At a 2016 launch event for Japanese beauty brand SK-II, famed makeup artist Gucci Westman talked about her time in Japan and how taken aback she was by the youthfulness of the women around her. She said that she was amazed at their smooth, wrinkle-free complexions, and insisted that she knew their secrets.
Unfortunately, Westman didn't spill all of her intel at the event, but it gave me the itch to uncover what they were using. And what better source to go to than SK-II national brand ambassador Steve Jan, who also happens to be a skincare guru and Japanese beauty expert?
Keep scrolling to read the ancient Japanese skincare secrets that turn back the clock.
Eat a Balanced Diet
They say that you are what you eat, and Japanese women seem to agree. "Japanese women believe the first step to beautiful skin is what you put inside your body. The Japanese diet is full of vegetables and fish, and extremely low in meat and sugary foods. Japanese women also believe green tea is a source of clear, beautiful skin," Jan says. Like we needed another reason to reach for the matcha.
Learn the Trick to Facial Massage
While skincare products tend to attract the spotlight, Jan explains that how your products are applied can be just as important. "Japanese women believe facial massages are the key to wrinkle-free skin. As they apply each step in their skincare routine, they gently massage the product into the skin in circular motions. This anti-aging trick also helps to relax the muscles and improve circulation," says Jan.
Embrace Your Skincare Routine
While there's something to be said for not trying out a slew of products at once in search of a perfect complexion, Japanese women actually believe the more products, the better.
"The multistep skincare ritual is probably the most famous—and important—beauty secret of Japanese women," says Jan. "They believe the ritual of applying each product, from the facial massage to the actual time that it takes you, is as important to beautiful skin as the products themselves. Taking that time to de-stress and do something for yourself each day helps you beautify from the inside out at the same time that you're taking care of your skin."
While the steps have morphed over the years, these days it goes a little something like this: makeup removal, cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, serums, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer, and finally, sunscreen.
Indulge in Steamy Baths
"Another important step to beautiful skin in Japan is how you bathe. Japanese women make steamy baths part of their ritual. They believe this calming step before bed leads to more beautiful skin," says Jan. Long, steaming hot baths enriched with oils, essences, or tea are commonplace in Japan— and just may be the key to smooth, glowing skin, so it seems.
Never Forget Sun Protection
Tan skin isn't a priority in Japan like it is for women in the State. In fact, most Japanese women prefer not to tan, and follow strict sun protection regimens.
"Of course, sunscreen and hats are extremely important to Japanese women, so protecting your skin from sunspots, wrinkles, and other signs of aging is key. Women in Japan apply sunscreen daily, no matter what the weather is," explains Jan.
Don't Skip Your Nightly Cleansing
You know how easy it is to just hit the pillow with a full face of makeup? You won't find that kind of negligence in Japan. Says Jan, "Japanese women believe cleansing is the most important skincare step, and it's one that American women sometimes skip after a late night." Guilty!
Check out some of our favorite Japanese skincare products.