When it comes to skincare, we’re smart enough now to know that we should look to the East for all the latest innovations. But sometimes, looking to the past can yield even more solutions than the present. After all, a Chinese empress had poreless porcelain skin thousands of years before serums were invented, and a Japanese geisha knew how to cleanse her glowing complexion without the help of modern foaming cleansers.
Chinese medicine is largely based on knowing which herbs and roots can treat certain conditions—skincare included. Thus, it should come as no surprise that women in ancient China relied largely on herbs to keep their skin looking radiant. “Bei Qi, Huang Qi, and Goji are three herbs often used in traditional Chinese medicine for skincare,” Brian explains. “These herbs can be used topically—Bei Qi is known for improving skin clarity; Huang Qi is great for revitalizing tired, aging skin; and Goji is known to defend skin against aging.” To know exactly which ones to choose and how to use them topically, Brian recommends going to an herbal clinic or Chinese pharmacy. “The ratio may vary for your skin type, concern, age, and other factors,” she says.
Drink the Right Tea
In that same vein, Brian says you can also steep these herbs in hot water and make an herbal tea. They might not taste the best (this editor can attest to that, having grown up in a traditional Chinese household), but the fact that they’ve been used for thousands of years for glowing skin and a stronger immune system is a testament to that fact that they work. “There are many herbal teas and ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine,” she says. “These herbal remedies are prescribed depending on many factors, including the season and your symptoms.
Try a Jade Roller
Using a jade roller or stone on your face is believed to work the same way as dry brushing your body—by getting your circulation going and helping to detoxify. In ancient times, there were two basic devices: a jade roller to target acupuncture points and a special flat stone made of jade, which was used to open up the meridian blockage, allowing your Qi [Chi] and blood circulation to flow better.
Know the Power of Mung Beans
Turns out Chinese empresses enjoyed a DIY face mask as much as the rest of us. Their ingredient of choice? Mung beans, which were ground to a paste and thought to be good for healing acne and de-puffing, Brian says. Don’t enjoy the thought of putting mashed beans on your face? Try buying powdered mung beans (you can pick this up at your local Asian market or order some on Amazon) and mixing it with Greek yogurt for a skin-brightening mask that’s less messy.
DIY a Turmeric Mask
Turmeric is the DIY mask ingredient of choice for many brides in the Middle East, and it turns out Chinese women feel the same about this potent orange root; Brian says women in ancient China would make turmeric masks to help reduce wrinkles and even their skin tone.
These are the secrets to a glowing skin.