5 Beauty Secrets from Japan
How my travels to Japan changed my perspective on beauty and my own skincare routine.
Last year I decided to pursue my passion for skincare, and traveled to the Land of the Rising Sun to complete my skincare studies on Okinawa island. This cultural crash course allowed me to absorb some significant lessons about the highly evolved Japanese Beauty culture.
Before I embraced an Eastern-based beauty ritual, my relationship with my skin was often adverse. Like so many of us, I was mostly focused on the way my skin looked, not how it felt or its state of health. Sometimes I worked against it by using harsh products that promised immediate transformation, failing to see what my skin was trying to tell me: it was craving for quality care instead of a quick fix.
The travels to Japan undoubtedly helped shape my thoughts on beauty. Now, I feel more ‘skin conscious’ and learned to love, and respect my skin in a way I never did before. For that reason I’ve made it my mission to inspire people to improve their
skin-connection and enhance their skincare routine through the Japanese Beauty philosophy.
Amongst the many beauty insights I’ve learned, the most valuable lesson Japanese Beauty has taught me is that skin care is about care. If you treat your skin gently and with respect, it will reward you with a healthy radiance.
"What I appreciate most about Japanese Beauty is that it has a gentle, loving approach to skincare, instead of ‘fixing’ skin 'problems'."
Sterre Rose studying Japanese Skincare on Okinawa Island,
one of the World's Blue Zones, renowned for longevity and healthy aging.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Less is more; quality over quantity
Skincare is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, as it is believed beauty is based on healthy skin. Japanese women prioritise a clear, smooth complexion, using a curated skin-care ritual. Understated beauty and subtlety is valued: a ‘no-make up make-up’ look, with healthy skin as key characteristic.
In Japan they believe that less is more, looking at the number of skincare products in one’s collection, as well as the ingredients in formulas. Skincare is often formulated with a small number of ingredients. Fewer components mean that each ingredient must be of the highest quality to ensure efficacy. Each product in their skincare ritual is an essential step in their routine and a beloved treatment.
This approach suits my lifestyle, as I believe in making conscious choices. Choose Well, Buy Less. It’s modern and more sustainable. The Japanese ‘less is more’ approach has given me a clear and easy to maintain skincare routine; and healthy, glowing skin.
2. DIET-SKIN CONNECTION
Your skin is the outward reflection of your health.
Japanese women are acutely aware of the fact that their skin is a reflection of their health. They have a plant-rich, clean diet and know how to avoid certain foods for healthy skin. Some favorites of the Japanese diet are beloved ingredients in modern skincare formulas too. It stands to reason that what is healthy for the body is also healthy for the skin. The idea of diet-skin connection is a growing concept in the Western world.
An example is seaweed: a rich source of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants; as well as a potent skincare ingredient as it promotes collagen production and maintains skin’s moisture levels. Other healthy ánd skin-beneficial ingredients include rice, yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) and green tea.
Traditional Japanese ingredients including: rice, red beans, green tea, yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit).
In Japan, they recognise that your skin is the outward reflection of your health. It made me think of my skin as a reflection of my body. Now I am acutely aware that my skin is my largest organ, and realising this, I have developed much more respect for it.
Instead of targeting dark circles or pimples, I try to think about the deeper causes. Have I been putting too much stress on myself lately? Did I drink too much coffee? Did I have a lack of sleep this week that resulted in dull skin?
The Japanese 'patting' technique, a gentle and effective skincare application method.
3. CREATE RITUALS YOU LOVE
Skincare doesn't have to feel like a chore.
Most inspiring was how all Japanese women treated and enjoyed their skincare regimens as a spiritual and peaceful ritual, not a chore.
Because skincare is an everyday action, it is important to create a ritual that you love. Through peaceful rituals, you will calm your mind and heart in addition to caring for your skin. Elevate your skincare routine into something mindful, and healing. Perform it consciously, with precision and care.
Now, even after (or especially after) a particularly stressful day, I try to slow down and recognise the joy in caring for my skin — even if it’s merely the 10 seconds it takes to apply a hydrating lotion or massaging in my favorite beauty oil.
Sterre Rose studying the beauty culture and rituals of Japan at Isehan-Honten Museum of Beni, Tokyo.
4. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Remain consistent, committed and patient.
A clear complexion isn’t achieved overnight. It is a longer-term result from healthy diet, quality products, and a consistent skincare routine.
When it comes to beauty, the Japanese have perfected the art of patience. Japanese women — instead of expecting overnight results from their creams and serums — remained disciplined and consistent, biding their time for products to do their job.
The Japanese skincare ritual isn’t about overnight transformations. It’s about long term beauty care. It’s about meaningful moments of attending to your skin every single day. So be disciplined and grant yourself that quality time with… yourself! To truly care for your skin, you must go beyond splashing away makeup or slathering on moisturiser.
5. AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
We are 'perfectly imperfect'.
The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi instantly intrigued me. Rooted in Zen Buddhist teachings (Shinto and Buddhism are two of Japan’s major religions), wabi-sabi is based on the commonly held Japanese notion that true beauty doesn’t lie in perfection, but rather in imperfection and impermanence.
Japanese skincare focuses on a complete cycle of skin health: prevention, protection, and education, rather than just 'anti-aging'. A clear example of education: every skincare brochure in Japan explains product efficacy through visual skin anatomy and physiology diagrams.
KS Skincare Brochure with skin anatomy/physiology visuals explaining product efficacy.
My skincare teacher on Okinawa instilled in me the idea that aging is a natural part of life and, thus should be approached gracefully. The mindset toward aging is about Having the best skin of your life – at any age. Having great skin doesn’t have anything to do with age; you can have a healthier radiance now versus when you were younger.
"It's about having the best skin of your life—at any age."
Nobody can stop time and it makes no sense trying to fight aging. But what you can do is give your skin the protection, attention and care it deserves by following a consistent routine with high-quality natural products. This way you can always strive for something achievable — healthy skin at any age.
I expected my skin would get worse with age. Now I am proud to say I have better skin than a few years ago. Japanese Beauty philosophy has taught me to not get frustrated if I notice skin imperfections such as fine lines of dark circles. I know I take care of my skin the best way I can. That is most important, and that’s also where my control ends.
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