The biggest beauty trends of recent years originated in the Far East (BB creams, anyone?), and there are more on the way. Fiona Embleton reports on the beauty swaps we’ll soon be making
Start by massaging a facial cleansing oil into your skin for four minutes. Cleansing oils work so well because oil dissolves oil – which means make-up, sunscreen and a greasy T-zone instantly disappear. “Cleansing oils also allow you to massage your facial muscles to create lift and help increase circulation in the skin for a healthy glow,” says Su-Man Hsu from Taiwan, who is the go-to facialist for celebrities including Anne Hathaway.
“I run the heels of both hands from my chin to the base of my ear, then using the middle fingers of both hands, I press in a line from the edge of my nostrils, under cheekbones towards my ears. Finally, I sweep from my forehead to my temples, then rinse.” Follow up with a foaming cleanser for two minutes, then splash water on your face for four minutes, starting with a lukewarm temperature and building up to cold to close your pores.
Try: Su-Man Purifying Cleansing Gel-Oil, £40
Every beauty editor worth their salt is predicting that Japanese-inspired powder cleansers are the next big thing. They resemble chalky dust, and are made from powdered granules that turn into a creamy lather on contact with water and effectively slough off dead skin when massaged in circular movements over the face. The key to their success is their gentleness. There’s no scratch from the miniscule granules; you simply work them into a lather and allow the high-tech enzymes and acids to reduce dead surface cells. All of which is good news for the one in ten UK women aged 30 to 50 who suffer from rosacea (where blood vessels in the face become super-sensitive), for whom grainy exfoliators are too abrasive and result in angry red flare-ups.
A greasy sweaty complexion is considered deeply unfeminine in Asian culture. But rather than use powder to mattify the skin, Eastern women rely on blotting papers to keep shine at bay. They’re also much less ageing, as Jane Richardson, international lead make-up artist at Nars explains: “Powder mixed with perspiration will just create a cakey mess, which settles in fine lines and makes them more obvious.”
Try: Tatcha Blotting Papers, £9 for 30 sheets
Long before sheet masks became a staple in Korean skincare regimes, geishas would boil water underneath flowers and herbs, then capture the steam on a piece of kimono silk, which they would then apply to the face. Today’s sheet mask is a little more high-tech than this. Essentially, it’s a paper cloth soaked in skin-plumping serum, which drenches your skin in hydration.
“The best sheet masks originate in Asia. We sourced one for our website by Naisture that uses vegetable collagen from carrots to smooth the skin,” says Liz McCarty, founder of A Beautiful World. [abeautifulworld.co.uk] “Sheet masks work hard and fast to improve skin’s elasticity and firmness. But they’re also simple to use. After cleansing, unfold the mask. Place it over your face and press lightly with your fingertips to set it in place. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then peel it off and rub any residue into the skin.”
Try: Naisture Collagen Paper Face Mask, £10 for 5
BB creams (which technically stand for Blemish Balms) are probably the most well-known Korean import and your one-stop shop to a flawless, glowing complexion. A BB cream is an all-singing, all-dancing tinted moisturiser that also acts like a primer, evens out skin tone like a foundation, disguises redness like a concealer, hydrates like a day cream and protects against sun damage with a built-in SPF. Phew! “As you get older, full-coverage foundations accentuate lines and look mask-like,” says Sharon Dowsett, Maybelline New York Makeup Director. “Instead, use a sheer textured BB cream and apply concealer only on areas where you need the extra coverage, such as around your nose or on your chin.”
Try: Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream, £7.99
Far Eastern ladies value a flawless, even-toned complexion above all else. The trouble is, China is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and recently skincare scientists have discovered a link between poor air quality and pigmentation on the face (ladies in London, take note, as London was recently found to be possibly the most polluted city in the world).
According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, exposure to traffic-related air pollution over time can be linked to more brown age spots appearing. This is because pollutants generate free radicals, molecules that can alter your DNA and cause the production of melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its colour) to go into overdrive. Hence the new raft of pollution-busting serums hitting beauty counters now, which have been tested under extreme polluted conditions and found to repel skin-dulling carbon particles.
Try: Vichy Idealia Lifeproof Skin Idealizer, £30
The theory is that drinking collagen is more effective than applying topical creams because it’s able to reach the deeper layers of skin from the inside out. Most collagen drinks are fruity tasting and contain hydrolysed marine collagen (fish protein to you and me), which could help your body produce more of its own skin-plumping collagen. The jury’s still out here on whether it actually works, but in Japan, collagen drinks are the new skinny latte in the morning.
Try: Pure Gold Collagen, £35.99 for 10 bottles
Blair Patterson, director of global make-up artistry at Estee Lauder, who is based in Korea for part of the year, has seen a trend for using not just one but two serums at a time underneath moisturiser. “Asian women may use a brightening serum followed by a hydrating serum in the morning,” she reports. “Then in the afternoon, they will hydrate again, patting on another serum over the top of their foundation to refresh their make-up and give their skin a really flattering dewy finish.”
Try: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, £43
We English roses may love the smell of our national flower, but for many centuries camellia has been the go-to plant oil in Japan. “Camellia oil is the finest grade oil used in aromatherapy so it’s very easily absorbed,” says Noella Gabriel, director of product and treatment development for Elemis. It’s rich in plant collagen and keeps the skin moisturised and supple, and can also be used to nourish flaky nails, dry hair and itchy scalps.”
Try: Elemis Japanese Camellia Body Oil Blend, £32
We’ve all seen pictures of Asian ladies shielding their faces from the sun with an umbrella. So it’s not surprising that alongside sunscreen, skin brighteners to keep the complexion evenly toned are big business in the Far East. While pigmentation (largely the result of sun damage) is now accepted by both Asian and British markets as adding years to a complexion, the way in which we treat it culturally differs. Bleaching agents are often used in Asian skincare but the British market relies on potent vitamins and botanicals such as vitamin C, liquorice and kojic acid to tackle skin-darkening cells by stopping melanin production and then buffing away the brown clusters on the skin’s surface.
Try: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, £85