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In Honor of the Movie Nine: How to be Italian – or Just an Italian-Inspired Beauty

Posted Dec 11 2009 9:01pm

By futurederm Saturday December 12, 2009

At first glance, I might appear Asian.  In fact, I am Asian (Korean-American), but that’s only on the outside.  Truthfully speaking,  I was adopted by a 3/4-Italian family when I was four months old, and so I have been raised largely in the Italian tradition.

With the movie Nine to be released on Christmas Day, being an Italian woman is suddenly very en vogue, but then again, as my father would say, when is it not?   Here are some ways to infuse your life with Italian-inspired beauty tips, largely from my mother and grandmother:

Or EVOO, as Rachael Ray would call it.  Truth be told, we used it growing up because it had many practical uses:  a drop in pasta water prevented it from sticking together; a little on your eggs tasted better than butter; rolling your pizza dough in olive oil and garlic made for deliciousness later.  But lately, olive oil has been found to have many anti-aging and health-smart properties as well, including antioxidantinhibition of UVB-induced tumor formation, and protection against UV-induced skin damage.  Olive oil also contains resveratrol, which may promote the activity of sirtuins, agents that are currently suspected to prolong the life of your collagen-producing cells, fibroblasts.

But what I really like about olive oil is the way it always made my hands so soft after kneading pizza dough in it, even after rinsing.  Skin care companies have noted this effect, and olive oil is now the prominent ingredient in formulations like N.V. Perricone Olive Oil Polyphenols Hydrating Nutrient Mask ($62.00,

Sophia Loren knew, as does Kim Kardashian (although she’s not Italian, but oh well):  smoky eyes make for a sexy woman.  Although Americans typically reserve their smoky lids and winged eyeliner for evening time, many gorgeous Italian women can be seen rocking glamorous eye makeup over lunch.  And why not?  My mother taught me the secret of winged eyeliner when I was a teenager, and today, I won’t leave home without it.  Three secrets:

My mother, a beautiful 1/2 German- 1/2 Italian woman, is a former hairdresser.  Growing up, I was a bookworm.  Hence, somewhere between a zygote and beauty blogger, I tended to want my hair short or in a ponytail, but my mother protested:  ”Do something with that hair!”  And so I let her.  Curls, waves, tight curls, straight.  Eventually, it grew on me:  To this day, it’s down to my waist, and it always has something done to it.  (Usually waves, so it comes to the middle of my back, where I like it.)

Hair is essentially your look.  If you don’t believe me, go to Yearbook, a site that changes your look by your hairstyle and clothes, and you’ll realize the extent to which your hair = your look.  With that said, if you walk around Italy, you will see far more glam hair and far less wash-and-go convenient hair.  If you make any investment in your hair, get a T3 dryer, with ionic technology and 2000 watts of heavy-duty power that will leave your hair dry in far less time.  And for any style, I highly recommend L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hold Hairspray – it’s been a beauty industry stronghold (no pun intended) for decades.

Coco Chanel, ever the influential Frenchwoman, advised her peers to do just the opposite.  However, the true Italian woman knows the power of the accessory.  Rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches – they were all invented for a reason, and if worn with confidence, taste, and sophistication, there’s no reason why your favorites can’t be worn together.

Can’t over-accessorize?  Another key to Italian beauty is to have a few “statement” pieces you never take off.   I always wear a necklace my boyfriend bought me for my birthday, and exactly three rings.  No less, no more.  Find ways to make those who glance at you want to study you – and make sure there are dimensions of interest to reveal.

Find your signature scent, and don’t leave home without spritzing it on.  I was taught at a very young age not to leave the house without putting on body lotion, and later (as a teenager) perfume.  Although there were a few faux pas – I learned the hard way teachers don’t like children who “borrow” their mother’s Charlie by Revlon lotion – it has done wonders for my skin.  Today I love Olay Quench unscented body lotion and Chanel No. 5 eau premiere.

There’s the new Ermenegildo Zegna Zegna Colonia Eau de Toilette Spray, which “captures the essence of Italy” with top notes of neroli, bergamot, and cardamom.  The middle notes are iris, violet, and galbanum, stabilized by base cedar, musk, and benzoin.  For more information, please visit

Of course, women of all countries can be exceptionally beautiful, but I thought I would share my enthusiasm for Italian-inspired beauty in honor of the upcoming movie Nine.  If you are interested in beauty tips from other cultures, read Passport to Beauty: Secrets and Tips from Around the World for Becoming a Global Goddess ($10.79,  Makeup artist Shalini Vhadera shares excellent beauty tips from around the globe, and it’s a light, fun, and interesting read.

Furthermore, I fully acknowledge that not all Italian women follow these beauty tips, and I apologize if anyone is offended.  I only wanted to share the beauty tips from my own experience!

If you have any beauty tips to share, feel free to do so in comments below!

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