Daughters of the yellow emperor

Updated: 2012-03-04 07:50

By Pauline D. Loh (China Daily)

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Daughters of the yellow emperor

Chinese women hold up half the sky, but they have the good sense to stay out of the sun. Yue-sai Kan tells Pauline D. Loh why and how we just keep looking younger.

She is walking proof that Chinese women have an almost ageless beauty. Yue-sai Kan has seen a few decades go by, but no one could possibly guess she's over 60, unless they were immigration or tax officers with privileged information. When we visited her at her art gallery-like apartment in Shanghai, our young photographer stopped short at the door, captivated by a portrait of the lady on the wall. When she appears for our interview, she is perfectly made-up and immaculately groomed and looks no more than half her age.

Many years ago, she decided to create a cosmetic line especially for Asian women, and the Yue-sai brand, now part of the L'Oreal corporate umbrella, is an acknowledged pioneer in the field.

"I don't know exactly what makes our skin more sensitive, but I just know that when we launched our first line of skincare, there were so many sensitive skin types. I did all the skin tests in the United States, albeit on Chinese and Asian skin. But I am sure it has a lot to do with the diet."

Yue-sai now tests all its products in China on Chinese skin, and that has made a tremendous difference. Kan says that since her cosmetic line became part of the L'Oreal group, the product quality has improved tremendously, thanks to L'Oreal's excellent laboratory support.

Why is it that Asian skin seems to look younger than Caucasian skin?

"In general, I think our skin has finer pores, and it is attached closer to the bone than a Caucasian person's. Our skin has relatively less hair, too, and it's tighter in general.

"Yes, it's a genetic trait that makes our skin look younger."

How would you maintain and protect that youthfulness?

Daughters of the yellow emperor


"The fact that Chinese women do not like to go out in the sun as much is a very good habit. The sun does immense damage to the skin. Then, of course, massaging the skin and the products you use also make a lot of difference. Many of the Yue-sai skin products contain Sun Protection Factor for the skin. This includes even the face powder.

"I think there is another difference," she says, "and that is how our skin reacts to the sun.

"I have lived in China for the last 25 years and I never once came across a case of skin cancer. In the States, there are so many! It seems that over there, many people over 60 seem to be afflicted with skin cancer in varying degrees.

"I think that the yellow-tinged melanin under Asian skin really helps to protect against sun damage. We get dark spots, rather than skin cancer."

Kan uses and swears by her own products, which she says are important in slowing down the aging process.

"I use Vital Essential No 3, as it exfoliates my skin more and speeds up the regenerative process."

Yue-sai cosmetics has different product lines for different ages, and its dynamic French general manager, Stephane Wilmet, is familiar with every one.

"Scientifically, there is no published evidence to show that Chinese skin is more sensitive than others. But we are very convinced that Chinese women really care about their skin and are very careful about what is happening to their skin.

"In this case, in addition to diet indeed, we could find that during season changes (winter to spring, summer to winter) there are more complaints on skin sensitivity or itching, but it is really linked to temperature and humidity changes. Also, pollution may contribute a lot to the increase in complaints regarding skin sensitivity.

"Clearly the number one enemy, especially regarding aging, is the sun," he says, mostly from ultraviolet rays. "Chinese women have delayed aging appearances, mostly thanks to less UV exposure, better protection and their natural skin color, and genetic reasons."

Wilmet says the Yue-sai line has different products for different ages and different skin concerns. Most of these follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy and uses rare herbs like ganoderma, gingko biloba and silver ear fungus.

You may contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn.

Daughters of the yellow emperor