If you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest beauty trends that are being hailed by social media stars and cosmetics companies around the world. But there are some beauty rituals that have been tried and tested over decades and still offer the same glowing results today…without costing you a fortune!
Since living in Japan, I’ve discovered how women here have long harnessed the beneficial properties of the natural world in their beauty regime, whether it’s using food-derived products as exfoliants or green tea as a skin toner. But they also understand the secret that beauty is not just about what you do to the outside but about what you put inside. It’s about the daily practices and the lifestyle you choose to lead that all contribute to a healthy and happy body.
So I wanted to share with you five of my favorite Japanese beauty rituals and how you can easily apply them as part of your everyday routine.
While you might think of bathing as just a cleaning routine, in Japan it’s so much more, with onsen(natural hot springs) scattered across the country’s volcanic landscapes. Filled with beneficial nutrients and minerals, onsenbathing has long been an important beauty ritual for Japanese women, helping to relax the mind, help blood circulation and prevent leg swelling.
I love going to bathe at I hear(public bathhouses) here in Japan but you can also enjoy a steaming ofuro(home bath) before bed, which will help to clear your pores and create beautiful skin. Simply infuse the bath with natural oils to moisturize and replenish your skin. Bathing in hot water is also believed to speed up the body’s natural production of melatonin, which will help you fall asleep easily.
Food-based face washes
One of the best Japanese beauty secrets I’ve discovered is food-based face washes. Before the invention of modern cosmetics and beauty products, Japanese women used to exfoliate their skin with adzuki beans and komenuka(rice bran). They not only help to make your skin appear healthy but they’re full of antioxidants and essential nutrients that can naturally fight the signs of aging and improve your skin’s softness.
In Japan, you can easily find komenukaproducts at beauty stores, but I love to make my own at home by boiling rice bran for a few minutes in a pot of water. Strain the rice and add a tablespoon of milk, another of honey, then apply the rice mask to your skin. Alternatively, you can also try grinding azukibeans into a semi-fine powder and storing it in the fridge for a couple of hours. This can then be transformed into a thick exfoliating paste by mixing with a little water and applied as you would any other exfoliator.
One Japanese tradition that I can’t get enough of is drinking green tea and (lucky for me) it has lots of benefits. It’s not only filled with antioxidants but it’s actually been proven to help to speed up your metabolism. It’s a long-established sacred tradition in Japanese culture, with most people drinking two or three cups a day.
But a beauty secret that I’ve learned recently is that ground tea leaves known as matcha can also be used as a skin toner, with a high concentration of tannins that help to tighten skin while countering the damage caused by UV rays. Simply blend some green tea powder with a little hot water, then allow it to cool before applying it to your face with a cotton wool ball.
Applying facial oils has rapidly increased in popularity around the world in recent years, but what you might not know is that this beauty trend has been used by Japanese women for decades. Rich in vitamins, oils are a great way to reduce the appearance of pores and acne while nourishing your skin at the same time.
Women here have traditionally used rice bran oil, which is known to be high in antioxidants, as well as tsubaki(camellia oil), which is high in omega-9 fatty acids and essential proteins. I just love the rich and enviable glow that these natural oil cleansers give your skin, as well as being the perfect product to apply to your hair for a shiny and silky appearance.
Eating a traditional diet
In the past, I’ve focused my beauty regime on the outside, but what we put into our bodies is equally as important, particularly when it comes to having a balanced diet. It’s all about ensuring the body has the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive, with beneficial oils that can do wonders for the skin.
One thing I absolutely love about living here is the traditional Japanese diet. It’s based on the ichiju sansai principle, comprising soup with three vegetable dishes, rice and fish. This is not only rich in vitamins but also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to work against premature aging. Fish is also high in protein while being generally lower in fat than red meat. Add to that the beneficial elements of iodine and keratin that are found in Japanese seaweed and kelp, not to mention the variety of vegetables that nutritionists around the world agree are essential for healthy living.
So if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to enhance your natural glow, consider trying one of these Japanese beauty rituals and you might be just as surprised by the results as I was!