Beauty Squad member Julia Coney is on a journey to uncover women's beauty secrets from around the world. For this edition of the series, she travels to Hawaii to talk to the locals on what keeps them looking their best.
Although it's part of the U.S., the Hawaiian Islands are so far from the mainland that at times it feels like you are in another country. Sure, our exotic 50th state may be known for its beaches, sand and sun. But after my recent trip there, I've discovered that it should also be known for its beauty regimen. The local women had gorgeous skin despite spending so much time outdoors. I wanted to know their secret.
It turns out that the locals heavily rely on their natural resources for Hawaiian-based products. Products from the mainland are used, but they embrace the bounty of their own homeland. Here are some of the islands's tried-and-true favorites.
Makeup Mantra: The Faux Glow
Less is more in Hawaii, but that doesn't mean that women go bare. For the I've-been-at-the-beach-all-day look without incurring sun damage, go with a bronzer all over the face and body. L'Oréal Glam Bronze Bronzing Powder is a loose and lightweight bronzer that gives a subtle glow to already sun-kissed skin. It isn't super shimmery, but has enough sheen to emulate a beachy tan.
Facial Focus: Sunscreen
Due to the seemingly endless amount of sunny days, it's hard not to get some rays. That's why sunscreen is a must every day in the Aloha State (as it should be everywhere!). The locals swear by the brand Maui Babe for their ray-banishing fix. "With skin as fair as mine, I don't dare step out in broad daylight without at least an SPF 30 sunblock," says Kauai-based beauty blogger Erika Valente. "I love that Maui Babe has travel-sized products that are perfect for two or three uses." For those interested in a quicker tan, the must-have Maui Babe Browning Lotion can go on after sunscreen. The Kona coffee plant extract in this lotion enhances tanning, and smells divine.
Beauty Buster: Catching Too Many Rays
Even with all the best intentions regarding sun protection, the ample rays are bound to leave you burned at one time or another. That's why a good post-sun moisturizer is nonnegotiable. Honey Girl Organics Super Skin Food is a body savior for sunburned and dry skin, and is worth slathering on after a day at the beach. Using local honey, bee pollen, beeswax and royal jelly, the certified organic formula deeply penetrates skin to heal worn and damaged areas. Another well-known moisturizer is based on one of the Aloha State's powerful nuts—kukui. The oils from kukui are high in omega-3s and easily melt into skin. Oils of Aloha, which touts itself as the world's source of kukui oil, is a Hawaiian staple. "I can't get enough of the Oils of Aloha Kukui Oil with Paradise Fragrance," Valente says. "The refreshing citrus scent is light and invigorating, and the oil doesn't leave my skin slippery in the Hawaiian humidity, like most lotions."
The Crucial Cosmetic: Nail Polish
When your fingers and toes are nearly always exposed, it's best to keep them painted. That's why nail polish is so essential to Hawaiian women. But don't expect to see any dark colors in the spectrum. Like the islands themselves, everything is bright and sunny when it comes to tips. Hawaii even has its own line of popular nail polishes—Island Girl—that can be found in local ABC stores. The polishes come in individual sizes or packs, and all the vivid hues pop on the skin. "Island Girl polishes are surprisingly durable and long-lasting for the price," Valente says. "Get the Mood Nail Color 3 Pack, with polishes that change color in the sun, to add variety to your vacation look—all for less than a Mai Tai."
After a day of splashing around in the salt water, hair can get stressed. A great savior is another favorite from Oils of Aloha, the Kukui Conditioning Shampoo. The kukui oil provides moisture to hydrate and strengthen strands, while also granting them body and sheen. If you need a bigger revitalizing boost after the shampoo, try Pureology Precious Hair Oil, which restores softness and manageability. It is so lightweight and nongreasy, you'll question whether it's even an oil to begin with.
When your life revolves around a land rich in natural resources, the sun and the cool ocean, you realize there's not much else you need. That's why a simplified beauty routine is key on Hawaii. A healthy tan and maybe the spare pop of color (not to mention sunscreen!) are all that's necessary to become a true island girl.
Photo: Thinkstock (map); courtesy of Erika Valente (portrait); courtesy of the brands (products).