Want great skin? Then traditional Chinese medicine should be on your radar

We spoke to a Chinese medicinal practitioner for the lowdown on the ancient practice

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / June 25 2021

We think it’s safe to say that ingestibles have well and truly flooded the beauty market. Touting the benefits of collagen, adaptogens and superfoods all in one handy single serve sachet, this consumer-friendly format can’t be beat in terms of accessibility.

But what about when the generic formulas of ingestibles just won’t cut it? Well, that’s where the ancient practice of Chinese herbal medicine comes in.

The practice has been around for over 2,000 years and allows for a customisable treatment plan; Chinese medicinal practitioners prescribe their patients any of the practice’s 365 traditional herbs, to deliver solutions for a variety of skin woes, from acne to eczema.

After assessing your health history and checking your pulse and abdominal area, a Chinese medicinal practitioner will assess a variety of factors including inspecting the tongue and smells and sounds of the body, in order to address the best course of treatment for you.

We spoke to Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Beauty Therapist Eli Huang about the benefits of seeing a Chinese herbalist for a personalised take on the ingestibles craze.

Do Chinese herbs have benefits that outweigh traditional ingestible products on the market?

Chinese herbal medicine is “significantly more advanced and targeted than just taking a beauty ingestible, which is usually over the counter or self-diagnosed,” explains Huang.

“Ingestibles are usually generic in nature.” she warns. “[They] are not targeted for the specific individual’s needs, especially if there are other underlying conditions contributing to their health and beauty concerns.”

“Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a long and rich history and when you see a Chinese medicine practitioner we are not only addressing the skin issues only, but the underlying root cause of these symptoms as well as addressing other health problems the client may present with,” says Huang. “We are looking at the client holistically and getting an understanding of their overall health picture.”

“Patient’s not only see improvement in their skin and face but feel better overall and could see other physical symptoms also significantly improve whilst on Chinese herbs, including digestive, stress, energy and sleep. Also it is completely natural with very little side effects,” Huang assures.

How to find a qualified and certified Chinese herbal medicine practitioner 

Keen to give it a try? Make sure you’re seeing someone qualified. “Most countries have a directory with practitioners listed who have undergone tertiary education or equivalent,” Huang advises. “In Australia, you can search the Chinese Medicine Board AHPRA website for a qualified TCM Practitioner.”

“Always check with a qualified practitioner before taking Chinese herbs as you can have adverse effects or they could be contraindicated for the particular individual.”

So, what Chinese herbs should we be taking to achieve our best skin yet? 

Though Huang reiterates that this all depends on your specific skin issues, there are some great herbs that are tried and true for keeping your skin looking it’s absolute best and“maintaining a youthful appearance and slowing down the ageing process and even stress of daily life.” 

Here’s what Huang recommends:

Ginseng: AKA the ‘king of herbs’. This adaptogen helps the body fight stress and is also great to help prevent ageing, support health and energy and increase vitality whilst improving your immune system.

Cordyceps ‘Ling Zhi’: A mushroom high in antioxidants which helps boost immune function.

Astragalus ‘Huang Qi’: Another powerhouse herb that helps the body’s immune system, especially as we age.

Knotwood: Great for treating premature ageing, longevity and keeping the hair healthy.

Jujube Date ‘Da Zao’: A date used to nourish blood and support digestive health. They are rich in amino acids, flavonoids, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin A, minerals and iron to boost immunity and keep blood vessels flexible.

Lycium fruit ‘Gou Qi Zi’: This wolfberry is packed with so many health benefits, including anti-ageing and immune-boosting properties. The fruit contains a variety of chemical compounds such as glutamine, taurine, carotene, vitamins B1 and B2, vitamin C, and more than a dozen kinds of sterols. The potent antioxidants help fight free radicals, reduce inflammation and therefore promote longevity and brighten skin.

Image credit: Acupuncture And Beauty Centre

Image credit: Acupuncture And Beauty Centre

What about treating specific skin ailments such as acne, rosacea, eczema?

According to Huang, in TCM, ailments such as these are an indicator of toxins in the body. 

Therefore the herbs she recommends centre around anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties, to flush said toxins.

Pearl Barley ‘Yi Yi Ren’: Helps with swelling, general inflammation and smoothing the skin. It may also help to enhance clarity and healthy luminance to the skin.

Coptis ‘Huang Lian’: Contains berberine, which is great for anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and helps to reduce heat toxins and damp heat in the body to facilitate healing.”

Chrysanthemum:  One of the best herbs for skin conditions where fluid appears under the skin such as seborrheic dermatitis, pompholyx eczema or cystic acne.This flower is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and can significantly reduce skin itching.   

Honeysuckle ‘Jin Yin Hua’: Commonly used topically as a face wash, it has antibiotic properties and anti-inflammatory effects and is known for its ability to heal many different skin problems. It is also rich in flavonoids and saponins, which are antioxidants that help protect the skin against free radicals that cause damage and ageing whilst improving skin tone and texture.

Dandelion ‘Pu Gong Ying’: as antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions, which [makes] are great for treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and acne.

Pearl powder ‘Zhen Zhu’: An amazing product for skin issues. It contains dozens of rich amino acids (the essential building blocks of protein for our bodies to function properly) have been shown to stimulate skin cells to produce collagen, promote cellular repair and hydration, and protect skin from pollution. It also contains over 30 trace minerals, including magnesium and potassium, which help maintain skin health.


Know what else keeps your skin looking it's best? Exercise. These are the best fitness gadgets for optimising your workout.

Main image credit: Getty

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).