Tu fu ling, smilax glabra rhizome, is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for inflammatory conditions of all kinds, but especially on the skin. In traditional Chinese herbalism, it is used in herbal formulas with other herbs to treat conditions involving inflammation or infection. As an intern in the clinic at Yo San University, I learned from one of my teachers to prescribe it for external use, as a face scrub or mask for patients with severe acne.
I was inspired to try tu fu ling scrub for myself and loved it. I made some for a friend who had bouts of 'bacne' at the time, and we were blown away by how effective it was - especially at reducing redness and swelling.
As I've gotten older, I find tu fu ling a little strong for my face as a scrub. We still use it in our house as a body scrub, and I'll make a mask with it for my face if I do get a break out (how is that still happening in my forties?! I actually don't complain about it, it means my face is nice and oily, which will serve me well - our skin gets drier as we age.)
It's not that easy to find tu fu ling. Most kinds you might find at a Chinatown herbal store will be treated with sulphur and that could irritate your skin. Ask your acupuncturist about getting some, or you can substitute finely ground adzuki beans, they have similar properties (and watch A&P news, I'm working on a tu fu ling based product!) I use a coffee grinder to turn my herbs to powder, although you can use a blender or food processor.
Anyway, here's a recent Sunday morning face mask!