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12 Oct

Ancient Chinese Beauty Secrets to Youthful Skin

You must have heard of the elaborate K-beauty skincare routine (and their cutesy packaging). You might have tried J-beauty’s minimalistic yet innovative approach to skincare… now say hello to C-beauty.


My mum is Chinese (I’m half) and Eastern Asians are known for maintaining their youthful looks. The shocked looks of disbelief never fail to amuse me when my mum introduces me as her daughter and reveals my age. I don’t look 23 and my mother does not look old enough to have a daughter my age.

Of course, genetics play a major role in this, but here’s the secret… a great skincare routine is also crucial! The importance of a good skincare routine was drilled into my daily habits from a very young age.

Here are the tips I’ve learned from my mum (and her mum) that Chinese women have maintained for centuries:


1) Rice water

My grandmother grew up in Canton, which is known as “Rice City.” Rice is a staple for most dishes and, for centuries, Chinese women have used it in their skincare routine. They save the rice water (the water used to wash rice before cooking) and then use it at night after cleansing by splashing their face. Rice water contains ferulic acid, an antioxidant and great anti-ager, and allantoin, which is perfect for soothing the skin.


2) Drink your herbs

Chinese medicine is based on knowing which herbs and roots can treat certain conditions, including skincare. After all, a good diet is essential for amazing skin. Green tea is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, which can reduce irritation, redness and swelling. It is also said that green tea can protect your skin from the sun by preventing the free radicals from settling between the skin cells, which can cause sunburn and ageing. However, you should still wear sunscreen every day!

Goji berries are also full of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin c and carotenoids. They are, therefore, not only great for boosting your defence system, but also for a clear and radiant complexion.

To make Goji tea, soak the berries in a cup of hot water with a tea bag and allow the tea to steep. You can then drink the tea and eat the delicious juicy berries.

3) Jade roller (or rose quartz)

The jade roller and the millennial pink rose quartz roller took over Instagram in recent years, but the Chinese have been using these for centuries. This ancient skincare tool is used as a facial massage to eliminate puffiness by encouraging lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help to rid the body of toxins. The cool and smooth surface of the stone also helps to reduce redness. Jade rollers can be used on freshly cleansed dry skin, or to massage in skincare products such as a sheet mask.

FYI genuine jade should feel cold when you first hold it, but will gradually warm up whilst you use it.

If you don’t have a jade roller, don’t worry. A simple facial massage will help with circulation and reawaken your skin. A facial massage can be done anytime but is best when applying moisturiser or oil. Using your fingers and a light massage, working upwards with the thumb under chin and index finger in front, move up towards the earlobe and then across cheekbones towards the top of the ear. Repeat upwards on forehead using the index finger and middle finger with both hands, massage from the middle between the eyes up towards the hairline, work your way across the forehead.

The Chinese believe in the power of crystals, and jade is associated with protecting against negative energy, thus balancing your chi. However, a regular ‘me time’ facial with or without a roller is not only good for de-stressing, but also for improving the contours of your face.


4) Mung bean face mask

Mung bean paste is delicious in food, including lo mai chi (or mochi as most Westerners will know it as). This is a delicious treat of sweet mung bean (or red bean) paste wrapped in a gooey ball of glutinous rice flour. However, these little beans are great for the skin too!

During the Tang and Zhou Dynasties, Empress Wu was really into her skincare and even concocted DIY face masks. Mung beans are high in copper, which is a powerful anti-ageing ingredient. Used topically, these copper-rich sprouts can reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. Mung beans are also thought to be good for healing acne and de-puffing.

You can make your own by applying mung bean paste (or powder) combined with water, green tea extract, motherwort or Greek yoghurt, for a skin-brightening skin mask.

5) Bamboo

Bamboo doesn’t just belong in pandas’ bellies… our skin can benefit from the plant too! You may have noticed that bamboo is often used as a more eco-friendly version of our everyday essentials, such as muslin cloths and cotton rounds. This is because it is…

  • Very sustainable – fastest growing plant in the world and self-regenerates from its own roots
  • Requires no pesticides and little water, especially compared to cotton crops
  • 100% biodegradable, unlike plastic
  • Incredibly durable and versatile

Bamboo extract is an amazing skincare ingredient for acne-prone skin due to its anti-bacterial properties (to cleanse the skin and prevent breakouts) and anti-inflammatory properties (great to soothe acne-prone skin). Bamboo extract is also found in some hair conditioners to treat weak and fragile hair.

So there we have it! A few little secrets from the far east. Will you be adding any of these to your skincare routine?

Yemaya Marsden

Yemaya (or Maya) is a primary school teacher and BA Hons English graduate with a passion for inspiring children to learn... and sharing her knowledge of skincare, make-up and wellbeing with grown-ups. She loves coffee and yoga.

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