(ETX Daily Up) – Finland has not finished surprising us, between its 36-year-old dancing Prime Minister and its many innovations. For this special Finland file, let’s go back to the routine and the beauty secrets that the world envies its inhabitants. From the sauna to the avanto through the vegetable sap and the wild berries… You can only succumb to the rituals for which the beauty of the Finns is renowned.
The sauna, an ancestral tradition
More than a simple beauty ritual, the sauna is a true art of living in Finland, to the point of having been added by Unesco to the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2020. Its importance is such that today there are more than 3 million for some 5.5 million inhabitants, whether public or private. Conviviality, authenticity, tradition, and well-being are the key words associated with this (almost) sacred place intended to cleanse the body and soul, and incidentally to relax. There is even a Finnish adjective, “saunanjälkeinen”, to express the state of plenitude and serenity felt after this ancestral ritual. Enough to make you want to practice it as regularly as our Finnish friends.
Obviously, the sauna has long been exported beyond the borders of Finland, with however some variations. The ‘real’ Finnish sauna requires a few very specific gestures, multiplying the benefits. It is practiced in the traditional way in a wooden hut – although the cabins are now more modern – where one immerses oneself – or almost – in a bath of dry heat, naked or in a bathing suit, with a temperature generally between between 70 and 100°C. Relaxation, bodily well-being, restful sleep, stimulation of blood circulation, deep cleansing of the skin, and the fight against stress, are among the multitude of benefits induced by regular sauna sessions.
Avanto, the frozen ritual
It is often said that a sauna is followed by an ice bath in Finland. It is actually not systematic, but this ritual remains common in many Nordic countries. Ice swimming, or winter swimming, which we find under the name of avanto – to understand ‘hole dug in the ice’ in Finnish – is an activity deemed beneficial for the skin, as well as for health, by the Finns. And the advantage is that it does not require much, except a swimsuit, and a good physical condition – essential to take no risks. Considering the number of lakes and rivers in Finland, the rest is child’s play (tourist friends, find out beforehand!).
The virtues of the cold are no longer to be proven, and are even more and more popular across the globe, so there is no doubt that the avanto does not lack health benefits. Not content to act on stress and well-being, as demonstrated by a Finnish study, ice water baths stimulate blood circulation, strengthen the immune system, help recovery, and promote firmness and the elasticity of the skin, which would only come out more radiant and full of health. If the Finns alternate sauna and ice bath, sometimes in the middle of nature, it is because the shock between the temperatures would reinforce all of these benefits. A ritual also just as beneficial for the body as for the soul.
Plant sap, herbs, and wild berries
If natural ingredients are unanimous today around the world, Finland, and more broadly the Nordic countries, have always been one step ahead in terms of natural beauty. Minimalist design, local assets, and little or no make-up are commonplace in Finnish bathrooms. No wonder when you consider that Finland is one of the most committed countries in terms of sustainable development, especially in food. A good reason to take a closer look at the essential ingredients that make up the beauty routine of the Finns, in addition to this quest for happiness and well-being which necessarily plays on their state of health, like that of their skin.
Among the riches of nature that contribute to sublimating the skin of the Finns are the plant saps of many national trees, mushrooms, certain herbs, or even wild berries. Ingredients that we have little – or not – used to finding in our cosmetics – for the moment in any case. There are many Finnish brands that exploit their virtues, like Lumene, which offers cosmetics based on pure Arctic spring water, Arctic mulberries, cranberries, or even Nordic algae, and Repolar Pharmaceuticals, which concentrates on spruce resin to treat certain infections and burns, as well as acne.
Find the other articles of our special Finland:
In Finland, fines for speeding are indexed to… income
How Finland is thinking about the food of tomorrow to reduce the carbon footprint of our meals
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