When I think of Japan, I think of rituals, traditions and history. Of geishas, parasols, steaming onsen and cherry blossoms. That and some of the best skincare products in the world full of natural ingredients.
Japanese women are known for glowing, youthful skin and silky hair. It’s not just skincare products though. Beauty starts from the inside out. They eat well, get enough exercise, drink their water and green tea and they are consistent with their skincare. Beauty is about the mind AND body. Here are a few of the beauty rituals that Japanese beauties incorporate into their daily lives to keep their skin and body healthy and beautiful well into old age.
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According to Japanese culture, the first step toward outer beauty is what you put inside your body.
The Japanese diet consists mainly of fish, vegetables, leafy greens and fruit. They also include beans, soy and seaweed along with small amounts of rice with every meal. By only eating until they feel about 80% full, they do not stress the body by overeating or including harmful foods like sugar and fat in large amounts. Eating a wide variety of fresh foods provides them with the maximum nutritional value.
Exercise and movement
Japanese women aren’t gym rats. They enjoy cycling, walking or swimming in the fresh air as much as possible. Movement and exercise are done for enjoyment and health.
Most mornings you will find groups of people exercising to a radio broadcast in parks and open spaces. The broadcast is called Rajio Taiso. It began in 1928 as an initiative to improve the health and fitness of Japanese soldiers. It is still practised daily, mostly by the older generation. It involves rhythmic stretching, arm circles, squats and toe-touches to music done outside in the fresh air.
Exercise improves circulation, muscle tone and provides the body and skin with vital oxygen. It also calms the body and invigorates the mind. It is good for digestion and overall mental health as well.
Beauty From Within
In Japanese, this is called Mie-nai oshareh. It translates to unseen beauty or hidden beauty. True beauty doesn’t have to be overtly displayed to be appreciated. You can also simply be beautiful for yourself not just for others.
Beauty radiates from the inside out. Japanese women cultivate a rich inner life full of hobbies and interests. Kindness, poise and happiness radiate from within, they can’t be painted on.
Bathing and cleansing
Hot steamy baths relax the body and mind.
The bathing ritual begins in the shower. Oils are used to remove makeup followed by a foaming cleanser to remove any residue. The body is then washed and scrubbed to remove dirt and impurities.
You must be clean to bathe. Yes, I know that sounds strange but the idea is that you do not want to sit around in soap and your own “dirt”. You want to soak in clean water full of nourishing oils and detoxifying bath salts. By showering first all the dirt and impurities from the day are removed so that the body can accept the oils and salts more easily.
Bathing is meant to cleanse the body of toxins, relax tired muscles and soothe the mind. It is more of a meditation than a simple bath.
Facial & Lymph Massage
Japanese women have access to many massaging gadgets but they still prefer the most effective facial massage tools of all, their hands and fingertips.
Deep but gentle massage will lift and relax facial muscles, improve circulation and drain away excess fluid and swelling. It helps to reduce the swelling around the eyes, jaw and neck. Lymphatic drainage helps to remove toxins and waste products from the lymph nodes and out of the body. Sluggish lymph flow will cause toxins to build up in the body and the skin is the first to show the signs.
Massage usually involves lifting the skin, holding it firmly, applying pressure to specific points and releasing as well as firm circular motions with the heel of the hand.
Sun protection in Japan has its own rating. PA is the lowest and PA++++ (SPF50) is the highest. Sunscreen is not the thick, oily stuff we know in the west. Japanese skincare companies have perfected sun protection gels and light lotions that protect the skin without leaving an oil slick.
No woman leaves the house without sun protection. It begins with their skincare products and extends to wearing gloves, hats and long sleeves as well as carrying a parasol to shield them from the sun when outdoors.
Focus on products & correct application
Most skincare products are based on non-toxic, natural and organic ingredients. There are many that believe that if you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin. Skincare products are usually full of nourishing plant-based oils like camellia. Mineral oils are avoided as they tend to block pores and cause breakouts.
Women are very careful to analyze their skin type and buy their skin care products accordingly. It usually consists of:
- oil cleanser – DHC Deep Cleansing Oil 200ml
- foaming cleanser – Japan Health and Personal – Senka Perfect Whip 120g *AF27* by Specialized course
- exfoliator – Cure Natural Aqua Gel 250Ml – Best Selling Exfoliator In Japan!
- essence – DHC Beauty Keep Essence(SS)30mlx1
- sheet mask – Lululun Face Mask New 42pcs – Pink – Acacia Honey
- moisturiser or lotion – Hada Labo Rohto Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist, 5.7 fl. oz. (170ml) New package
- sun protection – Biore KAO JAPAN AQUA RICH Sarasara SPF50+ PA++++ NEW 2015 50g Sunscreen
- eye gel or cream – DHC Revitalizing Moisture Strips: Eyes, Gel Strip Masks, 6 applications
Skincare products will contain natural products like rice water, rice bran, adzuki beans, sake, wakame, camellia oil, green tea, water, soy, vitamin C or grapeseed oil.
The application is also very important. Products are gently patted on to help it penetrate and to stimulate blood flow and circulation. They do not drag or tug on the skin which prevents premature wrinkles and sagging.
Once a week Japanese women will cleanse their skin properly and go to bed without applying any product. No serums, no masks, no moisturiser. The skin is left bare. It allows it to cleanse itself and restore its own moisture balance.
Skin fasting gives the body the opportunity to self-regulate sebum levels and to restore balance without the interference of applied moisturisers. This usually happens over a weekend when careful and thorough cleansing can be done in the morning without having to rush to work.
Japanese women drink cups and cups of green tea and water during the day. It not only hydrates the body but is FULL of polyphenols (antioxidants) that fight the signs of ageing and reduce inflammation in the skin. It also helps with digestion.
Matcha is a powder made of green tea leaves. Drinking green tea gets you a basic solution of the goodness but matcha gets you 100% of it.
Japanese Hair Care
Most Japanese women don’t brush their hair very often. After washing they will typically use a wide tooth comb to gently detangle. As a treatment for the scalp, they will massage camellia oil into the roots of the hair and comb it through to spread the nutrient-rich oil around and promote healthy hair growth.
ORGANIC CAMELLIA SEED OIL. 100% Pure & Natural – Undiluted Carrier Oil. Powerful Antioxidant To Soften Hair, Skin & Nails (50 ml) – £12
Instead of harsh shampoo, some women will opt for a seaweed powder cleansers to gently clean the hair without stripping natural oils. It is simply mixed with water and applied. Seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals. Funori is the best-known seaweed cleanser and can be left on the hair as a deep conditioning “mask”.
Wooden combs made of Tsuge or Japanese boxwood are traditionally used. The hardwood makes a smooth comb that does not snag on hair but picks up natural oils and spreads them evenly through the strands.
Read more about Traditional Japanese Beauty Remedies in my previous post.