March 22 2010
Lucia van der Post
The world is not, I think, short of Chinese-influenced remedies. Turn a corner in almost any major city and tucked away somewhere you’ll find someone purveying Eastern lotions, potions and medicines, all of course ancient and mysterious and some quite astonishingly miraculous. What we have not had – until now – is a properly tested, intensively researched, professional range of skincare products that harnesses all the wisdom of traditional Chinese herbal medicine and couples it with modern technology. This is where the new range of Wei skincare products comes in.
It’s the brainchild of Wei Young Brian, who grew up in central China and from a young age loved learning about Chinese herbs, and she has produced it with much encouragement from Nicky Kinnaird of Space NK which is going to sell it exclusively around the world. This is, says Wei, an uncompromisingly luxurious line. She has taken the finest, freshest, most efficacious herbs and allied them with the best essences and techniques she can. She is hugely experienced in the beauty world in that she had built up a successful skincare business in China – she sold door to door and at one time had a sales force of more than 40,000 women.
“If I sold one hand cream,” she tells me, “I’d quickly sell five more – because people found it worked.” Later the Chinese government banned direct sales; because of this, and also for family reasons, she moved to the US, taking her precious handed-down recipes with her, and began all over again. She has now established a more accessible line called Wei East, which she sells in large numbers through a home shopping channel on American TV.
Over the years she has acquired great expertise which she has drawn on to develop the new über-luxurious Wei line. For a start, she oversees and owns almost everything, from a huge factory in China which makes all the products to many of the farms that grow the herbs. If she doesn’t own the farms she knows where to find the best ones. For instance, for for goji berries, Chinese berries beloved for their ability to energise the skin as well as for their antioxidant properties, she goes to a farm in a remote part of China where she knows they grow the most effective ones.
She uses Tibetan safflower, which is many times more expensive than normal safflower, for her age-defying face-cream. She uses just the tips of freshly picked green tea in her Mulberry Leaf 3-in-1 Eye Cream (£50).
The products, as you will have gathered, are very largely natural, being based on traditional Chinese medicine, so none of them has any sunscreen built into them as it would interfere with the action of the herbs. I find the eye cream in particular wonderful. It seems really to nourish. Her star products otherwise are the Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser (£24), the Royal Ming Firming and Hydrating Cream (£72), a cream made from 18 herbs that was used on the porcelain complexions of the Ming Dynasty, and the cute little Pomegranate Buffing Beads (£15), which come packed like old medicines in folded paper and are a traditional exfoliator.