Linda Wang has always been passionate about beauty. While studying at the Ohio State University for a degree in fashion merchandising, she worked part-time at a spa/salon as a make-up artist.
"I learned so much from this job experience, on skin types, ingredients... and the funniest part of it all was we custom-blended lipstick colours for clients," said Wang, who confessed that she's always been something of a beauty addict, starting to take serious care of her skin when she was a teenager at a time when most of her peers were only applying eye cream, if that.
"I always felt that it was never too early to start taking care of your skin. I believe this was the influence of my mother. She still today takes time to put on her skincare nightly; the entire process takes her 10 minutes."
After graduating, Wang decided she wanted to become a fashion buyer. She started out as an allocator at Esprit before stepping into an assistant-buyer role at the clothing brand Bebe. The Los Angeles native later went on to work for Guess by Marciano, American Eagle Outfitters and a company called Wet Seal.
"Being a buyer was a very demanding career. It involved lots of travelling and lots of responsibility. This was when I learned to really have a balance in life. I eat very healthily - lots of greens and vegetables. I also work out regularly to keep my body and mind healthy. Three years ago, I went on a 10-day yoga retreat, with my sister, in Bali. It was by far the best and the most memorable experience I've had in my life. I continue to practise yoga when I can," said Wang, who founded the facial-mask brand Karuna in 2009.
One of her favourite skincare rituals is - and has always been - masking. While her skin was flawless back when she was in her teens, adulthood brought with it lots of stress - and the onset of acne. She tried all of the commercial acne treatments on the market, but found they often left her skin feeling extremely dry. Masking was the only effective solution.
She had always enjoyed using paper facial masks but only realised the full implications of the process when she was developing her own brand. "It was crucial for me to look at the mask material separately from the serum. Both are equally important parts in making a great mask that deliver results. I love using the analogy of when we heal a wound on our skin with ointment and a bandage. The bandage isolates the wound so that it can take in the ointment directly, thereby reducing the healing time. It's the same for a paper mask."
Wang's brand, Los Angeles-based Karuna, has evolved into an innovative product line targeting specific skin concerns. Her best-selling, award-winning version of the face mask can be used for a no-mess, do-it-yourself facial that pampers as it treats individual skincare needs.
With help from her product-development consultant, Karen Quimby Lobo, she has really brought Karuna to life. Being of Taiwanese ancestry, Wang wanted to use ingredients that have been around for thousands of years, ingredients in both Chinese medicinal remedies and great Asian food: natural products like coconut water, bamboo water, chamomile, aloe vera and Chinese liquorice. She believes many of these substances have anti-inflammatory effects.
"It was also really important for me to have enough actives [active ingredients] in the formulation in order to see results, instead of skimping on the quality. Our masks were created to treat each specific skin concern, but ... it was equally important for me to make sure you also get the benefits of hydration, toning and age-defying in each mask."
A hard act to follow
Karuna masks are made from cloth woven from natural, biodegradable fibres which help the pores of one’s skin absorb ingredients ‘‘faster and deeper than traditional masking products’’. This ensures that no serum is wasted through air evaporation, allowing the skin to accept the serum’s beneficial ingredients.
The brand’s masking products have proved very popular in the US and have received overwhelmingly positive reviews for their convenience and effectiveness. A mere 15-30 minutes of masking promises visible results the next day. Karuna also produces eye masks and neck masks to fight signs of ageing.
Karuna is now used at some leading spas in Thailand and there are plans afoot to have local department stores stock it in the near future.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Life Reporter