It was a long journey postpartum for RARE SkinFuel founder Michelle Chen to regain her skin’s natural glow. She shares what she’s learnt in her career and her mission to encourage ladies to embrace bare skin with us.
We’ve all played with our mothers’ make-up. Michelle Chen, however, distinctly remembers rummaging through her grandmother’s cabinets for skincare samples. “I was never into cosmetics but skincare,” she says. “I always knew that skin is the foundation for a beautiful face, while colours are enhancements to deliver the total package.” As a teenager, growing up in the US, she spent her pocket money on beauty magazines and books, and kept herself up to date on the latest news in the market, and beauty secrets passed down from celebrities and stylists on how to make her skin look flawless.
But Chen didn’t get her career start in beauty. Instead, aged just 16, she began working as as a graphic designer in a Silicon Valley start-up, and gained experience as she transitioned through the ranks to buyer, product development director and sales. Beauty was always a passion, but it only became her full-time career in 2018 when, as a full-time mother and now based in Hong Kong, she decided to set up her own company. “I combined my career experience with my skincare knowledge and obsession, and turned it into a skincare company of my own.”
Although we often talk of the “pregnancy glow”, the fact is that many women suffer from bad skin, especially right after giving birth. Chen herself confesses that it was the first time she’d ever experienced bad skin, along with weight gain, in her postpartum condition. “I allowed myself to buy my first-ever foundation compact from Chanel Beauty,” she recalls vividly. “My skin texture was rough, my complexion was dull and there was nothing I could do but to cover it with make-up.
“The skin condition lowered my confidence, because I knew make-up wasn’t going to stay on forever,” she says. “I’d see a different side of me after I removed my make-up, so I knew I had to work on my skin again and be comfortable in it.”
In her quest to find the perfect product to solve her skin issues, Chen turned to an Australian manufacturer that uses only natural local ingredients, which are cold-pressed to preserve the nutrients that the skin needs. Although the process is expensive, Chen insists it’s better in the long-term. “You’ll still get the results you get from your first bottle on your tenth bottle,” she says, “because it’s made with only natural ingredients, so no antibodies are required against the chemicals. Your skin won’t get used to the ingredients and fight against its effectiveness.”
Chen perfected a full line that she confidently says has helped her regain confidence – but that’s not the end of the story. She wanted her products to benefit other women like her too, and when her daughter turned four years old, in 2018, she established RARE SkinFuel.
“I’m proud to say that I created a line of products ranging from face to body, natural and powerful for my entire family,” she says. “My 83-year-old grandmother uses my products, and my now-seven-year-old daughter uses the cleanser and the cream too.”
Few people would admit to this, but Chen says she embodies the “woke-up-like-this” look and truly feels beautiful every second of the day. She’s stopped wearing foundation again – her only make-up being a lipstick. Although effortless in appearance, Chen’s skincare regime is extremely strict. Her best anti-ageing secret is “20 percent professional face treatments and 80 percent skincare products.
Think of it as exercise and diet,” she says. “To stay fit, 20 percent from working out and 80 percent from what you eat. There’s no miracle to freeze age without diligent care. I get professional treatment regularly and to maintain and boost the result, I’m very diligent with my home glorifying ritual, using the 10 products I created the right way.”
RARE SkinFuel’s products are completely customisable to your daily needs, allowing you to mix and match to get the results you want. The Refreshing Activator could be used alone as a cooling mask after sunbathing, for example. The Detox Powder could also be mixed into the Revitalising Cream Cleanser for a quick and gentle exfoliation.
“I still have flaws on my skin, like melasma, but I no longer feel the need to remove them,” says Chen. “I realised as long as my skin condition is healthy, the natural skin glow will come along. The less make-up I use, the less damage the chemicals cause to my skin. It’s a cycle. You take care of the skin, it’ll glow … We want to encourage women to not be afraid to go bare.
“Don’t let pigment wash away your natural skin glow. The more you allow your skin to breathe, the better complexion you’ll have,” she says.