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1: The AmorePacific offices are like a scene from GattacaEven in a city as ultra-modern as Seoul, the AmorePacific headquarters make a breathtaking statement. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the cube-shaped building is flooded with natural light from an open ceiling, decorated with hanging gardens, and equipped with galleries, cafes and restaurants. The ground floor holds the enormous reception area and a pair of tea rooms serving green tea confections, including cold drip, smoothies and even brownies (your first clue on the primacy of green tea). On the first floor there’s a space for customers to test the company’s products. As MECCA’s Retail Skincare Manager, it’s my job to explore skin care rituals from around the globe. After testing, swatching and skimming hundreds of products, I made way my way to the in-house museum.
2: The company has been innovating in beauty for over 70 yearsThe museum traces the brand’s origins back to 1945, when founder Sung-whan Suh had the foresight to establish Korea’s first in-house research laboratory along with his own cosmetics company. He was motivated by his mother, Yoon Dokjeong, who made hand-pressed oil from camellia plant seeds in the 1930s. Since 1997, Kyung-bae Suh, his son, has nurtured the brand to become one of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world. A multitude of world-first products have followed, including its brilliant “cushion foundation”. Inspired by a parking stamp pad, it enabled women to carry their sun protection or liquid foundation in their handbags without the risk of leakage. One of these beauties now sells every minute.
3: Their R&D centre is brimming with art Since AmorePacific is a company as well as a brand, their research and development centres span Korea, China, Singapore and France. And they employ over 500 researchers and product developers in total. The R&D centre located just outside of Seoul was the kind of meticulous scientific facility you’d expect you to find at a leading hospital, only far more beautiful. I was taken by the many art pieces and installations on site, added to inspire creative thought among its researchers, and how optimistic everyone seemed. The company has patented over 2000 ingredients across their brands, and 109 of these belong to the AmorePacific range. In short, they are so far ahead of the curve in terms of innovation that their products have the potential to completely reinvent your beauty regime.
4. Signature ingredients include green tea and bambooIt was at the lab that I witnessed the important role of Asian botanicals, including bamboo and green tea. Although we are familiar with green tea as a superior antioxidant, it does so much more for the skin than we know. Green tea can repair damage within skin cells, create a protective shield and neutralise toxins, and thereby slow the ageing process. Green tea has the ability to help skin function at its maximum potential, meaning that reversing damage is possible. The other ingredient critical to AmorePacific is bamboo, the incredibly resilient plant filled with a precious, mineral-rich sap. The sap is extracted and used for its ability to deeply hydrate the skin, brighten and reduce inflammation. Bamboo sap, carefully extracted over 12 hours in peak season, forms the basis of the brand’s Moisture Bound capsule.
5: They have their own tea garden on an island off the coast of South KoreaAmorePacific is so passionate about using only the purest ingredients that they harvest their own. On Jeju Island, a holiday paradise an hour flight from Seoul, lies the company’s Dolsongi Tea Garden. It is the source of the most potent, antioxidant rich green tea in the world thanks to mineral rich soil and the environment in which it flourishes. Set on a slight incline, which allows for water irrigation and optimal exposure to sunlight, the garden brimmed with lush and leafy tea as far as the eye could see. Weather conditions on Jeju Island can be harsh, and the plants are forced to develop protective mechanisms that are harnessed to help protect our skin. The company utilises every single part of the green tea plant, including the seeds, stems, baby and adult leaves, harvested in specific seasons for ideal potency.
6: An essence is the most important new product to add to your regimeIf you were only going to alter one thing about your skin care routine, this would be it. I learned that in Korean beauty, it is all about layering. The more layers of hydration that you apply means more layers of the skin that you will quench. Carefully extracted from green tea leaves that are fermented and aged for 100 days, Vintage Single Extract Essence drenches the skin in potent anti-ageing ingredients. Applied between your toner and serum, the essence also prepares the skin to better absorb your treatment products. While travelling, my skin felt dry and dehydrated, but using the essence for a few days remedied it. It takes only five extra seconds to apply and it instantly calms and brightens.
7: This moisturising mist is not be missedInspired by the idea of applying multiple hydration products, I also discovered Moisture Bound Skin Energy Mist. To revive skin, this mist can be applied at any time of the day. Placed in my handbag, it helped to keep my skin refreshed during the hot, humid days in Seoul. I also loved spritzing my complexion before applying the Vintage essence for better absorption, and then as a final step to set my makeup. Moisture Bound products contain bamboo sap as a base, rather than water which would evaporate, and the mist really sinks into your skin to keep it enviably moisturised. It’s the easiest way to create dewily fresh-faced skin.
8: Why you might want to splurge on this decadent creamAmorePacific is the only company in the world to have cultivated a specific type of green tea for beauty applications. Its researchers conducted thousands of experiments to create a super-charged, nutrient-rich green tea named “Jangwon 3”. Jangwon 3 extract is featured in its opulent Time Response anti-ageing collection. My new holy grail moisturiser is Time Response Skin Reserve Cream. It delivers bouncy skin, potent plumping and cellular rejuvenation all in one. Since using it day and night, my skin looks firmer, renewed and noticeably glowing. At the end of my visit, I took part in a traditional tea ceremony, where I learned how to brew green tea (without burning it). It is a ritual of self-love and relaxation, much like your daily skin care routine. The benefits of not only drinking but nourishing your skin with green tea extract are truly impressive. Are you ready for a cup?
Words by Lucy SimpsonOctober 2018
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