Fresh Beauties

Seth Vaughan examines the foundations of three radically different approaches to well-being and beauty.

Seth Vaughan
Posted:
May 02, 2013

Vicky Tsai  

Owner/founder, Tatcha Japanese skincare; tatcha.com 

Drawing on the age-old methods of the Japanese geisha, Vicky Tsai’s skincare line, Tatcha, has become a smash hit with those interested in new and novel approaches to maintaining healthy skin. Tsai’s mother owned a cosmetics boutique in Houston, which made cultivating a career in the beauty industry not only relevent for her daughter, but a little easier. Following an unfortunate bout with acute dermatitis that lasted for two years, she began to consider other approaches to skin health — in particular, Eastern methods. While traveling through Asia, Tsai became intrigued by Japan’s geishas and their beauty regimen. During the trip, she coincidentally unearthed a 200-year-old beauty manuscript, Miyakofuzoku Kewaiden, which translates to “Capitol Beauty and Style Handbook.” The seven-chapter text details beauty solutions of that bygone era — and skincare is one of the chapters. Drawn to the idea of the elusive mocha hada, a term referring to the almost baby-like skin beneath the customary makeup of the geisha, Tsai investigated further, only to find that geishas hadn’t diverged from the text since its adoption. The main difference, she discovered, is how simple their skincare routine is — only three or four steps, compared to the elaborate 10 or 12 steps that Western beauty companies have adopted. Tsai began employing the methods herself and in time completely healed her skin issues. Astounded by the efficacy of the methods, she knew she had stumbled upon a radically simplified take on skincare.

She started Tatcha with one product that has now attained cult status: Aburatoigami beauty papers. Made from the abaca leaf and hammered with gold leaf, they were originally fashioned by goldsmiths to protect thin sheets of leafing for architectural adornment; geishas, however, discovered their capacity to absorb excess oils from the skin without disturbing one’s makeup. Since then, Tsai has added Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil to remove makeup, Classic Rice Enzyme Powder to lift debris and give a glow, Radiant
Deep Brightening Serum to prevent age spots while eliminating marks from breakouts, Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream to hydrate while doubling as a primer and Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream, which promotes microcirculation to refresh and rejuvenate eyes. Sensitive to how reactionary skin is, Tsai carefully formulates all her products without irritants and suspected carcinogens, while maximizing potency through the use of such active ingredients as red algae, rice bran and green tea. Our response? Arigato.

What’s on the horizon for the brand? Chapter two of our beauty book — we can’t wait to share!

Tips? Healthy skin is like a great figure: You can dress it up, dress it down or go naked, and you’ll always look fantastic. Bad skin is the opposite — even an haute couture gown won’t save your look. Treat your skin like it’s the only one you have. Stay out of the sun and consider the root causes of problems before aggressively treating.

 

Jennifer Segal, M.D. 

Owner, Metropolitan Dermatology Institute, 4055 Westheimer Road, Suite 300, Highland Village Shopping Center 713.955.1333

It's clear that dermatologist Jennifer Segal loves what she does and cares intensely about her impact on those she treats. Her attention to detail is lavished not only on the fortunate individuals who call themselves her patients, but on everything she’s involved in — case in point, her new office in Highland Village. Realized as a collaborative effort between Segal’s longtime designer Michael Lupardo and Bernardo Rios, a member of Houston-based Rottet Studio, the offices are an energizing and restorative play on the color white, punctuated with apt accessories such as lavish arrangements of white phalaenopsis and smart appointments in treatment rooms. It’s an environment where caring for one’s skin feels like a rewarding and alluring form of beautification rather than a daily chore. But then again, how could it feel otherwise when in the hands of such a proficient physician? Segal is interested and actively involved in both cosmetic dermatology (utilizing less-invasive, high-impact neurotoxins, fillers and lasers on those she treats) and skin cancer treatment (having conducted research at numerous institutions, including New York University Medical Center, and actively serving on MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Advance team). She is not only of her times but doing her part to shape them.

Necessary dermatological extravagances? Retin-A and Botox. They work beautifully and are worth the expense. Also, invest in a sunscreen you love to use and a wide-brimmed hat you like to wear.

Preferred face wash and moisturizer? I have used Dove bar soap for years. It effectively cleanses without overdrying. Avène, Cetaphil and Simple are other great options. I always use gentle, hydrating moisturizers that soothe and maintain the skin’s barrier; they prevent redness and provide a youthful dewiness. My current favorite is Avène Cicalfate — it’s rich and feels delicious.

 

Leila-Scott Mitchell, MAOM, L.Ac.

Owner, Natural Means Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine & Food Therapy at The Healing Space, 1728 Bissonnet, 713.520.6800

With an arsenal of Chinese health practices at her fingertips, Leila-Scott Mitchell is our new go-to when ailments strike. Interested in alternative treatments since childhood, she’s pursued this career in one form or another since college. Her training as a yoga instructor yielded an understanding of the principles behind T’ai chi, a low-impact exercise that taps into Confucian and Daoist principles and aligns with Chinese medicine. In her current role as an acupuncturist, food therapist and herbalist, she draws on a personal connection with the tenets of these treatments and finds them deeply beneficial to both mind and body. She also offers acutonics (a treatment  perfect for the needle-wary in which tuning forks deliver vibrations at optimal points on the body to stimulate meridians, just as acupuncture does) and cupping (which draws pathogens out of the body through suction).

Her practice is set within The Healing Space, a health collective on Bissonnet, alongside other health practitioners including founder Monica Robertson, M.D., a former OB/GYN who uses traditional Western methods as well as integrative approaches; John Price, MA, LPC, a Jungian psychotherapist; and Lisa McFarland, L.M.T., CST, CIC, a craniosacral therapist.

Number of acupuncture sessions? Historically, one would visit the acupuncturist every week from birth until death. It was just part of a healthy lifestyle. I recommend 10 appointments to start. The effects are cumulative, so the longer and more regularly one has acupuncture, the better equipped your body is when it comes to warding off imbalance and illness.

The most valuable lesson Eastern medicine has taught you? Making time for yourself is essential to the health of your mind, body and spirit. You have to create and devote time to following the things we all know we need to be doing in order to be our best selves.

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