4 Special Southeast Asian Herbs And Spices To Use For Beautiful Skin

11 February 2018

If celebrity chef Nigella Lawson is to be believed, pandan is going to be the next big thing. (She called it “the new matcha” in an interview a few months ago.)

Besides the kitchens of international chefs, regional ingredients like blue ginger and turmeric – usually used for their flavour and health benefits – have made their way into beauty products by Chanel and Clarins respectively over the past year. In Singapore, Sara Davina Soong has gotten a head start on Lawson’s new obsession with her three-year-old pandan-infused skincare label, Ress.

Says Soong: “I grew up with pandan around the house, and my mum and grandma always used it to detoxify the body. I later learnt that it has natural detoxification properties, and was inspired to use it in my skincare.”

Call it part of the race to introduce something novel in the immensely competitive beauty industry. Consumers around the world are always attracted to new things, new ingredients and “exotic” concepts, says Dr Alain Khaiat, president of Seers Consulting, a cosmetics consultancy company.

In addition, as more scientific studies shed light on the efficacies of these ingredients that are frequently used as herbal remedies in Asia, more beauty companies are naturally incorporating these beneficial extracts into their formulations. “Once scientists understand how these ingredients work, it becomes easier to use them in products,” adds Dr Khaiat.

Even though the scent of such ingredients can at times come across as vegetal or even spicy, it helps that such products often include other more aromatic botanicals. (Clarins’ Double Serum, for example, leaves a pleasant, mildly floral fragrance, what with the addition of ingredients like mango and edelweiss flowers.) Then, of course, there’s the phenomenal success of Korean beauty brand Sulwhasoo and its ginseng-infused skincare. To quote another celebrity chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, people should open themselves to other “cuisines” – there are a lot of hidden secrets all over the world.

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