The grass is always greener on the other side, particularly if that grass is on the other side of an ocean. Our fixation on globally sourced beauty products is nothing new—rich American women first started crying Tiffany-diamond tears over Lancôme moisturizer all the way back in 1936—but it’s ballooned in the past few years.
We’re obsessed with French beauty, and have been for literally centuries, because we want to embody the French woman and her untouchable je ne sais quoi, and so the cosmetics industry has made billions off the notion that said ineffable spirit may prove able to be bottled as shampoo. Now we’re collectively entrenched in the particulars of Korean skin care because 2016 is all about navel-gazing and self-care, and a meticulous 12-step cleansing routine probably fits in there somewhere.
There must be some kind of social observation to be made here, but, hey, we’re not here to make it! (Not today, at least.) Instead, here’s a firm reminder that there’s much, much more beauty to be found all over the world, in Australia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden—and that’s just the beginning. Occasionally, these elusive foreign gems may lead you into weird e-commerce corners of the Internet, but when has that ever stopped you before?
1. Original & Mineral Seven Day Miracle
This intense conditioning masque gets its take-no-prisoners moisturizing powers from oils native to Australia, including macadamia seed and certified-organic Australian argan oil. It leaves hair feeling like—wait for it—silk, with split-end-sealing shine to match. The subtle sweet vanilla bean fragrance doesn’t hurt, either.
2. Lanolips 101 Ointment
Made from 100-percent-pure natural medical-grade lanolin derived from wool, this multipurpose treatment is perfect for what ails you, from lips so chapped they hurt to dry cuticles or a wind-chapped nose. Like a cozy wool sweater, but for your skin. (Rest assured, no sheep are harmed in the cultivating process.)
3. Lucas’ Papaw Ointment
Every beautiful person ever (Australian or otherwise), including Cate Blanchett and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (what other endorsements could you possibly need?), swears by this petroleum-based skin-protectant balm. It’s just as good as an impromptu highlighter or brow-groomer.
4. Coast to Coast Outback Skin Brightening Red Clay Mask
A clay mask that suits all skin types, including the very dry, is hard to come by, but this vitamin-rich formula is packed with aloe, honey, and a handful of brightening essential oils to keep clear and comfortable.
5. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
If you’re of the mind that something meant strictly to moisturize your hands cannot be chic, meet this fragrant, intensely hydrating balm—and its apothecary-inspired packaging.
1. Und Gretel LUK Creme Eye Stick
The concept of a one-size-fits-all eyeshadow color is pretty bold, but this creamy shadow stick really does fit the bill with its soft, gold-flecked honey shade. It’s the ideal base for a more dramatic eye look, but it’s perfect on its own, too.
2. ARTDECO Perfect Colour Lipstick
Hydrating ingredients like lanolin and vitamin E make the lipsticks from Germany’s best-known affordable cosmetics brand a moisturizing, long-lasting must-have.
3. ZOEVA Nude Spectrum Blush Palette
You heard it here: All of the secrets to sun-kissed skin—all four of them!—can be found in this unassuming palette. The only other things you’ll need are a big, fluffy brush and a desire to finally find out what it means to look “lit from within.”
4. Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner
Bet you didn’t know that the skin-care line you hoard every time you go to Whole Foods is German in more than just name. You can’t go wrong with any of the good doctor’s products, but this redness-soothing, oil-zapping, blemish-fighting toner is high on our lists.
5. Kneipp Lavender Balancing Bath
The only way to make a hot bath even better is by adding a capful of this stress-relieving lavender concoction. It’s practically transcendent.
1. Frezyderm Christialen Emulsion
Regardless of whether your skin is really, really dry or maybe just a little, this body milk has a deceptively lightweight texture that leaves skin well-moisturized and protected without oiliness or that dreaded slimy feel—it’s particularly good when applied postshower.
2. Macrovita Cleansing Milk
The Holy Grail cleansing milk against which all other cleansing milks are measured: No other formula has ever removed makeup, soothed irritation, and left skin feeling baby soft quite so effectively in one fell swoop.
3. Apivita Lip Care with Black Currant
Foolproof and necessary: a soothing, super-hydrating lip balm with a barely there berry-stained tint.
4. Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial
This overnight “facial in a jar” from America’s most beloved Greek skin-care brand does exactly as it promises and then some: It moisturizes, repairs fine lines, creates a more even skin tone, and encourages collagen production; and all you have to do is sleep.
5. Red Water Eye Cream with Flax
Made with a focus on using fewer, better ingredients (mineral water, organic olive oil, flax, wheat germ oil, some vitamins and herbs—that’s it!), the high quality comes through strong in this formula, which fights fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles in an ultra-gentle, nonirritating composition—very important for the delicate under-eye area.
1. Taramar Purifying Treatment
Like your favorite cleansing oil, except on nature’s finest crack.
2. NordicaLux Arctic Lavender Healing Cream
What’s in this “skin tonic” cream? Well, pretty much everything good. Arctic lavender reduces inflammation, nourishes skin, and promotes relaxation (duh, it smells like lavender), and geothermally dried Iceland kelp from a “pristine fjord” makes for a great source of alginate, which promotes collagen growth and encourages tissue repair.
3. Sóley Organics GLÓey Purifying Exfoliator
Sometimes your skin is so dry, sad, and dull, it just needs everything all at once, which is where this deep-cleansing facial exfoliator comes in. Crushed olive kernels help to gently scrub away dead skin cells so that stimulating, antiseptic peppermint and hydrating oils (coconut! sweet almond! apricot!) can get way deep in there.
4. Blue Lagoon Rich Nourishing Cream
The mineral-rich geothermal seawater and silica mud from one of Iceland’s most incredible destinations has been known to cure serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, but if you can’t make it to the lagoon itself, this rich, smooth cream stays true to the active ingredients—silica and algae—that make the water so special.
5. Skyn Iceland Icelandic Moisture SPF 30
You always need a solid daily moisturizer with plenty of SPF; all the better if it’s rich in Icelandic Complex, a dubiously named yet pretty legit proprietary blend that contains fatty-acid-rich superfruits, vitamins, antioxidants, and water sourced from a government-protected natural spring in an ancient lava field. No, really; it does.
1. Pupa Dot Shock Balmy Gloss
This buttery balm combines two of your favorite lip color novelties, “customized” color (based on your pH) and hydrating oil-based formulas, in one easy-to-use, drugstore-fave tube. (Not pictured: Shipping & Handling.)
2. Kiko Milano Blending Wave Multicolor Blush
Come for the packaging and the way the “blending wave” looks in the pan; stay for the way it looks on your face. With two stunning tone-on-tone shades in each pan, this soft, silky blush duo is a capital-W Winner.
3. Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Rose
We’re all for spending a considerable amount of money on something that’s basically glorified water, but there’s way more to this famous Italian rose water than just scent alone. The alcohol-free potion is the ideal soothing toner for all skin types, and the purifying antiseptic properties are perfect post–sun exposure. Or you can always just “breathe in vapors,” as suggested.
4. Collistar Sun Effect Bronzing Powder Blusher
There you have it: All the gorgeous peachy, bronzy, plummy tones you could possibly want on your face, in one pearlescent powder compact. Thanks, Italy.
5. Rilastil Eye Contour Cream
If the first signs of aging are just creeping up on you, attack them head-on with this protective hyaluronic-acid-rich eye cream, which will help to firm the area and dispel any fine lines that have already had the chance to form.
1. Oasis Beauty BB Cream
BB cream originated in Germany, was quickly adopted by Korea, blew up in America, and now seems to have inched its way over to New Zealand, too. Rest assured, this variation is more than just an imitator—it provides natural matte coverage, protects skin with SPF (key for a Kiwi!), and uses plenty of natural humectants, moisturizers, and extracts to keep skin on the up-and-up in every way.
2. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask
Raw manuka honey is a serious must right now, which is a good thing, since this does-it-all mask is practically overflowing with it. The antibacterial ingredient draws moisture to the skin to keep it way hydrated, while the natural, nondrying antiseptic properties gently do away with breakouts and errant blemishes.
3. Sans Ceuticals Goji Cleansing Oil
This cleansing oil is chock-full of good things—vitamin E, shea oil, and goji oil work simultaneously to strengthen skin, helping it retain moisture and elasticity while you wash. See also: vitamin A, which stimulates skin repair and gently exfoliates to ward off breakouts and enlarged pores.
4. Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil
Kate Middleton was rumored to have used this potent natural oil to fend off dry skin and stretch marks during her first pregnancy, which is a ringing endorsement if that’s what you’re into. Rosehip oil is, in fact, packed with fatty acids and antioxidants that keep skin moisture-saturated and well-armed against fine lines, wrinkles, and other such threatening things.
5. Snowberry Soothing Facial Massage Oil
You don’t have to give yourself a facial massage with this oil for it to work, but why wouldn’t you? It has an incredibly silky, nongreasy texture that sinks right into skin, and the pastel color and light, natural fragrance come from an extract of the German chamomile flower that maybe you could technically eat, but probably shouldn’t.
1. Estelle & Thild BioCleanse Fragrance Free Cleansing Gel
When you have sensitive, reactive skin, trying a new cleanser can be a terrifying prospect. This soothing fragrance-free gel, however, does the job by washing away makeup and impurities without stripping, so your skin is left feeling … normal. At last.
2. L:A BRUKET Petitgrain Face Oil
Petitgrain oil is wonderful for all skin types—it’s wildly nourishing and helps to stimulate and tone as it hydrates—but it’s especially good for oily complexions, as it imparts lightweight moisture and has antibacterial uses to fight infection. Your move, drugstore topical.
3. Face Stockholm Lipstick
This line is, for lack of a better term, obsession-worthy—it’s got everything from simple, gentle skin care and gorgeously fragranced body scrubs to glasses, if you happen to need those. (Also, very expensive bikes?) But the real standout is the remarkable lip color collection. Yep, all 144 shades of it.
4. & Other Stories Lemon Daydream Body Scrub
All hail whatever deity is responsible for Swedish fast fashion coming stateside: & Other Stories brought not just perfectly priced footwear to our shores, but really, really good beauty products, too. Consider this smoothing sugar scrub, which makes skin smell like a lemon tart but a lot less obvious.
5. Nuori Lip Treat
This one has all the makings of a justifiable splurge—display-worthy packaging, a luscious texture, nourishing plant-based ingredients, a dreamy vanilla/mint scent … just go ahead and buy it.