Ancient Chinese Skin Care Secrets

May 26th, 2012

We imagine boy emperors draped in ornate majestic garb and feuding warlords are the backdrop to a much deeper tale of ancient China. And in contrast you have the un-refuted beauty of Empress Dowage of the Ching Dynasty who used pearl powder daily to maintain her regaled flawless complexion.

I think of the times I perused the cluttered Chinatown herb shops in New York city and San Francisco with unrecognizable bottles of ancient remedies some with names like “Pills Culing” instead of “Pills Curing” since by law and western standards these tiny vials of pills can’t claim to cure anything even if they do.

China is such a vast country with countless cures thoughtfully researched and applied over centuries for a myriad of maladies. And this is equally so when it comes to the best skin care products and routines. We’ve all heard tales and praises of the flawless skin Asian women achieve by carefully sourcing all the youth enhancing ingredients nature has to offer for the sake of health and beauty.

As it was the case historically, whitening or lightening the skin continues to be a priority in Chinese and Asian skin care as is evident in most beauty products. For ages fair skin has been viewed as elegant and a sign of nobility in China.

From a practical point of view, protecting skin against sun damage has many benefits that Chinese women have long understood to preserve their youthful appearance. The less skin is exposed to direct sun, the fewer premature signs of aging: leathery skin, wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. Along with shielding against sun exposure and a rich history of applying herbs for skincare, there are other popular natural treatments for optimal skin health employed since time immemorial in China.

Pearl Powder for Skin

Derived from fresh water pearls, this fine powder is easily absorbed with its 10 essential amino acid that revitalize and nourish skin. Amino acids are essential for building protein and protein is the building block of healthy skin and hair. This powder is thought to be one method of lightening and brightening the face. It soaks up sebum to keep the skin from looking oily and can be used as a gentle cleanser to fortify and strengthen epidermal cells.

Silk Powder

A luxurious fine product created from the silk worm cocoon, silk powder has been used to treat sunburn and general inflammation of the skin. It has served in reliably dressing wounds for rapid healing by Chinese doctors for quite some time. Ayurveda massage dusts the skin with silk powder after rubbing oil into the skin with silken gloves for deep relaxation and stress reduction. The protein enriched antibacterial powder offers natural UV protection as it reflects radiation and helps skin retain maximum hydration. The reduction of cellular inflammation has been identified by some researchers as the leading cause of aging ski.

Bai Zhi

Angelica Root (Angelica Dahurica) known as Bai Zhi in China, is a perennial herb that has been used to treat skin condition dermatitis and to increase blood circulation. It has been found in facial creams used by Chinese women to promote the health of their skin. When acupuncture is applied in combination with other herbs, Ba Zhi helps treat the symptoms associated with rosacea by stimulating blood circulation and reducing redness. When blood circulation is optimum the skin gets more of the nutrients allot it giving it a healthier rosier glow.


This Eastern form of medicine was practiced as early as the 2nd century B.C. Acupuncture was first recorded at that point in time in the Chinese ledger known as Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic). The origins of this practice aren’t entirely clear. What is clear is this medicine that applies herbs to remedy health problems has been used to eliminate or lessen irritation from a multitude of skin conditions including acne, rosacea, and dermatitis. The needles used to administer acupuncture are believed to unblock Qi (flow) and enhance blood circulation for invigorated radiant skin. Today in the West we find acupuncture in cosmetic treatments like facelifts.
All of these means of accessing better health have spread globally and evolved since their earliest uses in China. That region of the world has inspired more conversation and action toward the pursuit of wellness and visibly infinite youth to be deservingly admired.

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