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Photo by: Designed by Zhang Qingyun
Ghana, Shea butter

The history: Shea butter is made from the nut of the shea, or karite tree, which is indigenous to many African areas. In western countries like Ghana, it's used as a sunblock to prevent skin damage from ultraviolet rays.

The lowdown: An ingredient for high-quality lip products, shea butter is an excellent emollient. "It's nourishing, it's healing to the skin, it prevents chapping, and it has a long-lasting effect," says King. "Versus a lip balm that's petroleum-based, it tends to stay on the skin longer and is more of a barrier without affecting the skin function negatively, which petroleum-based products can do," explains King.

Although shea butter helps soften wrinkles and moisturizes skin, it's not good for all types. "For those who are prone to acne, their pores could get easily clogged, says Poole. "If you have this problem, I recommend the use of pure argan oil.

8 Beauty Secrets from Around the World

By Diana Nguyen, Refinery29

From antioxidant-laden botanicals to anti-aging serums, from mud masks to motorized cleansing systems, skin care has come a long way from the homemade butter soaps of yore. Thanks to technology and science, we can engineer formulas to a T(-zone). But, after centuries of medical advancements and beauty fads, we're left wondering if our ancestors deserve more credit than we've given them. After all, many cosmetic ingredients and techniques used a thousand years ago are still just as effective today.

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Not ones to let our thirst for beauty knowledge be left unquenched, we tapped two experts to share their insights on traditional skin care regimens and how - and why - they would work (or not) for the modern-day lady or lad.

With the help of Annet King, director of global education at The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, and Marjorie T. Poole, registered nurse and makeup artist for Global Goddess Beauty, a cosmetic line that specializes in botanical- and fruit-extract-infused products, we dismiss or confirm the benefits of the world's most useful or most useless beauty ingredients.

Whether it's white rice or bird poo, consider this the Rosetta Stone of skin care knowledge.

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