(Shot courtesy of Sophia [The Makeup Blogette])
YEP, you read right - I was bestowed with the wonderful opportunity to attend Taiwanese Skincare Guru NIU ER's Beauty Talkshow this afternoon, presented by Kose. Yes, 98% of the seminar was in Mandarin, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself thanks to the supremely entertaining Niu Er and my 2 chums, Amy and Sophia who helped translate key points for me in English. I probably understood a grand total of 5% of the Mandarin on my own ... maybe less :P
BEAUTY KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES? :D
I've heard so much about Niu Er and how he has amassed a legion of fans, primarily a Taiwanese infotainment show, NU REN WO ZUI DA (Lady First Beauty). Niu Er had presented a similar talkshow last year on a slightly different skincare topic - this year's talkshow was all about including whitening skincare products into our skincare regiment and application tips and tricks.
I tried to take this shot while Niu Er was doing this little impromptu "dance" on stage - this somewhat explains why I enjoyed myself so much. Niu Er is supremely entertaining - just from his body language and the way he manages the crowd, teasing and ribbing the chosen few. He is definitely a charismatic figure who really can hold his own.
Ok, I'm done being enchanted by this amazingly youthful looking Guru. I took some notes down during the talkshow, reproduced as best as I can in the rest of this entry:
If I could sum up the entire presentation into an equation, it might look something like this:
A luminous, bright and youthful complexion =
a high intake of Vitamin C, Collagen
use of effective brightening skincare products
correct and dilligent methods of skincare application
DIETARY HABITS - VITAMIN C AND COLLAGEN:
Topical application helps, but cellular repair and rejuvenation is closely tied to the food we eat. To this end, a high intake of Vitamin C is necessary. Niu Er stressed that:
- fruits such as cherries, strawberries, kiwis, lemons contain high levels of natural Vitamin C
- It is more effective to consume fruits high in Vitamin C rather than to pop Vitamin C pills - I personally believe vitamin pills essentially supplement our diets and are not meant to entirely replace our consumption of naturally-occuring vitamins and minerals.
- The body absorbs about 10% of Vitamin C from pills but is able to absorb closer to 100% of Vitamin C from real fruit intake
- 2 servings of such Vitamin C-rich fruits daily is one basic and easy way to ensure brighter and more elastic skin in the long run
So we know what brightens skin - but how do we keep it elastic and firm? Niu Er suggests a high intake of "good proteins" from fish, chicken and white fungus:
- A lack of collagen causes skin to sag - this explains why we develop hollows under our eyes, sunken cheeks and wrinkles
- Soups and broths made from double-boiling chicken, fish and/or white fungus are rich in proteins
- As for chicken soups, Niu Er highlighted that gelatinous parts of the chicken are very high in collagen - if you're worried about other harms like cholestrol, you can freeze the chicken soup, which will separate the oil from the soup. Microwaving the soup is NOT recommended
- Once the broth is ready, you really don't even need the chicken anymore as all the goodness of the chicken is in the broth
- Likewise, white fungus is an excellent vegetarian source of collagen - one can either drink the soup or even apply it topically
SUNSCREEN AND TOPICAL SKINCARE:
SUNSCREEN and WHITENING SERUMS ARE HIGHLY IMPORTANT - Niu Er could not stress this enough. However, just blindly purchasing any product that promises a brighter and more luminous complexion is not sufficient. Certain whitening brightening ingredients are safer, more effective and target specific concerns:
- Niu Er suggested looking out for key ingredients in the ingredients list such as KOJIC ACID, CHAMOMILE, VITAMIN C DERIVATIVES, ARBUTIN AND ELLAGIC ACID
- KOJIC ACID and ARBUTIN are one of the most powerful brightening ingredients - these are found in products in the KOSE SEKKISEI, KOSE INFINITY and even the COSME DECORTE skincare ranges
KOJIC ACID: A by-product in the fermentation process of MALTING RICE, for use in the manufacturing Japanese rice wine. It has the ability to inhibit the formation of pigments in plant and animal tissues. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
ARBUTIN: The extract of the BEARBERRY and is found in wheat as well as the skin of pears. It has the ability to inhibit tyrosinase and is thus able to prevent the development of melanin
Here Niu Er explained how melanin is formed and how ingredients like Arbutin and Kojic Acid are used to combat and suppress the process.
A simple example, using cut mushrooms pointed out how well ingredients such as Kojic Acid work:
A simple experiment where 2 slices of mushrooms, one with an application of Kojic Acid and the other without anything, were monitored for 3 hours - it is evident that Kojic Acid preserved and kept the mushroom slice fresher looking. Unlike the mushrooms, which were probably monitored in a closed environment, our skin unfortunately is exposed to environmental pollutants and daily stresses that rob it of its radiance - and Asian skin types take a double whammy - harsh weather as well as vulnerability to hyper-pigmentation.
A star product in KOSE's line up that contain Kojic Acid (which is not exactly easy to come by) is the INFINITY REALIZING WHITE XX. This retails for about SGD$148 (if I remember correctly). The INIFINITY range is essentially targeted at more mature skin that is experiencing sagging, dullness and so on. Well, I'm not entirely far off from that club and if the INFINITY REALIZING WHITE XX boasts the much-sought after Kojic Acid, I'm on board!
You can read more about the INFINITY REALIZING WHITE XX HERE
The other option would be the Arbutin and Vitamin C-rich SHIROSUMI W - a whitening essence that both controls melanin production but prevents existing melanin in the melanocytes from becoming darker. You can read more about SHIROSUMI HERE
Niu Er also highlighted that a common misconception is that whitening skincare can be used in phases or can be discontinued once pigmentation subsides - NO! Whitening, brightening skincare is essentially a life-long commitment - melanocytes are inherently present in the skin and other enviromental pollutants and stress factors can "wake up" these melanin-producing compounds.
CORRECT APPLICATION METHODS:
Finally, Niu Er demonstrated on 3 participants a full facial regimen that we can easily incorporate into our existing skincare routines. One of the highlights was how an 8-Step massage technique can help eliminate toxins and impurities from the face to create a brighter, smoother and even lifted visage. I attempted to film the massage technique and will attempt to upload the video (if I manage to figure out how to!).
Here are some skincare application methods to keep in mind:
- Niu Er recommends sweeping toners, lotions onto the skin with a cotton pad, using firm strokes; to ensure maximum absorption of the product, Niu Er then PATS the area of concern. Patting the product into skin stimulates the cells and products (and nutrients) are thus better absorbed.
- If there is a particular area of concern - say a cluster of spots - Niu Er recommends paying more attention to that area by applying more pressure and slightly more product.
- When sweeping / applying products onto your skin, maintain 2 directions:
(1) from the centre of the face --> out
(2) from the base of the face (chin) --> upwards towards the ears, forehead
- Essentially, these are basic application tips that can be used with any products - just ensure that your skin is sufficiently moisturised so that your hands can glide across your face.
Here is a shot from one of the demonstrations. Niu Er cleaned off the participant's makeup and then used the SEKKISEI WHITE LIQUID WASH (which foamed up really nicely) to cleanse her skin.
Then, he applied SEIKISHO EXFOLIATING MASSAGE GEL, paying more concentration on her problem areas.
With firm, yet gentle massage strokes, Niu Er worked the massage gel into her skin - after the massage gel was cleaned off, the participant's skin admittedly looked more radiant.
And I have the EXFOLIATING MASSAGE GEL already (I think it retails for around SGD$35)
It essentially starts off as a blob of black, squishy gel - however, it is a self-warming gel that creates a delicious little warmth on the skin, clearing away impurities (there also seem to be minute minute micro-beads that exfoliate the skin) as you massage the gel on your skin.
Once the gel turns from the jet black to a grey, it is time to wash off the product, revealing radiant, smooth skin - I can personally attest to the smooth factor!
Skincare has always been an essential part of my lifestyle, having battled breakouts, spots and uneven skintone, which occasionally plague me still. As you might have read in other entries, I have always been a fan of products with natural ingredients, having kick-started my skincare regime with Ayurvedic products. As such, I am immensely pleased to learn more about the wonders of natural whitening / brightening superpowers (LOL!) such as Kojic Acid and Arbutin - and chicken soup will be on the menu tomorow!
I had an info-taining (informative + entertaining) afternoon out and my only regret? I don't understand Mandarin. Maybe by Niu Er's next beauty talkshow, I might have picked up the language? :D
Many thanks to Debbie from Kose for giving me this chance to learn so much from Niu Er Lao Shi; and many many thanks to Amy and Sophia for their time and effort in their translations :D
DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated to KOSE. SEIKISHO products featured were purchased with my own money.