©Photo by iStock: K-Angle

8 Japanese Beauty Secrets You Can Start Using Right Now

For Your Inner And Outer Glow

By Emi Schemmer
May 8, 2024
Health & Beauty

From daily practices to essential beauty items, here are a few secrets that have kept the women of Japan feeling youthful, toned and beautiful from centuries ago.

Every season, a new beauty product comes around and we’re instantly showered by advertisements about how buying it will make our lives that much better. Most of the time though, it comes down to our daily practices that keep our bodies relaxed and in shape. Here are eight easy daily routines many Japanese women practice that have proven long-lasting beauty effects—the secrets are out!

1. Exfoliate With Azuki Beans

Japanese Beauty Secrets Exfoliate With Azuki Beans© Photo by iStock: Nungning20

Since as early as the Nara period (710-794), Japanese women have used azuki (red beans) for healthy-looking skin as well as part of a healthy diet. Ground into a fine powder or a slightly coarse scrub, azuki beans are a wonderful natural remedy for those who are prone to acne or blackheads, or who wish to diminish fine lines. These legumes are high in antioxidants and contain a naturally occurring foaming agent known as saponin that helps to cleanse and tighten pores. It has an immediate effect when used as it helps gently remove dirt and dead skin cells, unclog pores and brighten the skin by stimulating blood circulation.

DIY Azuki Scrub

Making your own azuki anti-aging scrub is fairly easy. Use a coffee grinder and grind half a cup of dried azuki beans to a semi-fine powder. Transfer the mixture to a jar and store it in the fridge for a few hours. Then, take half a teaspoon of the powder in your palm and mix it with a few drops of water. This should form a rather thick paste. Spread over a wet face in a circular motion. Allow to sit for two minutes then rinse with warm water. Repeat two to three times a week and you’ll notice the difference.

2. Maintain A Traditional Balanced Diet

Maintain A Traditional Balanced Diet© Photo by iStock: kuppa_rock

We often forget that what we put inside our bodies is directly connected to how we look on the outside. A traditional Japanese meal is usually made under the principle ichijyu sansai (one soup with three vegetable dishes plus rice and fish). These balanced meals are rich in vitamins and high in omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the body’s production of toxins that can cause inflammatory skin conditions and premature aging. 

Wakame (seaweed) and kaiso (kelp), found in many Japanese dishes (and supermarkets) are rich in iodine and keratin—both highly essential for healthy skin, nails and shiny resilient hair. Fish is rich in protein and lower in fat than red meat, while small portions of various vegetables will supply much-needed vitamins and minerals. Japan is also home to countless superfoods—such as konjac, kinako, miso and natto. They are readily available and cheap compared to superfoods in other countries.

3. Nourish The Skin With Rice Bran

8 Japanese Beauty Secrets You Can Start Using Right Now© Photo by iStock: marekuliasz

For centuries, the Japanese have known and appreciated the wonderful benefits of komenuka (rice bran). Full of over 70 antioxidants and other essential nutrients, rice bran powder has been used in scrubs, facials and even body treatments. It helps fight the signs of aging, resolve blemished skin and leave the skin toned, tight and soft.

DIY Rice Bran Mask

Komenuka products have been popular for decades and are widely available at drugstores, but it’s also very easy to make at home. In a small pot, boil three large tablespoons of brown rice for a few minutes or until the water becomes slightly cloudy. Strain the rice but be sure to keep the water as this will be part of the facial treatment. Add one tablespoon of milk to the rice and mix well. Next, mix in one tablespoon of honey. The mixture should be sticky enough to stay on your face when put on the face. Apply the rice mask on clean, dry skin and allow it to dry. To remove, use the rice water that you kept aside. This not only helps moisturize the skin but also improves its circulation. The rice water can also help brighten any dark spots or sun damage.

4. Use Green Tea For Various Purposes

Use Green Tea For Various Purposes© Photo by iStock: karandaev

High in antioxidants, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is a significant part of the Japanese lifestyle. Japanese women have also included green tea in their beauty routines—from incorporating the extracts in various lotions and tonics to adding ground leaves to bath salts and even adding concentrated powders to body compress treatments and hair masks.

The ground form of green tea leaves, matcha, is known for its high concentration of catechin polyphenols, which have countless health and beauty benefits. The high concentration of tannins is also known to help tighten the skin. Green tea powder can counter damage caused by UV rays, reactivate dying skin cells, reduce inflammation (especially with acne-prone skin) and help balance skin tone.

5. Bath Daily, Go To Onsen Frequently

Bath Daily, Go To Onsen Frequently Japanese Beauty Secrets You Can Start Using Right Now© Photo by iStock: PRImageFactory

Bathing in Japan is more than a cleansing routine: it’s a beauty ritual. Onsen (hot springs) and sento (public bathhouses) are scattered throughout city centers, resorts and even random unattended open-air spots. They offer people plenty of opportunities to soak, scrub and relax in nutrient-enriched and mineralized natural waters. But the ofuro (bath) at home—not the shower—is also an essential part of every Japanese woman’s daily life. 

A steaming bath before bed will not only leave you feeling relaxed, it will also help blood circulation, prevent shoulder stiffness and back pain, relax muscles and prevent leg swelling. For extra moisturizing and replenishing skin effects, infuse your bath with oils or natural salts. The steam is also a great way to detox, further helping to clear pores and promote bright skin. A bath will speed up the body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for not only a heavenly night’s sleep, but also one which has wonderful antioxidant properties.

6. Eat, Love & Worship Tsubaki Oil

Eat, Love & Worship Tsubaki Oil© Photo by iStock: Andres Victorero

For centuries, Japanese women have been turning to tsubaki (camellia) oil, for their skin, hair and overall wellness. More often found in hair products, this oil is exceptionally high in omega-9 fatty acids (also known as oleic acids), essential proteins and glycerides, which result in a combination perfect for a healthy head of shiny, voluminous and silky hair. 

Edible tsubaki oil has been used to boost immunity, lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. It can be applied directly to dry or acne-prone skin or on the hair. Another way to use it is when cooking fried dishes like tempura. Tsubaki cooking oil is much lighter than salad oil and much richer in vitamins.

7. Embrace Vitamin C

Japanese Beauty Secrets Embrace Vitamin C© Photo by iStock: 5./15 WEST

We often associate vitamin C with our ability to fight colds and rarely make the connection that it works its magic by boosting our natural collagen supply, as well as maintaining bone density and general health. It also helps deoxidize and breakdown melanin, the natural pigmentation we get in our skin from tanning or aging. It’s the sunny vitamin that brightens things up and helps give you truly natural and glowing skin. 

Japanese women constantly take vitamin C through food, supplements, drinks, fruit and vegetables, and cosmetic products. Many Japan-specific fruits and vegetables, such as the citrusy yuzu, sweet kaki (Japanese persimmon) and flavorful shiso (a type of wild basil), are extremely rich in the miracle vitamin. Other vitamin C-rich ingredients—such as acerola, parsley, bell pepper, broccoli, goya and kiwi—are available at most supermarkets in Japan. 

8. Adopt Japan’s Sun Protection Culture

Wearing High-Factor SPF© Photo by iStock: Arisara_Tongdonnoi

Over time, exposure to the sun accelerates signs of aging, along with skin blemishes like sun spots. Staying out of the sun is not purely for aesthetic purposes, it reduces the risks of skin cancer and heat stroke. Not only do Japanese women use high-factor SPF foundations and primers to apply over a layer of sunscreen, they also use sun sticks for on-the-go reapplication and even lip balms and scalp sprays to protect those less-considered areas.

UV protective clothing is all the rage during the sweltering summer months in Japan. Uniqlo offers an affordable UV protection collection for the whole family, with the most popular item being the Airism mesh zip-up hoodie. It’s common to see Japanese women, and more recently men, shielding themselves from the sun with a handy parasol or sun umbrella during a sunny day. Other popular UV accessories used in Japan include full-length arm sleeves, bicycle handlebar covers, gloves, hats and neck covers. See this article about Japan’s sun protection culture for more information.

Last, but not least…

It’s a common belief across many cultures that true beauty comes from within. In Japan, it’s known as mienai oshare, or unseen beauty. The phrase implies that beauty doesn’t need to be physically seen or demonstrated in order to be appreciated or recognized. It reflects the poise and confidence that no expensive product can buy: a smile, bright glow or warm energy that others around you notice when you’re happy, confident and self-aware. This, too, should definitely be a significant part of your daily beauty routine!

What are your Japanese beauty secrets? Share them in the comments!

This article has been updated with the latest information for 2024 by The Savvy Team.


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