Saving Face: 7 Japanese Tips for Soft and Glowing Skin this Winter

Simple steps to maintain silky, smooth skin during Tokyo's cold winter months.

By Emi Schemmer
December 27, 2017
Health & Beauty

As the temperature drops in the city so, too, does the level of moisture in the air. Don't let the dryness and colder weather cause stress for your skin or your state of well-being — fight it with these warming and hydrating remedies.

Tokyo winters require us to move between indoor and outdoor environments rather frequently. Despite how much we bundle up, the winter weather is never fun for our skin. Cold temperatures combined with low humidity levels result in extremely dry air, which leaves our skin parched, sometimes even cracked, and so proper care is crucial to getting through the next few months. And while additional moisture helps, it’s important to give your skin a little extra TLC to counteract the effects of dehydration and reduce chafing, redness and itching. To keep your skin healthy and comfortable this season, try these Japanese winter skin care secrets.

1. Not-so-hot baths

Japanese open-air bath

When it comes to Japanese beauty and health secrets, taking long baths are definitely on the list of must-dos. During cold nights, it’s hard to say no to a long, hot soak but as the weather becomes cooler, its important to make sure you don’t turn up the water temperature too much as it will strip away the essential oils in your skin — resulting in even more damage. The popular bathing culture in Japan has resulted in a variety of wonderful products, ranging from muscle-easing bath salts, moisture-rich bubble bath soaps, after-bath skin creams and even oil-based body washes and cleansers.

2. Moisturize inside and out


During the winter months, it’s important to add a little extra time to your bathing routine to properly cream up and moisturize your body right after you wash. Applying moisturizer to damp skin helps seal that moisture in and prevent your skin from drying out during the day. But before you start, it’s important to know what’s really in the product you’re using. Some body lotions and creams have petroleum-based ingredients that can further dry your skin especially during the colder weather, so be sure to look for products that are labeled organic, natural or oil-based. You can also go 100 percent natural and choose an essential oil like almond, jojoba or even olive.

Rule of thumb: If you can put it inside your body, you can also use it on the outside of your body.

Keep that bottle of moisturizing body lotion or oil near the bathtub, shower or out on the sink as a constant reminder. This way you can easily access the product while you’re partially drying off. Be generous with your skin — don’t be afraid to really lather and cream up. Your skin will be thankful, trust me.

3. Cover up and protect your skin

Japanese winter skin

Get into the practice of wearing gloves, scarves and even hats to protect your skin from cold winds, rain and even snow. Also, continue your usual sun protection routine even in the colder months. Winter sunshine can be just as damaging — if not more — depending on where you are. Skiers and snowboarders beware: reflection from those icy slopes can often be more damaging than simply being out and about in the city, so a waterproof SPF 30+ sun cream is highly recommended.

4. Humidify the home


Heating systems dry out the air, so consider purchasing a humidifier for your home, particularly the bedroom, to add moisture back into the air and help prevent your skin and hair from drying out. Getting a humidifier will not only keep your skin soft and vibrant, it may even help you avoid getting sick. For those of you who may snore or have a partner who does, a humidifier may just be the solution. A moist environment tends to feel warmer and more pleasant, so not only will your sinuses and throats be more comfortable, but you may just find yourself getting a better night’s sleep.

5. Stay hydrated


During the  months is easy to forget to drink enough fluids as we opt for plenty of warm drinks like cocoa, coffee and tea. Remember that your skin needs to be hydrated from the inside out, so carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. If you prefer hot beverages, choose green tea over coffee as it’s high in catechins, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. If you are not a tea drinker or want to find a new way to reap the benefits of this wonderful beauty-enhancing secret, you can apply green tea topically, as a mild toner. Simply let a cup of brewed tea cool and apply it to your face with a cotton ball. This natural toner can give your skin a glowing look as well as reduce pore size. It can be stored for a week in a bottle in the fridge so you can make it part of your daily winter beauty routine.

6. Scrub away the excess

We often forget to help our skin slough off dead cells in the winter, particularly on our hands and feet. To really help maximize the effectiveness of your moisturizing routine, make sure all the surfaces you are applying with extra moisture are not barricaded by too many dead skin cells. For this reason, it’s important to exfoliate at least one- to two-times per week — face, body, hands and feet.

Find an exfoliating mask or cream that is intended for your face as it will be gentler and therefore suitable during winter months when your skin is more sensitive and vulnerable. Use it on your face, gently on your lips, body, hands and feet. Softly cleanse and then follow immediately with your moisturizing routine to truly see and notice a smoother difference. You’ll feel like a new person!

7. Make your own face mask

Avocado face mask

Easy-to-make DIY hydrating masks like the one below can provide much-needed moisture in the winter months. Apply natural moisturizing ingredients like honey, puréed avocado, plain yogurt, aloe vera or essential oils like jojoba, almond and olive to your skin for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water for lasting hydration.

Avocado & Honey Face Mask

Avocado and honey are both humectants (a substance used to keep things moist) and help combat the dry skin we often experience during the colder winter months. Avocado contains healthy fats, vitamin E and C as well as carotenoids. These wonderful nutrients not only protect the skin from damage but also keep it feeling hydrated. Honey is both antibacterial and hydrating, it’s also is high in antioxidants that help keep the skin looking young and resilient.

What You’ll Need:
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
What To Do:
  1. Mash the avocado and honey together. Mix until it becomes a smooth paste.
  2. Apply the sticky green paste to your face and neck.
  3. Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and apply moisturizing cream or oil.