There are blogs, forums, websites, and entire beauty brands dedicated to providing you with the best that Asian Beauty has to offer. Eastern skincare and beauty products are typically far ahead of those here in the west and utilize many innovative ingredients in their formulas.
From fermented yeast to green tea, there is a big emphasis on products that provide hydration and calm the skin. Here are some of my favorites:
Essence with Fermented Ingredients
A skincare essence is a hydrating pre-serum for the skin. Generally containing mild-to-moderate concentrations of exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids, a skincare essence is designed to prime and exfoliate the skin. This means other skincare ingredients can penetrate the skin more deeply. In general, a skincare essence feels like water.
What about fermentation? Well, under conditions of low oxygenation, anaerobic organisms are able to produce energy via the process known as fermentation. Two popular Asian-beauty essences that use fermented yeast are Missha Time Revolution and the Facial Treatment Essence from SK-II. Research demonstrates yeast is an excellent source of peptides, amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (Household and Personal Products Industry). And yeast fermentation has been shown to increase the activity of components of the skin known as polygalacturonases (PGNs). One common PGN in skincare is allantoin, which is normally soothing for the skin.
Essentially, fermented yeast is going to not only soothe your skin but also make it feel incredibly hydrated! It is a great ingredient for those who have sensitive or dry skin.
Sheet Masks with Snail Mucin
Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman was one of the first to introduce snail mucin into mainstream beauty products with the Escarglow Facial, a $300 treatment that combines extracts of the slime with micro-needling to increase the product’s penetration. “People originally used live snails in facials, but you can imagine how some people didn’t like that,’’ Dr. Schulman tells NY Magazine. “There is anecdotal evidence that proteins in snail slime have anti-aging benefits, and clinical trials have looked at that, as well as the reversal of sun damage, and shown improvement. Snail slime is not going to help deep folds, but it will improve skin texture and quality.’’
This is primarily due to the fact that snail mucin is a combination of glycolic acid, proteins, enzymes, and sugars. The benefits evidenced from snail mucin are generally just from additional glycolic acid though. The actual science behind these products is still somewhat inconclusive. Lab cell cultures thus far exhibit positive findings on in vitro skin cells, and a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed an improvement in burn patients who used snail mucin, but there have been no serious controlled clinical trials or long-term studies, so doctors and other skincare experts are divided.
But there is evidence that snail mucin may be able to help with the healing of scars! In Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, a small study found that, “skincare products that include the soluble serum [snail mucin] help to orchestrate the correct assembly of the extracellular matrix, and avoid excess or abnormal scars, including acne scarring.”
Some of my favorite sheet masks that contain snail mucin are the Snail Bee High Content Mask from Benton and the AC Clear Treatment Mask from Leaders. Both are targeted towards people with sensitized, acne-prone skin and I find them to be very soothing when I am experiencing redness or irritation. But if you are someone who only uses beauty products that are cruelty-free, skip this ingredient for obvious reasons.
Rice Bran Exfoliators
Rice bran is becoming a popular physical exfoliant in Asian beauty. It is made from the outer layer that surrounds each individual rice kernel. It is ground into a fine powder that gently removes dirt and dead skin cells. It is a great choice for those who find chemical or other physical exfoliants too irritating. It also contains nourishing properties that can help calm inflammation.
Green Tea Cleansers
I’ve said it before on this blog, but green tea is one of my favorite natural ingredients! Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects against photocarcinogenesis and phototoxicity in mouse models. While EGCG comprises only 50% of “green tea extract” found in skincare and cosmeceuticals, there is still enough EGCG to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties in most skincare and cosmeceuticals.
Green tea has also been tested as an acne treatment. In one study, it was found to help mild-to-moderate acne when applied topically at a 2% concentration (Journal of Drugs and Dermatology). Researchers think that the EGCG will help with the hormonal causes of acne when topically applied (Lipids in Health and Disease).
You definitely should not limit your use of green tea to just cleansers. However, I find it to be deeply nourishing and calming which is a great quality for a cleanser to have! Be sure you let the cleanser sit on your skin for about 60 seconds before rinsing it off. This way you can ensure that you’re getting all the benefits of green tea and green tea extract. Some of the best green tea cleansers on the Asian beauty scene are the Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser from Neogen and the Anti/Oxi+ Pollutant & Dullness Clarifying Cleansing Oil from Shu Uemura.
If you’re a fan of Asian beauty, be on the lookout for products that contain fermented yeast, snail mucin, green tea, and rice bran. These will help to exfoliate, hydrate, and calm your skin!