Japanese skincare is simply that – caring for the skin with the utmost respect and care so your skin looks its best no matter what your age. People who are not familiar with the basics of the Japanese skincare routine may feel overwhelmed by the number of steps and seemingly infinite list of products available. It can be very daunting for the uninitiated but with this guide we want to help you find the best Japanese beauty and skincare products for the skincare routine that is best for you.
Like any industry, companies will use a variety of marketing strategies to promote their must have products which often leads to confusion especially with the names and taglines they use. Customers may need help to work out where these list of new products belong in the overall skincare routine. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about any products in our Shop and we will be more than happy to help.
Whats the main difference between Asian and Western skincare routines ?
When people use the term Asian skincare routine, they are most likely referring to the Japanese and Korean routines which share a lot in similarities. The most obvious difference between them and Western routines are the number of steps and products involved. Where a typical Western routine may have 3 steps (cleanser, toner & moisturizer), a typical Asian skincare routine will likely have between 5 to 10 steps. Ultimately, the Asian skincare philosophy is on maintaining a healthy and clean skin which will exude a natural beauty with less reliance on makeup and cosmetics.
So what are the basic steps ?
Each person should adopt a skincare routine that suits their own personal needs and the below is only a general guide to help you understand the basic steps of the Japanese skincare routine. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what products work for you and which may be suitable to add to your skincare routine list.
1. Makeup Removal – メイク落とし – meiku otoshi
This is usually the first of two cleansing steps (sometimes referred to as double cleansing) to remove makeup, sunscreen or any other debris from the face and prepare it for cleansing. Products are usually oil based but can also be cream. The point is to clear the pores to allow the products in the following steps in the routine to penetrate and work as effectively as possible.
2. Cleansing – 泡洗顔 – awasengan
This second step usually involves a foaming type cleanser which forms a dense and rich foamy lather. The consistency of the foam is designed to minimize friction when rubbing against the skin which will strip away essential oils. The foam should be a nice thick consistency which allows you to wash your face with very little skin to skin contact.
3. Toner / Lotion / Softner – 化粧水 / ローション – keshousui / roshon
In Japan, a toner is sometimes referred to as a lotion and is mild and gentle on the skin. Its purpose is to complete the cleansing stage and tighten up the pores without drying up the skin. Softners are lighter than serums with a consistency similar to water. All of these products are infused with nutrients and anti aging ingredients. They are designed to replace the moisture lost during the cleansing steps and prepare the skin for the products to come.
4. Sheet Masks – フェイスマスク – feisu masuku
This step is the most time intensive step and usually left for the night time. Like serums, masks focus on a particular concern such as dryness, whitening or discoloration. They come in sheets which are made of a thin cotton which have been soaked in a treatment essence. Simply apply the mask onto your face for 10 to 15 minutes before patting any excess essence into your skin.
5. Serum / Essence – 美容液 – biyoueki
Serums are used to target a specific problem such as firming, hydrating, acne, redness, spot treatment etc. Whitening serums are used to lift spots caused by sun exposure or acne scarring and are extremely popular in Asia. These products are sometimes called brightening products outside of Asia. Multiple serums may be used at this step but only in intervals to allow the skin to absorb each one.
6. Moisturize with a Milk / Emulsion – 乳液 / ミルク – nyueki / miruku
Emulsions are a light moisturizer. Depending on your skin’s needs or your environment (eg. humid), this may be the only moisturizing step that required.
7. Moisturize with a Cream – クリーム – kuremu
Applied after using an emulsion and serum, creams are usually reserved when you have very dry skin. Much thicker in consistency than products used in the previous steps and can be used seasonally or as required for your skin’s needs.
8. Sun block 日焼け止め – hiyakedome
Over exposure to the sun is one of the most influential causes of the aging appearance of skin. Even on cloudy days, sun protection products are an absolute must have. Japanese sunscreen products use 2 ratings to indicate their protection from UVA and UVB ray types. SPF which is commonly used around the world is the protection rating against UVB rays. UVA protection is rated by the use of PA+, PA++ and PA+++, PA++++ with the latter offering the strongest protection.