Anti-Aging Skincare In Japan: Tips From A Leading Japanese Dermatologist

Grow young with Dr. Matsumiya's answers to your beauty FAQs

From cleansing do's and don'ts to seeking professional treatment, here's all you need to know about taking care of your skin in Japan.

Age is just a number. But sometimes it’s nice to look as young as we feel, especially if we live in a city that’s seemingly filled with glamorous, dewy-skinned women who look as though they’ve never witnessed a wrinkle on their clothes, let alone their face. Add to that the overwhelming amount of skincare products available in your average drugstore which promise to whiten, tighten and frighten (at least in the case of those balaclava-style face masks), it’s no wonder that we’re all pretty confused when it comes to taking care of our skin in Japan.

With this in mind, as well as the approach of summer and all of the sweat and face-shininess it brings, Savvy Tokyo has teamed up with Doctor Toshie Matsumiya, a leading Japanese dermatologist and skin care-health expert who runs Tengenji Solaria Clinic in Hiroo, to get the deets on best practices for skin care at home, what to look for in Japanese products and why we should consider professional treatment, particularly if we’re over 35.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to post your own questions in the comments in case we missed something!

Dr. Toshie Matsumiya from Tengenji Solaria Clinic. 

Skincare: Do’s and Don’ts

What is an ideal anti-aging facial routine for morning and night?

Especially for a humid country like Japan, it’s essential to strictly follow the very basic skincare routine: remove your makeup, wash your face, apply skin toner (化粧水, keshosui), serum (美容液, biyoeki), lotion (乳液, nyueki), and cream on a daily basis. Also, many people tend to use sunscreen only in summer, but it’s essential to use it year-round.

Think of your morning skincare routine as creating a “barrier” against the air pollution you will be exposed to during the day. As you are likely to wear makeup, sweat and be exposed to polluted air throughout the day, it is not recommended to apply heavy creams as this can have a counter-effect and cause acne to form as the skin oil oxidizes and blocks your pores. In the evening, it’s time to clean and nurture your skin again, so go through all steps even more meticulously than in the morning. And I mean meticulously.

I tend to limit my daily skincare routine to cleansing and applying skin toners. Is that enough or should I be doing more?  

A skin toner’s main function is to moisturize your skin. However, if you apply only skin toner it will evaporate quite quickly. That’s why it’s important to cover it with lotion to make sure it remains on your skin. Serum is full of active ingredients that help the toner penetrate your skin’s layers. The cream is the final lid that makes sure none of the ingredients evaporate. Apply all of them for a better result: toner, serum, then moisturizing cream.

The best thing is to gently tap your face.

What are some common mistakes that women make with their skincare routine?

Many people don’t realize that they are damaging their skin by rubbing it too intensely when washing their face. The skin is weak to friction and the more you rub it the weaker it gets. There’s a risk of increased pigmentation and it becomes easier to get wrinkles and irritated skin, among other issues.

The best thing is to gently tap your face — your makeup will still be removed and your skin won’t suffer. It’s the same principle as with teeth brushing — the harder you do it the more the enamel gets damaged.

Products: Finding the correct one

I have white skin. What anti-aging products should I be looking for in Japan?  

Caucasian foreigners have a thin outermost skin layer and thick epidermal skin, which makes them more prone to getting wrinkles and skin redness earlier than Asians, for example. Pores, on the other hand, are less visible in Caucasians than in Asians. Keeping this in mind, try to choose products that have a stronger penetration effect. Antioxidant beauty oils, for example, are good for those types of skin. If you have skin redness, use products that have sedative effects. Face masks have a better effect on western types of skin, too. For a quicker use, try combining regular face masks with medical masks which you can buy at beauty clinics or other professional places.

Use a face mask after you wash your face well or after applying skin toner.

Would you recommend all-in-one products for busy people?

No. I would recommend using separate products for each step rather than going for the all-in-one. It’s difficult to fully meet the purpose for each ingredient and those products often contain artificial preservatives which are not necessarily good for the skin.  

What ingredients should we look for in anti-aging products?

Choose a product that suits your skin condition at the present moment. If you have sensitive and irritated skin, choose mild organic products, for example. The important thing is to try different products until you find the one that suits your skin condition the most. It’s also important to keep in mind that it isn’t only about the products you use. Your skin condition depends a lot on your overall health as well. That’s why it’s recommended to have an in-depth analysis of your general condition as a start, something that we insist on at Tengenji Solaria for all of our clients.

How about in face masks?

Again it depends on the purpose of usage. For a whitening effect, for example, choose products that are rich in Vitamin C. All masks are generally good because they let the ingredients penetrate well into your skin. Use a face mask after you wash your face well or after applying skin toner. The best method is to use it once or twice a week.

Does face massage really help with getting a “smaller face” and anti-aging?

The reason behind the “smaller face effect” is that by properly massaging your facial muscles you are releasing the piled up stiffness in them. As a result, the swelling is decreased and you look like you have a smaller face. But you can only do this if you know what muscles to massage. If you’re just pinching your skin you won’t have the desirable effect and you’re likely to get saggy skin, which is the last thing you want to happen. In other words, yes, it has a positive effect and it does work if you know what you’re doing. I recommend that you consult an expert before trying it out, then you can repeat it regularly by yourself.

How do diet and lifestyle affect aging?

Diet and lifestyle is a major factor in aging. Ma-go-wa-ya-sa-shi-i is a Japanese acronym that reminds us of the base of a healthy diet. It stands for “beans,” “sesame,” “seaweed,” “vegetables,” “fish,” “shiitake mushrooms” and “potatoes,” which are considered to be good for intestinal environment. Diet that is free from gluten, caffeine, sugar and larger fish is ideal. It is also important to be selective with oils, and eat raw instead of processed food.

Professional support: Do I really need it?

Is it recommended to visit beauty clinics in Japan? If yes, how often should I go?  

If you’re over 35 years old, it’s recommended to get some kind of professional cosmetic treatment. The frequency would depend on each individual, but once or twice a month is a standard. Think of it as like going to a hair salon: we go occasionally to get various treatments we can’t perform at home, but meanwhile, we wash our hair with shampoo and conditioner. If you do it regularly as skincare and prevention, the aging process will slow down visibly. Even if it’s just vitamin C IV-drips, a once-a-month treatment will make a huge difference in how you feel and look.

How can I tell whether a beauty clinic in Japan is legitimate?

I think this is true for any country but it mostly comes down to your relationship with your doctor. It’s best to choose a place where your needs will be met in the way you want them to be. If you want surgery but the doctor doesn’t want to perform it — or to the contrary — then there is an obvious mismatch so you should change the clinic. Other than that, to be honest, most beauty clinics in Japan have the same equipment and treatments, so there isn’t any major difference between them. Choose a place where you can feel relaxed, welcome and where you can trust your esthetician/doctor.

Anti-aging treatments: What’s out there for me?

What is Meso Acthys? How does it work and does it make a big difference?

Meso Acthys is an electric device that injects effective ingredients such as vitamin C and hyaluronic acid into the skin without causing any pain. It’s effective for various skin conditions and improves whitening, dryness, redness, and wrinkles. Basically, it’s like an excellent face mask that has a ten times greater effect on your skin compared to even the best mask on the market. This procedure won’t help you reduce wrinkles or any other existing skin conditions, but it will nourish your skin with all elements it needs to look and feel better. I recommended this for people who don’t want to do any painful or invasive treatments.

What about other treatments which you offer?

We offer treatments for three main skin conditions: color, texture and shape. For color-based issues, such as pigmentation, whitening and mole removals, we offer IPL, which generates a beam of light onto the face to activate skin cells, increase collagen, and rejuvenate the skin, Meso Acthys (see above), and vitamin C IV-drips, which helps rejuvenate the cells internally.

For texture issues, such as acne, pores, redness and wrinkles, we offer laser and needle treatments, as well as HeaLite, which rejuvenates the cellular level by using LED lights to stimulate excretion of melanin.

For shape issues such as sagginess, for example, we offer EndyMed, a device that uses radio-frequency technology to tighten facial skin; injections to break fat, and other skin tightening procedures. We start each treatment by analyzing the customers’ skin and health condition, based on which we offer treatments that will help in the areas they need help with.  

Finally, how should we approach anti-aging in general? Where’s the starting point?

The most important thing is to understand your own skin condition. From there you will need to look for a solution. You have to analyze whether the problem is coming from within (i.e. a health condition) or it is entirely an outer issue. At Tengenji Solaria, we have many customized treatments that can provide solutions depending on your specific condition. We’re happy to offer any advice you need before you decide to go for treatment and welcome anybody who’s interested to learn more about what we can offer.

About Tengenji Solaria Clinic

Tengenji Solaria Clinic is an anti-aging and beauty specialized clinic based in Hiroo, Minato-ku that provides private beauty consultations and customized treatments in Japanese, with support in English. The clinic covers treatments such as epilation, slimming, skincare, botox, hyaluronic acid injections, aroma oil relaxation treatments, and other less-common procedures such as vaginal anti-aging care, anti-aging IVs, nutritional therapy and general regenerative medicine. Equipped with in-house specialists covering dermatology, gynecology, cosmetic surgery, and rehabilitation, Tengenji’s doctors begin every consultation with an examination of customers’ skin and health condition based on which they develop a customized treatment to address them and help prevent possible and/or further complications.

What can you do at Tengenji (based on your budget):

A monthly budget of ¥10,000:

  • Liposculpting Injection (Trial Price: ¥8,500)
  • HeaLite for a smooth-textured skin (Trial Price: ¥6,800)
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Removes wrinkles, tightens sagging skin, shrinks pores, and lifts the skin on the face (Trial Price: ¥8,500)
  • Placenta Injection: Reduces wrinkles, helps whiten the skin, treats acne, rashes, atopic dermatitis, and rough, dry skin (Trial Price: ¥1,530)
  • Hair Removal (Trial Price: ¥5,000), Laser hair removal: Underarms (¥3,600)

A monthly budget of ¥20,000-¥30,000:

  • Meso Acthys Treatment for treating wrinkles, spots, and freckles and tightening the skin (Trial Price: ¥25,500)
  • Spectra Skin Rejuvenation Treatment for overall skin improvement (Face Trial Price: ¥21,250)
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment for activating skin cells, increase collagen and rejuvenate skin (Face Trial Price: ¥16,150)
  • Nutritional Analysis (Trial Price: From ¥12,000
  • Relaxation and Therapeutic Massage Oil Treatment (Trial Price: ¥22,950/45min)

For other treatments and more information, see Tengenji Solaria Clinic’s official website.

The Deets

Tengenji Solaria Clinic

Address: Barbizon72 2F, 5-25-12 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-6408-5550
Business hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Mon-Sat, National Holidays). Closed Sundays. English and French language support available on Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri and Sat.

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