My Shanghai, an Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us about their life.
Having been in Asia for 13 years, French native Marie Amiand has built her career working in the cosmetics industry. A self-confessed beauty addict, she was always on the lookout for effective but natural and safe skincare products – then it hit her, why not create them herself! That is how she became the founder of Lu Ming Tang, a tea-based skin care brand that will change your perspective on what a simple tea leaf can do.
What prompted you to create a skincare brand with products based on tea?
After 10 years of intense city life in Shanghai, I was severely affected by the pollution and unwell for a long period of time. Considering my son was a newborn, I decided to step out of my urban zone and seek a better life balance. I traveled several times to the green tea valley of Longjing, near Hangzhou. Through the healing power of tea, and by simply relaxing and walking in the tea terraces, I rediscovered a state of wellbeing that I had missed for so long. I learnt about Chinese tea philosophy and its 4,700 year old history, along with its clinical antioxidant and purifying benefits; and I became absolutely hooked. As a beauty expert, I began dreaming of a tea-infused skincare line that could embrace this backbone of Chinese culture and can give skin the same detoxifying boost.
How did the name Lu Ming Tang come about?
Chinese culture inspired me a lot. I wanted a name that could convey the spirit of the brand and the ancient tea wisdom in our products. Through encounters with tea experts and traditional Chinese medicine specialists, I came up with Lu Ming Tang.
‘Lu’ – ‘露’ stands for the morning dew that gathers on the tea leaves and was once used to make the Emperor’s tea.
‘Ming’ – ‘茗’, is a character that represents tea in ancient Chinese poetry.
‘Tang’ – ‘堂’, stands for the Imperial herbal pharmacy where health and beauty solutions were meticulously prepared.
Where do you source your ingredients?
At Lu Ming Tang, we are uncompromising in our dedication to sourcing the finest quality ingredients to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness, this is combined with an emphasis on proudly manufacturing our products in China, close to our tea fields.
Our products are formulated in Japan; 80% of our ingredients are sourced there. We then carefully select Chinese tea from certified growers, currently we have four precious teas coming from different regions within China.
Longjing Green tea originates from the UNESCO-protected tea terraces near Hangzhou. Wulong tea is coming from the Wuyi Mountains at the Northern border of Fujian province and Jiangxi province. Baihaoyinzhen white tea is from Taimu Mountain in Fujian province. Pu’er black tea is from the Xishuangbanna mountains in southwestern Yunnan province.
Each tea provides the skin with different benefits and you can gain more information on this instore or on the Lu Ming Tang website.
What’s your definition of a natural skin care product and how do you carry that over to your products?
A natural skin care brand is made of ingredients available in nature. At the heart of Lu Ming Tang’s formulas are tea leaves selected from high-quality environments, chosen for their origin and their highly beneficial active elements. We blend together more than 50 natural ingredients including traditional Chinese medicine and French Pharmacopeia, all inspired by traditional remedy recipes. The final products are up to 99 percent natural, we use plant oils instead of mineral oil, and we strictly ban paraben, sulphate, phthalate and other harmful chemical ingredients.
Were there any hurdles when setting up the business?
To create your own business, you need to reinvent yourself every day, question every decision you make, learn from your mistakes, get up when you fall, smile when you get knocked down, try again, over and over. Funding is a challenge, so is finding the right team, convincing prospects, building your brand, just to name a few. With my business experience in Asia and France, I am now extremely lucky to work with admirable people who believe in my project.
How do you balance family time, given Lu Ming Tang is still a young business that needs fostering?
It is certainly tough trying to get the work-life balance right! As a woman, especially a mum of a young child, a business can be challenging. You need to be passionate about your idea to feel inspired to devote your time to it. The moments with my family are so precious and I am trying to spend as much quality time with them as possible, which in turn gives me the energy that I need to continue developing my business.
Some people like to create their own skincare products, can you highlight the differences between DIY and professionally formulated products?
I decided to work with a well renowned Japanese laboratory to develop the ideal balance between nature and science. Formulating Lu Ming Tang with skincare experts allows us to create a skincare line that infuses the tea’s bio-active molecules into the heart of skin cells by using a unique cutting-edge bio-technological complex; the BIO-REMEDYTM. This complex has been exclusively developed for us to arm skin with an extreme anti-pollution bio-shield. It is an efficient way to fight and counteract pollution damage to the skin. DIY products, if used with quality and well-preserved ingredients, can be excellent however depending on the content, they may only provide a simple function like hydration, and not long-term care.
Winter is fast approaching, what is your advice for protecting skin against damage from the cold, especially for children?
Yes, winter is around the corner and seasonal transitions are hard on your skin. To keep your skin protected from external damage and heavy pollutants I have developed the Lu Ming Tang Miraculous Detox Paste, a natural recipe to gently nourish and exfoliate the skin. It’s supercharged with a blend of teas, and enriched with Traditional Chinese Medicine ‘Superfoods’ that leave the skin feeling fresh and energized with a radiant glow. Also, one step that I never skip is to moisturize my skin. Since exfoliation eliminates dead skin cells, you need to keep your new, smoother skin protected by moisturizing daily. Lu Ming Tang Crème des Neiges is a Cocooning Mask-in-Crème which results are similar to using a cold cream. It’s cashmere texture hydrates the skin and helps rebuild its natural defence barrier.
I would also advise a switch to a healthier and more balanced diet. During cold season, drink a lot more water (personally I also drink even more green tea) and keep nutrients high by loading up on vegetables and healthy superfoods; these definitely strengthen the immune system and have a huge effect on your skin’s appearance.
How can our Urban Family Shanghai community purchase your products, and what's happening this festive season for them to indulge in?
Please visit our new Lu Ming Tang boutique on Anfu Lu. They can also visit our website to keep up to date with what we are doing. We currently have Lu Ming Tang Fresh ideas for Christmas, which make a great gift.
For more My Shanghai series, click here.