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A Japanese Esthetician Shares The 3 Pillars Of J-Beauty

Hannah Frye
Author:
October 30, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Smiling Asian Woman
Image by Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy
October 30, 2023
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Korean beauty, or K-beauty for short, has been popular in the U.S. for quite some time. The philosophy is best known for its multistep process, often including 10 individual steps each evening. Korea is also known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to beauty innovations, and it's home to many of the trends we know and love today (looking at you, glass, dumpling, and honey skin!).

Japanese beauty (or J-beauty), on the other hand, follows more of a minimalist approach. It contains different basic elements than Korean beauty but focuses similarly on hydration and natural-leaning ingredients.

Consider the below your field guide to J-beauty, straight from master esthetician for J-beauty curator Shikō Beauty Collective Kyoko Getz:

1.

Barrier support is everything 

"Japanese skin care focuses on skin's barrier function and TEWL (transepidermal water loss1)," Getz states. "These are the vital aspects of the skin's overall health and well-being."

When your skin barrier is compromised, it can lead to symptoms like dryness, irritation, eczema, acne, accentuated fine lines, and more, Getz explains. So J-beauty emphasizes gentle, hydrating products over those that may dry out the skin in an effort to address a multitude of concerns simultaneously. 

"Gentle cleansing, nourishment (both inside and out), hydration, moisture, and protection are the crucial steps to achieve a healthy skin barrier," she notes. 

A few exemplary J-beauty products she recommends for this purpose are the Nemohamo Full Barrier Serum and Seiso J-Beauty Pure Ceramide Concentrate—both of which include ingredients designed to soothe your skin barrier like ceramides, squalane, glycerin, and more. 

2.

Balanced nutrition

As Getz previously hinted, the J-beauty philosophy starts with an inside-out approach. Nourishing the body from within will contribute to healthy, radiant-looking skin. 

Some dietary staples include fermented foods like miso, natto, koji, and tsukemono (aka pickled veggies). 

"They are full of probiotics, vitamins, and enzymes," she says, which can boost the immune system and promote gut health (since gut health is very important for skin health, as well). 

Getz also emphasizes the importance of seasonal eating in Japanese culture, and not just for fruits and vegetables. She explains that popular and available fish also come and go with seasonal changes, which contributes to the prioritization of fresh foods of all kinds.

Green tea is another must-have Getz "can't forget to mention," with respect to her own roots in Uji, Japan—the birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony. Green tea boasts tons of health benefits, but it has been shown to be beneficial for skin health in clinical studies2 as well. This is unsurprising, given the tea's anti-inflammatory properties and high vitamin C content.

3.

Advanced technology

Finally, we have high-tech tools. "When it comes to Japanese skin care, advanced technologies and innovations are a huge part of it all," Getz declares. 

There are plenty of at-home skin care devices popular in Japan, such as the one from Getz's own brand, Olura. The Olura Eno—a vibrating handheld device that helps to slough off dead skin cells and improve the penetration of topical serums and treatments, is a perfect example of what J-beauty technology stands for: minimalistic designs with multiple benefits and clinical efficacy.

But it's not all about the devices—innovative skin care formulas also own a spotlight in J-beauty. One example Getz shares is the previously mentioned Nemohamo—a Japanese skin care brand that utilizes a low-temperature vacuum extraction to make use of whole plants in their skin care formulations, she explains.

The hero plant for this brand specifically is Panax ginseng. When utilized with this advanced extraction method, the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals in ginseng are preserved and highly available. 

That's not to say other natural-leaning brands don't pay special attention to the manufacturing process, but this is an instrumental element of Japanese beauty.

The takeaway

In a nutshell, Japanese beauty is all about skin barrier support, prioritizing a balanced diet with fresh produce and seafood, and utilizing advanced technology through manufacturing and devices. Not sure where to start? You can't go wrong with getting to know your skin barrier—here are the basics

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