It’s not yet May and I’ve already found my favorite all-natural beauty product of 2008. Held in a simple one-ounce pump bottle emblazoned with a tiny Chinese character, it dominates my bathroom cabinet with its moisturizing prowess and transforms my dehydrated postnatal skin into a thing of supple beauty with a few powerful drops.
And just as a novel has to be unusually spectacular to hold my attention these days, my number-one moisturizer must surprise and delight me while containing nothing but the finest of organic ingredients.
Created by Beth Hooper and Laura Kauffmann — acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists — She Essential Beauty’s facial serum is the next generation of skin care. The women behind She (pronounced “shay”) have created a line of moisturizing and cleansing products that are based on the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which means that my prized facial serum is not only made from the best organic and all-natural ingredients, but also includes mother-of-pearl, which the Chinese have used for centuries to enhance the skin’s beauty.
Since 2006, Hooper and Kauffmann have been lovingly handcrafting their TCM-influenced collection of products, including sugar scrubs, washing grains, bath salts, lip balm and the delectable facial serum (not a lotion, not an oil, but an immensely effective moisturizer for face, throat, even under eyes). Their products use Chinese herbs like the bo he foundin the Lemongrass-Mint Sugar Scrub, and dang gui, which is tucked into the herbal lip balm. (The former herb helps to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, while the latter aids in regenerating new skin cells.)
For the uninitiated, Hooper and Kauffmann have distilled TCM into a palatable definition: “The modern practice of ancient healing techniques from China, whose tradition began over 3,000 years ago, TCM owes its foundation to four modalities which comprise a holistic medical system: acupuncture, dietary therapy, qi gong and Chinese herbal medicine.” In developing their line of sumptuous skin care products the ladies turned to “Mei Rong,” the cosmetology section of TCM dedicated to maintaining the skin’s youth and well-being. Hooper recently took some time to tell me all about it.
What inspired you to start a skin care line based on TCM?
Both my partner and I are Chinese medicine practitioners (certified herbalists and licensed acupuncturists). Our skin was changing as we got older, and when we looked at our options for skin care there were not enough organic alternatives. We were looking for products that contained no parabens or synthetics. It then occurred to us that we could do so much if we used Chinese herbs in products. Occasionally a company would throw ginger in something, but no one was using Chinese herbs in a broad scale in skin care products. At first we wanted our products for ourselves, and then we wanted to share them with others.
Most Chinese herbs are used for dermatological issues — they are medicinally focused — but we knew that wouldn’t have an appeal for the public. We wanted to create something that wasn’t just functional but also very luxurious for people to use. “She” in Chinese means luxury.
How do you follow the philosophy of Chinese medicine in your products?
As we age we lose our yin (the moist substance, also known as the female part of our body) and our skin starts to dry out. We looked for essential oils that will nourish the yin. Our products are designed for women who are getting a little older and starting to see fine lines and wrinkles. [We include] herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties, pore-tightening qualities, herbs that move chi (energy) and that are calming and balancing. It’s about finding the best herbs and applying them appropriately. We aim to calm the spirit, working on you on a more mental level — it’s beauty from the inside out.
What’s your favorite product?
The facial serum — it contains mother-of-pearl, carrot seed oil, and is anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and wrinkle reducer. You put it on and your skin glows. It’s our number-one seller. [Note to reader: I was a fan of the facial serum before Beth told me it was her favorite product. Now I’m even more convinced.] And the washing grains — they are a gentle exfoliant and such a good antioxidant, with green tea extract and oatmeal and honey. The skin is delicate, particularly the area around the eye. You can use an oatmeal honey-based scrub and it will get dead skin cells off without making it red or irritated.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.
Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints