Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Qian
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Jenny Qian recently traded San Francisco for the Los Angeles sun, but unlike most people, her thoughts on the post-move organization weren’t filled with dread. For Qian, getting organized is a sacred ritual, especially when it comes to her beauty products. âOn the weekends I like to organize my skincare collection. Or makeup collection. Or hair care collection. Or nail polish collection. It doesn’t really matter; I find them all super-therapeutic, âshe says. “It gives me a bit of the same effect as folding clothes – it’s cathartic.” Obsession comes with the land: Qian is the co-founder and CEO of Newness, a live streaming platform specifically designed for the beauty community.
The beauty rays of Qian are organized by active ingredient and molecule size. This system prevents her from combining the wrong ingredients and irritating her skin. âI tend to overdo it,â Qian admits. âSo if I know the active in each ingredient – I like to have at least one mandelic, lactic, glycolic, salicylic and azelaic acid on hand at all times – I know what to take for different concerns. Then the size of the molecule is kind of like a cheat sheet of how deep it will penetrate my skin. So if I want something a little softer I’ll probably go for mandelic acid, but if I want something that’s really going to blow my pores out, and on the days I don’t use retinol , I could use glycolic acid to exfoliate. “
Jenny Qian’s beauty shelves in her LA home.
Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Qian
Qian is particularly looking for products formulated with ceramides, fatty acids, lipids, cholesterol and shea butter for her dry and dehydrated skin, which is also prone to hyperpigmentation and blackheads. “Give me the thicc stuff.” Hyaluronic acid alone is not enough, âexplains Qian. “Especially in winter, any occlusive will make my eyes shine, although I’ve learned that you don’t need anything fancy for that.” CeraVe’s healing ointment is ideal for bumps or for sealing in moisture with a thin layer of a petroleum jelly product.
Below, the CEO shares her current nighttime routine, including the only lip balm that works for her dry lips, the device that made “the biggest difference” and the toner that keeps her blackheads away.
âI always start my nighttime routine with an oil cleanser because they are really great for melting your sunscreen during the day. Even though I don’t wear makeup during the day, I always use this balm first.
âI love that Then I Met You balm doesn’t leave a greasy residue when you rinse it off. The first thing I actually notice is the color. It’s a sunny yellow, and it makes me so happy. It’s such an unusual color for skin care, then when you smell it it’s a little herbal with hints of orange. I just use a spoonful and have a small metal Muji spatula that I use to pull it out. This is where I am very particular. [Laughs.] I have a small Muji spray bottle that I fill with alcohol, so I spray my spatula with alcohol, wipe it off with a Clean Skin Club towel, then go in. I hate pots so much.
âIn general, I try to stay away from scented products, with the exception of cleansers, as they are only on my face for a very short time. Having said that, I love the smell of Tatcha’s Rice Wash. It smells a bit of rice, but it’s not very fragrant; it is above all very calming and soothing. I think what makes it really special, though, and why I keep looking for it over and over again, is that compared to all of my other cleansers, it slightly exfoliates your skin but is gentle enough for everyday use.
âIt’s not the cult facial essence, but the clear lotion – I’ve tried both, and this is the one I keep repurchasing because it’s so gentle. It has a hint of salicylic acid, which helps with light exfoliation and keeps my blackheads away; I generally don’t like salicylic acid products because I find them way too intense and way too stripping on my skin, but this product has minimal amounts of it. I like to pat it on with a wipe just in case there is some makeup or sunscreen left on my face. Hey, sometimes we miss spots.
âAs beautiful as the skin care products are, the tools I use have done the greatest thing with my skin. My blackheads in particular are so stubborn, so once or twice a month I go in with them. a Dermaflash Dermapore, which makes blackheads vibrate, or I use this device I found called W Skin. It’s like a HydraFacial at home. You load the toner or serum of your choice, like the toner clear lotion for facial treatment SK-II – you choose a head based on the level of suction you want, and it sucks up blackheads while adding moisture. Aside from a real facial, I have never achieved this level of effectiveness from a device. It’s amazing. When I use it I can’t stop touching my nose the next day.
âOnce a week I’ll be using it from Shani Darden – I learned my lesson the hard way by overdoing it on the actives, so now I just pick a product with them on Wednesday or Sunday. I really like it because it’s a combination of retinol and lactic acid all in one. It’s probably my favorite for exfoliation, and it’s really good with dry skin. It smells bad, like putrid milk, but it’s so effective.
âIf I don’t use the Shani Darden Retinol Reform, I will use Joanna Vargas Daily Serum, which contains galactoarabinan (a natural plant collagen). It’s that fun green color because it’s derived from larch and has exfoliating properties similar to lactic or glycolic acid. It also increases SPF (so you can wear it during the day as well, although it is a bit difficult to wear under makeup) and strengthens the barrier function. A winning combo, if you ask me.
âIt’s the ultimate relief for sensitive skin. It’s a must-have when I’m on retinol. It has a strange nutty smell, but it’s really effective. It just protects the skin. This is a cream where no matter what my skin is doing – whether it’s inflamed, whether I’ve been in the sun, haven’t drunk enough water, or been working out. snowboarding and gusting – it never stung at all.
âMy favorite line of all the different Tatcha moisturizers is the Indigo collection. The new Indigo moisturizer is perfect for sensitive skin but has an even better texture than the original Indigo cream. It’s silky and after putting it on I literally feel like my skin has drunk a full glass of water. This is the perfect setup for those who like to bang it.
âThis ointment helps seal all the steps before it. I hit him pretty much every night to lock up all the goodness. Otherwise, the humidity will evaporate overnight, especially since I sleep with the air conditioning on. This step is really what reminds me of the âglazed donutâ look. It gets a little messy on the pillowcase (you’ll have to swap it more often), but it’s a must-do for those with dry skin. A moisture trap!
âI had a really hard time finding a lip balm that actually works on my dry lips, and that’s it. I really like the packaging because I open it, squeeze it and apply it directly to my lips, which is much more hygienic than dipping my fingers in a jar. I now realize that much of my routine is based on my degree of germophobia and how particular I am about the packaging (and how well the packaging maintains the effectiveness of the ingredients). [Laughs.]”