Can’t make it all the way to South America? No need to worry, because our Latina Beauty workshop is a global experience right here in NYC. Inspired by the beauty in Latina culture and the power of the ingredients in South America, this experience transported guests to different realms through the beautiful space filled with carpets, dream catchers, music, candles, and crystals. Powerful women filled the room, ready to embark on a beauty journey together and discover the many elements that make up Latina beauty roots.
After taking off our shoes and sitting in a circle, our founder Stephanie asked what makes us all feel beautiful. Each woman had something unique to say, whether it was about being herself, feeling comfortable, being with loved ones, and surrounding herself with other inspiring women. The connection in the room was unforgettable, as everyone was sharing their minds and opening up to the power of a women’s circle.
We had a full beauty meditation while Stephanie burned Palo Santo and blessed each and every one of us. It was an extremely calming and aromatic experience.
Palo Santo is known as the tree of life in Argentina. It is related to other mystical woods such as Frankincense, Myrrh, and Copal. Burning this natural wood as an incense clears the air of evil spirits and creates a spiritually healing aroma. Palo Santo is Spanish for “Holy Wood” and it has been used by the Incas as a natural remedy. Palo Santo essential oil is also used in aromatherapy, as it calms the body. It is said that the aroma of Palo Santo enhances creativity. As the aroma permeated through the room, a sense of relaxation and belonging was brought upon all of us.
Our honored guest, Rena Unger, priestess and plant medicine extraordinaire, brought a sacred cacao drink for everyone to try. The bittersweet herbal beverage opens the heart chakras to allow peaceful mindfulness. It was the perfect opening to our Beauty Meditation because it centers the mind as you meditate, as if gravity is bringing you further into the Earth.
Cacao is filled with antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E. It also creates a protective sunblock, works against sun-spots, stretch marks and has anti-aging benefits. Cacao is one of Dominican Republic’s biggest exports and is used for all things beauty. Women utilize it from everything as a hair repair treatment to a lip balm for chapped lips. Xocoatl is a chocolate drink made from cacao, and it dates back to the Mayans and Aztecs. In Aztec society, drinking Xocoatl was the privilege of nobles and priests, who consumed it in vast quantities.
We began the next beauty ritual: creating a Herbal Bathing pouch wrapped in a banana leaf. Listening to soothing Latin music, we learned about each ingredient and its cultural significance . After wrapping our bathing offerings, we held them to bless the womb before putting them away to take home.
Herbal Inca baths are sacred, as many consider water a purification tool for the soul. Sacred and herbal bathing is thought to hold healing and cleansing qualities. Offerings like flowers, confetti, and beans are added into the water that symbolize different things, such as prosperity, wealth, health, good luck, and fertility. Women bathe in similar waters for purification as a coming-of-age before a wedding night or for ceremonial Inca beginnings.
Our next beauty ritual was hair braiding and flower-crown making. Petals covered the entire floor as everyone adorned each other’s hair with beautiful ribbons, braids, and blooms. This part of the workshop was the most lively and fun, as each woman connected and helped each other create a beautiful crown that matches our favorite Snapchat filter.
Peruvian Hair Rituals
Hair Yarn is a mostly Peruvian Latina tradition. Throughout Peru, you will see the native women of all ages wearing long braids. Long, braided hair represents much more than just a hairstyle to the Quechua; the braids signify the marital status of Peruvian women. Two braids reveals that a woman in the tribe is married, while one or many braids means that she is single. Peruvian women weave yarn into their braids to make their hair appear longer, as well as colored fabrics as an adornment.
Looking around the room, the beauty was overwhelming. Each woman had a bright smile on her face while admiring her creations, helping one another create flower crowns, chatting, and connecting. The day concluded with another beauty meditation as we all reflected on our experience and thanked everyone for taking the time to celebrate other women. Everyone was so grateful to connect with each other.
It is incredibly rewarding to see each goddess in our circle open up and become her true self. We hope you are able to join us and discover your beauty roots to have the same experience, leaving the workshop with your inner beauty shining brighter than before.
Written by Halle Butler
Photos by Halle Butler