Hong Kong’s got its own unique identity when it comes to beauty and wellness—here’s what’s going to get us glowing in the new year:

1. TCM goes glam

Traditional Chinese medicine solutions are being repackaged and rebranded for the new generation, many of whom didn’t always understand the uses of products with esoteric names and even more esoteric descriptions. But thanks to a wake-up call to the benefits of adaptogens, a key health trend in the last year, the world got woke that a lot of ingredients used in TCM—such as ginseng, holy basil, cordyceps, astragalus root and more—are pretty darned magical.

Local brand Check Check Cin sells packaged solutions that are simply labelled to combat issues like stress, fatigue, bloating or irritability using Chinese herbal remedies, while cult L.A juicery Moon Juice released a series of powdered “dusts” filled with adaptogenic herbs will improve your brain, sex drive and even beauty. Expect more examples to pop up in 2019.

See also: 7 Vegan Skin Oils To Transform Your Complexion

2. Urban jungle zen

Pretty much everywhere you go in Hong Kong is “city” but two of the latest and greatest wellness studios making noise at the end of this year happen to be smack in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong and in Times Square respectively.

Full spectrum meditation studio Enhale is in a building right at the mouth of Central’s informally named "Rat Alley", where it offers sessions ranging from gongs to mindful calligraphy. The soon-to-open Fivelements is relocating from leafy Sai Kung to cacophonous Causeway Bay next June, with a programme focused on yoga and “sacred arts”. While spin studio XYZ shuttered the doors to its Causeway Bay space, its Central branch has introduced meditative classes taught by candlelight.

See also: Seeking Solitude: 8 Places To Meditate In Hong Kong

3. Bespoke beauty

When are we going to stop asking our friends for their skincare recommendations? How about now? Because every person’s skin is different, and the beauty world knows that, which is why made-to-measure skincare is going to be big in 2019.

Check out Mediterranean “pro-ageing” brand Frame Cosmetics, founded in 2017 and launched in Hong Kong this year, which provides customised skincare solutions that are created based on a lengthy customer questionnaire and a skin analysis device.

Major luxury brands are also jumping on the bandwagon—Dior’s Capture Youth line from last year featured not one, but five different serum options, and will be adding an Intense Rescue formula to the line-up this coming January. Clarins also released a trio of Boosters so you can add your preferred quantity of “boost” to serums or creams according to your needs.

See also: 5 Cruelty-Free High End Beauty Brands

4. Sport-specific strength training

The goal of strength training has generally been to achieve a well-rounded physique, or to target areas of weakness that might affect everyday life—for example, to combat “text neck” and other postural issues. With an increased focus on training that matches lifestyle choices, sport-specific strength training is becoming a real trend.

“Anyone focused on increasing there sports specific performance should have a structured resistance training program in place,” says Alex Hunter, director at the new gym ATP Personal Training

“We tailor all our services to the individual or team designing specific resistance-training programmes. For example, paddle athletes. A dragon boat with a full crew can weigh over two tonnes! The amount of power needed to go from a dead stop (with water resistance) to race-winning pace is immense. A team following a strength-training regime targeting muscles specific to the paddle stroke and focusing on maximal force and power development throughout the entire paddle stroke will see those benefits cross over onto the water, with decreased race times and improved acceleration off the start.”

5. Plant protein pervades

There’s no turning back now. Plant protein is not a trend, it’s a bona fide movement. Since Impossible Foods launched in Hong Kong last April, the plant-based meat has weaseled its way into over 100 restaurant outlets, while Omnipork and other meat and seafood alternatives continue to gain traction.

In 2019, we predict plant-based meats will almost certainly travel beyond the realm of burgers and meatballs as chefs try to one-up each other to create the best plant-protein dish. We’ve seen Sichuan, Balinese and other interpretations thus far, and we're looking forward to more experiments—including those in home kitchens, with the brand looking to launch retail options starting in the US next year.

See also: How Not To Die: The Power Of Plant-Based Diets

6. Singapore skincare

We’ve long bought into the secrets of French and Swiss skincare, and more recently were wooed by K-beauty, but Singapore seems to be the next market wanting to take the beauty world by storm. Allies of Skin’s founder (and Lion City Gen.T honouree) Nicholas Travis has seen his brand infiltrate Space NK, Net-a-Porter and Hong Kong’s Joyce Beauty, while brands such as Skin Inc (stocked at Sephora) and the newly launched alche{me} offer customisation services.

Why should Hongkongers care? Because our summer climate is so similar to Singapore’s. Says alche{me} co-founder Constance Mandefield, “International and north Asian brands, formulated for colder and drier weather do not necessarily work in hot and humid weather. Layering products can exacerbate oily skin issues and cause skin to break out. We develop formulations specifically for urban tropical living. Our ultra-light textures are not only efficient for traditional skincare goals, but also protect skin from UV damage, blue-light pollution and damage from stress, and provide long-lasting hydration for people living in and out of air-conditioned environments.”

See also: Natural Beauty: 7 Chemical-Free Skincare Brands We Love

7. Brain power

One global health trend that extends to our shores is an increased emphasis on brain health. This takes place in myriad forms: Nootropics—“smart drugs” as they’re called—are definitely in fashion, with their ability to improve clarity, focus, creativity and memory. But there’s also a focus that’s nothing to do with maximising brain performance, and everything to do with extending its longevity.

For example, digital detoxes could be essential for letting the mind rest, and changes in diet to include brain-friendly foods might help ward off old-age diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, which are becoming more prevalent. 

Adrian Cheng’s newest mega-initiative, the elderly health and wellness centre, Humansa, has a strong programme combating neurological conditions, from strokes to Parkinson’s. "[We are] working together with universities and start-up companies in Hong Kong [which] have created, for example, 'retina photography' to provide a rapid assessment of the risk of stroke, and HandyRehab, which is a robotic glove that helps people who have had strokes to regain movement in their hand muscles,” says Humansa CEO Kenneth She. "We are also using exciting VR games and interactive methods to provide clients with effective rehabilitation training."

See also: 3 Ways Social Media Benefits Your Mental Health

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