Linda Wang wasn’t okay with American’s facial-cleansing routines. Growing up, the Taiwanese-born entrepreneur realised there was a big difference between herself and her American friends: their beauty routines. While she applied multiple creams, syrups and lotions, her peers did not. This had to change. After starting her career in retail as a fashion buyer, Wang had an epiphany that she wanted to branch out and start her own company. In 2009, her brand Karuna was born, specialising in super high-quality, nutrient-dense, and clinically effective sheet-masks.
Today Karuna is an international favourite, loved by celebrities like Katy Perry and Mario Dedivanovic, Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist. Wang was in Hong Kong to promote the launch of her newest product, Flash Freeze: Vitamin C+ Pearls, a super-potent serum. Each package contains seven Vitamin C-packed ‘pearls’ and an activating serum, and promises to brighten, tighten and smooth skin with just one application. Vitamin C is notoriously difficult to stabilise due it’s fast rate of oxidisation, but Wang found a way to capture the active ingredient at maximum potency: flash freezing. As a result, each pearl contains 79% of Vitamin C, the highest dose on the market, and it stays fresh until activated with the special serum. We sat down with Wang to talk about her about her empire, skin tips and what’s coming up next.
Tell us about how you started the brand.
We launched in 2009 and I thought, “Do I really want to stay in corporate America, or do I want to start something on my own?” I started with six face masks that targeted specific skin concerns. At that time in the US, the skincare brands were getting really serious – all these doctors and plastic surgeons were coming out with systems, and it just wasn’t fun, and it should be. Makeup should be fun. Skincare should be fun.
What inspired you to start with sheet masks?
At that time, sheet masks were really popular in Asia, and there was such a void in the West. The way that Asian people take care of their skin is so different than the western culture I grew up in. Being Taiwanese, I had a mum that made me do all these beauty regimens, but none of my American friends were doing them, and I wanted to share this with them. I’m also extremely lazy. I don’t want to take off my makeup, wash my face, put serum on, wait until it seeps in and then put moisturiser on. These masks do all of that. I use one right after I wash my face, and it’s skincare for dummies. You don’t have to second-guess what you’re using.
Can you give us some of your mum’s skincare wisdom?
As a teenager we had it all, face wash, toner, serum, eye cream – that’s just what you’re taught, to really take care of your skin. Every night she spends 45 minutes doing her skin, and she always yells at us to “Stop slathering it on! Let it absorb!” But we don’t have all the time in the world!
How was Karuna received?
To be honest, it took a while. Like three years. Back when we started, Korean beauty just wasn’t a trend in the States like it is now, so it took a lot of education. We definitely utilised the bigger guys in the retail world to help us market it, because when you’re a smaller brand you don’t have the power to reach that many people. Sephora did a really great job of educating Americans on sheet masks, and now everyone is doing them.
How do you deal with the dreaded ‘drip’ from sheet masks?
Actually, ours are drip free. That’s where the cloth is so important, and I get that knowledge from my textile background. It’s a natural fiber, so it will retain the liquid from the mask so it doesn’t go all over the place. That’s the key. Sure, occasionally it’ll come down a little bit, but I just pat it down my neck.
Tell us about your latest product, Flash Freeze: Vitamin C+ Pearls.
Flash Freeze is a high-potency Vitamin C serum. I started working with this medical-grade German manufacturer around five or six years ago. They do wound and burn dressings, and I loved working with them because they have this technology that no one else does. It’s so innovative, they can freeze skincare, so you lock in freshness. Every time you use a dose, it’s at its highest potency. There are only three ingredients in this, and its preservative free because they were able to lock everything into just one pearl.
Each package comes with seven pearls, so how do we use it?
A pearl a night is recommended, so you can do one a night for a week for an intensive course, or space it out to one a week for more maintenance. I always say that everyone’s skin is different. Some people might have great skin and just want a burst of brightness, others might need more treatment. Look at your skin and go with what you feel, there’s no protocol.
Is Vitamin C acidic?
The interesting thing is, it can get very harsh if the pH balance is not right. Because this is flash frozen, we’re able to keep the Vitamin C at a super high potency, but still very gentle.
So it’s not like cutting a lemon and squeezing on your face?
No, no, no, no, no! Nothing like that!
What’s coming up next for you? Definitely more of the flash freeze technology.
We’re working on this new product, it’s in the shape of a bean, and it’s made entirely of flash-frozen algae. Algae is so good for detoxifying skin. For this holiday season, it’s a charcoal mud sheet mask, and it’s not messy. You don’t get it on your fingers or your hair. Once you put it on your face, I like to leave it until it completely dries, so it has that peel-off effect, and then you just take a cleansing wipe and wipe everything down.
Vitamin C + Pearls is available through Joyce Beauty and A Beauty Bar.