Cover image for The Tao of beauty : Chinese herbal secrets to feeling good and looking great
The Tao of beauty : Chinese herbal secrets to feeling good and looking great
Lee, Helen, 1958-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
262 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA778 .L4625 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The Tao of Beauty proves that the latest beauty secrets are 5,000 years old. Ford fashion model Helen Lee comes from a long line of Chinese herbal practitioners, and when she found that Western beauty solutions were not helping her remedy the stress of a full-time modeling career, she turned back to the Chinese herbal therapies her mother had taught her. In The Tao of Beauty , Lee demystifies for you the use of food and herbs for inner health and outer beauty with:

A concise overview of Chinese medicine and Chinese herbology's basic elements
The "Beauty-Wellness Test," which identifies your energy type--yang (hot), yin/yang (balanced), and yin (cold)
Prescriptive advice for acne, dry skin, wrinkles, insomnia, fatigue, allergies, and much more
Five chapters devoted exclusively to remedies and tips for skin, hair, nails, eyes, and make-up
Herbal and dietary recommendations and recipes for optimal weight and health, with ingredients easily available in local supermarkets and health food stores
Specific advice for women at different stages of life, including pregnancy and menopause
Exercise, toning, and relaxation techniques based on Chi Kung

More and more Western women are coming to see that beauty and wellness are inextricably linked, but there are few resources that explain the relationship and offer practical advice. The Tao of Beauty is the guide you've been seeking. Let it unlock the beauty in you.

The Tao of Beauty now makes these therapies available to everyone.

Based on the philosophy that beauty and health are inextricably linked, The Tao of Beauty presents a total program for restoring the body's natural yin-yang balance. Using ingredients available at local supermarkets and health-food stores, Lee provides solutions for a head-to-toe range of problems, including insomnia, allergies, fatigue, wrinkles, dry skin, and obesity, with chapters on skin, hair, nails, eyes, and make-up. The Tao of Beauty also features exercise, toning, and relaxation techniques.

Helen Lee's day spa has become a mecca for thousands who have discovered the soothing, customized "prescriptions" of Eastern herbal wisdom. With The Tao of Beauty, Lee's doors are open to all. -->

Author Notes

Helen Lee, a Ford fashion model, has spent two decades as a student of Chinese herbal practices and is a member of the American Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine Association. Currently, Lee directs all research and development for the Chinese herbal product line at her exclusive salon, The Helen Lee Day Spa, in Manhattan. She lives in southern California.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The woman who opens this book expecting a discussion of only beauty is in for a surprise and an education. Lee, a fashion model and day spa owner originally from Hong Kong, proves the equation that, from a Chinese point of view, balance equals health equals beauty. The guide is divided into three parts. In part 1, Lee gives an excellent summary of Chinese medical theory as it relates to health and diet. The basics of body care make up part 2, beginning with systemic concerns of detoxification, digestion, and adequate rest. Discussions follow of specific regimens and remedies for care of the skin, hair, hands and feet, nail and eyes. Part 3 covers exercise, relaxation, breathing exercises based on qi gong, weight control, and Chinese remedies for various gynecological conditions. More than 100 recipes run the gamut from traditional and family medicinal soups, stews, and teas to such beauty products as masks, lotions, hair gels, and bath salts. Each recipe is easy to follow, with notes on procuring uncommon ingredients. --Penny Spokes



All of us know of women who are beautiful but would hardly be considered pretty.   Their eyes may be "too small" or "too far apart" or their nose or lips "too large" or their figures far from ideal.  Yet they have something extra, magnetic--something from within--that renders them beautiful.  How is it that they possess this quality that can only be called a glow? According to Chinese tradition, the path, or Tao (pronounced "dow"), of beauty is simply one lane on the road to radiant health.  There is nothing particularly unusual about this.  Health is beauty; beauty is health.  No amount of makeup can camouflage a body that isn't healthy or, as we Chinese view it, is out of balance. This often comes as a surprise to new clients who come into my day spa expecting a facial, instruction in skin care, and a makeup application.  The nutritional aspects of the beauty program that I offer are deeply rooted in the practices of traditional Chinese medicine.  To the Chinese, the term "medicine" relates to a way to healthy life rather than to treatment for illness.  These concepts are very different from Western beauty culture. While cosmetics and skin care can enhance a woman's outer appearance, real beauty must be solidly based in balance and health.  Strong, glossy hair; clear, bright eyes; firm, glowing skin; and strong, pink fingernails--these are the foundations that makeup merely plays up.  Nothing can be enhanced that isn't intrinsically there.  This is why the road to beauty, as outlined in this book, is inextricably linked to optimal health. Our bodies are in a constant state of renewal.  Old cells die as new ones are born.  By properly nourishing these cells, we can insure that we grow healthier, stronger, and consequently more beautiful day by day. In my experience as a Ford fashion model as well as in my spa, I have found that many of the most beautiful women are those who have created their own beauty-wellness programs based on this philosophy of balance.  No matter how busy we are, to regenerate our bodies and refresh our spirits is a gift we give not only to ourselves but to those we love as well.  As the old Chinese proverb states, "An empty well gives no water." When we take time--even if it's just a few moments a day--to revitalize ourselves, we have so much more to share with those around us. The Tao of Beauty offers more than a frantic shape-up plan of diet, exercise, and makeup tricks.  It provides a foundation of practices and recipes for balance and wellness that will fortify your body for health and beauty.  As so many of us have learned, quick fixes are usually transient, lasting only until the pressure of our everyday lives takes precedence over our best intentions.  I will give you in clear, precise language a life path, or Tao, so you can release the power of your beauty and serenity. My ancestors were Chinese healers and herbalists, and I draw upon this heritage to share the ancient philosophy of Tao.  First, I will show you how to determine your basic type according to Chinese principles--yin, yang, or yin/yang (balanced)--and you will then be able to fashion your own beauty-wellness program.  I'll show you how to draw from a full range of simple, easy-to-prepare recipes for delicious foods to eat, teas to drink, and potions to apply to your body to obtain the beautiful results you desire. Unlike conventional Western beauty, diet, and exercise books that mandate a step-by-step routine to be followed to the letter for specific results, The Tao of Beauty offers a program that you can adapt to meet your body's needs.  You will learn to be in touch with how you feel and what your body needs to correct or maintain the delicate balance of its life energy, or chi. As a busy working mother, I can fully appreciate that time is always in short supply.  With this in mind, I have made sure that the program you design for yourself and the recipes you use are simple to follow.  Most of the ingredients for this newfound Tao are either already in your kitchen or in your corner supermarket.  For example, you'll find two powerful food-grade herbs with strong healing properties, xiohuixiang and dingxiang, masquerading under the names fennel and cloves, respectively.  Some Asian herbs, like ginseng and royal jelly, are already known in the West.  These, and many items that are less familiar, such as dang quai and dried Chinese red dates, can be inexpensively purchased in many well-stocked health food stores.  I've also listed mail-order sources in the back of this book for your convenience.  Furthermore, I've made sure that the recipes require minimal cooking skill and little more equipment than a blender, a few enamel and glass pots and pans, and a few glass bowls. I invite you now to join me on this radiant path.  Put aside everything you already know about your body; suspend your beliefs about how you should look and what is beautiful.  I will introduce you to a new way of thinking that is, in truth, centuries old. Your Beauty-Wellness Test: Are You Primarily Yin, Yang, or Yin/Yang? Now that I've provided you with a wealth of new information about health and beauty in the Chinese tradition, it's time to discover how to put these principles to use.  The first step in this process is to take my Beauty-Wellness Test to determine if you are primarily yin, yang, or yin/yang (balanced) in nature. Don't try to look through the book for the "right" answers! There are no right answers.  This test is designed to enable you to identify your current state of balance, or wellness.  You will discover if you're primarily a yin type or if you are currently in a yang state.  Some of you may even be surprised to learn that you are basically in balance! Like chi and our cells, which are ever changing, yin and yang express the constantly evolving connection between body, mind, and spirit.  Yin and yang are not absolute, exact conditions.  We can be yin today and yang tomorrow.  This test simply identifies your fundamental state. Beauty-Wellness Test Select the most appropriate response to each of these questions and total your answers.  This score will determine your primary state--yin, yang, or yin/yang (balanced)--so that you will be able to design the most effective program for yourself. 1. My age is: 15---13 to 25 10---26 to 45 5---46 or older 2. My weight gain/loss pattern can best be described as: 15---I can eat anything I want without gaining a pound 10---Up and down, but no more than three to five pounds a month 5---I gain weight easily 3. My appetite is: 15---Hearty 10---Moderate 5---Light 4. My skin--especially my face--looks shiny or oily: 15---Often 10---Only in the "T Zone" around my forehead and nose 5---Seldom 0---Tends to be dry 5. My face breaks out: 15---Often 10---Occasionally 5---Rarely, if ever 6. I have blackheads: 15---A lot 10---A few 5---None 7. I have whiteheads: 15---A lot 10---A few 5---None 8. I have dark circles around my eyes: 15---Rarely, if ever 10---Occasionally, during allergy season or when I am exceptionally tired 10---Yes, due to family heritage 5---Usually 9. I have wrinkles: 15---None 10---Only around my eyes 10---Around my mouth or on my forehead 5---Around my eyes, mouth, and forehead 10. My pores are: 15---Large, open 10---Medium 5--Small, fine 11. The texture of my skin is: 15---Coarse 10---Average 5---Smooth 12. I experience dry, flaky patches on my skin: 15---Never 10---Occasionally 5---Often 13. I smoke cigarettes, and I would be considered: 15---A heavy smoker (a pack or more per day) 10---A moderate smoker (less than a pack a day) 5---An occasional smoker/a nonsmoker 14. I drink alcoholic beverages: 15---One or more drinks a day, usually every day 10---Three to five drinks a week 5---Occasionally/never 15. My hair is: 15---Coarse and straight 15---Coarse and curly 10---Moderately thick 5---Fine 16. My daily hair loss is: 15--Very few 10---Normal (80 to 100 hairs per day--there's hair in my brush but not an alarming amount) 5---Heavy (I get a handful of hair when I run my fingers through it or my drain is full when I wash it) 17. My hair and scalp are usually: 15--Oily 10---Normal 5---Dry 18. My fingernails are: 15---Rosy 5---Pale 19. The surface of my fingernails is: 15---Smooth 5---Ridged 20. I have sore throats: 15---Often 10---Once or twice a year 5---Never TOTAL SCORE:_________ Your Yin/Yang Beauty-Wellness Profile If You Scored Between 100 and 120 Points, You Are Primarily Yin Yin bodies, like yin personalities, tend to be low-key, even cool, less emotional, and more reserved than their yang counterparts.  If you scored primarily yin, you probably have a softer, rounder body than those who fit the yang profile.  You often have dry, sensitive skin and a tendency toward premature fine lines and wrinkles, most often around your eyes and mouth.  Your complexion and lips are often pale and you may suffer from the cold--especially in your hands and feet--not just during winter months. To bring balance to your body, your diet should be full of warming yang-energy foods to increase circulation and rev up your sluggish system.  These foods will not only lubricate your joints and internal organs but will also increase the elasticity of your skin.  Yin personalities can have more hot, spicy, Jalapeño-peppered Mexican foods .  .  .  and those peppery Chinese cuisines from Szechuan and Hunan! Add cinnamon, ginger, garlic, or dill to almost any recipe to give it the warm yang energy you need to achieve your maximum beauty-wellness potential. One of my clients, Kitty, scored a solid 100 on her Beauty-Wellness Test.  She fits the classic yin profile to a tee.  Kitty, whose nickname stems from her catlike nature rather than her name, appears much younger than her thirty-two years.  Only five feet, two inches tall, she has a soft, curvy figure and a soft, high-pitched voice--like Marilyn Monroe, the ultimate yin woman.  Fair-skinned, with blue eyes and baby-fine blond hair that has the slightest bit of wave to it, Kitty is extremely sensitive to the cold, often complaining of cold hands and feet, especially during the winter months when, as she tells it, she goes into "hermit mode." Until she began to bring balance to her body, she frequently sought treatment from her dermatologist in hopes of finding relief from flaky, tender skin. Kitty was so afraid of gaining weight, she eliminated all oils and fats from her diet.  She refused to believe me when I told her that this contributed to her dry skin problems.  The body needs fats for proper metabolism, and without them, it suffers.  The results include flaking, dry skin, and low energy.  Because digestion is slowed, weight loss is impaired. If You Scored More Than 220 Points, You Are Primarily Yang If you could use only one word to describe a yang person, it would probably be "active." As a rule, yang types have lean, generally slender, body builds.  If you scored primarily yang, you are probably youthful, outgoing, outspoken, and exuberant.  You should not expect to age prematurely.  Your hair and skin tend to be oily, and especially if your yang score is very high, you may be prone to acne. The teas you drink and the foods you eat, as well as the herbal compounds you apply topically to your skin and hair, should be yin in nature to cool down or calm your fiery yang energy.  Reach for foods that will calm your hot energy and bring moisture to the systems of your body, nourishing it and lubricating and toning your skin without increasing oil production.  Choose yin foods--tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, melons, citrus fruits, clams, crabmeat, and tofu.  And don't forget green tea! That's the coolest of all teas. Another spa client, Jan, is tall and slender with long, lean legs.  At twenty-eight, she is the same weight as when she finished high school at seventeen.  Headstrong, restless, and relentlessly independent, Jan dropped out of college her junior year to travel, which lead to a career as a travel photographer.  Despite her active, athletic lifestyle and her health and fitness awareness, she thinks nothing of feasting on rare steak and spicy, greasy Mexican food.  Her wild, thick, curly hair tends to be oily, as does her skin, which she abuses by too much unprotected time in the sun. Before Jan altered her eating habits by adding more foods with cool energy to her diet, and treating both her hair and skin to cooling tonics and treatments, she had frequent and painful bouts of acne and intense bouts of PMS. If You Scored Between 120 and 220 Points, You Are Primarily Yin/Yang, or Balanced Congratulations! If you fit this profile, either you were born with perfect original chi, or you are doing a terrific job on your own to maintain nutritional balance and are living a balanced life.  Still, just because your yin and yang are in balance today doesn't mean they will be tomorrow! So your beauty-wellness assignment is to maintain that balance. A person who has a yin/yang profile is generally even-tempered, alert, and fit.  If you scored primarily yin/yang, your body type is probably neither too thin nor too fat; your skin is neither too dry nor too oily.  By staying aware of your body's state of harmony, you will be able to maintain a high level of wellness and, as a result, optimum beauty.  You will need to nourish your body with the right foods, and to lubricate, tone, and cleanse your skin thoroughly with the right topical treatments.  You'll need to exercise to maintain muscle tone and keep chi flowing throughout your body. Eat from all food groups; however, it is essential that you take equal amounts from each to stay in peak form.  On pages 46-47, you will find a chart that lists foods by their inherent hot or cold energy properties.  The middle, or neutral, column features a tasty list of foods that will leave you totally satisfied, including papayas, beef, potatoes, green mung beans, corn, chicken, eggs, pork, kidney beans, fava or broad beans, raw peanuts, and honey. Another client, Margaret, might be described as "all-American Average"--thirty-three years old, five feet five inches tall, brown hair, hazel eyes, with a fair complexion that turns pink before it tans.  Except for slight breakouts around her period, her skin is decidedly normal, neither too oily nor too dry.  Margaret has little difficulty maintaining equilibrium between her work and personal life.  A moderate drinker, she laughs about being able to make a white wine spritzer last all night.  She weighs a comfortable 130 pounds, and if she picks up a few extra pounds during the holidays, she can drop them in a month by leaving out bread and potatoes. Excerpted from The Tao of Beauty by Helen Lee All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.