6 Tips for Protecting Your Skin this Japanese Winter
Simple steps to maintain flawless skin during Tokyo's cold months
As the temperature drops in the capital so, too, does the level of moisture in the air. Don't let the colder weather cause stress for your skin—fight back with these self-care remedies.
Despite how much we bundle up, winter weather is never fun for our skin. Tokyo winters require us to move between indoor and outdoor environments throughout the day, be that stepping out of a roasting train carriage onto an exposed platform, moving from your stuffy office to a coffee meeting or dragging yourself from under the kotatsu for an outdoor run.
Repeated exposure to cold temperatures combined with low humidity levels results in extremely dry air, which can leave our skin parched, itchy and even cracked. Proper care is crucial to getting through the next few months—you’ll need to give your skin a little extra TLC to counteract the effects of winter skin woes.
The good news is that there is a myriad of Japanese products and practices to help you maintain soft and glowing skin. Here are our top tips to keep you looking flawless and 🔥—no matter how cold it is!
1. Take a warm (not hot) 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, it’s 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 exception to this is natural onsen (hot springs) which are filled with certain minerals and other properties that negate the drying effects of too-hot water and are actually very beneficial for winter skin. If you can, schedule some me-time with a day trip to a nearby onsen, there are plenty of gorgeous resorts within easy reach of the city.
Savvy recommends: Japan’s obsession with bathing has resulted in a variety of products, ranging from muscle-easing bath salts to after-bath skin cream. We love the range of herbal and medicinal bath salts from Bathclin, available online and at most drug stores.
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 (オーガニック) or oil-based (オイルイン). These organic beauty stores are great for browsing natural products, both Japanese and import.
Savvy recommends: If you can get over the name, Loshi Horse Oil is a cult product with intense moisturizing abilities. Plus, at around ¥300 a pot it’s an absolute bargain. Pick up at Don Quijote and other drugstores.
3. Cover up and protect your skin
Get into the practice of wearing gloves, scarves, and hats to protect your skin from 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 than—the summer sun. 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.
Savvy recommends: We stan the awesome, if slightly pricey, Anessa sunscreen range from Shiseido. Browse their products here or check out our recent review of the Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Gel. You’ll find the range in almost any drugstore in town.
4. Humidify your home
Heating systems dry out the air, so consider purchasing a humidifier or essential oil diffuser 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 or diffuser will not only keep your skin soft and vibrant, but it may also even help you avoid getting sick. Have a partner who snores? Humidity may just be the solution to that particular problem, too.
Savvy recommends: Muji’s super popular Aroma Diffuser is well worth the investment. Oils come in a range of scents, each as equally calming as the next. Say “ahhh.”
5. Stay hydrated
During the winter months, it’s 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 or even better, matcha, over coffee as it’s high in catechins, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.
Savvy recommends: There’s another way to reap the benefits of green tea— by applying it topically as a mild toner. Simply let a cup of brewed tea cool and apply it to your face with a cotton ball for pore-reducing and balancing effects. 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 gently on your face and your lips. 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 just in time for the new year!
Savvy recommends: Goodbye Keana’s baking powder wash strikes just the balance between “scratching my face off” and “ooh my pores are so clean.” Shop it on Amazon Japan. It’s also available at most drugstores.