Sweets, silly hats and tacky trinkets don’t have to be the stuff of which holiday souvenirs or gifts are made: from the Amazon to Azerbaijan, many products are packed with hard-to-find ingredients harvested in far-flung places, sought after for their traditional healing and beautifying properties and making perfect presents for everyone from dads to teen princesses.
All prices were correct at the time of going to press.
The Kiwiherb brand was created by medical herbalist Phil Rasmussen and offers a whole variety of natural products sourced from his native New Zealand, including manuka honey. The Manuka Essential Oil (kiwiherb.co.uk; £13.19), perfect for travelling, is suitable for all the family, even babies. Says Rasmussen: “The Maori people have used Manuka for many years, especially on wounds and skin complaints, and now modern research also confirms the benefits of using this New Zealand essential oil to treat a variety of bacterial and fungal infections.” It’s effective on insect bites, minor abrasions and cuts.
Also from New Zealand, Living Nature was one of the world’s first companies to produce a skincare line without synthetic preservatives or parabens when it started in the late ‘80s. It too uses the native healing plants of New Zealand, organic and wild-crafted. Its Nourishing Hand & Body Cream, also with manuka honey, is essential for anyone with dry winter skin; the 50ml bottle (livingnature.com; £10) is perfect for travelling.
Ahava, meanwhile, is known for its use of the naturally therapeutic mud and minerals from Israel’s Dead Sea, which nourishes even the driest of skin as well as naturally cleansing and exfoliating, aiding lymphatic drainage and relieving muscle pain and stress. The Dermud Intensive Foot Cream (ahava.co.uk; £18) is an ultra-rich formula that combats dry and cracked feet.
Or try Thalgo’s Thalassobath with Algae (thalgo.com; £25.55), with sea salt and brown algae sourced from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans to relieve fluid retention, ease tired muscles and rehydrate the body – just as if you were in the sea.
The sweet-smelling Connock London Comforting Body Wash (connocklondon.com; £22.50) contains kukui oil from Hawaii, used by locals for centuries to keep skin soft and smooth – traditionally, newborn babies were bathed in the oil for protection from the sun, wind and saltwater.
A collaboration with Liberty of London, the REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil (renskincare.com; £50) uses the ‘queen of flower oils’ – rose otto, found in Morocco, Turkey and Egypt, as its main ingredient. Perfect for sensitive skins, it’s more expensive than gold, but a tiny drop oil in a bath will leave skin hydrated, soft and delicately scented.
Founded by Middle Eastern doctor Lamees Hamdan, the Shiffa range of luxury products from Dubai call on natural healing wisdom from the region’s ancient cultures. The Soothing Body Oil (shiffa.com; £51.75) is a delight to use after a shower or bath, with a calming blend of frankincense, bergamot and orange.
Lighter than a cream, so best suited to those heading for hot climes, is Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Body Serum (aromatherapyassociates.com; £24.50), packed with exotic ingredients such as natural tuberose, ylang ylang and aloe vera.
L’Occitane’s latest products are limited edition and, instead of their usual South of France use Africa as their inspiration. The shea butter range of body creams, hand creams and lip balms come in tribal print packaging inspired by the Bogolan cloth, a traditional fabric, while the range of scents is derived from three African flowers, including the desert rose from Morocco (uk.loccitane.com; from £8).
A great present for teen girls, Bliss’s Fat Girl Scrub (blisslondon.co.uk; £26) is a brilliant way to start the day, with Himalayan pink salt and red algae to slough off dead skin and aid circulation, keeping cellulite at bay.
At £50, Australian label Aesop’s Moroccan Neroli Shaving Duet (Aesop.com) is a special-occasion gift for dads using neroli, sourced from orange-blossom trees found mainly in Morocco and known for its toning and antiseptic properties. A serum for use during shaving minimises irritations, while the Post-Shave Lotion hydrates and calms.
Korres’ yoghurt products are inspired by the long-lived tradition of applying yoghurt onto sunburnt skin in Greece. The natural lactose, proteins, minerals and vitamins in its Moisturising Cream (korres.com; £19) give a velvety texture and hydrate and relieve skin.
Surely one of the first beauty names to originate from Azerbaijan, Gazelli aims to scientifically harness active natural ingredients harvested by local communities. The Triple Youth Ultimate Firming Serum (harrods.com; £60) contains an ancient white healing oil found beneath the plains of Naftalan, said to repair the skin from within, plus wild pomegranate and lipoic acid to firm and tighten the complexion.
Sourced from the Middle East, argan oil (a great haircare ingredient; see below) is packed with vitamin E and rich in antioxidants. Combined with rosehip, it’s present in the organic Willow’s Face Oil Serum Liquid Gold (willowbeautyproducts.co.uk; £42), to plump skin and reduce fine lines.
New to the UK from France is A-listers’ favourite Visoanska, whose Hypnotic Eye Potion (harrods.com; £82), loved by Angelina Jolie and Kate Moss, is said to miraculously combat dark circles and puffiness as well as illuminate and lift the eye contour area. Its cocktail of ingredients from all over the world includes New Zealand fern extract, edelweiss from Switzerland and baobab from Africa.
Argan oil has been used by the Berber women of Morocco for centuries, and Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment (hqhair.com; £30.45) has long had a cult following among hair professionals and beauty insiders. There are also serums, masks and shine sprays, plus the new Moroccan Oil Extra Volume Shampoo (£17.65) and Conditioner (£18.55), both containing tilicine, derived from the buds of the linden plant and said to plump up the cuticle.
OSMO’s new Berber oil range of hair products includes the Light Radiance Spray (osmo.uk.com; £15.99), a light conditioning treatment doubling as a finishing shine mist, also containing argan oil as well as avocado oil and coconut oil and packed with vitamins.
Davines’ Absolute Beautifying Potion (davines.com; £28.70) is a multi-functioning ‘wonder’ product that conditions and styles at the same time. Its key ingredient is roucou oil from Brazil, sourced (by Fair Trade) from the Amazon and rich in beta-carotene. It is said to stimulate hair growth and has an anti-frizz effect.
Among several covetable scents created to evoke the very essence of a place are Ortigia’s handy rollerball perfume oils that come in Sicilian lime, pomegranate, orange blossom and sandalo (ortigia-slr.com; £10 each). Then there’s the unique Made in Italy Emotional Olfactive Landscapes – five eaux de parfum aiming to recreate a specific time and place in Italy (roullierwhite.com; £80 each).
A sailing trip in the Caribbean undertaken by Olivier and Erwin Creed provided the inspiration for their Creed Virgin Island Water (creedfragrances.co.uk; £135), with Sicilian white bergamot, Jamaican lime, Indian jasmine and Tonkin musk conjuring up a heavenly, tropical summer aroma.
Lisa Hoffman’s Variations (US$65; lisahoffmanbeauty.com) also take inspiration from far-flung places, with five different blends – French clary sage, Tuscan fig, Tunisian neroli, Madagascan orchid and Japanese agarwood – spanning the world in an olfactory fashion.