Not a Japanophile, but I find the NHK Japanology series hugely entertaining. In particular, this 2016 episode Quest for Perfect Skin caught my attention. In Japan, skincare heavily outsells makeup, haircare and fragrances, with a whooping 46.2% of the Japanese cosmetics market is contributed by skincare. Such an informative episode warrants a mini reflection of the learning lessons.
1. The sun the the (greatest) enemy
Women from the Shimane Prefecture have the best skin in the whole of Japan. This observation comes from an annual assessment of more than 700,000 women across all prefectures, where skin samples are assessed based on factors such as moisture and texture.
The reason why Shimane Prefecture have been crowned for four consecutive years, is that the region enjoys a cloudy and wet climate, meaning less sun exposure and skin damage from UV rays.
In another instance, Kako Iizuka, a lady with great skin at the age of 56 introduces her sun gear. This includes gloves, hats, huge sunglasses as well as cloths that covers her face and neck. Like this:
Lesson Learnt: I am at a disadvantage because I live in the tropics and UV is abundant all year round. Daily sunblock is a must even if I am staying indoors. I don’t think I will go as far as wearing a hat and sunglasses daily, people here just don’t do that.
2. Lather your soap
Unlike the Western variety, Japanese foaming cleansers usually work into an ultra-dense foam like beaten-up egg whites. It is thought that a dense foam will reduce the friction during the cleansing and minimize stress to the skin. Japanese ladies spend a full minute to aerate the soap until stiff peaks form before spreading it on their face. Also, more attention is devoted to the nose and forehead, where sebum production is in excess.
Lesson Learnt: I’m still not very keen on using a pile of foam for cleansing, because generally foams are created using SLS or other foaming agents. They can mess with the pH of the cleanser. BUT I must say, the Japanese lathering method is a super luxurious way to clean your face. The dense foam really glides across the skin as you massage your face, and it is a magnificent feeling.
3. Ancient remedies do work
In the past, women in Japan used rice brans to exfoliate their skin after their bath. In recent years with the advancements in technology, compounds extracted from rice can help with the skin’s ability retain moisture. These include fermentation products derived from rice, such as sake.
Lesson Learnt: I happen to have Kose Moisture Skin Repair Cream on hand, and its key ingredient is rice. Not surprisingly, the product claims to “improves the skin’s natural ability to retain moisture from within“. I have had difficulty writing a review about it because I could not find a ingredients list in English, nor any research on the efficacy of rice extracts on skin. But heck, I do like it as a moisturizer and now I know why.
There are other interesting points in the episode as well, but these are the ones that truly stood out for me. Do you know of any informative shows or podcasts for this skincare junkie?