Fashion: What's hot

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THE first thing that attracts you to , as it nestles between the other beauty products, is the ultra-modern, lime-green packaging and the mysterious digital typography of the word .

This is misleading, for is not "new, futuristic, and amazing" as its appearance suggests. Rather, it uses ancient traditions of Chinese herbalism ( is the Mandarin word for Five and represents the five elements - metal, wood, water, fire and earth), translating them into skincare products.

For those unfamiliar with traditional Chinese medicine, it is an effective and sometimes miracle cure for conditions such as ecxma, acne and skin allergies, as it treats the individual from the inside using herbs. In Chinese, ecxma means "damp rash", and England is a very damp country, so to cure it Chinese doctors get rid of the dampness. Acne is about being too hot inside.

The best thing about as a company is that it is not a big conglomerate, nor is there one lurking in the background handing out big bucks. Rather it is run by just one woman, a 30- year-old called Julia Kwan who moved to London from Hong Kong three years ago, noticed a gap in the market, and left her job in television to pursue her dream. When we meet, she says: "You are looking at the whole company," while delicately sweeping her hand around a room empty except for several jars of unusual looking herbs and antique Chinese chairs.

"I designed the packaging, the logo, and I developed each product with traditional herbalists in China," she says. Ms Kwan doesn't claim that her products are miracle workers, but they sure do contain some potent herbs. Ginseng is good for anti-aging, circulation and regeneration of cells; collina is a pick-me-up with soothing properties for angry skin; and pearl is a good source of calcium, promoting radiance. Many of the other herbs used ease out heat, dampness or cold - apparently the root of all problems in Western culture.

The range, which is unisex, and is split into sections for normal, dry and oily skin - as well as stand-alone products such as the Morning! mask (an amazing wake-up call) and the Pearl & Silk Rejuvenator, (which brings the skin alive) - is gaining a cult following among those switched on to the subtle benefits of Chinese medicine.

What's more, at each place they are sold (Harrods, Liberty, Space NK Apothecaries, Fenwicks) there is an expert on hand to provide advice about what kind of nourishment your skin needs.

Prices range from pounds 3.99 for Ginseng & Royal Jelly lip balm to pounds 23.50 for the Morning! mask. Cleansers, toners and moisturisers cost an average of pounds 18. For mail order enquiries, call 0171 240 6313.

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