Chinese beauty food to improve skin complexion

Being a Chinese means I do eat some of the exotic Chinese food for beauty on a rather frequent basis. Amongst these are the strangest looking fungi, herbs and roots. Even though the benefits of these are subjective and some of them do not even have sufficient clinical studies to back them up, I’ve been taking them quite diligently. Many of these Chinese herbs have specific benefits for our skin and today, I’ll show you some of the strange stuff that I’ve been consuming that have both beauty and health benefits.

Soup is very important for us and we’re not talking about just any chicken or vegetable soup. Rather, many Chinese believe that drinking certain blends of herbal soup will help to regulate our health and improve our well-being. Being a Hokkien, I’ve been drinking such herbal soups since I was ten. My favorite is a thick black soup made with 10 different herbs and brewed with an old duck. I haven’t been drinking that soup for a long time but instead, have been making a normal blend of herbal soup, with ingredients bought from Eu Yan Sang that you see here.

Herbal Soup
We drink this about twice a week and love it because it is tasty and increases our energy level. Although this soup isn’t specifically concocted for beauty benefits, but I believe it has an impact because of its ability to improve our blood circulation. The red wolfberries or goji berries you see here for example, have great antioxidant benefits and have been used for centuries by the Chinese to improve vision as well as nourish the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Besides being nutrient rich, they’re said to increase collagen synthesis and is rich in beta carotene, which protects the skin from sun damage! Even Taiwanese skincare guru Niu Er endorsed it at his beauty workshop that Hazel had covered here.

Complexion Soup
If you want to specifically improve your beauty and complexion, you can always rely on the good old complexion soup, which contains Dang Gui or Angelica Root, that can help to give our skin a healthy glow because of its ability to simulate sub-dermal blood circulation to aid optimum production of skin cells and collagen. It also contains wolfberries that I discussed earlier and Yu Zhu, a herb that promotes the secretion of fluids and keeps our skin from being dehydrated. However, I’ve to warn you that the smell of this isn’t exactly appetizing although the taste is fine by my standard. It’s easy to brew but I only drink this occasionally because this is not something that the boys in my family can consume.

White Fungus
This is commonly known as the poor man’s bird’s nest because it is a rich source of collagen. They’re commonly found in the supermarkets here but the better grades would be the wild fungus found in the Chinese medicine hall. They’re what you see in the picture here and they’re smaller and dirtier, but otherwise taste the same as the usual grade. Each box is just S$4 and make about 4 pots of sweet dessert with red dates, dried logans and raw sugar. Another favorite is to make a delicious soup by brewing the fungus with chicken meat.

Hashima aka Snow Jelly
These are really dried fallopian tubes of frogs and can help to improve skin’s complexion when consumed frequently. You can purchase the dried version and cook them yourself but an easier alternative would be to purchase the ready made bottles. The one you see here is brewed with Korean Red Ginseng, a herb widely known to reduce facial wrinkles and damages caused by photoaging.

Bird’s Nest
This much revered and expensive delicacy is in fact made from swiftlet’s saliva secretion. Before you say yikes, it is said that frequent consumption of bird’s nest result in fairer skin and better complexion. Many Asian celebrities, like our local Fann Wong, swear by this delicacy. I haven’t found real scientific evidence to back up the beautifying effect from ingesting bird’s nest but according to TCM documents, it enhances the rebirth of cells and tissues and this is supported by a medical research reported by Hong Kong Chinese University. Although those in bottles are convenient to eat, I personally prefer to purchase the actual dried bird’s nest to cook myself as I think those are of better grade.

Pearl Herbal Jelly
Herbal Jelly is known for dispeling body heat but increasingly, they’ve been formulated with additional ingredients to provide more benefits. One of these is using pearl powder that can help to improve and rejuvenate our skin cells, retain the water in epidermal layer, and purge brown spots plus dark freckles in our skin. Despite the color, they’re not bitter to the taste because of the added sugar or honey. You can also choose another version made with Lingzhi as it is considered a skin energizer and antioxidant that can retain water and help maintain elasticity, thus keeping our skin hydrated and smooth.

Bai Feng Wan
Okay, this isn’t made for our skin but it can help to improve blood circulation and bring about some color to a pale face. This is made with many different ingredients to regulate a women’s health and particularly effective in treating menstrual issues. I wanted to bring this up because two readers, Stella and Liesl, had both mentioned in my recent entry about Omega 3 fish oil driving away the PMS blues that this had helped them cope with their PMS. If you think this looks bad, consider that I was taking this for about 20 years and it used to be a huge lump that was really awful to the taste.

Consume with discretion
In Singapore, you can find these in the Chinese medical halls such as Eu Yan Sang or Fu Hwa. Elsewhere, I believe you may have this place call Chinatown that stocks some of these. However, don’t expect immediate results from a one-time consumption. The results are probably evident only over time and even so, it depends on the individual’s state of health. And while these are not medicine, but they’re still an alternative sourse of supplement. Hence, do exercise discretion when consuming them especially if you have any health issues.


  1. fwy says:

    As a cantonese, I do drink some herbal soups from time to time. However, boiling these kind of soup are rather time-consuming. Morever, after switching to a vegan diet, I had been cutting down on meat. According to my mum, boiling these herbal soups requires using mostly pork or poultry for the soup to be tasty.

  2. sesame says:

    Yes, it’s true. Boiling with pork or chicken will make the soup tasty. It’s not too time consuming as I use a slow cooker to boil them. In fact, all I need is to boil the meat in the water first and then put them in the slow cooker with the herbs to brew for a few hours. Quite convenient as I can leave them to boil when I’m working.

  3. Jayme says:

    This was pretty interesting, while i do not think i could stomach those things since i have not grown up around them it is interesting to hear about other cultures delecacies.

    Also, i wish you had posted about how the ‘harvesting’ of the birds nest has desimated the bird population, and has a history of being taken during breading season for the birds leaving no place for chicks to be raised.

  4. BT says:

    These chinese delicacies need to be consumed constantly in order to have those benefits, so if I can’t afford to consume them persistently I rather not.

  5. fwy says:

    When I get lazy, I will just pop a few red or black dates with some goji berries into a cup & pour boiling water over them to simmer then drink it.

  6. pf1123 says:

    I prefer those that can be eaten like a dessert. ?

    If its a soup, I’ll drink it w/o eating the things inside.

    But I’m kinda lazy to keep it up. Still have a few boxes of Brand’s Bird Nest not opened.

  7. jessyclaire says:

    Living in Asia, I’m familiar with many of these Chinese beauty foods but never really necessarily knew the specific details around what they’re actually supposed to be good for. I was thinking of doing research on a similar topic for my blog, but this is even more perfect, I will just link to yours! Thanks for a great post!

  8. Audris says:

    Your article reminded me of EYS’ Guilinggao, which I like. Went out to get 3 tubs just now ? But rather pricey at $6 – $9+ for the various versions!

  9. sesame says:

    I didn’t cover that because that was not my focus. Plus, I can’t say much considering I am eating this stuff at times.

  10. sesame says:

    If you take all of them, yes, it’s costly. Perhaps one or two of the stuff regularly. The white fungus is pretty affordable and not costly.

  11. sesame says:

    That’s a good drink. It has the antioxidant effects too. ?

  12. sesame says:

    Drinking the soup is good. The meat is a bit useless but sometimes still tasty.

    But understand what you mean by being lazy. The soup and white fungus are stuff I make regularly as my family can drink it too. Others, once in a while.

  13. sesame says:

    You’re welcome. I’m glad you find the information useful. ?

  14. sesame says:

    Woah…EYS’s Guilinggao are expensive unless there is a discount. I get the ones from Fu Hwa. But they are great for our hot weather. ?

  15. Hazelnutt says:

    I firmly believe in the overall health benefits of soups, be it herbal or just simple vegetable or chicken soup ? Everything is served to us in its simplest form and makes it so much easier for the body to absorb ?

  16. pansy says:

    hi! is your complexion soup from EYS too? can’t quite recognise the packaging :0 there are lots of herbal soup packages from EYS, any recs for a specific kind?

  17. seashell says:

    Hi. Where do you get the Pearl Herbal Jelly from? Thanks.

  18. sesame says:

    I agree. Soup is a good tonic for our well being.

  19. sesame says:

    Nope. The one you see here is from Fu Hwa. I get most of my stuff from Fu Hwa cos I’m a member there. Only the herbal soup in the 2nd pic is from EYS.

    It depends on what you want to achieve. The herbal soup I feature here is to improve blood circulation and increase energy level. I like it and the taste is good. I don’t find it “heaty” either if you take it once or twice a week.

  20. sesame says:

    I got it from Fu Hwa. You can get similar at Eu Yan Sang. A bit more costly.

  21. Kim says:

    Wow, this is really interesting…
    I like your Chinese beauty posts a lot! My mom used to tell me about how she’d go to a Chinese doctor when she had me and he told her to drink this black soup because her insides were not ‘hot’ enough? (that’s what I recall from the story)

    I wonder if I can find these in Chinese supermarkets…I see the herbal sellers with the jars and stuff all the time. In NYC, there are a couple of shops with those drawers filled with herbs too.

    I’d love to go but I can’t speak Chinese (I’m Vietnamese)

    Oh and hi by the way! I’m not sure if I ever introduced myself, but I like to lurk your posts a lot x____x

  22. Jyoan says:

    haha, yep, Taiwan Niu Er says he chews on wolfberries while meditating in the morning.

    Oh, I haven’t stepped into Eu Yan Sang since forever. lol. Didn’t know they have prepacked soups. That’s good!

  23. PD says:

    Man, it’s about time I stumble upon a blog like yours. I used to use non-natural skincare products, but ever since my eczema & cold sores started to act up few months ago, my doc told me to use products that are free from paraben/chemicals/etc. So I started to do my research & found your blog! Btw, I noticed that you do not test out any 100% Pure products. Any reason for this?? p.s-I guess this means I have to start drinking those icky chinese soups that my mother boils. =(

  24. sesame says:

    You probably should be able to find these…at least like the white fungus and some of the herbal soups. You will need to know how to read what soups are relevant for you but others like the white fungus or jelly can be either without much introduction.

    And thanks a lot for visiting my blog…do comment more. Your comments make me happy. ?

  25. sesame says:

    Oh EYS has plenty of stuff now that are very nicely packaged for health and beauty. But they’re more costly because of that reason. I buy from them when they have discounts.

  26. sesame says:

    You mean the brand 100% Pure? I have yet to try it. Planning to but haven’t found time to get to the store.

  27. PalliativeDrug says:

    oh yes, the brand 100% pure. I actually found this authorized seller in SG & her prices are quite reasonable. But I thot about doing my research on the brand before buying. It’s my first time trying out organic products & 100% Pure seems…. …. pure?? I dunno. I just thot it might not aggravate my eczema & cold sores. I’ve been having these problems continuously for 6 mths already & that’s not good. =(

  28. Audris says:

    Thanks for the rec. I just popped by Fu Hwa at Junction 8. They’re having them 3 for $9.90 ?
    Much more sustainable for regular consumption than EYS!

  29. Rinka says:

    i hear quite alot about beauty tips involving birds! my great-grandmother used to wash her face with bird poo, and my mother and my grandma both tell me that she had amazing skin! i also hear victoria beckham washes her face with bird poo as well hehe

  30. Rachel says:

    swallow’s nest in an edible gel form is supposed be good for the skin too. it gives that clear and pasty skin that we all love.

    it’s mad expensive. my brother and i bought some for my mom for her birthday. it was like 400 bucks for like a 6-8 oz jar. Luckily we finally found the one of popular brand online ( and

    dad said it’s really popular in indonesia. that a guy has to climb a high mountain to get the nest. that’s why it’s so expensive.

    i mean why doesn’t the dude just look for the fabled korean swallow king, capture it and let it lay eggs full of gold! then, he wouldn’t have to work so hard and climb them high mountains.

  31. PalliativeDrug says:

    bird poo???? you are kidding, right.

  32. Victoria Lewy says:

    I adore Chinese food especially soups. Well, the ones that I make myself :). Because at the local Chinese restaurants soups are more water-soups with no taste and are very poor. I mean you are lucky if you find a small peace of cucumber or other ingredient in it. So i get used to make my own Chinese food at home and really love it.

  33. PalliativeDrug says:

    omg… I just read the article & LOL @ fragrance free!

  34. sesame says:

    It’s just the brand name but still need to look at the ingredients. I’ll write about it when I get a chance to test their products but it may not be so soon…

  35. sesame says:

    That’s great! I don’t think the quality is of much difference too.

  36. sesame says:

    Bird poo? Oh dear…first time hearing it. It sounds yucky but interesting.

  37. sesame says:

    EYS’s stuff are generally more expensive becos of the effort they put into branding. It’s market positioning as they probably want to price their items at a more premium price to give the impression of better quality.

  38. sesame says:

    Yes, it’s better to have homemade soups. I used to make a chicken stock out of boiling a pot filled with one whole chicken with celery, carrots, onions and then putting the soup into small tubs so that I can use it over a week. Very tasty for cooking and more nutritious.

  39. Rinka says:

    yea we are japanese lol

  40. cece says:

    You stated you make soup in a slow cooker…Who makes the machine? Is it a crock pot or thermos cooker? Any directions on how you make your soup would be greatly appreciated.

  41. sesame says:

    I have one from National. You can find it from the electrical stores and it’s called a slow cooker. You basically just switch it on and it’ll cook your soup or porridge all day without burning. But you must first boil the meat in water and then put the meat and the water in the slow cooker otherwise the meat would turn black as the water in the slow cooker will take awhile to boil.

  42. cece says:

    Thanks for the info,,,love your blog!! A wealth of knowledge. I look forward to reading it everyday even though I live in the US and not able to go shopping at a lot of the places that you mention. I really enjoyed the info on beauty soups and as you can see from all the comments that other do too. Thank you for all your time, energy, and hard work for bringing a highlight to my day!!! ?

  43. sesame says:

    Welcome! I’m so glad you enjoy the info here. Some of the products that I introduce was available in the States but yes, for this Chinese herbs, you probably only find them at Chinatown.

    Come back often. I have updates every day (almost) ?

  44. Clare @ Mrs Multitasker says:

    Great article! Pearl powder is the BEST thing ever. So so good for when your skin is a mess. Just pour a little bit into the palm of your hand, mix it with a little moisturiser, and plaster it over all the blotchy areas. I usually see a marked improvement in a day or two.

  45. sesame says:

    Yes, it’s very good. I have it in my sunscreen and it’s working very well.

  46. kj says:

    cant guys drink e yang yan tang?

  47. sesame says:

    Nope…the dang guai isn’t suitable for the guys.

  48. C. Sala says:

    Greetings! I feel as though I’ve stumbled on a whole world of herbs that I must explore, but do not know where to begin! My knowledge of herbs is sporadic, self-studied, and observed from my context in the US, but I know nothing about Chinese herbs except that they are part of a major healing science that the world needs today. Thank you for sharing this dazzling world of delectable soups! Now, if only I could confidently find the ingredients in the markets…

  49. sesame says:

    Hi: You should find some of these in the Chinese markets or supermarkets. They’re pretty common. Good thing is that these days, they have pre-packaged herbal soups so you don’t have to rack your brains to figure out too hard.

  50. shivani says:

    hey am again confused and feeling jealous.. You chinese people have such a beautiful skin and hair. And you also have so many nice things to use internally and externally.. But we dont have. I am from India.Earlier i had good skin and hair.But slowly and gradualy i dont know wt happened,my skin now looks very bad,i had pimples,hair-fall,dull skin. Here doctors are also all fools.They just use hit and try method and claim to be good ayurvedic doctors.But nothing works.I am so sad..cant we get your products in India also??I dont have any frenz in china also,who could get me something.

  51. sesame says:

    Your problem might be internal. I guess the problem is that there aren’t enough demands and hence, it’s hard to get the products I mentioned here in India.

  52. shivani says:

    So, are there no alternatives for these products that are available worldwide??Or any site where we can purchase these products.I also wanna look good and healthy.I feel very upset looking in the mirror.

  53. sesame says:

    I’m afraid not…unless you know of someone here who can purchase on your behalf and ship to you.

  54. Ana says:

    Wow… what kind of soups mix it?

    How make this? I never taste/see before…

    Yes I do believe any soup help for skin beauty and healthy… LOL

  55. sesame says:

    It’s quite easy…you just need to use the mixture and boil it with chicken or pork.

  56. wall decals says:

    wall decals

  57. Tamela says:

    Please tell me what’s EYS Guilinggao and where can I get it in the DC areas. Thanks

  58. Eliza says:

    That may be true… but the majority of the bird’s nest that I see in Chinatowns all over, are nests that are taken from privately raised swallows birds. Businesses raise and house the swallows in a private birdhouse (often nests are from Indonesia). Most people just buy farm raised bird’s nest because its the most affordable, ranging from $800-$1200 per pound. Actual wild swallows nest may cost from $1800 to $3000

    Also the fact that Sesame buys the bottled bird’s nest, there’s pretty much no way that its from wild swallows, so I doubt that affects the bird population.

  59. Carlos says:

    Where I can buy the snow jelly falopians frog with red ginseng ready made ?? I live in New Jersey my email Thanks

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