Food fads come and go, but the one that is still beloved by both nutritionists and medical researchers alike after all these years is the Mediterranean Diet. But could the olive-oil loaded, plant-rich (wine included!) way of eating do more than just help you live longer? Like make you look like you got 8 hours of sleep every night (when you didn’t) and had the naturally glowing skin of Isabella Rossellini?
The answer, says Jasmine Urzia, a Tuscany native and the founder of natural skincare line Radice Apothecary, is a resounding yes. What the Mediterranean Diet has done for Italian women’s health, she swears, it’s absolutely done for their skin.
“I learned all my beauty traditions from my grandmother,” says Urzia. “She was a pharmacist and I grew up working with her in her lab.” Her nonna’s formulations are the basis of Urzia’s own luxury products. “I believe it’s really important to use the ingredients I know from Italy, so I spend half my time at my family’s farm in Tuscany, infusing oils and hand-picking the herbs and flowers for my creams.”
So what’s behind Uriza’s Italian skincare secrets exactly? Here, the beauty expert shares the six staple ingredients of her Mediterranean skincare diet—ingredients you’ll want to slather on or eat more often for bellissima skin. —Victoria Lewis
“Lavender is really Italian. It grows everywhere! It’s so soothing for the skin and its essential oils can be used directly on the skin to increase circulation and promote healing. Plus, it has tons of vitamin E.”
“Puglia and Tuscany are covered in olive trees, and olive oil is one of Italy’s biggest products. I infuse olive oil with herbs or flowers to put into my products because it really allows me to extract all the vitamins. On its own, it’s also packed with vitamin E and antioxidants and is very nourishing and moisturizing for the skin.”
“This is one of the most quintessential Italian ingredients. We use it as toner and we also put it into our food. Radice’s Orange Blossom Water comes from a tiny place in Sicily where an old Italian woman grows some trees; she picks the blossoms from the trees, leaves them in barrels of water under the sun for about a month, and then bottles the water. The water becomes so powerful, not only with the vitamins from the blossoms but also with the energy and power from the sun. It’s beautifully refreshing and soothing to the skin, especially in warmer months.”
“Rose water is another important traditional ingredient for us. Roses grow wild all over Tuscany; they are so much stronger than the ones you find in flower shops. I remember when I was young, my grandmother would pick hundreds of rose petals and make a bath for herself with them. It was so beautiful because the petals were all different colors. Now, we infuse them into water, which is very soothing and anti-inflammatory for the skin.”
“This little yellow flower is so important because it’s great to fight wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks. But, according to our tradition, it must be picked on the night between June 23 and June 24. It’s called the Night of the Witches, and it’s the time when the flower’s medicinal properties are strongest. I pick these flowers by hand—which is very important for all herbs and flowers, so that you get only the best ones—and soak them in lots of olive oil. It’s a very special and powerful ingredient.”
“Almonds are another native ingredient that can be used in many ways. Sweet almond oil is emollient, softening, nourishing, and soothing for the skin. And it has a lot of vitamins A and B. Pregnant women in Italy use it to avoid stretch marks. We also use it as a natural makeup remover, and even as a hair conditioning treatment. Plus it smells amazing!”
Ready to dive in to the Mediterranean skincare diet? Here are 10 ways to incorporate olive oil into your beauty routine to get you started…