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Traditional Chinese Medicine in Skincare - The Answer to Flawless Skin?

August 29, 2020

Traditional Chinese Medicine in Skincare - The Answer to Flawless Skin?

Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, is based on the belief that all organs in the body are connected. When all of these organs are balanced, the body is healthy. This is the concept known as Chi. 

To be healthy, one’s Chi must flow freely throughout the body. Your Chi must maintain a balance of yin (cooling) and yang (heating) elements. If anything throws this balance off, you can get tired or sick. You can also start to experience issues with your skin. 

The theory behind traditional Chinese medicine is using natural sources and lifestyle changes to stimulate the body’s own restorative mechanisms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Skincare

A traditional Chinese medicine approach to skincare uses a combination of techniques 

to stimulate the body’s own restorative mechanisms. These techniques include-

  • herbology
  • acupuncture/acupressure
  • diet therapy 

Chinese Medicinal Herbs Used in Skincare

Herbs and roots have been used for thousands of years to treat skin conditions in TCM. The following are some of the most popular herbs used in skincare.

Pearl Powder

Pearl powder hydrates skin, reduces melanin production, and contains antioxidants. Pearls also add a light-diffusing glow that minimizes imperfections. Add a pearl powder firming mask to your skincare routine if you’re suffering from dryness, brown spots or sun damage.

Green Tea

Green tea is an amazing skin-loving herb that is scientifically linked to reducing your risk of skin cancer. This powerful herb promotes elasticity and tone. A brightening eye cream with green tea is the perfect pick me up for tired, puffy eyes.

Goji Berries 

Goji berries are another protector against the sun. They also help keep collagen and elastin fibres in shape. Use a moisturizer with goji berry extract to improve the appearance of aging skin.


Saffron helps balance the hormones, improving the overall appearance of your complexion. An overnight mask featuring saffron is a great way to tackle wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, dullness.


Ginseng is a root that brightens the skin, prevents UV damage, enhances collagen, and diminishes signs of aging. Ginseng contains vitamins and antioxidants that every skin type can benefit from. A weekly detox mask with ginseng will keep your complexion looking healthy and radiant.

Acupuncture in Skincare

Acupuncture a branch of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting sterilized, single-use, disposable, incredibly thin needles into the skin. An acupuncturist determines where to focus the acupuncture needles by assessing the physiological causes of any imbalances.

This method is a gentle way to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. These responses include the release of endorphins (which can reduce pain and stress levels) and the activation of your immune system (which is called to action because it is responding to an injury).

Acupressure in Skincare

Like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates the flow of energy through the body by removing energy blockages. Acupressure helps increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage. This leads to increased oxygen and nutrient delivery to the skin and helps detoxify as well.

The end result is healthier-looking, glowing skin. But unlike acupuncture, acupressure uses touch rather than needles. And you can do it at home.

A jade roller is the perfect at-home skincare tool to practice acupressure on yourself. Jade is believed to have a cooling effect that can relieve sinus pain and pressure and reduce stress and puffiness.

How to Use a Jade Roller

The main idea behind using a jade roller for acupressure is lymphatic drainage. This is a form of massage that pushes fluids to your lymph nodes. The fluids are then processed and filtered out of your system. When you perform this massage consistently, you’ll reap lots of depuffing, glow-boosting benefits. 

Follow these steps when using your jade roller-

  • Start at your clavicle using an up-and-down motion.
  • Roll up-and-down over your neck.
  • Switch to a back-and-forth roll that starts at the center of your chin toward your ear. Repeat this all the way up to your cheekbone. 
  • Repeat the vertical roll on your forehead, starting from the middle of your face moving out toward your temples.
  • Flip the roller over and use the smaller attachment under your eyes in a horizontal motion toward your temples. 
  • Roll once more down your nose with the small side, moving it in a horizontal motion.

The best foods to eat for glowing skin, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Diet therapy is another branch of traditional Chinese medicine that helps the body to repair and regenerate itself. According to TCM eating the right foods can nourish the yin and promote blood production. Some of the most common foods recorded in ancient Chinese medicine books for skincare issues, with recipe ideas, are below. 

Red Dates: Red Date Tea


  • 20 dried red dates seeds removed
  • 3 dried black dates - seeds removed
  • 3 dried blue dates- seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon goji berries 
  • 4 ½ cups of water


  1. Remove seeds from the dates.
  2. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a tea kettle or pot.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the ingredients, and just drink the liquid, or put everything in the blender and drink it all.

Turmeric: Turmeric Golden Milk


  • 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk 
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • sweetener of choice (coconut sugar, agave syrup, etc.) 


  1. Add the coconut milk, almond milk, ground turmeric, ground ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil, black pepper, and sweetener to a pan.
  2. Whisk to combine and warm over medium heat. Heat about 4 minutes, whisking frequently.
  3. Turn off heat and taste to adjust flavor. Add more sweetener to taste or more turmeric or ginger for more spiciness.
  4. Serve immediately, dividing between two glasses.

Goji Berries: Goji Berry Smoothie


  • 1 cup frozen mixed fruit
  • 1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk 
  • 2 tablespoons dried goji berries
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  1. Blend a bit longer than you would a normal smoothie to ensure the goji berries are liquified.
  2. Drink and enjoy.

Chamomile: Honey Chamomile Latte


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 chamomile tea bags
  • 1 ½  cups cold whole milk, almond, coconut or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • cinnamon


  1. Bring the water to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the milk over medium heat. Whisk constantly until it’s warm and frothy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Discard the tea bags from the tea, add the honey, and stir until dissolved.
  4. Divide the warm tea between 2 mugs. 
  5. Divide the frothed milk between the 2 mugs, saving some foam with a spoon.
  6. Stir gently to combine and top with your saved foam. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve immediately.

Yams: Roasted Yam and Kale Salad


  • 2 jewel yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the yams with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange evenly onto a baking sheet.
  2. Bake in the oven until the yams are tender, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion and garlic until the onion has caramelized to a golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the kale, cooking until wilted and tender. Transfer the kale mixture to a bowl, and cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.
  4. Once all the ingredients have cooled, combine the yams, kale, red wine vinegar, and fresh thyme in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and gently stir to combine.

Ginseng: Ginseng Tea


  • 1 ounce whole dried ginseng root
  • ⅓ ounce whole licorice root
  • ⅓ ounce fresh ginger root, plus more for garnish if desired


  1. Put the ginseng and 8 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 1 hour. Add the licorice root and ginger root and 2 more cups of cold water. 
  3. Bring the tea to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes and strain. 
  4. Serve in 4-ounce cups garnished with an additional slice of peeled ginger root for aroma.

Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for more than 3,500 years. It’s been used to combat skin concerns for thousands of years, too! Give some of these long-loved ingredients a try in your modern skincare routine to see the glow.