Beauty Around The World – Part 2

Japan, Spa & Beauty, Thailand — By on January 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

by J’Nisha Towne

The second in our series of what women around the world do in their quest for beauty and eternal youth.

Beauty regimes, whether waxing stubborn hair from sensitive body parts and injecting fat into facial creases to eating animal entrails and smearing bird droppings onto blemished skin are performed with a variety of beautifying and bizarre methods across the four corners of the world- Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

Japan:  White Skin, Straight Hair and Crooked Teeth

Consider carrying an umbrella every day – rain or shine.  As light skin is highly sought after in Japan, many women seek painstaking and all-consuming methods of lightening facial skin including donning a parasol to avoid the darkening rays of the sun to more common techniques such as liberal application of skin-lightening agents.

To possess bihaku or beautiful, white skin, the ideal complexion must be a pale palette of porcelain skin, free of blemishes and age spots.  Tan, taut skin aged by years of toiling under the sun accounts for an undesirable social status in a community whereas light skin, untouched by burning rays or wounds indicates an educated, wealthy woman.

Past methods of creating white skin involved scrubbing nuka (rice hulls) on freshly-scrubbed skin or grinding pearls into power for swallowing. Pearl powder has been known to improve skin nutrition and metabolism, providing healthy cell turnover and a smooth complexion. Another century-old method of the sought after pearlescent glow? Nightingale droppings. Bird droppings are concocted into a powder and mixed with soap before lathering as a face wash or mask. The poop paste claims to transform skin. But, yuk.

The modern methods used in Japan to whiten the skin include whitening creams containing hydroquinone, kojic acid and vitamin C. Laser treatments, with use of ablative and used non-ablative lasers, are also options for targeting hyper-pigmentation. The creams can be dangerous, expensive and illegal as some are sold in the “black market” for cheap without adequate testing or warning labels. Veer on the safe side and opt out of age-defying bottle of youth “too good to be true” .

Another beauty “norm” in Japan is straight, silky hair. In Heian-era Japan, women of the imperial court grew their black hair in straight, sleek fashion, known as kurokami, hair often reaching the ground. Ancient techniques of straightening the hair involved weighting the ends of the mane with found objects in hopes of coercing frizz or wave into straight submission. Relatively new techniques to straightening waves or kinks include the method of Japanese hair straightening or thermal reconditioning. For $500, chemical creams and flat irons permanently straighten wavy hair into pin-straight strands, an expensive beauty habit growing with popularity in the Unites States and Brazil.

Tired of wearing retainers to sleep? No need to hide the epic brace-face picture. In Japan, yaeba is referred to the “fang” teeth known as canine teeth. Crooked yaeba make a woman approachable and likely to wed. Women spend up to $400 for Tsuke-yaeba or “stick-on crooked teeth” which dentists apply using glue and plastic teeth. The look for less guarantees a natural appearance versus traditional braces. So don’t worry about tossing those plastic teeth into the garbage can after eating- a new set of fangs are available at your nearest dentist.

Thailand:  Brass Coils and Body-Slapping

Remote areas of Southeast Asia, namely Burma and Thailand, boast lesser-known (and available) beauty rituals. If you thought Botox injections in your late twenties was too young, consider the age of five to wear brass rings around your neck as a beauty statement. Female members of the Kayan Tribe, a Tibeto-Burman minority of Burma, begin placing heavy-weighted, brass coils around necks of girls as young as five in preparation of the tradition. Growing with popularity in Chang Mai, Thailand today, brass coils are a statement of cultural identity- a permanent fixture of jewelry. Rings are only replaced with longer coils with coils weighing up to twenty-two pounds! Have an itch?

With slapping training courses head to toe, including body-slapping, face-slapping, breast-slapping, and buttock-slapping, women in Bangkok, Thailand have chosen the stinging treatment as an avenue to a full chest. If women want their breasts slapped, Khemmikka Na Songkhla, owner of the only governmental-approved body-slapping beauty salon, will first measure and assess breasts before slapping a supposed two inches of fullness to the area. With an option besides plastic surgery for a youthful face and enlarged breasts, clients attend Khemmikka Na Songkhla’s treatments for a safer, faster result at a fraction of the cost. As courses are offered for a hefty price up to ten million Thai baht ($324,465) – start saving: she’s only picking eight women to join her in the slap-fest.

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