Japanese women always look so young. Unlock the Japanese anti-ageing beauty secrets! Here’s the lowdown on their approach to skincare, and their favourite ingredients and techniques.
The Japanese Skincare Secret
Like the Koreans, the Japanese beauty secrets center around daily nurturing and anticipation – what does my skin need right now to look amazing tomorrow, and 10 years from now? – rather than aggressive products that tackle problems once they’re already there. For example, instead of harsh exfoliants they use double cleansing even on days when you’re wearing makeup. And centuries before Clarisonic and other facial tools came into the market, they practiced facial massage and Onsen. For them, purging toxins and stimulating blood circulation is as important to beautiful skin as patting on tons of products.
And while many Japanese natural beauty secrets date back to the days of the geishas, they combine tradition with scientific research. They ‘re not into cute packaging and trendy formulas – you’re not likely to see animal-print sheet masks or Disney collabs for their makeup contacts – but they will spend decades of research on a serum.
And in the spirit of Marie Kondo, Japanese skincare is usually very minimalist. If you’re not a big fan of the 9 (or is it now 12?) step routine – use less products, but choose very powerful ones, and prioritize diet and stress management because no cream can fix your skin if you’ve got a toxic life.
Top Japanese Beauty Ingredients
These are some of they key ingredients in Japanese skincare. Many of them have been used for centuries – think of them as the beauty secrets of the geishas – but have been developed and refined by research and technology.
Mushrooms for skin protection
In Japan, shiitake is considered the anti-ageing mushroom because of how it improves skin vitality, and elasticity. The snow mushroom, on the other hand, is called the mega-hydrator because it has so much hyaluronic acid.
So each mushroom has its own skin benefit, but all of them are rich in antioxidants and can help fight damage from sun and free radicals that can weaken the skin and cause dullness. They’re also a natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, which means less risk for acne and redness.
Mushrooms huge part of the Japanese diet – which brings us to another Japanese beauty secret: you have to eat for better skin! But today, you can find powerful mushroom extracts in Japanese skincare creams, serums and face masks. One of the best all-around skincare ingredients to prevent ageing!
Try this mushroom beauty secret:
- Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief
- Tony Moly Mushroom Mask
- Blithe Pressed Serum Tundra Chaga
Rice bran for moisture
Rice brain (or komenuka) is one of Japan’s centuries-old beauty secrets. Women used to save the water from washing rice and use it for cleansing or toning.
Rice water contains fatty acids, has lots of Vitamin B and E, and is one of the cheapest ways to hydrate and nurture your skin. It’s actually a brilliant natural beauty tip — long before the words “hydration” or ”skin barrier” became part of every girl’s beauty vocabulary, Japanese women instinctively combatted the drying effects of cleanser with a nutrient-rich toner.
You can still save rice water to wash your face (assuming you’re using organic, pesticide-free rice) or you can stock up on these rice bran Japanese skincare products.
Try this Rice Bran beauty secret:
- Naturals by Watsons Rice Bran (a complete line for face and body!)
- The Face Shop Rice Water Bright
- Skinfood Rice Mask Wash Off
Green tea for detox
You’re probably already familiar with the skincare benefits of green tea – it’s used by many global brands like Elizabeth Arden and many Korean brands too. Green tea contains antioxidants, anti-aging properties, phytochemicals, enzymes, polyphenols and amino acids. It’s one of the best natural ingredients for soothing irritated skin, fighting ageing, or replenishing moisture. It also smells amazing!
Centuries ago, Japanese women used to ground green tea leaves and add it to their homemade skin tonics, hair masks and body treatments. You can actually do this: buy matcha powder (which have a high concentration of antioxidants) and mix it into your skin and body products.
Try the Green Tea beauty secret:
- Innisfree Green Tea Seed Eye Cream
- Shu Uemura Green Tea Skin Purifier
- Garnier SkinActive Purifying Botanical Toner
Collagen for firming
Ramen as a natural beauty secret? Yes! While we can now buy collagen drinks and pills, the Japanese women used to boost their body’s collagen stores from boiling beef and chicken. The thick, rich broth not only tasted pretty darned good with noodles, but were the precursor to today’s collagen supplements. (Read our article on collagen supplements!)
Try the Collagen beauty secret:
- Konihimitsu Collagen Drink
- Etude House Collagen Moistful Cream
- The Organic Pharmacy Collagen Boost Mask
Seaweed for smooth skin
Seaweed is one of the best natural skincare ingredients. It contains vitamins and minerals that restore your moisture barrier, and improve your overall skin texture.
Today, scientists have gotten even better at maximizing the skin-boosting benefits of seaweed. Seaweed extracts (and any algae or marine extract) have a molecular structure that’s very similar to our own skin cells, so it’s easy to absorb and can go deep into our skin’s layers. While this super antioxidant is one of Japan’s oldest beauty secrets, modern seaweed-based skincare is a hundred times more effective and a lot easier to buy, too!
Try the seaweed beauty secret:
- The Body Shop Seaweed Oil Control Gel Cream
- Sephora Collection Marine Algae Sheet Mask
- Wardah Seaweed Primary Skin Hydrating Booster
Pearls for radiant skin
Many anti-ageing and whitening skincare contains pearls. Pearl powder can lighten dark marks and inhibit melanin. They’re also full of ingredients that can keep skin firm and supple: amino acids, protein, calcium, over 30 trace minerals. Remember, light bounces off better on smooth, tight skin – so you don’t just get whiter skin, but glowing skin!
Try the Pearl beauty secret:
- Hera Aquabolic Hydro-Pearl Serum
- Mediheal Pearl Light Proatin Mask
- Klavuu White Pearl Serum
Adzuki beans to fight acne
Adzuki beans are a natural exfoliant that can help clear out pores and remove dead skin cells. For centuries, Japanese women have ground it up to make into a acne-fighting scrub. But there’s another reason why this ingredient is one of Japanese women’s best beauty secrets: beans contain antioxidants, and contain a natural foaming ingredient called saponin that both cleanses and tightens pores. Want to try this very cheap and effective beauty treatment? Grind dried beans with a coffee grinder (you can store and use it in a jar for up to a month).
Try the Adzuji beauty secret:
- Kyoku Exfoliating Facial Scrub
- Botanic Glow Adzuki Bean Facial Scrub
- Pangea Organics Egyptian Geranium with Adzuki Bean and Cranberry
Plant oils for everything
The Japanese are big on natural plant oils, which they use in double cleansing and as night serum. They saw these pure, high-nutrient oils as one of the most effective ways of fighting ageing, acne and almost any skin concern.
Even Japanese women with oily skin use oils, because the cleansing and toning keep pores clear (thus preventing acne) and they needed the oils to prepare their skin for facial massage. As long as you apply the oils on a damp face and work it in with gentle rubbing motions, oils won’t feel greasy. In fact, your skin will be glowing and in the pink of health!
Try these Facial Oils:
- Drunk Elepehant Virgina Murula Luxury Facial Oil
- Sunday Riley Ultra Clarifying Face Oil
- Pixi Rose Oil Blend