Our Abuelas Used Natural Skincare Before it Was a Trend

latina middle aged woman wearing hat smiling inside a greenhouse

Our Latin American parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents came from lands with a diverse array of plant life and a rich history of traditional medicine. Many plants native to Latin America have been used for centuries to treat various ailments and promote overall health and wellness. In recent years, as more and more people re-connect with their roots and heritage, they are discovering plants and traditions used for natural skincare.

The aloe vera plant is one of the most well-known Latin American plants used in natural skincare. Aloe vera is a succulent plant native to the Caribbean and parts of Latin America. It’s known for its soothing and healing properties and is often used to treat sunburns, cuts, and other skin irritations. Aloe vera is also rich in antioxidants and vitamins, which can help to nourish and rejuvenate the skin.

Another popular plant used in Latin American natural skincare is the chia seed. Chia seeds are native to Mexico and are packed with nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants. They are often used in facial masks and other skincare products to help moisturize and nourish the skin.

In addition to plants, traditional remedies and techniques are also a big part of Latin American natural skincare. For example, many people in Latin America use natural ingredients like honey, avocado, and coconut oil as a part of their skincare routine. These ingredients are believed to help soothe and nourish the skin and are often used in home remedies for various skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

One traditional skincare technique that has gained popularity in recent years is clay masks. Clay masks, made from natural clays found in Latin America, are believed to help remove impurities from the skin and improve its overall appearance. They are often used to treat acne, reduce inflammation, and tighten and tone the skin.

Try these DIY natural skincare treatments that can be made at home using Latin American ingredients:

Aloe Vera Moisturizer

Man holding up two Aloe vera plants in a white potPhoto by feey on Unsplash
  1. Mix 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oils (such as lavender or tea tree).
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small jar or container and use as a moisturizer.

Honey and Avocado Face Mask

Avocado & HoneyPhoto by Slashio Photography on Unsplash
  1. Mash together 1/2 an avocado and one tablespoon of honey.
  2. Spread the mixture over your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rinse the mask off with warm water and pat your face dry.

Coconut Oil and Sugar Scrub

sliced bread on brown wooden round plate beside clear glass mugPhoto by Nisha Ramesh on Unsplash
  1. Mix together 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 1/2 cup of sugar.
  2. Use the scrub to gently exfoliate your skin, paying special attention to rough or flaky areas.
  3. Rinse the scrub off with warm water and pat your face dry.

Clay Face Mask

brown rockPhoto by Josh Boaz on Unsplash
  1. Mix 1/4 cup of natural clay (such as bentonite or kaolin clay), two tablespoons of aloe vera gel, one teaspoon of honey, and one teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Apply the mask to your face and leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rinse the mask off with warm water and pat your face dry.

Chia Seed Facial Oil

votive candlePhoto by Chelsea shapouri on Unsplash
  1. Mix 1/4 cup of chia seeds and 1/2 cup of carrier oil (such as jojoba or avocado oil).
  2. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour or overnight.
  3. Strain the mixture to remove the chia seeds and transfer the oil to a small jar or container.
  4. Use the oil as a facial moisturizer, or add a few drops to your favorite skincare products.

Overall, Latin American plants and traditions offer a wealth of natural skincare options. From aloe vera and chia seeds to traditional remedies and techniques, these resources can help nourish, soothe, and rejuvenate the skin. Our ancestors knew what they were doing.

a four image collage featuring queer actresses MJ Rodriguez, Aubrey Plaza, Tessa Thompson and Sara Ramirez

Amid the ongoing push towards equality and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, the influence of public figures who identify as part of this community is undeniably crucial. They contribute to this narrative significantly, their impact transcending their professional boundaries to create safe spaces and ignite discussions that shatter stereotypes and nurture inclusivity. Today, we shine a spotlight on four prominent Latina trailblazers who are making their mark:

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson, an Afro-Panamanian actress, has earned widespread recognition for her performances in films like "Creed" and "Thor: Ragnarok". Thompson is open about her bisexuality and uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry. Her role in "Thor: Ragnarok" is considered a landmark as Valkyrie is one of the first explicitly queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the explicitness of Valkyrie's bisexuality was contested in the cinematic release, Thompson has confirmed and embraced this aspect of the character. Thompson continues to champion diversity in media, raising the bar for representation in Hollywood.

Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza, of Puerto Rican and Irish descent, is widely known for her role as April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation". Plaza publicly came out as bisexual in 2016, and she has since been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. By openly discussing her bisexuality, she has helped increase visibility and eliminate the stigma associated with non-heterosexual orientations. Additionally, her portrayal of queer characters, like in the film "Happiest Season", provides much-needed representation and adds to the authenticity of LGBTQ+ characters in media.

Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez, a Mexican-American actress, singer, and activist, is best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy". Ramirez, who identifies as non-binary and bisexual, has been a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Their portrayal of Dr. Torres, one of the longest-running queer characters on television, has significantly influenced the way bisexuality is understood and depicted in popular media. Off-screen, Ramirez is heavily involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy, serving on the board of organizations like True Colors United, which works to combat homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.

MJ Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, has made history as a trailblazer for transgender individuals, particularly in the world of television. Rodriguez's groundbreaking role as Blanca Evangelista on "Pose" earned her critical acclaim and marked a significant milestone for trans representation on screen. Rodriguez is open about her identity as a trans woman, leveraging her platform to call attention to issues affecting the transgender community. Her achievements, both as an actress and activist, provide a beacon of hope and inspiration for transgender individuals worldwide.

Through their activism and their work in the media, these prominent figures are not only changing the conversation around LGBTQ+ rights and representation but also shaping a more inclusive and accepting future. In honoring their contributions, we also acknowledge the progress still needed and the ongoing efforts of countless others in the fight for equality and acceptance.