Having great skin starts with a certain amount of care. While some might attribute their skin conditions to genetics, most of the time it starts with adapting to the environment and finding out what works best for your skin. As Asians in a humid and/or hot environment, it can be hard to figure out if Western products work for our skin in the same way it does for the intended market.
This is where Dr. Liao Yuan Li (廖苑利) steps in.
Yuanli Medical Beauty Group (YL 願麗優肌底保養) is part of this year’s Taiwan Beauty Alliance, an esteemed collective of beauty companies in Taiwan. It is easy to underestimate Dr. Liao as her well-maintained appearance is a clear sign of her expertise. Previously trained in Russia, today she has over 20 years of extensive clinical experience, owns four aesthetic clinics in Taiwan, a beauty line, and all while being a mother herself.
Since launching the skincare subsidiary two years ago, YUANLI has been making headlines with its powerful anti-ageing products and unique brand approach to dermatologically-formulated products. Termed as the “preventive medicine of skincare”, the products not only boast of efficacious active ingredients but an assurance of health for all types of skin.
We chat with Dr. Liao and the team about identifying skin problems, common mistakes in skincare routines, and the brand’s role in shaping the face of beauty across Asia.
For those who haven’t heard of YUANLI, what is the brand’s philosophy?
It is based on the unique Skin Optimization Solution – S. O. S. that I have developed over the years. I have witnessed too many clinical cases of skin conditions getting worse due to mis-care and misconception about skincare.
S. O. S. was invented to help people understand that beautiful skin comes from healthy skin— the best way to achieve a beautiful skin is to build up a healthy skin. This is a concept about improving your damage skin function and preventing from the future damage. Once your skin returns to its healthy state, you will have fewer skin problems and also your skin will radiate with a natural glow. The philosophy is to help everyone to retrieve their beauty.
What inspired you to create your own beauty line, despite the overwhelming amount of products in the market?
I suffered from severe atopic dermatitis in my childhood. Therefore, I can totally relate to those people who have skin conditions and find no help. I know how skin conditions impact a person’s life. Due to my own skin condition, I decided to pursue my career in dermatology. After 16 years of clinical practice, I realized that it’s not enough. I can help people in my clinic but what about other people that can’t come to my clinic?
Then I started to look for means that can spread faster, wider, and deeper into our daily life. Skincare is the thing that everyone partakes in their daily life. If I can emerge my theory in skincare products, I can help more people. That’s the motivation and the reason I decided to create my own skincare lines.
As an experienced dermatologist, can you briefly describe some of the prevalent skin conditions in Southeast Asia?
The weather has a great impact on skin problem occurrence in Southeast Asia. We can discuss these problems in different aspects, but I will briefly cover the most common problems here. Among people between the ages of 15 to 30, I think acne and oily skin are the most annoying skin problems. Other conditions like breakouts, overactive sebum, excess skin cuticles are also bothersome to most people.
Dark spots are another skin issue that is highly discussed. Although some of the causes of dark spots are genetic, however, it will all be triggered or elevated to a worse condition due to the sun exposure and UVA/UVB damage. Enlarged pores are another common issue. Due to genetic reason, Asian skin has thicker skin horny layers (stratum corneum) and thus, compared to Western skin types, there is a bigger chance for Asian skin have enlarged pores.
Wrinkles and fine lines are often overlooked in the region. They are caused by excessive sun exposure and incomplete sunscreen. Sun damage will be accumulated and as a result, collagen fibres will break, and deeper wrinkles appear. Other issues are mostly infections like Athlete’s foot, tinea cruris and tinea corporis; or rashes and eczema. All are related to the humid weather and high temperature.
All the above, some can be solved with the help of skincare but some like tinea, it’s better for you to search for the help of a professional.
What kind of mistakes do people often make in their skincare routine? How do your products hope to solve these issues?
There are a few things that I will be worried about when my patients or my customers raise these questions. I will list some examples, such as using peel masks or exfoliating products too often. Your skin has a natural shield called Hydrolipidic film and it is there to protect your skin from the external aggressors. If you exfoliate or use the peel off mask too often, your skin is being damaged constantly, then, of course, your skin will become more sensitive to irritants leading to various dermatitis; or when there are bacteria or when your immune system is weaker, an infection will occur more easily.
Over-cleansing will also damage your skin. Cleansing will take away the impurities on your face and as well as the moisture. If you over-cleanse your skin, your skin can’t retain enough moisture. As a result, your skin will be dry and get irritated easily. Proper cleansing your face is a key. If you wear heavy makeup such as mascara or waterproof foundations then you will need a makeup remover of course, but if you don’t, simple cleanser will be enough to cleanse your face.
The last is DIY (Do-It-Yourself) skincare products. A lot of people try to DIY their own skincare products at home. There will be some potential risks as firstly, you are not in a sterile environment. Secondly, DIY products deteriorate easily. You cannot know if it is safe to use on your skin.
Based on our S.O.S theory, YUANLI is created with the idea to give our customer a healthy skin, so what the products do is not only protect your skin but also repair skin that has been damaged. All our products are created to enhance the defence ability of your skin and self-healing ability. When your skin texture and health improve, irritations are reduced, and you will not have to put on layers of products to pursue the beautiful skin texture that you are looking for.
Do you have a personal favourite among your skincare products? Why?
This is a really tough question. I love all my products. However, if I do have to pick one, then I will choose the Control Capsule. When I was developing this product, my main focus was to let our customers know that oil care does not have to be greasy. Oil care is truly the key to maintaining a healthy skin. This is the idea that I keep educating people whenever I have speeches or featured on television shows. Oil is the natural shield of your skin. Many people suffer from oily skin problems, not because of the oil but of the imbalance of water and oil.
Again, according to my S.O.S. theory, oil is a very important part of your skin that helps maintain the moisture and isolate the external aggressors. Putting oil on your skin may seem scary at first. However, once you try it, you will notice your skin becoming supple and the effect is obvious.
What current trends in the beauty industry frustrate you? Which trends excite you? Why?
The advance of technology is very exciting. More and more ingredients are proven to be safe for our skin and their effectiveness is also proven in many of the experiments and researches. Therefore, we can create safer and more effective products.
As for the Internet, it is a love and hate situation. Great skincare knowledge is disseminated more easily, but also incorrect knowledge. Lots of my patients, readers or customers will come to me with the “skincare tips” they saw online, and I have to explain numerous times about why and how it is wrong. If they find a professional skin consultancy first, then it will be better, but there are lots of people who believe in incorrect knowledge and try it by themselves. It frustrates me sometimes on how fast and how wide those misconceptions spread.
The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
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