Ever heard about the concept of Yin-Yang and wondered what it means? Can the interdependent energies of Yin and Yang help create a balanced life? Could they actually be the key to pure, harmonic living? If you asked Amanda Schuler, her answer would be yes.
Schuler is the founder of Kungfu Apothecary, a skincare brand inspired by the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her decision to produce a product line came after living in the city of Guangzhou for two years with her young family, where she learned to embrace popular Chinese beauty rituals like moxibustion, acupuncture and gua sha.
“The friends I made were always up for a good time and had little concern for the trappings of everyday life. We’d get our hair shampooed and the best tuina foot massages ever, which you never needed an appointment for. You could go anytime the mood struck you”, Schuler said.
After moving back to Toronto, Schuler met with who she describes as the best facial acupuncturist in the city, Alison Cheung, for a session. It turned out to be a game-changing treatment: in 2018, Kungfu Apothecary started as a passion project that helped demystify the world of Chinese beauty for North Americans until it grew into something much bigger.
Today, nearly two-year-old Kungfu Apothecary boasts a holistic, seven-step skincare collection (should you choose to perform the entire Chinese beauty ritual) and has been featured in publications like Forbes, Marie Claire and Refinery29. Here, Schuler and I discuss the different facets and benefits of the traditional Chinese beauty ritual, her products, and more.
AB: How would you define Chinese beauty?
AS: Being comfortable in your own skin and quite frankly, doing the opposite of what we’ve been trained to do. For example, not running or working out too hard, not drinking cold smoothies or iced drinks. Instead, Chinese beauty means to take things slowly, give yourself time to rest and be more ‘Yin’. Walk in nature and drink herbal tea.
AB: If you could sum Kungfu Apothecary up in one sentence, what would it be?
AS: Keeping yourself balanced and not being afraid to do something different.
AB: How do your signature Yin and Yang facial oils work with your gua sha, facial roller, eye wand and cupping set to enhance the skin?
AS: They both have a base of camellia seed oil, which is really amazing for absorbing into the skin. On top of that, they have rosemary extract which is really good for the skin too. These two combined provide a fabulous ‘slip’ for the tools, which is absolutely necessary for the gua sha, eye wand and facial cups. This sounds a little crazy, but, plant oils have either a Yin, Yang or neutral vibration. I’ve chosen Yin forward extracts for the Yin formulation, which are really cooling, feminine, soothing and great for nighttime. And I’ve chosen Yang forward extracts for the yang formulation, which are warming, more masculine and great for daytime.
AB: You say that regular facial acupuncture combined with the use of facial tools can improve the skin’s appearance as well. How?
AS: Totally. I’m not going to pretend that this is botox or fillers, or that you get that result by doing facial acupuncture, but the result is more natural. You’re treating the entire body, not just the face. Traditional Chinese Medicine involves the blood, and when the blood is healthy and moving as a result of getting enough rest, ingesting warm foods, teas, and whole vegetables, you basically allow the blood to nourish your face. If you aren’t in balance, the blood needs to deal with your organs and whatever else is out of balance. Acupuncture also treats your entire system, and after a treatment, your skin is tighter and more lifted. When I leave the table I feel like I’m floating and in a zen-like state.
AB: Is facial acupuncture a service that you plan on offering in the future? If not, do you have any recommendations on where to go for a treatment?
AS: My friend Alison Cheung from Radiant Acupuncture is the go-to in Toronto. I can’t recommend her enough. In my dream sequence she would perform acupuncture in a space of Kungfu Apothecary’s one day. We’d also have quickie gua sha treatments by estheticians licensed to perform facial gua sha.
AB: Since lymphatic drainage is all the hype, how do your facial tools accelerate the process?
AS: It turns out everything is about lymphatic drainage because the lymph is what drives the toxins out of your body. If you ever try cupping or gua sha on one side of your face, move the gua sha down from the ear and over to the neck, you’re draining the lymph and it really helps to de-puff. It sculpts the face. You can actually see a difference from one side to the other, but this is a regular, consistent practice. It’s not an overnight solution.
AB: The eye wand is unique to your line. What does it do for the appearance of under eyes and how do you use it for best results?
AS: You must use oil. You gently take the small part of the wand, anchor with one hand near the nose and sweep the wand up towards the temple. Be very careful in the eye region and use gentle pressure. I also use the small side underneath the eye brow and in the eye socket to remind the muscles lift instead of fall. Finally, I use the small side to massage the temple and erase wrinkles in my forehead. Using the bigger side to massage the top of my head is super relaxing.
AB: What would you say to someone who’s unsure of what gemstone to choose? Oftentimes, brands suggest that choosing a stone should be based on an intention. For example: Rose quartz represents self-love.
AS: I say pick the stone that speaks to you. There’s a lot of information about crystals out there and their unique benefits. I really like how each stone or crystal has a different feeling in the hand, a different weight and each one is totally unique. It’s fun to collect different stones and they’re so pretty to have. I think once you start a gua sha practice, you’re always on the lookout to add new ones to your collection!
AB: Of course, your line includes a tea! Can you tell me more about its ingredients and why you chose to include it in the Kungfu beauty ritual?
AS: I worked with a local tea company who sources organic ingredients directly from China. The tea is a high jade mountain oolong mixed with osmanthus flower, which is known to be very good for the skin. I’ve sampled a lot of their teas and I’d like to add to the collection in the future, possibly with mushroom elixirs.
AB: What’s your ideal Kungfu beauty ritual?
AS: I would do a bath in the late afternoon and then apply the Yin oil. I would do a full gua sha treatment, then some at home moxa. If I’m going out with friends, I would use the Yang oil and then do a 10 minute cupping ritual which gets my skin plumped and glowing. I’d massage the oil into my face afterward, blot it a bit, apply a little tinted moisturizer, gloss and I’m good to go. The cups do all the work.