By Mi-Anne Chan
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably noticed the buzz surrounding Asian beauty brands — and even have a few favorite products from the East in your regimen. We love our trusty South Korean and Japanese beauty brands, but China offers up some choice buys as well, but is often over-looked. This is unfortunate, given that Chinese medicine has devoted thousands of years to finding solutions to a plethora of skin- and body-care woes.
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“The concept of Chinese medicine is to channel our life force (chi), so that it can correct any imbalances in our bodies,” says Ling Chan, Chinese skin-care specialist, celebrity facialist, and founder of Ling Skincare. This “chi” energy travels through the meridian system, which is described as an energy highway that runs throughout the body. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses procedures like acupuncture, herbal therapy, and massage to stimulate this system.
“It’s all about the balance of yin and yang,” adds Wei Young Brian, founder of Wei Beauty, a skin-care line formulated with Chinese medicine in mind. Brian uses Chinese herbs like bitter melon and China rose to bring off-kilter skin to balance. “I believe that there can be blockages in the microchannels under the skin,” Brian says. “We use deep-cleaning and purifying products to increase circulation, so that these blockages can move.”
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So, in honor of this year’s Met Gala theme — “China: Through the Looking Glass” — we’ve rounded up a few of our own favorites. While not all of the effects of TCM are backed by conclusive evidence, we can attest that these Chinese beauty brands’ formulations really work.
Here at Refinery, we love double-masking to keep our skin balanced and pampered. By separating the black purifying mask (step one) and the white nourishing mask (step two) into fool-proof sections, this skin savior does all the thinking for you — in true yin and yang fashion.
Herborist T'ai Chi Mask, $80, available at Herborist.
If you’ve ever used a cold spoon to de-puff tired eyes or hot steam to help your skin absorb product, this gadget should be right up your alley. The Tao Wei will help you get the most out of whatever product you’re using. Its hot setting will liquify your serum or cream, and make sure it’s fully absorbed into your skin. The cold setting will tighten your pores and lock in all those nutrients. It’s all about achieving harmony in your skin.
Wei Beauty Tao Wei Cool 2 Hot Sonic Beautifier, $198, available at Wei Beauty.
Tiger Balm was one of the first Chinese products I was introduced to as a child, and I still love it to this day. This no-fuss balm has been a fan favorite since its creation in the 1870s, and for good reason: You can use it to relieve almost anything, from muscle tension and headaches to stuffy noses and even bruises. Simply warm the product up in your hands before applying, and you’ll instantly be witness to the pain-relieving qualities.
Tiger Balm Extra Strength Pain Relieving Ointment, $6.99, available at Drugstore.com.
“Asian beauty principles are based on proper exfoliation and hydration,” says Chan. “This balances the skin while preventing and treating skin ailments before they arise.” We love this solution from Ling’s line, which is formulated with a nourishing blend of vitamin K and soothing herbs that work together to reduce redness, sensitivity, and the appearance of broken capillaries.
Ling Skincare Vitamin K Anti-Redness Calming Solution, $80, available at Ling Skincare.
This product may be labeled “breath freshener,” but it has a myriad of other uses. Watermelon Frost has inflammation-calming properties, making it a great spot treatment for any skin issues you may be experiencing. It’s most traditionally used for oral care (it works wonders on canker and cold sores), but we like applying it on zits to decrease swelling, too.
SANJIN Watermelon Frost Compound Solstice, $13.99, available at Amazon.
If you’re looking for a purifying mask that won’t dry out your skin, Wei Beauty’s Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask is the way to go. The mask uses the extract of golden root, an antioxidant-rich plant that only grows in cold regions like the mountains of Central Asia. “You have the typical mud mask to pull the impurities out of the skin, coupled with the golden root to renew the skin,” says Brian. “This way, you get a better result.”
Wei Beauty Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask, $42, available at Wei Beauty.