SoKo skincare was all the rage on social media for the last few years, and before that, it was all about the French. But the truth is, consumers have waved au revior to the overpriced, famous-named brands from Europe and the hype over K-Beauty leans more towards the younger crowd.
While every woman is beautiful and unique in their own way, Japanese women are known for having the youngest-looking skin—even as they age. Using natural ingredients for centuries to achieve beautiful, translucent, flawless skin, Japanese women seem to have the secret to skincare. But the rest of the world is starting to catch on. The envy of women across the globe, Japanese women tend to start taking care of their skin at a very young age, using a multi-step process that includes:
- Cleansing, toning, exfoliating, and moisturizing on a daily basis
- Using natural ingredients like rice bran, green tea, and algae
- Layering the skin with moisture
- Using cleansing oils instead of gel and foam-based cleansers
- Cleansing only once a day, normally at night before bed
For centuries, Japanese beauty practices have helped to make skin look healthy, translucent, and flawlessly youthful. From daily rituals to essential beauty items, Japanese beauty secrets are the envy of women across the globe and we’ve put together 16 examples of Japanese beauty ingredients, rituals, and routines anyone can follow.
16 Japanese Beauty Secrets
1. Azuki beans
Since the Nara period (710-794), Japanese women have used this red little bean as part of a healthy diet and as a part of a healthy skincare regimen. Ground into a fine powder or a slightly coarse scrub, azuki beans are a natural remedy for those who are prone to acne or blackheads, or those who wish to diminish fine lines.
DIY Azuki Bean Cleanser
Making your own azuki anti-aging scrub is fairly easy.
- Use a coffee grinder and grind ½ cup of dried azuki beans to a semi-fine powder.
- Transfer the mixture to a jar and store it in the fridge for a few hours.
- Place ½ teaspoon of the powder in your palm and mix it with a few drops of water to form a thick paste.
- Spread over a wet face in a circular motion.
- Let sit for two minutes then rinse with warm water.
- Repeat two to three times a week and you’ll notice the difference.
2. Komenuka (Rice bran)
Full of antioxidants, rice bran powder, or komenuka, has been used by Japanese women in scrubs, facials, and body treatments to help fight the signs of aging, resolve acne-prone skin, and leave the skin toned, tight, and soft for centuries.
Easy to make from home, rice water can also help eliminate dark spots or sun damage.
DIY Komenuka Rice Mask
- Boil 3 tablespoons of rice until the water becomes slightly cloudy.
- Strain the rice but set aside the water as this will be part of the facial treatment.
- Add one tablespoon of milk to the rice and mix well.
- Add one tablespoon of honey.
- The mixture should be sticky enough to stay on your face when put on the face.
- Apply the rice mask on clean, dry skin and allow it to dry.
- To remove, use the rice water that you kept aside.
3. Green tea
High in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea plays a significant role in many Japanese beauty rituals. From incorporating the extracts in lotions and tonics to adding ground leaves to bath salts and adding concentrated powders to body compress treatments and hair masks, Japanese women have included green tea in their beauty routines for centuries.
The ground form of green tea leaves, matcha, known for its high concentration of catechin polyphenols, has countless health and beauty benefits. The high concentration of tannins helps to tighten the skin, counter damage caused by UV rays, reactivate dying skin cells, and reduce inflammation.
4. Daily Home Bathing
Bathing in Japan is seen as more than a cleansing routine; it’s a beauty ritual. Natural hot springs, known as onsens, and public bathhouses, known as sentos, are scattered throughout cities, resorts, and open-air spots, offering folks opportunities to soak, scrub and relax in nutrient-enriched mineralized natural waters.
But the home bath, or ofuro, is also an essential part of every Japanese woman’s daily life. A steaming bath before bed not only leaves one feeling relaxed; it helps blood circulation, prevents shoulder stiffness and back pain, relax muscles, and prevents leg swelling.
5. Tsubaki (Camellia) Oil
For centuries, Japanese women have been turning to camellia oil, or Tsubaki, high in omega-9 fatty acids, essential proteins, and glycerides, to fight all signs of aging and keep skin supple and taut. Additionally, camellia, or Tsubaki oil, hydrates and replenishes while infusing skin with powerful antioxidants to protect skin from free radical damage and the visible signs of aging.
Camellia seed oil contains vitamins that stimulate collagen production and help tackle fine lines and wrinkles. Studies show that the plant also offers restorative properties that can reduce the appearance of premature aging and promote healthy, glowing skin.
6. Vitamin C
Japanese women turn to vitamin C through supplements, foods, and cosmetic products for bright, glass-like skin. Fruits and vegetables such as yuzu, kaki (Japanese persimmon) and shiso (wild basil), in addition to a variety of citrus like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are extremely rich in vitamin C.
Topical vitamin C is a science-backed, dermatologist-favorite ingredient that may help slow early skin aging, prevent sun damage, and improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and acne.
7. Avoid the Sun
One of the most important Japanese beauty secrets to pale, glass-like, flawless skin is avoiding direct sun exposure by staying out of the bright summer sunshine, using SPF 30 plus sunscreen, and using implements like umbrellas to shield their faces from the sun.
Photoaging is premature skin aging resulting from prolonged and repeated exposure to solar radiation. Responsible for 90% of visible changes to the skin, photoaging is a direct result of cumulative sun damage.
Effects of photoaging
Chronic teardrop idiopathic hypo melanosis
Tumors, including basal-cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma
How Sun Affects Skin
Skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, or outermost layer; the dermis, or middle layer; and the subcutis, or bottommost layer. The dermis contains collagen, elastin and other fibers that support the skin’s structure. It is these elements that give skin a smooth and youthful appearance.
The UVR (ultraviolet radiation) that affects the skin is composed of two different types of waves, UVA and UVB. When UV rays hit the skin, they damage its DNA, and cells in the dermis scramble to produce melanin in the epidermis to prevent further damage.
As a result of this damage, increased production of abnormal elastin occurs and the unusually high amounts of elastin result in the production of enzymes called metalloproteinases. These enzymes, which rebuild damaged collagen, often malfunction and degrade the collagen, resulting in incorrectly rebuilt skin. As this process is repeated with daily UVA exposure, year-after-year, the incorrectly rebuilt skin forms wrinkles and leathery skin.
While western cultures place a high emphasis on a bronzed glow as a measure of beauty, Japanese women are of the opinion that the benefits of avoiding the long-term damaging effects of the sun far outweigh the short-term attractiveness of a tan, which is really just the skin naturally shielding itself from solar radiation.
8. Nightingale droppings
One of the most interesting ancient Japanese beauty secrets, nightingale droppings have been used in facial treatments in Japan since the 17th century. Guanine, the compound that is present in these droppings, can help brighten the skin, reduce wrinkles, and cleanse pores.
9. Wakame Kelp
A special kind of sea algae, wakame kelp, when applied to the skin, protects it from UV rays and pollution, fights fine lines and wrinkles, and reduces dark eye circles.
10. Wooden combs
A Japanese secret to healthy hair, the use of handmade wooden combs, which have little pores that help in the even distribution of the natural oils, not only leave hair moisturized, but also strengthen the hair follicles.
11. White Kaolin Clay
Effective for cleansing pores and eliminating blackheads, white kaolin clay is ideal for sensitive skin and skin cell generation. Clay face masks that contain kaolin have several benefits, such as preventing acne, managing dry skin, and absorbing excess oil or sebum. Kaolin is also thought to be the mildest and most gentle clay used in Japanese skin care.
12. No makeup once a month
The skin needs to breathe in order to be healthy. Hence, the Japanese do not believe in keeping makeup on longer than necessary. They even stop reaching for skin care products once a month and leave the skin bare.
13. Follow a Daily Morning Skin Care Routine
Apply Softener, Lotion, Or Essence
Sunscreen Is A Must
Collagen Rich Moisturizer
Don’t Forget Your Eyes
14. Follow a Nightly Skin Care Routine
Clean With Cleansing Oil
Give Your Face A Massage
15. Maintain a traditional balanced diet
What we put inside our bodies is directly connected to how we look on the outside. A traditional Japanese meal is usually made under the ichijyu sansai principle (one soup with three vegetable dishes plus rice and fish) to assure good balance.
The Japanese follow a diet that is very low on red meat, fried foods, sugar, and salt, which can cause inflammation, leading to redness and puffy skin. With a focus on raw vegetables and fish, rice, and green tea, most Japanese meals are rich in vitamins and high in omega-3 fatty acids which helps to reduce the body’s production of toxins that can cause inflammatory skin conditions and premature aging.
Important ingredients Japanese incorporate into their diet for healthy, flawless, and younger-looking skin:
16. Mienai oshare (unseen beauty)
It’s a common belief across many cultures that true beauty comes from within. Known as mienai oshare, or unseen beauty, in Japan, the phrase implies that beauty doesn’t need to be physically seen or demonstrated in order to be appreciated or recognized. It reflects the poise and confidence that no expensive product can buy. A smile, a confident glow, and the warm energy that others around you notice when you’re happy, confident, and self-aware, inner beauty might just be the most impactful part of your daily beauty routine.