Beauty Culture

Exploring Ancient Beauty Rituals of the Orient

Apr 14, 2016

We didn’t choose to name our brand “Senteurs d’Orient” for nothing: ancient bathing beauty rituals are a constant source of inspiration for us, so with that in mind, we’re dedicating this week’s post to sharing some of the best beauty secrets from the two “Easts” - the Middle and Far Easts - that is.

Middle Eastern beauty rituals include drinking “white coffee” (a beverage made with hot orange blossom water), spritzing your complexion with rose water mist (our CEO does this daily!)), and exfoliating your body with a loofah in the shower. Other naturally derived beauty ingredients from Middle Eastern culture? Super hydrating olive oil (which is a common ingredient in traditional soaps) and turmeric, which in addition to being a delicious spice in cooking, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties.

And then there’s the essential bathing ritual of the Hammam, which serves a dual purpose of promoting relaxation and cleanliness (obviously). An authentic hammam experience begins in a warm relaxation room with a heated marble stone in the center, on top of which bathers can lie. After sweating out toxins, bathers are scrubbed, washed and massaged from head to toe. It is this peaceful tranquility and exalting the senses that inspired our Hammam soaps, made with the highest quality of natural ingredients.

Our founder, Hana, grew up in Japan and largely drew on her childhood experiences when developing Senteurs d’Orient. Like in the Middle East, there is a deeply rooted bathing culture in Japan. Whether it’s a natural hot spring or traditional bath house, the Onsen, remains to this day a part of traditional wellness culture.

As is common in many Asian cultures, bright, glowing skin is an emblem of beauty, so for centuries, Japanese women have been taking care of their skin by hydrating it with rice water (a sort of toner made from the powder of rice grains) and drinking green tea, which is naturally rich in antioxidants and like turmeric, has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Geisha were the embodiment of beauty and decorum in Ancient Japan, and although their striking white makeup and crimson eyeliner and lips were no doubt amazing, so was their early practice of using oils instead of water to remove makeup and cleanse their skin. Camellia oil (derived from the flower of the same name) can help ward off the signs of aging and restore moisture to the skin and hair. And if modern Asian skincare makes you think of sheet masks galore, you’re not in the wrong: legend has it that geishas would dampen a piece of kimono silk with distilled flower water and place it on the face, thus creating an early form of the sheet masks that we know and love today.

So even with all the amazing technology and scientific advances we’re seeing today, it’s important to reflect on the rituals from a different time. After all, some of the best words of beauty advice are precisely the ones that are truly timeless.

We’ve got some exciting news to share: A selection of our soaps (plus an exclusive set of three!) are now available for purchase on Net-a-Porter! Check it out here.