Underrated Ingredients in Beauty Industry – TCM Herbs

Abby Wan

Abby Wan

Talking about skin care products, big brands like Philosophy, Fresh have been widely known for the clean ingredients and comfortable using experience. New icons such as Tatcha and Drunk Elephant are also rising and developing great reputations in the industry for their therapeutic skin benefits. Product ingredients are probably one of the most important aspects that affect people’s purchasing decisions when it comes to choosing a natural, clean, yet effective product among all the others. If you have paid attention to the ingredients lists of your favorite botanical products, it is obvious to see a group of herbs and plants that are commonly used in almost every brand featuring natural ingredients, but are unfortunately unbeknown to most of customers – TCM botanicals (Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs).

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          TCM stands upon the philosophy of balance in mind, body and soul, believes the synergy within our physical body and the balanced working system among every organ. I know the concept actually sounds vague, but no worries, you’re not alone. I was confused for a long time about how “balance” can affect our wellbeing until 2 years ago when I finally got rid of the disturbing problem that’d been bothering me for a long period — fatigue and exhaustion or you can say mental health disorder. I’d been suffering from constantly feeling tired and lack of energy, which significantly reduced my productivity, caused headache and sometimes depression. I was frustrated and tried many methods including drinking Pre-workout every morning, just to get myself plumped up and motivated. As a result, I got heart palpitations from too much caffeine and other chemicals.

          I was never interested in traditional culture as it couldn’t convince me like modern medical science did. However, I was later introduced to a very experienced TCM practitioner who made me an oral TCM compound soup therapy, consisting of over 20 kinds of medicinal herbs including Schisandra, Astragalus Radix, Poria, Longan, Licorice Root, Rehmannia Root, etc. Sounds familiar? Yes, I noticed that these herbs are also used in many skincare products. The herbs have extraordinary intrinsic benefits, which can be used in both oral medicine and topical remedies. Ok Let me finish my story before jumping into the herbs. I followed her recipes for almost 2 months, during which I could clearly feel the changes inside of my body. The fatigue gradually went away, headache didn’t happen as often, and eventually I could wake up with full of motivations to start my day. And that was without the help of Caffeine! Not only did my whole body feel healthy and energized again, I have also noticed an enhancement on my skin condition, which looked more radiant than before. My own experience brought me a deeper understanding of TCM as well as medicinal herbs.

          Just like many other traditional cultures, the herbs in TCM are an important aspect when it comes to addressing diseases and reducing pain. Unlike other plants, time tested TCM herbs have strong medicinal and therapeutic properties with well-established records of proven safety and efficacy. Thanks to plant-driven beauty brands, there are more people started to research about how TCM herbs can benefit us beyond just bitter medicinal soups. Here we organized 12 “Behind-The-Scene Heroes” that are much less talked about

Angelica Root:

Angelica Roots are rich in nutrients such as anti-oxidants, vitamin A, vitamin E, amino acids, and several minerals. When used in skin care products, it fights against free radicals, has great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation properties. When used as supplements, it treats heartburn, prevents cold and flu, reliefs intestinal gas, etc.

Schisandra Berry:

Schisandra berry is counted as an adaptogen, which means it balances stress and energy level of human body, elevates beauty and vitality. Substances founded in Schisandra such as Y-Schsandrin, phenolic substance and vitamins are useful for brightening skin, and promoting vital appearance. It also has strong anti-oxidant property that protects skin from free radical damage and aging. When used internally as supplements, the nutrition-dense Schisandra improves mental clarity, provides calm and focused energy, as well as maintains sex function.


Astragalus Membranaceus Root:

Astragalus root has reported benefits including improving immune system, reliving cold symptom, heart disease and chronic fatigue. In skin care products, Astragalus stimulates hyaluronic acid which in known for skin hydration; it also prevents skin from UV damage, promotes wound healing process, and slows down aging.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root:

Powerful compounds such as glabridin and glycyrrhizin founded in Licorice make it famous for its anti-inflammatory skin smoothening and skin tone improving properties. It is an ideal ingredient for people with sensitive, inflamed and red skins. It is also a good option for people who has symptoms like eczema or psoriasis. 

Rhodiola Rosea Root:

Rhodiola has been known as an adaptogen, and is found to significantly reduce stress, fatigue, depression and anxiety. It also enhances brain function, improves mental performance. When used regularly, it has shown to lower blood sugar, helps diabetes, as well as anti-tumor. When used in skin care products, Rhodiola boosts microcirculation, promotes collagen production and protects skin from environmental stress factors.


Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi):

Reishi has been used to reduce fatigue, improve immune system and improve sleep. It is helpful for liver and kidney disease and flu symptoms. It also has many skin benefits such as reducing skin inflammation, reducing puffiness and promoting cellular regeneration.

Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola, Cica, Tiger Grass):

Centella asistica is rich in good fatty acids, amino acids many potent phytochemicals. It has shown to reduce inflammation, help wound healing as well as promote cell growth and collagen production. It is commonly used in skin care products as one of the most powerful ingredients to slow down aging and help skin rejuvenation.

Panax Ginseng:

Panax Ginseng can be used for depression, stress, and anxiety. It helps regulate the stress level. Researches have shown that Panax Ginseng is good for boosting immune system, protect liver and lung health. It is also used to maintain or enhance sex functions. When used in skin care products, Panax Ginseng boosts skin hydration, getting rid of rough texture and even skin tone. It reduces visible wrinkles and enhances skin firmness.


Cordyceps have been shown to improve exercise performance by improving the way oxygen is efficiently used by your body. It has anti-tumor effect, shown to be used in therapies treating lung cancer. It is also good for heart health and diabetes. When used in skin care products, Cordyceps shows strong anti-aging and anti-inflammation properties.

Tremella Fuciformis:

Tremella is known for its moisturizing and hydrating function. It nourished skin, improves skin elasticity, slows down aging and deeply hydrates skin. When used in soup or as supplements, it benefits human body as it is rich in dietary fibers, minerals, antioxidants and vitamin D.

Goji Berry:

Goji Berry is a widely accepted superfood that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If used regularly, Goji berry will help regulate blood sugar, support weight loss and prevent cancer. Amino acids found in Goji berry will smooth skin texture, balance skin tone, lock skin moisture and improve visible aging signs.


Lotus has been used as a symbol of purity and divine beauty. It contains a great mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as copper, iron, manganese, potassium, zinc. It also has decent amount of fiber and protein. When used in regular diet, it improves blood circulation, helps stress relief, supports digestive health, and regulates blood pressure. Lotus is rich in Vitamin A and C, which give it powerful anti-oxidant property, enhance skin, hair and eye health. It also shows wound healing properties, treats skin inflammation.

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