Ling Chan has long been one of Manhattan's hottest facialists, rejuvenating the complexions of celebrities from Madonna and Meg Ryan to Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen. Now 63, the founder of LING Skincare and two LING Spas in New York shows no signs of slowing down.
"I really enjoy my work. I have such a passion for beauty, and for individual beauty for everyone," she says.
"I realise a lot of people don't love themselves and become very unhappy. Spend a little time for yourself, make a clear message to yourself. Then you won't get as lost."
Chan, who was recently in town to launch her products and two facials at the Spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong, was born in Hong Kong. As a teenager, she worried her parents with her skincare regime, which bordered on obsessive. It wasn't the money she spent on products, she says, it was the amount of time she spent cleansing her face.
After moving to the United States with her husband, Chan started working as an aesthetician, but soon became frustrated by the limitations of the skincare products at her disposal. So, in 1984, she started creating LING, her five-step skincare range (purify, hydrate, solve, nourish, renew), which combines the power of Asian healing with cutting-edge Western science and was one of the first brands to shun fragrances, lanolin, alcohol and other known irritants.
Chan, whose philosophy is to treat the skin gently, has become an icon in the anti-ageing skincare market. But the practising Buddhist credits her youthful looks to more than just lotions and potions.
"Ageing comes from your mind. Some girls in their 30s feel old, and sometimes at 60 you don't feel old. You can use Buddhist teaching to create a happier, positive mind. To be happy, to appreciate what you have and to help the people around you - if you do that you'll find your life is a lot more meaningful," she says. "I want to deliver this message to women."
Chan is spreading the message through her Spiritual Organic Lifestyle collection, which promotes mind-body wellness through advice on meditation as well as how to train the mind and open the heart.
"The organic facial and body care promotes the inner spa of the mind and body," she explains. "We're going beyond massage and changing the perspective of the mind."
Returning to Hong Kong, Chan has rediscovered Asian women's dedication to their skincare regimens.
"If I told a woman to use a 50-step regime, they will follow it if you promise they will [look] younger. If I tell an American to use two steps they'll say, 'I don't have time, give me one step'," she says.
Perhaps one reason for this is the Chinese belief that your face is your luck. "If you have that glow, you will win everything," Chan says. "You will have good energy to deal with people, and they will want to do business with you. Asians look at you and judge you - they are very serious about the face. They always love to have that glow, it brings good qi energy."