Five minutes into my interview with Su-Man Hsu, she tells me I'm cleansing all wrong. Turns out, rubbing my face frantically in a rush to get to the rinse part is doing my skin no favour. "It's about massage," explains Hsu. "Cleanse your face using your knuckles to activate the muscles. Never just pull your skin - that does more harm than good." With a celebrity clientele that includes dewy-skinned beauties like Freida Pinto, Sienna Miller and Juliette Binoche, London-based facialist Hsu is clearly has the upper hand when it comes to skincare application.
A former dancer trained in Shiatsu massage therapy, Taiwanese-born Hsu brings a uniquely tactile approach to everything she does. A huge believer in the "power of touch", Su-Man's award-winning range is a balance of Eastern and Western beauty philosophy. "I created a system that allows you to massage your skin to get the best out of the product, as well as your skin," says Hsu.
Looking decades younger than her 51 years, Su-Man is hands-on in her approach - teaching me how to apply each product in and talking me through each ingredient - from coffee, to Dragon's Blood, spirulina and rosehip oil. Her private practice is (unfortunately, for us) based in London, but she's also a guest facialist for the W Hotel group, which means you might be lucky enough to score a facial in one of their hotels one day.
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Her signature six-piece range was borne out of simple frustration with the products she couldn't find for her facial treatments. So after four years of consultation with chemists in both Taiwan and France, Su-Man the skincare line was released. It's a major feat for a woman who "grew up in a mud house on a farm in Taiwan." Humble as it may be, her background has served her well. "When you're in that kind of environment, you discover beauty secrets under your feet," she says.
Here, she explains how to get the best use out of her products - or any skincare product, for that matter.
1. Su-Man Purifying Cleansing Gel Oil, $89, mecca.com.au
"The gel is oil based, but the texture is exquisite. It's made with Dragon's blood [a resin extracted from plants] and rosehip oil. Use your knuckles to massage it in - when your muscles are firm and toned, your skin will glow. And when you massage your skin, you unclog the pores."
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2. Su-Man Exfoliating Facial Polisher, $89, mecca.com.au
"We use coffee because caffeine has the ability to drain excess fluid from the tissue. When you exfoliate you have to use firm hands. You want to go against the expression lines - so with your eyebrows you zig-zag between the eyebrows, and with your lips, you zig-zag across. By doing that, you're resurfacing and smoothing away all the fine lines and wrinkles."
3. Su-Man Rehydrating Toning Essence, $83, mecca.com.au
"In Asia, people use a lot of toner. It's essential between your cleansing and moisturising. This toner adds an extra layer of hydration, without feeling harsh. It's made from rose petal and honey and you just dab it on. You can put it all over your chest, your neck... even around your eyes."
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4. Su-Man Velvet Skin Brightening Serum, $220, mecca.com.au
"This [is made with] Dragon's blood. I use the purest form, so you need to shake it until it's a cloudy pink to get the best result. It's perfect as a primer. The head make-up artist at Miss Universe said the girls love the product. It makes make-up easy to apply and it will stay longer without suffocating the skin. Plus, it minimises pigmentation."
5. Su-Man Awakening Eye Uplift, $123, mecca.com.au
"Spread it on your hands first and then all over your eyes, including your eyelids - you mustn't forget that. You need to nourish your eyelids because you put make-up there. Then, hold underneath the eye, and do the zig-zag motion. Once, twice, three times - that's enough. And use it day and night."
Su-Man's full range is available at Mecca stores and at mecca.com.au.