For Sarah-Jane Cor­field-Smith, the magic of travel in­cludes un­der­cov­er­ing beauty gems

Friday - - Beauty -

Re­cently I saw one of those sen­ti­men­tal In­sta­gram memes that said: ‘the world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page’. Whilst I would nor­mally roll my eyes and scroll past this sort of thing, this one struck me as be­ing res­o­lutely true. For travel, as we all know, broad­ens the mind. Sud­denly you are ex­posed to new foods and cul­tures – and if you’re a beauty junkie like me, a whole host of new ex­pe­ri­ences in the beauty aisles of the lo­cal su­per­mar­kets and pharmacies.

My first ex­pe­ri­ence with a beauty world en­tirely dif­fer­ent to the one I knew was aged 14 in Paris on a French ex­change pro­gramme. Des­per­ately try­ing to be so­phis­ti­cated, I ven­tured into a phar­macy just off the Champs-Elysées, only to be bom­barded with shelves of bot­tles that made no sense to me. I de­cided to stand and watch what the Parisian women did and copy them: A fail-safe plan I have fol­lowed ever since.

My ob­ser­va­tions re­vealed one over-rid­ing fac­tor. Whilst the women, all of dif­fer­ent skin tones and types, chose a se­lec­tion of prod­ucts, there was one bot­tle they all picked up. I rea­soned if it was good enough for all of them, I bet­ter give it a go too. I picked up the plas­tic bot­tle, filled with what looked like wa­ter, handed over my 5 Eu­ros and walked out. It was only when I came home and a make-up artist friend of my mum’s screamed with ex­cite­ment on see­ing it that I knew I had stum­bled across a great buy. The bot­tle turned out to be Bio­derma Mi­cel­lar Wa­ter. Lit­tle did I know that the hum­ble plas­tic bot­tle con­tained a cult cleanser that is so ef­fec­tive and ge­nius that make-up artists would make pil­grim­ages to Paris to stock up as, at that time, it wasn’t avail­able out­side of France.

Thank­fully, beauty ed­i­tors from across the globe cam­paigned for it to be shipped to other re­gions, the brand lis­tened and now it can be bought around the world – in­clud­ing the UAE. But there is still noth­ing like pick­ing up a bot­tle when­ever I’m in Paris; it feels more au­then­tic some­how.

From that day for­ward I have al­ways used any hol­i­days or trips to far-flung des­ti­na­tions to par­take in sim­i­lar ex­per­i­ments, ob­serv­ing what lo­cal women are buy­ing and in­ves­ti­gate the world’s beauty must-haves.

Atrip to Asia in 2009 opened my eyes to the weird and wacky world of Korean beauty brands, a firm favourite be­ing Tony Moly – a brand that has cult sta­tus and is known for its play­ful and fun pack­ag­ing. My eye was drawn to a pan­dashaped hand cream that I snapped up for the equiv­a­lent of Dh18s. It felt as though more thought is put into what prod­ucts look like than what they do. In Tokyo, Ja­panese women were hoard­ing Hello Kitty sham­poo, car­toon-adorned cleansers or panda-shaped any­thing – as was I.

That’s not to say there aren’t some amaz­ing in­gre­di­ents and tech­nolo­gies at play in these cute-as-candy prod­ucts. Nearly all beauty in­no­va­tions come from the East and they truly are at the fore­front of in­gre­di­ent dis­cov­ery and de­liv­ery mech­a­nism in­no­va­tion – they just pre­fer it with a colour­ful twist.

It was in Ja­pan that I tried (and fell in love with) my first sheet face mask; a con­cept I had never heard of be­fore but now has be­come the way to mask. It also in­tro­duced me to the won­der that is beauty vend­ing ma­chines. In nearly all Ja­panese sub­ways you stum­ble across vend­ing ma­chines stock­ing hand sani­tis­ers, fa­cial spritzes, SPFs, shower gels, body lo­tions and cleansers. They are filled with Body Shop prod­ucts – the height of so­phis­ti­ca­tion in Ja­pan, yet con­sid­ered very mid­dle of the road where I am from in the UK. That’s a fas­ci­nat­ing thing trav­el­ling opens your eyes to: What is one coun­try’s av­er­age brand is an­other’s pres­tige.

I’m lucky enough to travel fre­quently to the US and that means a stop-off at the haven for new beauty finds: CVS. Years ago, in New York re­port­ing on fash­ion shows, I stum­bled across May­belline Baby Lips – a fab, in­ex­pen­sive tinted lip balm that I’d spot­ted all the su­per­mod­els us­ing back­stage. Of course, that meant I bought 10. On my last trip to New York, deal­ing with the in­evitable jet-lag, I did the only thing that helps me in that sit­u­a­tion: Watch­ing shop­ping chan­nels. That was how I was in­tro­duced to that next big brand you need to know about, IT Cos­met­ics. Cre­ated by an ex-news­reader who is a rosacea suf­ferer, it has been de­vel­oped with plas­tic sur­geons to solve skin is­sues and beauty prob­lems. The hero prod­uct is the CC cream ($38) that cov­ers all pig­men­ta­tion, acne scar­ring and red­ness. But it was the eye­brow pen­cil, Brow Power ($24), that blew me away. It comes in one shade, but the harder you press down the deeper and darker the pig­ment gets. It hasn’t been off my face since.

And of course no trip to New York is com­plete with­out a visit to the beauty stand­out that is Glossier. A make-up stu­dio filled with just the prod­ucts you need – no gim­micks, noth­ing un­nec­es­sary, just prod­ucts to give you your most nat­u­ral, healthy, glow-y look ever. Their Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18) is their best­seller. Search for it on In­sta­gram – it has its own hash­tag – and you’ll see why. Ru­mours are Glossier is ex­pand­ing out­side of New York, so maybe if we start a pe­ti­tion it will come to the UAE. Then again – the fun is in find­ing it far from our shores, right?

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