While K-beauty as we know it only really landed stateside in the last decade — bringing with it double-cleansing, essences, and sheet masks — Asian beauty traditions have been around for years, influencing various skin-care treatments and inspiring a more holistic approach to one’s routine. While we’re not a K-Beauty brand, as we’re based in the U.S., we’ve always been inspired by the Korean beauty traditions that our co-founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang grew up with.
“I think Asian traditions and techniques are so influential within the beauty industry because there is so much wisdom that’s been passed down generation to generation,” says Stephanie Zheng, esthetician, Boss Babe, and the founder and CEO of beauty-tool brand Mount Lai. “Many of these practices have been around for centuries and have been studied and innovated upon to get to the traditions and techniques that we have today.”
And while you may use a gua sha tool on the regular and love the results, it’s essential to acknowledge the roots of these age-old methods. “It’s important to understand the origins in order to celebrate the roots and the rich history that these practices come from rather than just treating it like a ‘popular trend’,” she says. “It boils down to culture appreciation over appropriation.” With that, here are four beauty habits to know and learn for glowing, healthy skin.
If you haven’t yet used this flat stone tool, here’s why you should: “Gua sha is a healing modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine that targets stagnation and restores the flow of qi, or vital energy,” Zheng says. “Gua sha loosely translates to ‘scrape’ in Chinese and is the practice of using a flat tool, like the Mount Lai Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool, against the skin.” While it was originally used for the body, it’s now being applied to the face, where it can help boost circulation, eliminate fluid buildup (a.k.a. swelling), and release muscle tension. Plus, it can also lift and contour the face for a smoother look.
How to do it: Zheng stresses that you should make sure your skin is properly prepped with skincare. “The tool should glide against the skin instead of pulling or tugging,” she explains. “The movements of the gua sha tool should be slow and intentional with light pressure.” Here’s a how-to using our Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops:
Think of acupressure as a mini face massage, but even better — it can relieve tension in the face, relax the muscles, reduce puffiness, and even alleviate congestion. “Acupressure is another practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine that targets the flow of qi through pressure points,” Zheng says. “While it’s similar to acupuncture, acupressure doesn’t involve needles and instead can be done with tools like the Mount Lai Acupressure Gua Sha Spoon.”
How to do it: Use your tool to hit the various acupressure points on the face. Here’s a tutorial of Zheng doing it with the Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum, hitting four key spots:
Korean beauty traditions are all about staying hydrated, and for good reason: Layering your hydration is one way to get soft, smooth skin that lasts. That’s why we’ve always been big proponents of the method, which involves incorporating hydration into every step of your routine. Even our Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner, which is typically an exfoliating step, incorporates cactus water and hyaluronic acid to keep skin plump and healthy. (That said, we’re not fans of the rigid 10-step method that became popular a few years back; rather, we believe layering hydration in a few steps can offer adequate — yet lasting — hydration.)
How to do it: Make sure every product in your skin-care routine, including cleanser, delivers a hydrating ingredient. Start with a nourishing balm cleanser like Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm, replenish with our aforementioned toner, score humectants with Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum, and lock it all in with the best moisturizer for your skin.
For something that has stood the test of time, look no further than jade rollers, which date all the way back to Chinese empresses. “Jade rolling is incredible for soothing and de-puffing the skin, so a jade roller is perfect for someone who has sensitive skin or is dealing with any puffiness,” says Zheng, who recommends the De-Puffing Facial Roller.
How to do it: Prep skin with a serum, then “make sure you are rolling in one direction, out and away from the center of the face instead of rolling the tool back and forth,” she says. “The idea is to encourage the removal of fluid away from the face.” Want more detail? Just watch the Mount Lai tutorial:
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