Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE BATTLE OF THE HERBS: Innovative Chinese Beauty Brands

Recently, I found myself in desperate need of two things: hand cream and moisturizing cream for the face. I reminded myself I just bought new stock a few weeks ago, but I just seem to be running out faster than usual nowadays. Here in Hefei, the winter air is dry and bitterly cold. My skin has been suffering, feeling itchy, scaly and uncomfortable most of the time. So, as I squeezed out the last drop of hand cream and facial moisturizer a few days ago, I let out a silent scream and ran to the mall dragging Marc with me! For the first time, Marc endured shopping with me because he was frantic with the idea of not having any lotions as well. He has been using them in this crazy winter climate even more than me!

I'm ready for some skincare shopping!
Over the years of trying lotions and moisturizing products, I’ve found that herbal, organic and natural skincare really works for me, and so I went straight to two of China’s most popular herbal skincare brands: Herborist and Inoherb.

The Chinese Beauty Remedy

I first encountered Herborist when I was living in Nanjing in 2009, after entering a store at a mall. After trying their shampoos, hand creams and body lotions, I was hooked. At that time, I didn’t even realize that it was one of China’s most popular luxury beauty brands and voted Shanghai’s most famous local skincare brand in 2005. I just thought their brand concept was very interesting, the store looked great, the ingredients they used in their products were all natural (which I love!) and their products really worked for my skin. Nowadays, Herborist has expanded globally and is slowly emerging into the international market. Herborist has now established a joint venture with Sephora Cosmetics and is the first Chinese brand carried by Sephora in all its overseas markets. 

Herborist is available internationally in all SEPHORA stores in the following countries: France, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and Monaco

Chinese website: 

Herborist prides itself in the strength of their products which “integrate Traditional Chinese Medicine into the latest fruits of modern biotechnology.” Here in China, Herborist is considered a luxury brand and is targeted towards the high-end Chinese market. Not all products are pricey though. Their basic care series, regular hand creams, shampoos, and conditioners start at about US$6 each. But their special range of moisturizing, revitalizing and firming creams start at about US$40 each, with the new T’ai Chi moisturizing range being the most expensive. 

Herborist today has at least 1,000 stores all around China. The brand also opened a Herborist Spa in Shanghai in 2002, which offers unique treatments to complement their products.

Herborist store at Wanda Plaza Pedestrian Walk
Hefei, China
Herborist Moisturizing Shampoo (US$6) &
Herborist Multi-Function Hand Care Cream (US$6)

Affordable Herbal

The concept of Inoherb is “affordable herbal”, meaning good skincare doesn’t have to be expensive just because it is herb-based and infused with natural ingredients. Inoherb is found in most drugstores in China and considered a mass-market beauty brand, but it differentiates itself from other drugstore brands by their high-quality natural skin care products. The brand believes that the natural magic of herbs can be used by everyone to improve their skin in a safe and effective way and markets all its products as approachable and affordable. 

Inoherb Octuple Hydra Cream (US$6)
Inoherb Nourishing and Firming Eye Cream (US$8)
Inoherb has maintained a long-time cooperation with Shanghai Medical University School of Medicine in creating their herbal skin research center. By studying ancient Chinese beauty secrets and ten years of research on herbal skin care benefits, modern technology fused the way for the company to develop a series of effective and safe herbal skin care products. 

Inoherb has a wide range of products. Whitening, anti-wrinkle/ nourishing & firming, anti-acne/ oil-control, exfoliating/ deep cleansing, aqua hydra moisturizing, revitalizing, and olive oil body care are just some of the brand’s basic skincare lines. Natural ingredients used in their products consist of witch hazel, pomegranate, cactus, lotus seed, and Rhodiola. 


Nourishing Eye Cream and Octuple Hydra Cream in close-up view
The Octuple Hydra Cream feels great on my skin, and is supposed to hold eight times
the amount of water in the skin.

Here in China, facial masks are so popular and everywhere!
Even I have gotten in on the craze! They feel great and refreshing !
Inoherb Revitalizing Moisturizing Mask 3 pcs. (US$8)