Another fabulous post from my LA contributor, writer and beauty lover, Marisa Kronenberg.
Now more than ever Eastern skincare and beauty secrets are seeping into mainstream America. It’s super exciting because I’ve been practicing many of these techniques and using products from brands like Missha, Shiseido, and Shu Uemura since I was a teen. I’m half Thai and because my mom grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, I was lucky enough to spend many holidays and vacations abroad, absorbing Asian culture. Over the years, I’ve accumulated and adopted many Eastern skin and beauty tips that have shaped my skincare and makeup routine.
Eastern philosophy practices a mind, body, spirit approach to beauty. Asian women have always been well informed about the benefits of natural ingredients and the disadvantages of chemicals in their products, so many brands tend to use more herbs and botanicals and less artificial stuff. Now brands like Tata Harper and RMS Beauty are following suit with all natural, organic ingredients, which is nice to see especially when results aren’t sacrificed in the name of being green.
In general, Asian women are soooo diligent about taking care of their skin, and I have definitely inherited that slightly neurotic mentality from Asian culture. Asian women spend about seven times more on beauty than the average American woman (guilty as charged!), so Asian brands have to stay ahead of the curve to satisfy their extremely savvy consumers. I remember returning home from a trip to Thailand with a suitcase full of special facial oils and do-it-all creams that are now finally being sold in the US. From skin brightening products to the growing popularity of BB creams, CC creams, facial toning devices and more, Asian culture is staking a claim in the American beauty market for good.
On that note, I’ve pulled together the beauty secrets that were been passed down to me from generations of skin-obsessed and wrinkle-free Asian women! Want the secret to perfect skin? Look no further than She’s in the Glow approved guide to Eastern beauty treatments & secrets.
Double Cleansing – In Asia, one round of facial cleansing isn’t enough! It may sound tedious, but “double cleanse” your skin by following the “424” method and your skin will totally thank you. First, massage a cleansing oil like Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil into your skin for 4 minutes, then use your regular face wash for 2 minutes (I love Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser) before washing your face with lukewarm water for another 4 minutes. For extra purified skin, finish with a polish like Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. This powdery exfoliator has calming green tea and papaya extract and will leave your skin looking like a porcelain china doll.
Paper Masks – These ultra hydrating and rejuvenating masks have been used in Asia for centuries. They are made from cotton and doused in a serum of vitamins and collagen that absorb into your skin. Perfect after a long flight (or a long night!), I use them one to two times a week for an instant pick-me-up. My favorites are the Real Essential Sheet Mask by Missha and the Collagen Essence Mask by MJ Care. You need em! I also live for the SK-II Facial Treatment Masks.
Facial Sculpting and Toning – When I was younger, I was taught to use a soup spoon to drain the lymph nodes around my face and neck for a more toned and less bloated appearance. Now, there are high-tech devices like the NuFace that will do it for you and tone your facial muscles on a cellular level. These really work, and are backed by clinical proof to improve facial contour, tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. To really amp up the treatment, use the device with a collagen packed serum like my favorite, Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster. Even products like Clarins Facial Sculpting Serum and the Sculpting Mask deliver an instantly fresh look. They are seriously amazing! Another tip is to keep your pillow elevated at night so the fluids can flow down and not accumulate in your face. Comes in handy after a night of sodium-ridden sushi and sake!
Facial Slapping – Firmly but gently pat your face when massaging in your moisturizer to stimulate circulation and raise energy levels in the skin—think the McCauley Culkin a la Home Alone, ‘AHHH!’ face.
Moringa Oil – At this point we’ve all heard about the benefits of coconut oil, which doesn’t hold a candle to amazing anti-aging and radiance boosting Moringa Oil, which comes of course, from the “Miracle Tree.” This nutrient packed oil can be used simply as a moisturizer and even as your cleansing oil in the first step of the ‘424’ cleansing method. My aunt even gave a bottle to Renee Zellwegger after she asked her how she keeps her skin looking so smooth and wrinkle-free at age 50! Renee now swears by it too.
SPF – While Americans pride themselves on their deep vacation tans, Asians prefer their skin as white and bright as possible. But one of the best things about America is the variety of natural skin tones. To maintain your personal best natural skin tone and texture, never leave the house without SPF. Shiseido’s sunscreen line is amaaazing and won’t clog your pores. If you need to leave the house in a hurry and want to minimize your steps, Korean line Koh Gen Do’s cult (and makeup artist) favorite Aqua Foundation has an SPF of 15 and will cover imperfections while giving you a fresh, dewy glow. I also live for the Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream and Wei’s Anti-Aging CC Cream. These products act like a foundation, treatment, and sunblock in one and are heaven sent for the girl on the go. And in summer months when SPF is most necessary, I also keep oil-absorbing sheets like Shiseido’s Pureness Oil Blotting Papers handy because I tend to get shiny.
Tea – Tea is a staple in Asian culture, and has a ton of known benefits for digestion, metabolism, energy, and disease prevention. I personally drink about 3 cups of matcha green tea a day as an alternative to coffee. I also love “Detox Teas” made from natural herbs and seeds like chicory root, dandelion, and flaxseed. I’ll drink it at night before bed for overnight cleansing when my body is feeling sluggish, especially when I’m traveling. The Detox Skinny Herbs Tea and the Ksumi BB (Beauty Beverage!) Detox Tea are two of my favorites because they have all the same ingredients of the teas they’ve made for centuries in Asia!
Pearl Powder – Pearl powder, which can be taken orally and comes in capsule form, is one of the best beauty secrets from the ancient Orient. It’s rich in minerals, amino acids, and delivers incredible anti-aging benefits. It’s also a main ingredient in Koh Gen Do’s Natural Lighting Powder (such a good one), which diffuses light to balance your skin and set your foundation. I take a capsule a day from Dragon Herbs and my skin is so naturally bright and luminous!
The Korean Spa – It’s one of the most treasured parts of my beauty regimen. In Asian cultures, the bath isn’t just a place to wash your body, it’s the place you go to cleanse your soul. I’ll go to the Olympic Spa in Koreatown on a Sunday afternoon once a month or so and spend all day in and out of their detoxifing and rejuvenating saunas, whirlpools, and stone therapy rooms. Their scrubs will give you exfoliation like you’ve never experienced before. Seriously, I feel like I have glowing baby skin and a purified aura every time I leave that place. If you don’t have one in your city or cant find the time, simply spa at home! Take a nice steamy bath (the how-to is here!) and use a natural exfoliator like Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish, light some candles and zen out! I love Diptyque’s Jasmin Candle and Byredo’s Ambre Japonais Candle because they instantly transport you Eastern heaven.