Jillian L. Capodice, LAc, interviews She Essential Beauty co-owner Beth K. Hooper about her skincare product line; developed utilizing the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Interview with She Essential Beauty co-owner Beth K Hooper (BKH) and Background on Common Chinese Herbs for Skin Care
Chinese Medicine texts on skin diseases date back to the Shang Dynasty (1700-1000BC) and the treatment of dermatological diseases utilizing Chinese-based herbs is only one of many Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies utilized1. Recently, two colleagues of mine developed a skincare product line utilizing the principles of TCM. In order to find out more about these intriguing products, I asked She Essential Beauty co-owner Beth K Hooper L.Ac to sit down and share some of her skin wisdom and product secrets with me.
JLC: SHE is a great new line of products for the skin and body. What was the motivation behind its creation?
BKH: Laura [Kauffmann, co-owner] and I were both discouraged with the lack of organic and all natural skin care options in the marketplace and we also didn’t feel like anyone in our industry had tapped into the immense healing power of Chinese herbs used in Mei Rong/Chinese cosmetology. Thus, She Essential Beauty was born. She means luxury and extravagance in Chinese and we wanted to create products that were as beneficial to the skin as they were to the mind and body, yet felt luxurious to use.
JLC: What basic TCM principles did you utilize in formulation of your products?
BKH: With many of the products we are trying to balance different energies. So, for example in our Lemongrass-Mint Sugar Scrub or our Rejuvenate Room Spray, we aim to balance wood or liver energy using Bo he (mint/Mentha piper) with earth or spleen-stomach energy using Xiang cao mao (lemongrass/Cymbopogon flexuosus). In other products we use herbs and essential oils together for their calming effect. A good example of this is in our Herbal Bath Salts, where we use lavender to calm the mind along with sea salts and epsom salts to relax the muscles.
JLC: What are the most prominent Chinese herbs that are used in your products?
BKH: Zhen Zhu, Chinese Pearl (Margarita/Pteria margaritifera) is in all of our skin care and bath/body products. Zhen zhu was used by Chinese Empresses and ladies of the court to keep their skin looking like porcelain. We love using Zhen zhu for its synergistic property of being able to enhance the performance of other ingredients it is paired with. We also use Ru xiang (Frankincense/Resina Oliban) and Mo Yao (Myrrh/Resina Myrrhae) for their skin healing properties in our Lip Balm, Cuticle Butter and Body Butter products. We use Green Tea extract in many products for its anti-oxidant properties and Yin guo ye (Ginkgo Biloba/Ginkgo Biloba) for its circulation enhancing property in our cellulite smoother, a sugar scrub. Bo He is also in many of our products as well as Xiang cao mao.
JLC: How did you devise the specific formulations? For example, the facial serum?
BKH: My partner Laura has actually been the creator of most of our formulations. She has a great nose and works hard to make sure all of the She Essential Beauty products smell and feel luxurious. Laura created the Facial Serum by researching herbs and essential oils in the materia medica that have anti-aging benefits and then worked to devise a formula that was both beneficial to the skin, but felt good to use as well.
JLC: Knowing that TCM principles often apply treatments based on TCM patterns, are your products designed based on TCM pattern diagnosis?
BKH: We know from Chinese medicine that great skin starts with great digestion. So, we have many products that really work to help ground the earth/spleen-stomach energies. However, as we grow the line, we’d like to incorporate more of that thinking into our formulations.
JLC: Do you have a favorite TCM beauty pearl for skin care you’d like to share with us?
BKH: That true beauty comes from within. It is important for us to educate our patients that 60% of what they put on their skin gets absorbed into the body. So, they should be as concerned about the types of products they use externally as they are about what they put into their mouths. And, like what they put into their mouths, great skin begins with great digestion. If they are eating well and exercising it will show in their complexion. If they are content with themselves it will show on their face.
After I thanked Beth for her wonderful insight of Chinese herbs, explanation of their exciting new line, and for sharing a beauty secret or two, I immediately headed to my computer to see what was going on in CAM/Integrative Medicine for some of these common botanicals.
Bo he (peppermint), was the most widely researched botanical mentioned above. There were many studies from the impact of peppermint oil for post-herpetic neuralgia2 to the potential use of peppermint oil as insect repellant3. However, for dermatology/skin I came across two interesting studies. The first by Wang LH et al tested the effects of four essential oils (peppermint being one of them), for their potential effect on skin penetration when coupled with vehicle plant oils (jojoba, corn, and olive). The investigators found that all of the oils tested enhanced the permeation of the plant oils and peppermint oil was the most effective. The bottom line of the investigation was that an emulsion containing a certain percentage of plant oils plus essential oils may be superior than using a plant oil alone4. A second study showed that particular concentrations of peppermint oil may be protective of the skin however an excessive concentration may cause skin irritation and allergy. Nielsen demonstrated that the essential oil of peppermint helped to protect the skin against penetration of the chemical benzoic acid. He demonstrated that peppermint oil (versus eucalyptus and tea tree) was the most skin protective by measuring lag-time penetration of benzoic acid on the skin. Of the three oils tested, peppermint oil was the only one that was statistically different from the control (1.8±0.4) (p<0.05)5.
For many of the other abovementioned herbs, I wasn’t able to find a great deal of research on their utility in dermatologic disorders and/or potential effect on the skin. However, there is a tremendous amount of research on ginkgo biloba including study on its mechanism of action such as its ability to induce apoptosis or inhibit cell growth and investigation on its potential clinical utility such as effect on walking time in adults and memory6-9.
In conclusion this brief search demonstrated that more research needs to be done on botanicals and particularly Chinese herbs for skin care agents. Second, for all topical applications, clinicians must always be aware that even natural products and plants may cause allergic reactions. Finally, I think Beth’s beauty pearl is the most luminous of this article and I hope we can all remember that true beauty surely comes from within.
Many thanks to Beth K Hooper and Laura Kauffmann, co-owners of She Essential Beauty. For more information please visit. http://www.sheessentialbeauty.com/index.php
1. Shen DH, Wu XF, Wang N. Manual of Dermatoloty in Chinese Medicine. Eastland press, Seattle. 1995.
2. Davies SJ, Harding LM, Baranowski AP.A novel treatment of postherpetic neuralgia using peppermint oil. Clin J Pain. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):200-2.
3. Barnard DR.Repellency of essential oils to mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). J Med Entomol. 1999 Sep;36(5):625-9.
4. Wang LH, Wang CC, Kuo SC.Vehicle and enhancer effects on human skin penetration of aminophylline from cream formulations: evaluation in vivo. J Cosmet Sci. 2007 May-Jun;58(3):245-54.
5. Nielsen JB.Natural oils affect the human skin integrity and the percutaneous penetration of benzoic acid dose-dependently. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006 Jun;98(6):575-81.
6. Liu TJ, Yeh YC, Ting CT, Lee WL, Wang LC, Lee HW, Wang KY, Lai HC, Lai HC.Ginkgo biloba extract 761 reduces doxorubicin-induced apoptotic damage in rat hearts and neonatal cardiomyocytes. Cardiovasc Res. 2008 Jul 29
7. Zhang Y, Chen AY, Li M, Chen C, Yao Q. Ginkgo biloba extract kaempferol inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells. J Surg Res. 2008 Jul;148(1):17-23. Epub 2008 Mar 26.
8. Gardner CD, Taylor-Piliae RE, Kiazand A, Nicholus J, Rigby AJ, Farquhar JW. Effect of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) on Treadmill Walking Time Among Adults With Peripheral Artery Disease: A RANDOMIZED CLINICAL TRIAL. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2008 Jul-Aug;28(4):258-65.
9. Satvat E, Mallet PE. Chronic administration of a Ginkgo biloba leaf extract facilitates acquisition but not performance of a working memory task. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print]
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- Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Women: Pelvic Health-Dysmennorhea and Vulvodynia
- Multivitamin Use and Risk of Prostate Cancer in the National Institutes of Health – AARP Diet and Health Study
- An A to Z Primer on Botanicals and Supplements for Prostate Health