Backpacking through South America in 2013 was a dream adventure for Stephanie Flor, 28, who documents her global grooming travels in her Around the World Beauty blog. More important, it gave the New York City-based makeup artist a chance to reconnect with her Ecuadorian and Costa Rican roots. “It’s beautiful to go back to your native country to discover traditions passed down through generations,” says Flor. Follow her recommendations here. ¡Buen viaje!

“I felt a connection to the land as soon as I arrived,” says Flor of the country, home to the Galápagos Islands. She suggests you explore the capital city of Quito, indulge in thermal baths and volcanic mud treatments in Baños, and canoe at the Amazonian Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Flor treated herself to the $8 DIY volcanic mud treatment at El Refugio spa, just outside Baños.

The Lipstick Tree
The seeds of the achiote plant, above, are mixed with water to create pigment. Women then paint their faces with it for special celebrations. Flor gives it a try.

Shopping in Quito
Honey-infused soaps at artisanal beauty shop Api Real

“The climb to Machu Picchu is amazing, but to really experience local beauty, stay with a family in Patabama in the Sacred Valley,” says Flor. Afterward, head over to Cusco for beauty and spiritual pampering. “The services incorporate so many ancient rituals,” she says.

Belleza Natural
A visit with a local Quechua family taught Flor, far left, about the benefits of treating the skin and hair with yucca root and aloe vera.

Water Ceremony
Purifying herbs and flowers are poured during treatments.

Pretty Plaits
Braids in Peru signify marital status and youthfulness.

“Here you get to see how the Caribbean culture has influenced Central America,” says Flor, who recommends a visit to the Bocas del Toro islands. “My favorite was a tour with area farmers and local women who make chocolate.”

Beaded Beauties
The Kuna women wrap strings of colorful beads around their arms and legs to protect against evil spirits.

Drugstore Get
“Aloe-based shampoo is a staple for Latinas, known for their long hair.” Here, a local favorite.