We’re all about trying out the latest and greatest when it comes to beauty, from Sephora’s monthly releases to peel pads and wipes, but there’s something to be said for tried-and-true traditions as well. Japanese women, for example, have had the beauty game down for several centuries. From daily practices to key products, we took a look at some of the skincare and beauty secrets that have kept the women of Japan feeling beautiful since basically forever. Scroll down to learn some age-old tips.
1. Take baths. In Japan, bathing is a ritual that extends beyond at-home dips. Onsen bathhouses, for example, were a popular form of recreation that involved scrubbing your body with heavy exfoliants and then submerging yourself in a steaming hot bath enriched with oils. A steaming hot bath before bed will get you feeling relaxed and ready for bed, and if you infuse your bath with oils, your skin will feel moisturized and replenished. A pre-bedtime bath also speeds up the body’s natural melatonin production process, making it easier for you to fall asleep. If you suffer from muscle aches and pains or arthritis, baths can serve as a temporary pain reliever. A saltwater bath can also help to reduce the inflammation in arthritic joints. Trying to stave off the flu? Jump in the tub and let the steam relax your mind while moisturizing and clearing the nasal passages. Who knew baths could do so much?!
2. Drink green tea. There are so many reasons to drink a hot cup of tea, which is why it’s a sacred tradition in Japanese culture. Green tea is high in antioxidants and may help prevent breast cancer. It’s also an excellent way to burn fat and speed up your metabolism. To really reap the benefits of the stuff, you should strive to drink two to three cups a day, but if you’re not a tea drinker, you can apply it topically and still reap some benefits. Use green tea as a toner by letting two cups cool after brewing, then applying it to your face with a cotton ball. This natural alternative can give you glowing skin and reduce the size of pores. You can store the solution in a bottle and make it a daily part of your beauty routine.
3. Use facial oils. Facial oils like Shu Uemura Ultime 8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil ($118) and Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil ($46) are all the rage in Japan. Oils are rich in vitamins and are lipophilic, which means they keep toxins out and moisture in. The can also help shrink the appearance of pores and get rid of acne. Americans have been catching onto this trend in recent years, but if you want to do it like the Japanese, use rice bran oil. It’s high in antioxidants and has even been proven to help relieve those unpleasant menopause hot flashes.
4. Avoid the sun. While fun in the sun always sounds like a great idea, protecting your skin from exposure is a key factor in maintaining beautiful skin. Though stateside we’re still hammering this point home, Japanese culture is more accepting of the importance of sun damage prevention. Staying out of the sun can preserve your skin and prevent lines and wrinkles from forming. Wear sunscreen every day, year-round for beautiful skin.
5. Get face massages. Regularly treating yourself to massages — both at the spa and at home — is a must, and the indulgence is especially popular in Japan. Try massaging your face wash thoroughly into your skin when cleansing. This helps prevent premature aging and improves circulation and blood flow to the face. If you don’t want to put in the work, try using a face brush in place of your fingers. You can also massage your scalp with coconut oil or castor oil before washing your hair. Products like the SoSu Rose Quartz Massage Plate ($29) are popular buys in Japan — the massage plate trend was borrowed from ancient rituals that have been shown to help firm and tone facial muscles.
6. Invest incamellia oil. Many Japanese women rely on camellia oil to achieve thick, shiny locks. The multi-purpose beauty treatment can be used as a shine serum, daily hair moisturizer or hot oil treatment. Apply it to the tips of your strands to repair split ends and damage. The best part? You can also use it on your skin to provide moisture and even out your complexion. Try this gold-infused Camellia Beauty Oil ($95) from Tatcha.
7. Food can be face wash. Using foods in beauty routines is nothing new. In ancient Japan, women would exfoliate their skin with antioxidant-rich adzuki beans. To use as an exfoliator, just crush the beans and massage into your skin. In Japan, rice is also used to wash and cleanse the skin. Back in the day, women used to wash their faces with rice water to keep their complexions smooth and creamy. Before skin lightening and brightening creams took over the Japanese beauty market, rice water helped to improve elasticity and ward off wrinkling while lightening the skin over time.
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