While my trip last week wasn’t my first visit to Japan, it was my first time having direct access to Japanese girls with annoyingly perfect skin, i.e. the models backstage at the Girls Award fashion show. I asked them tons of questions ranging from what products they use to what they eat to stay healthy, and everything in between. The models may have gotten a little tired of my 21 questions, but I needed the scoop and the Japanese are nothing if not polite so on I went. Then the day after the show, I launched a full-on search for these products and have been using them for the past six days or so. I still love the skincare products I was using previously, but I’m testing these out to see which ones will become a part of my permanent routine and which ones I don’t need in the rotation. So far I’m downright impressed and can’t wait to share some tips with you:
Women in Japan have been double cleansing for centuries and it doesn’t just mean washing your face twice with your normal cleanser. First you use a cleansing oil to remove oil-based substances like excess sebum and makeup. Apply to dry skin, let it set for a few seconds, then use circular motions to massage into your face, then rinse and pat dry. Wash your face a second time with a foam cleanser to really purify the skin and wash away water-based substances like dead skin, perspiration and bacteria. Form a lather with some water in your hands first, massage into your face in circular motions, then rinse and pat dry. I used the Hada Labo cleansers which were less than $8 each in Tokyo. They’re a little pricier in the US but the foam cleanser can be found here and the oil cleanser here.
Exfoliate after cleansing 2x per week if you wish, then follow up with a toner which they call ‘lotion’ or ‘softener’ in Japan, then a moisturizer. The toner I’m trying out it also by Hada Labo and it has a cult following in Japan (hence the special limited edition Hello Kitty packaging). Both products contain hyaluronic acid which makes your skin super plump and moist. Toner here, a light version of the toner here, and moisturizer here.
Cure Natural Aqua Gel is the number one selling skincare product in Japan and supposedly, a bottle sells every 12 seconds. I know I know, this sounds a little hyped up, but after using it I totally believe it. This stuff is fragrance free, preservative free and color free and is made from activated hydrogen water and what I can only assume is some kind of Harry Potter magical powers because it takes off dead skin cells like nothing I’ve ever used before. When you use it there’s no grit, but you can see little balls of dead skin literally coming off of your face and it’s gross and amazing all at the same time. Since I’m a skeptic and thought it was too good to be true, I tried it on a plastic bottle and no balls formed, so I know it really does work. It was around $25 in Japan but I honestly would’ve traded in my favorite pair of heels for this product. Try it here.
4. Masks, Masks, Masks
I honestly bought so many sheet masks in Japan I could stock a small boutique. But they were totally worth it, I swear. Sheet masks have been gaining popularity here in the US but in Japan, they are EVERYWHERE. I bought a pack of 30 of them for less than $10, which makes much more economical sense than buying one for $6 at Sephora. Doing just one sheet mask is not going to yield visible results, but the ladies I talked to in Japan swear by them when used consistently a couple of times per week. Moisturizing masks here.
5. Self Massage
When I sat down in the makeup chair backstage at Girls Award, the first thing the makeup artist did was take a dab of lotion and started to massage my face. He didn’t speak a word of English and I speak maybe six words of Japanese, so I just sat there, a little confused, but completely enjoying it. He did this for a full five minutes and I was later told that this technique is used to stimulate blood flow to help cell rejuvenation, aid lymphatic drainage, and build muscle tone to firm the skin and lessen wrinkles. For more instructions on this, click here.
6. Bath Time
When life gets hectic one of the first things to go, at least for me, is a nice long bath. But they have lots of skincare benefits and you can mimic a Japanese onsen with these bath salts with minerals directly from the source.
One benefit to improved skin is you don’t need as much makeup! Asian BB creams are the best of the best and I’ve been using them off and on for years. It might be mental, but I just feel like they’re moisturizing, they have SPF in them, and they let my skin breathe without clogging my pores. I’ve always dealt with minor acne, and my favorite Etude House BB cream doesn’t break me out so I picked up a few extra bottles in Hong Kong. I use the shade W24 honey beige when I’m tan and mix it with the lighter W13 natural beige as needed.