The Secrets of Traditional Asian Beauty

We take a look at ancient natural beauty remedies that Asian women have been using for centuries.


Makgeolli is an unfiltered rice wine traditionally popular with Korean farmers but is now experiencing a growing interest in Japan thanks to its sweet, milky flavor and low alcohol content. Made by the fermentation of boiled rice and wheat, makgeolli has also found its way into a wide range of Korean beauty products for its purported skin whitening and smoothening benefits.

The fermentation of cereals converts poorly digested proteins into amino acids and unpalatable carbohydrates into sweet sugars. Makgeolli fermentation uses a traditional Korean starter culture known as nuruk, a mixture of fungi, yeast and lactic acid bacteria. A 2011 study from Kwangwon National University found that nuruk was a good source of the anti-cancer compound 2,6-dimethoxy-ρ-benzoquinone, adding to the list of makgeolli benefits.

Photo: Charles Haynes/Flickr/CC.
Photo: Charles Haynes/Flickr/CC.

Rebecca did her PhD at the National University of Singapore where she studied how macrophages integrate multiple signals from the toll-like receptor system. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of Asian Scientist Magazine.

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