Dr Jenelle Kim is bringing ancient bibong beauty formulas to the West for the first time in history.
A doctor of Chinese medicine based in San Diego, California, and a descendent of Korean royalty, Kim is launching Cannabis Beauty Defined Skincare. The line won’t get you high, but will restore your skin’s longevity by using principles of traditional Eastern medicine developed in the 16th century.
For Westerners, skincare made with cannabidiol (CBD) might seem like a new trend. However, Kim tells Culture Trip that CBD oil has been part of traditional Eastern medicine for centuries.
“Hemp goes back to 2000 BC and CBD is not a new ingredient for us,” she says.“We have understood hemp as one of the 50 essential herbs for a long time.”
Filled with vitamins A, D, and E, as well as high concentrations of essential fatty acids, “studies show that CBD is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, and anti-aging agent,” says Kim. Plus, “your body can suck it up effectively.” This is essential as a product’s benefits are limited if your skin can’t absorb the nutrients. However, CBD “works with receptors in our brain and all throughout our skin,” says Kim.
Clean beauty product ingredients are held to food-grade standard in the US, stipulating a product’s contents are non-toxic, locally sourced, and organic. But that’s only one part of what distinguishes a clean beauty product from a mass-manufactured one.Clean beauty product contain ingredients that work harmoniously with one another.
“There is a synergy when you combine herbal ingredients and find balance,” explains Kim, who underscores that balance is the true key to beauty. CBD, she says, is such a powerful skincare ingredient because it is “nourishing and detoxifying, allowing cells to function.” This makes it easy for skin to absorb the product and is why CBD has been added to bibong regimens, ancient beauty regimes of Korean royalty, for centuries.
“In East Asia, secret beauty elixirs we call bibong [formulas] have existed for a long time and are handed down through royalty in Korea exclusively through oral histories.” Kim’s lineage—one side of the family descends from the Joseon Dynasty, while the other has practiced Eastern medicine for centuries—makes her a unique figure in the skincare world.
“My great-grandfather was the head doctor of the court who had the medical knowledge of the bibong. We follow the lineage of [16th-century] Dr Heo Jun, renowned throughout the world for his advancement of herbal medicine,” says Kim. “This is the first time in history that our lineage has put out [the bibong] in such a big way.”
The Cannabis Beauty Defined Skincare line is the culmination of 15 years and many different formulas put out by Kim’s lab, JBK Wellness, which has created bespoke luxe beauty products for The Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Mandarin Oriental. “It’s time to introduce [a wider audience] to CBD and this bibong.”
Kim admits she was hesitant to get behind a product with the word cannabis in its name. However, with the legalization of medical marijuana in some US states, plus the fact that CBD is made from a totally different part of the cannabis plant than the parts that get you high, Kim can proudly claim the cannabis name for a luxe wellness beauty product. “Hemp contains only trace amounts of THC,” or non-psychoactive parts of the cannabis plant, says Kim. In other words, it won’t get you high. The line includes a cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, day and night serum, toner, and soak.
Her lineage, as well as her degree in medicine and acupuncture from the University of Beijing, makes Kim a most trustworthy expert for your complexion. Could her line be skincare’s elusive fountain of youth? Kim is optimistic. “I’m fulfilling my destiny.”