Mane Velasco, the Chilean born founder of Shanghai skincare brand Allelique
City life pummels all of our organs, but it’s arguably our skin that shows it most.
Having spent most of my 20s in Shanghai, I’ve watched my skin slowly transform from clear and supple to dull and even acne-riddled. Granted, I did think I was invincible for about six of the seven years I’ve lived here, but I at least had a skincare routine. So what went wrong?
Turns out, a lot of it was out of my control. Aside from the obvious environmental factors, such as pollution and the ever-worsening summer sun, there’s the unavoidable aging and genetics, as well as “self-inflicted” factors — stress, drinking to cope with said stress, and poor sleep. (In my case, it was also a couple of allergies I’d pick up on the way. Who knew eating bread for 3 meals a day would have its downsides?)
There's also a new worry to be aware of these days, according to Mane Velasco, founder of skincare brand Allelique. Some of us might be seeing “increased skin sensitivity from wearing PPE masks” and lathering on hand sanitizer day in and day out, she says.
We might be guilty of a little self-sabotage as well, as some of us don’t know as much as we think we do about our skin. “I hear all kinds of questions about things such as hydration versus moisturizing — no, they’re not the same — or what the purpose of exfoliation is and how to use it,” Mane says. “Most people actually know so little about their skin and what they put on it.”
At the start she only offered medical treatments for skin, but then more and more brides started showing up at her clinic, she says, wanting to achieve perfection before their big day, and “things went in another direction.” Then she beat cancer, moved to Shanghai, studied TCM, and eventually got a Masters in Neuroscience in Spain. As you do.
Skincare = Wincare
On arriving in Shanghai, Mane fell in love with something other expats might not even cross paths with in their lifetime. “I saw that traditional Chinese medicine was so big, and so important, and I wanted to study it inside and out,” she recalls (and quickly enrolled in a program at a local university to do just that). “When you heal something, you need to understand it both inside and out, and that’s key in TCM,” Mane says. “I wanted to find a way to marry that with western medicine in cosmetology.”
Enter Allelique, a skincare brand whose mission is to combine the best technology that's out there with the holistic wellness of TCM.
Mane admits that while she spent lots of money on luxury beauty products in the past, she was ultimately disappointed by how many were watered down or not as beneficial as they claimed. “I know how these products are made. Of course, some still do maintain their quality, but a lot of them — at least the ones I used to use, the best of the best — are focused on profit, not results. I won’t name names. But I founded Allelique,” she adds, "because I knew I could do better."
So then what does Mane think are her brand’s must-tries?
The Must-Try: For Anti-Aging
“I’ve personally never used anything as good as this,” says Mane. “It’s super, super good.” Their anti-aging elixir de seda ("seda" means “silk” in Spanish) has many benefits other than the obvious. “It’s not only got the anti-aging effect,” she says, “but it also moisturizes, acts as a primer, and you can see it working right away.”
Unlike a lot of goopier anti-aging creams, this stuff goes on pretty light and smells like roses, which is chill. It also absorbs quickly and leaves a nice sheen on your skin afterwards.
The Must-Try: For the Morning After
“This ingredient has been pretty trendy lately,” says Mane. Indeed niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, is touted to help treat anything from acne and eczema to fine lines and hyperpigmentation. But Allelique’s niacinamide serum de seda only claims to “smooth skin” and is probably best suited for your morning after, with an anti-inflammatory benefit that Mane gushes is nothing short of “amazing.”
“Our faces retain a lot of liquid,” she continues. “If you’ve got, say, a party, a gala, or a wedding, use this and it makes you less swollen the morning after.” Plus, she adds, it’ll help with any added sensitivity you might experience from PPE masks.
“This stuff isn’t cheap,” reads a comment on this product’s Taobao listing, “but it is worth it.” A good serum is worth investing in, and this was the product I was probably most impressed with of the three. Almost from the second I patted it all in, I could practically feel my pores shrinking as the liquid dried.
The next morning, while fighting the hangover I’d given myself for journalistic integrity, my skin genuinely did feel a lot smoother and dewier throughout the day. It also zapped a newly-formed zit on my face to boot. I’d consider throwing away the serum I currently use for this stuff.
The Must-Try: For Long Nights at the Office
Even if you’re not doing it yourself, don’t sleep on this eye serum. It gives an "instant lift," says Mane.
Because the bad boys on my face are largely genetic, nothing short of invasive injections has made much of a difference on them. Even so, the serum did firm up the skin a little and lent my eyes a pleasant tingle for most of the morning after I applied it. With under eyes a bit less like the living dead than my own, this serum would probably work wonders.
Where to Get Them
Taobao users can find their entire product range on their shop (just search “allelique” and it’ll come up), or add their WeChat QR code below. They’re also opening a showroom in August 2021 for sales and personal consultations.