Here at Byrdie, we're fascinated by the beauty routines of women the world over. We've scoured through every inch of the Earth from French pharmacy finds and the three reasons we can't get enough of them, to Moroccan skincare secrets for smoother, silkier skin. Now, we're looking further afield to Japan to find out what beauty tips and tricks we can take inspiration from for our own routines. We spoke to Japanese beauty blogger Nic in Tokyo, who runs the beauty blog Beau Tea Time, to let us in on a typical Japanese woman's beauty regimen.
BYRDIE: How does it differ to say a Korean or French routine? Or the British routine of cleansing and moisturizing?
NIT: The biggest difference to a French routine is that Japanese people wash their face more often than French women, for sure. I am not sure about Korean beauty regimens, because I personally am not a big fan (Korean pharmaceutical affairs law is not as strict as what it is in Japan, which means their products are more effective and can be very harsh. I always break out when I use Korean products).
Contouring is big on social in the U.K. and the U.S. What are the big makeup trends in Japan right now?
When it comes to skincare, I believe Japan is a step ahead compared to Western countries, but makeup-wise, not so much. We value the beautiful and healthy state of the skin, rather than piling up a lot of makeup on. Sheer and natural foundation is more common than heavy coverage foundation. Recently, some magazines started talking about contouring, and some brands like Cezanne brought out contouring products.
The trends I have seen recently are colored eyebrows and colored eyeliners. Though Japanese people are usually very conservative, recent trends suggest more playful looks.
What Japanese beauty products and ingredients do you think would do well in the UK?
Japanese consumers are very curious about beauty products. They want to know what they are paying for, why the product is effective, and how it works. This means the brands usually list active ingredients, so Japanese women tend to have a good knowledge of ingredients. They value how it feels and how the skin reacts, rather than thinking in a very analytical way as Japanese women do. Hyaluronic acid has been well-known in Japan for more than 15 years (possibly 20 years), but it’s just become popular in the UK in the past couple of years–I am not sure if it was because there were not so many products containing the ingredient or none of the brands marketed it.
Ceramides should be more popular in the UK [Ed note: Ceramides are lipid molecules naturally occurring in the skin that help retain moisture and keep the skin plump]. It is an incredibly well-known ingredient in Japan, and in some sense, it’s better than hyaluronic acid.
We Brits look to women like Kate Moss and Alexa Chung as modern beauty icons and then back to women like Brigitte Bardot and Twiggy. Who are the Japanese women's' beauty icons?
I much prefer Kate Moss to any Japanese beauty icons, to be honest (because Japanese women love a “cute” appearance rather than beautiful or sexy).
Keep scrolling for the Japanese beauty icons Takahashi introduced us to:
Are there any beauty lessons, tricks or rituals British women could learn from Japanese women?
1. Do not rub your skin, it will cause pigmentation especially around the eyes! My heart stops when I watch a YouTube video and find a beauty blogger rubbing their eyes with a cotton pad or muslin cloth SO HARD!
2. Wash your hair every day. It might not apply to the girls in the U.K. because of the water (we have soft water, which doesn’t dry out the skin and hair), but for Japanese people, the idea of not washing the hair every day is just disgusting! Forget about your hair for a minute, we think of the scalp as being the same skin as the face, so we cannot go to work or meet friends without washing our hair. Regularly washed hair doesn't equate to damaged hair in Japan. Also, we use hairdryers all the time. I can't leave my scalp damp, you never know what bacteria is growing in the damp environment! It causes odor and irritation.
3. Wear SPF all-year-round, even when it’s cloudy. UVA passes through clouds and windows; you need SPF all the time if you want to maintain the beautiful and healthy state of your skin!
For more Japanese beauty insights head to Nicole in Tokyo's blog, Beau Tea Time.