Christal Leung, the founder and biochemist behind Hong Kong-based clean beauty brands Skin Need and B.Y.O.B., is on the pursuit to personalise skincare routines through her carefully formulated recipes. Hive Life caught up with Christal to learn more about her specialised formulae and personal tips on building a routine to unlock radiant skin.
Pioneering the new age of beauty is Hong Kong wellness entrepreneur and biochemist, Christal Leung, who has perfected the recipe to attaining radiant skin through her bespoke, multiple award-winning solutions. Understanding the essence of good self care as a vital part of our daily routine, Christal launched her homegrown clean cosmetic brands Skin Need and B.Y.O.B, delivering a “private formula” to skincare, individualised to tackle different conditions and unique needs.
As the founder and formulation specialist behind these labels, Christal places great thought and “artful calculation” when developing her personalised product lines, with functionality and mindfulness as the fundamentals of her approach and solutions.
Deconstructing the notion of standardised beauty with her evolutionary approach, Christal breaks free of the one-size-fits-all formula to celebrate and sustain skin diversity by ”humanising skincare for all,” catering to different derma types and customer needs.
Christal found her true calling early on in life, being exposed to the industry as she watched her mother operate their family-owned wellness centre. Christal often assisted at the salon, where she learnt her mother’s best-kept beauty secrets, techniques, facial treatments, and her personalised approach to skin regimens.
The beautician recalls creating various product descriptions and infomercials for their brand’s catalogues, which amplified the appeal of the formulation and functionality of skincare solutions for her. She expressed her perseverance to “dig deeper into the ingredients, the effects they have on different skin types, and how they can work [more effectively].” Christal showed a natural flair for the craft, and “dreamt of building her own brand one day.”
To master the art of skincare, Christal majored in biochemistry at the University of California where she had the opportunity to intern at various skincare formulation manufacturers in the United States, which was only the start of her flourishing beauty career.
Along with having an extensive portfolio in the field, Christal is also the skincare formulator and partner behind Hong Kong’s cult beauty line, Woke Up Like This (WULT), with many locations across the city. Founded alongside dynamic lifestyle influencers, Tawnia Lai and Jenn Lam, who are the “faces of the brand,”- Christal supports more with backend operations, from creating formulas to running sales, marketing, and promotions.
Besides that, Christal had also established a GMP-certified lab in Hong Kong, where she operates as the “private label formulator and manufacturer for different independent brands in Hong Kong,” curating specialised skincare products that are developed with meticulous attention to quality and potency.
Christal’s skincare journey, however, was not as buoyant. “I, unfortunately, did not inherit my mother’s beautiful skin,” she said. Struggling with “bad skin” and her raging hormones that further intensified her acne and clogged pores, empowered her differently, by helping her better understand the “natural processes and tendency, as well as the genetic composition” behind one’s skin condition.
Christal explained how “you simply cannot use what you see in commercials and advertisements as the preset standard.” One must understand what normal looks like for them, and should set a realistic approach to how you attain healthy skin.
“My journey [pivoted towards] understanding my normal, the internal and external factors affecting it, [along with] the kind of standard I [hoped] to set for [myself]. It is all about selecting the [ideal] products and building routines that can cater to your definition of healthy skin.”
Christal’s inspiration for her functional and highly-personalised skincare brands stems from her previous encounters and observations of her mother providing clients with targeted beauty treatments. She explained how our “skin is always changing,” and while it has its intrinsic behaviour, it is also constantly altered by one’s lifestyle and habits.
“I applied the same concept to develop a [diverse range of specialised products], from water-based and oil-based serums, and moisturisers that have different levels of concentrations and ingredients, to allow users to customise the texture based on their skin type and overall behaviour on a specific day,” empowering beauty aficionados and novices to take an active approach to their skincare routine.
“The seller or the supplier does not get to decide what you should be using, it is about you understanding your skin’s need, and having those products that you could mix and match for your everyday rituals.”
Her personalised beauty formulas are designed to cater to the Asian consumer, incorporating lighter and more refreshing ingredients, which are ideal for those living in countries with warmer temperatures and higher humidity.
When formulating the recipes Christal “switched out the heavy oils for lighter ones, categorised as emollients which are nourishing ingredients that attract and help retain moisture and water in your skin.”
Her homegrown label B.Y.O.B’s multi-purpose serums and targeted optimisers offer a great alternative for those looking for a much simpler skincare routine, made using high-quality ingredients that are just as effective in treating diverse conditions and needs. The entire collection is manufactured at the founder’s GMP-certified lab, taking the production back home.
With years of experience under her belt, Christal emphasises on the importance of having a skincare routine personalised to your needs. She shares more on how individuals can reach their ideal skin goals by practising these simple tips and regimens.
“Everything starts with building the right mindset, and how you choose to set that ideal for yourself.” added Christal.
Tips on Unlocking Healthy Skin and Building a Skincare Routine
Understand the Nature of Your Skin
A skincare routine is only as effective as the scope of one’s understanding of their needs. Before building a routine, take the time to learn about your skin type and its nature- “if it is more oily, normal, or a combination of both,” and whether or not you are “genetically more prone to hyperpigmentation or acne, and [other conditions].”
This comes as the fundamental step towards building your skin ritual as it allows you to treat specific conditions in a targeted manner.
Christal stresses the importance of treating each condition as “normal,” accepting and working with the nature of your skin, to avoid upsetting it further, and strengthening its protective barrier. Once you are well-acquainted with that, choosing the ideal skincare products and regimens will be relatively simpler.
Based on your “normal skin,” derive a realistic beauty standard. Understand that everyone’s needs are different, and there is no such thing as a “perfect solution that could fix all your problems,”- taking a well-reasoned approach can help you break free of preset notions.
For instance, if hyperpigmentation or eczema is something you struggle with, while you could minimise visibility, there is no definite way of removing these conditions entirely. The goal should be to achieve healthy and normal skin.
It is important that one identifies and sets objectives with actionable and achievable steps, whether it be restoring, repairing, or simply maintaining healthy skin.
Find the Right Skincare Formula
Once you develop a better understanding of your natural skin and what works best for you, take the next step towards finding the ideal formula that caters to your “normal” and “healthy beauty standards.” Taking an “individualised approach” is vital to finding the ideal products and ingredients that best suit your skin needs.
When trying out a new skincare product one should always perform a patch test to see if they are allergic to the solution. In an ingredient-driven beauty industry, consumers ought to conduct their research into the best-fit formulas for them and make informed decisions to select effective regimens.
Individuals could opt for cruelty-free, non-toxic, and more natural products, to avoid putting harsh ingredients on their skin.
Wear Sunscreen Everyday
As generic as it may sound, many individuals often miss out on this fundamental skincare step- wearing sunscreen every day. This should not be limited to warmer months, but is a year-round preventive health measure.
Christal explains, “our skin ages due to various internal and external factors, of which 90% comes from sunlight.”
Sunscreen plays a vital role in preventing UV rays from penetrating our skin, it also further prevents discolouration and dark spots, as well as premature ageing, and helps maintain a smoother and more balanced appearance.
Choosing a sunscreen that blends well with your skin type is as important to avoid breakouts and clogged pores, Christal suggests picking one that is “mineral based, which is called a physical formula, is composed of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and must contain both to provide a broader spectrum of UVA and UVB protection.
Exfoliating is an essential component of one’s beauty routine- an easy and effective way to improve your skin rejuvenation and radiance. The process removes dead skin cells, reduces overall dullness and boosts the absorption of active ingredients.
Christal recommends doing a “chemical exfoliation, instead of a physical one.” Chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are examples of effective solutions.
Most people make the common mistake of using “different exfoliation products multiple times in a week or night. A standard practice should be limited to once or twice weekly, if you are using a low dosage of glycolic or lactic acid,” added Christal.
Avoid over-exfoliating your skin as your complexion will become more dry and flaky, which could lead to an uneven texture. You can do so by switching to mild cleansing formulas, using a fragrance-free moisturiser, and actively treating your spots with richer emollients.
Make it a practice to exfoliate regularly, while keeping up with your usual nightly skincare routine to maintain good hydration and moisturisation.
Take the 360 Beauty Approach
Beauty is all-rounded and is deeply rooted in our everyday lifestyle choices and habits. It is not only about the products that we use or how we take care of our skin.
Christal shared that maintaining a healthy and mindful approach to living is equally important, if not more. This means getting daily dietary nourishments and vitamins, being active and keeping fit, avoiding overindulgence with sugary and high-sodium foods, along with other unhealthy choices, as well as having a good sleep schedule, – all of which greatly contributes to not only our physical appearance, but also affects our mental and overall well-being.
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