If celebrity chef Nigella Lawson is to be believed, pandan is going to be the next big thing. (She called it “the new matcha” in an interview a few months ago.)
Besides the kitchens of international chefs, regional ingredients like blue ginger and turmeric – usually used for their flavour and health benefits – have made their way into beauty products by Chanel and Clarins respectively over the past year. In Singapore, Sara Davina Soong has gotten a head start on Lawson’s new obsession with her three-year-old pandan-infused skincare label, Ress.
Says Soong: “I grew up with pandan around the house, and my mum and grandma always used it to detoxify the body. I later learnt that it has natural detoxification properties, and was inspired to use it in my skincare.”
Call it part of the race to introduce something novel in the immensely competitive beauty industry. Consumers around the world are always attracted to new things, new ingredients and “exotic” concepts, says Dr Alain Khaiat, president of Seers Consulting, a cosmetics consultancy company.
In addition, as more scientific studies shed light on the efficacies of these ingredients that are frequently used as herbal remedies in Asia, more beauty companies are naturally incorporating these beneficial extracts into their formulations. “Once scientists understand how these ingredients work, it becomes easier to use them in products,” adds Dr Khaiat.
Even though the scent of such ingredients can at times come across as vegetal or even spicy, it helps that such products often include other more aromatic botanicals. (Clarins’ Double Serum, for example, leaves a pleasant, mildly floral fragrance, what with the addition of ingredients like mango and edelweiss flowers.) Then, of course, there’s the phenomenal success of Korean beauty brand Sulwhasoo and its ginseng-infused skincare. To quote another celebrity chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, people should open themselves to other “cuisines” – there are a lot of hidden secrets all over the world.
What it does: Its natural detoxification and pain-relief properties make it a popular herbal ingredient in teas and tinctures for headaches and anti-dandruff treatments.
Find it in: Ress Pandan Leaves Scrub, $40.90. Made of naturally dried pandan leaves and infused with pandan oil, this gentle scrub exfoliates skin to reveal a natural radiance.
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What it does: Not the local Nonya restaurant but the plant integral to many popular South-east Asian dishes like Thai tom yam soup. With powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties, its juice can be used to treat skin ailments like burns and cuts, and to prevent acne breakouts.
Find it in: Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Creme, $136. As one of the actives in this cream, blue ginger extract protects the skin from free radicals and promises to strengthen cells’ natural defence system.
What it does: From the blue ginger plant, this leaf is commonly used for medicinal purposes like stimulating circulation, and traditionally added into bathwater for women post-childbirth.
Find it in: Fresh Creme Ancienne Supreme Eye Serum, $269. A melt-in-your-skin serum that gets absorbed quickly, this formulation is infused with galangal leaf extract to enhance suppleness and smooth skin.
What it does: Used in India both as a cooking spice and for medicinal purposes for centuries, it has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its powder is also traditionally mixed into a paste and applied as a facial mask to soothe and revitalise skin.
Find it in: Clarins Double Serum, $125. This best-selling serum has been reformulated to include tumerone, a turmeric extract that supposedly enhances skin cells’ performance of vital functions such as cell repair, improves skin elasticity, and reduces the look of wrinkles.
By Karen Tee, Female, January 10, 2018. Photography: Vee Chin. Art Direction: Adeline Eng
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