The idea of beauty as self-care is nothing new. In fact, you can trace its origins all the way back to traditional Chinese medicine. Its foundations of yin and yang, or the harmonious balance of things, apply to everything we do. Yes, including our beauty and wellness regimens.
To know more about how TCM is applied in the modern world, especially in our beauty and self-care routines, we spoke with Abby Lau, CEO and founder of Multiflora TCM Spa. Read on to learn more about TCM below.
Traditional Chinese medicine and beauty regimens in Singapore
"When beauty and TCM are concerned, it is more internal rather than topical. You need to get to the root of the cause," Abby said. How your skin reacts to stress can be an example. It’s common for people to experience acne and hives breakouts if they’re going through a stressful period in their lives. You can’t simply rely on your skincare to manage the problem, you have to deal with the cause (stress) to prevent it from happening again. Essentially, you also have to focus on making your body feel great through pampering in order to have its best outward appearance.
One form of TCM is Yang Sheng, or the art of self-healing, which heavily inspired Abby to start Multiflora. "The ultimate aim of Yang Sheng is to achieve a harmonious and ‘effortless’ state of balance within yourself," she said. Yang Sheng can be applied in beauty and wellness because it focuses on creating a stress-free state of mind, body, and spirit. Hence why it's also sometimes called the art of self-care.
"Yang Sheng places emphasis on the idea that a series of small and regular actions and lifestyle choices can, over time, add up to produce larger benefits for our health," Abby added. Sounds familiar? It's exactly why we do our beauty routines. We apply topical skincare regularly in order to balance out the sebum and moisture in our skin and prevent issues such as excessive dryness, oiliness, acne, and sensitivity.
"One important message behind Yang Sheng is that prevention is better than cure," she shared. The secret to long-lasting health and happiness, she said, is implementing small daily actions that are simple, pleasurable, and fit effortlessly into your life. Good healthy food and proper breathing create good Qi. "Good flow of qi and blood leads to proper circulation, which ensures a well-nourished body with the added benefits of a glowing complexion, a sharper mind and boundless energy."
Some popular forms of TCM in the modern beauty space
You don't need to look very far to see the influence of TCM on beauty regimens. Using a gua sha or jade roller is extremely trendy nowadays for its skin depuffing and firming benefits — and, yes, it’s inspired by TCM. It's something Abby herself uses. "The Gua Sha technique is used to unblock and restore the flow of Qi in the area to which it has been applied," she explained. There are also gua sha facials that help stimulate lymphatic flow and drainage.
You can also see TCM in some spa treatments. "Sometimes we love to place a hot pad on the discomfort area. From a TCM perspective, applying heat to strains, sprains, stiff joints or other injuries increases blood flow to the area and speeds up healing." Similarly, there are massage techniques, like hot stone massages, that incorporate the use of heat to relieve muscular pain and tension.
Of course, these TCM practices have been improved to keep up with modern times. "These are much more ethical and better for the human body," Abby explained. She gave the example of their Moxi Therapy treatment, which involves using burnt mugwort, a herb that's known in traditional Asian medicine for its healing properties. It's placed on the body's meridian points — the energetic pathways that pass through the top layer of your skin — to warm them up, improve blood circulation, dispel cold and dampness, and strengthen the immune system.
In keeping the essence of TCM in Singapore
That's not to say that everything touted as TCM is always rooted in TCM. "TCM is still highly valued by many but, as years go by, it’s starting to get diluted," she said. "The real essence of TCM is often misinterpreted by the younger generations due to the lack of understanding. The world of TCM is much more vast than we think and TCM is definitely here to stay even in years to come."
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