant providers among fruit.
In fact, strawberries are second only to plums as the richest fruit in phenols and antioxidants, being especially high in the cancer-fighting and heart disease-fighting flavonoids quercetin, catechin, and kaempferol.1
Research carried out in 2012 shows that a strawberry extract controls inflammation, protects skin from ultraviolet radiation and also reduces damage to DNA. The lead author of the study, Dr. Maurizio Battino, happens to be an Italian researcher at the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Italy.
This research showed that the anthocyanin in strawberries (that same anthocyanin responsible for the fruit's deep red color) protects our bodies from harmful UV-A radiation. Skin cells that absorbed the anthocyanin were less susceptible to DNA damage and had a longer ‘life span’. On top of it all, the anthocyanin proved to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
In fact, eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange.
In a study of 20,000 people published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, subjects who ate the least amount of foods high in vitamin C were more than three times more likely to develop inflammation leading to arthritis than people who ate the most vitamin C-rich foods.
How to apply strawberries on your skin
Very Simple. Italian grandmothers simply mash a few strawberries they harvest from their garden, mix with olive oil and rub on their face and skin, let it sit on their face and skin for 15 minutes, then rinse off.
Strawberries are not only great antioxidants and will protect and heal your skin, they can also help exfoliate dead skin cells.
We did some research and discovered there are so many ways you can create your own homemade strawberries scrub and mask, for different needs.
How to make a simple homemade strawberry mask and scrub
Basic strawberry scrub to exfoliate, hydrate and brighten your skin.
Mash 4-6 ripe strawberries. In a separate bowl, mix 4 tablespoons olive oil with 5 tablespoons powered sugar. Add this to the mashed strawberries and mix together.
Message scrub on clean face in a circular motion for 1-2 mins and rinse off!
Italians have a long love affair with lemons. If you look at Italian's meal you will find lemons in almost every dish. Even their famous desert wine is made with lemons, the well known limoncello.
So why are the lemons so well loved and an important part of Italian's life?
Lemons is a citrus fruit that offer many health benefits, besides just adding acidity, sweetness and scent to their dishes. Lemon contains calcium, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium — minerals and antioxidants that improve the appearance and condition of our hair, skin and nails.
Lemon helps brighten and lighten our skin
According to Marina Peredo, M.D., a dermatologist, lemons are rich in vitamin C and citric acid, so they can help brighten and lighten your skin when used over time. It can also help lighten age spots, dark spots, or a fake tan gone wrong.
High Vitamin C concentration in lemons is a great antioxidant for neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production,
So it should not come as a surprise to find many Italians and Asian ladies rubbing lemons on whole body to reduce brown spots and whiten skin.
5 benefits for applying lemon on skin
- It contains anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties which fight bacteria-causing acne and avoiding future acne.
- Reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of sun damage.
- Helps boost healthy collagen production which causes firmer skin.
- Acts as natural chemical peel to rid acne.
How to apply lemons on your skin for best results
1. For face and body - Cut lemon into half. Use one half and rub the meat on your arm, legs face and area of concern.
2. For sensitive skin - Do not apply lemons on your face if you have sensitive skin. Best to add lemon juice with olive oil, sugar and strawberries into a scrub. Rub the mixture on your skin and rinse off.
For this summer, before you head out and enjoy the summer warmth, don't forget to take to try some of these beauty secrets from Italy, that are not only very affordable but easy to use, and also so great for your skin.
To prevent skin aging, fine lines and wrinkles, read 7 tips to protect your summer skin.
How about a simple solution that can help transform your skin and turn back your clock?
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