Discover the new generation of beauty brands that seek inspiration from Eastern ingredients and time-honoured philosophies.
While the world of modern skincare can seem increasingly complicated, with its avalanche of high-tech acids and molecules, many beauty brands are instead looking to the past to discover traditional Asian philosophies and regimes that deliver proven results.
“I think our world in recent years has really gone out of line, so we are beginning to seek influence from tried-and-tested methods used in the past, blending lifelong philosophies with newer medications,” says Ada Ooi, founder of the award-winning 001 Skincare, which incorporates elements of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) into its products. “Traditions like TCM view beauty as total wellness, by mindfully balancing from the inside out. Not only is TCM a well-researched medicine system documented for more than 5,000 years, it has also proven to be effective and beneficial to medical issues unanswered by Western medicine.”
Kristen Tong, the chief operating officer of newly launched skincare range Miaqua, agrees. “We take inspiration from centuries-old Asian medicinal philosophies, which focus on balancing the body and skin,” she explains. “Modern customers are more skincare-savvy than ever and they’re also more demanding. By using products that incorporate these traditional philosophies and elements, they’re benefitting from it holistically, where one product can be the solution for several issues. They’re also benefitting from centuries of trial, where traditional elements have been used and tested before they’re passed down.”
With that in mind, we highlight some of the best beauty brands inspired by age-old Asian wellness traditions and ingredients—and some signature products to try for summer:
After suffering from acute dermatitis, Tatcha founder Victoria Tsai decided to look to the East for a simpler, holistic approach to beauty. Having researched the time-tested ingredients, philosophies, and skincare secrets that had been passed down for generations in Japan, she launched Tatcha. The brand’s latest product, The Dewy Serum, is inspired by the Japanese concept of shinsei, meaning new birth.
With a formula powered by Tatcha’s renowned Hadasei-3 complex – which combines traditional Japanese superfood ingredients including green tea, rice, and algae – this lightweight serum helps promote the skin’s natural surface turnover, smoothing the appearance of lines and improving texture, and ultimately resulting in a radically revitalised complexion.
Available at Lane Crawford
Taiwanese brand Yuan is passionate about “the healing power of the land”, harvesting all-natural botanical and herbal ingredients from its own back-to-basics farm, located in Yangmingshan National Park.
Its signature handmade Herbal Soap Bars feature zero preservatives and come in 31 varieties, with each showcasing different combinations of botanical extracts carefully chosen to tackle specific skin concerns. Many of these have a rich heritage as TCM remedies. Try wild mugwort for relieving eczema, mung bean for brightening the complexion, or heartleaf houttuynia for clearing toxins.
Available at Eslite
New York’s buzzy wellness line WTHN started as an acupuncture studio before branching into other aspects of holistic beauty inspired by ancient medicine. Blending the old and new with powerful results, its range of 100% organic health supplements use age-old Chinese formulas and herbal blends with proven therapeutic properties. Fully Charged features a potent blend of fatigue-fighting herbs like rhodiola root, schisandra fruit, goji berry, and pseudostellaria root. Designed to elevate energy flow, improve endurance, and enhance cognitive function, it’s the perfect supplement to help you power through another hot and hectic Hong Kong summer.
Available at Lane Crawford
Launched in 2016 by luxury conglomerate LVMH, Cha Ling is the world’s first beauty brand to be built exclusively around the rarest, purest form of pu’er tea, picked from thousand-year-old forests in China’s Yunnan province. Pu’er’s detoxifying and regenerative properties have long been recognised in TCM, and are utilised to exceptional effect in the best-selling Infusion Serum, which features Cha Ling’s highly concentrated B-DT complex, extracted from pu’er. Helping clear toxins and defend against free radicals, pollution, and environmental damage, this feather-light serum gives complexions a fresh lease of life and a lit-from-within summer glow.
Available at Sephora
Amorepacific is celebrated for its botanical expertise, especially when it comes to the revitalising benefits of green tea. The South Korean brand has its own green tea field on Jeju Island (spanning a whopping 35.6 million square feet), where it harvests first-sprouted tea leaves featuring an antioxidant that’s 200 times more powerful than vitamin E.
The famed AbsoluTea extract forms the bedrock of the range, including its Time Response Intensive Renewal Ampoule, which is paired with the similarly effective EGCG Renewal Powder, also obtained from green tea, to enhance collagen production and skin cell repair. This luxurious four-week programme promises to turn back the clock on ageing as it smooths lines, boosts resilience, and rejuvenates complexions—just in time for those all-important summer social media snaps.
Available at Amorepacific
Red ginseng is the magic ingredient for fellow South Korean brand Sulwhasoo. Used for centuries in traditional medicine, Sulwhasoo has dedicated more than five decades to researching Korean ginseng, eventually extracting rare elements that transform skin density.
Meanwhile, Sulwhasoo’s Heritage and Science Centre explores how ancient remedies can work with cutting-edge technology, verifying the efficacy of more than 3,900 herbal complexes. This knowledge is displayed to stellar effect in the Concentrated Ginseng Rescue Ampoule, which blends the brand’s trademark ginseng extract with anti-inflammatory ginseng berry to reduce inflammation, increate hydration, and restore skin to its prime condition.
Available at Sulwhasoo
Wei Beauty, was founded by Wei Young Brian, who after studying TCM in childhood found herself using its treatments as an adult to cure her son’s complex medical issues. Passionate about conveying TCM’s healing powers to the next generation, she created Wei—learning practical herb applications from remote Chinese communities and sourcing authentic, fair-trade ingredients from local farmers. The velvety Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask highlights precious golden root that’s hand-picked from the Tibetan Plateau, which de-stresses skin and diminishes oxidative damage. This combines with purifying China clay and soothing jujube fruit to create a deeply cleansing mask that’s ideal for congested skin.
Available at JOYCE Beauty
Developed by a team of scientists, botanists, and agriculture experts, newly launched skincare range Miaqua is dedicated to the natural healing power of plants, blending age-old philosophies with modern technology to yield the most effective results. After extensive research into Chinese herbal medicine, the brand identified a winning blend of more than 28 sustainably sourced botanicals to star in their launch product, Hydro-Heal Serum. Highly concentrated and deeply nourishing, the likes of boswellia bark, seaweed root, walnut leaf, and cat’s claw, which all work together to soothe, hydrate, brighten, firm, and heal skin from the inside out.
Available at Miaqua
001 Skincare was created by Ada Ooi, who grew up in Hong Kong and watched her pharmacist grandfather prescribe TCM practices together with Western medicines. One of London’s most sought-after facialists (fans include Ellie Goulding and Rooney Mara), Ooi developed 001 to blend Asian apothecary principles with modern bio-chemistry, treating the skin from within. With temperatures rising, 001’s lightweight, silky-smooth and easily absorbed VF Detox & Balance TCM-Cooling Concentrate is a perfect summer choice. It features a super-powered blend of TCM ingredients known for their cooling yin properties (such as watermelon seed oil and Siberian fir needle) to calm inflammation and heat-induced conditions such as acne, blemishes, and excess sebum. Try using it with 001’s traditional gua sha sculpting tools, which promote circulation and stimulate renewal via acupressure and lymphatic movement, for the best results.
Available at 001 Skincare