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Japanese Skincare: How to Wash Your Face Correctly

Japanese Skincare: How to Wash Your Face Correctly

There is a piece of age-old skincare advice in Japan that if you spend 30 minutes putting on makeup, you should spend 30 minutes taking it off. It’s not meant to be taken verbatim — of course — but rather, a mindset that you should take the same care and attention washing your face as you would putting on makeup.

In J-beauty, facial cleansers are nearly always foaming and they aren’t intended to take off any sort of makeup. (That is what cleansing balms, oils, creams, and gels — all of which are categorised as dedicated makeup removers in Japan — are there to do.)


Washing your face with a foaming face wash seems like something you do half asleep. But if you really want to maintain clear, healthy skin, there’s more to washing your face than a half-arsed rinse.

This is the correct way to wash your face with a foaming cleanser, according to Japanese skincare:

Step 1

 

Make sure your hands are clean.

If your hands have oil or other dirt on them, the cleansing foam will not lather well.

Step 2

Give your face a thorough rinse with lukewarm water (33–38°C). Not just a quick splash, but take the time to make sure your skin is saturated.

In order for cleansing foams (and soaps) to work their best, skin needs to be wet enough.

Step 3

Rub the cleanser vigorously between your hands with a little water to create a dense foamy lather.

You should never lather up your cleansing foam directly on your face.

It’s very important to create dense foamy lather — it isn’t just for a delightful experience.

Adding water and working in a sufficient amount of air greatly dilute the concentration of the surfactants, making the cleanser far less drying and irritating. According to a Japanese study published in the Journal of Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Japan on how the lather affects the skin, concentration is 100x higher for the same cleanser if little or poor quality lather is made.

You want to make a lemon-sized amount and it should be dense enough so that it will not drip off even if you hold your hand upside down. Just like the image above.

If you have trouble building the lather just by using your hand, there’re tools like a foaming net that will make it easier.

Step 4

Very gently “massage” the foam over the face, starting with the oiliest region of your face (the T-zone).

The general advice is to wash for 10 seconds. Longer will strip protective oil from the skin while shorter isn’t sufficient time to cleanse the skin.

The key is to let the foamy lather do all the work  — no rubbing or scrubbing. In fact, there shouldn’t even be direct skin-to-skin contact. In effect, you’re just moving the foamy lather around your face with your hands. You should not actually massage your skin.

The rich foamy lather sits like a cushiony layer between your hands and face, attracting and lifting away dirt while guarding against friction.

Step 5

Rinse face thoroughly with lukewarm water (at least 10 splashes).

You shouldn’t not be rubbing your fingers or hands over the face as you rinse to help take off your cleanser.

It is generally not recommended to rinse in the shower. The hot water will strip the skin while the water pressure from the showerhead will give the skin a battering.

Be sure you’re not neglecting areas where lather tends to accumulate, like the hairline and side of your noses.

Step 6

Gently press face dry with a fresh, clean towel or paper towel. You shouldn’t wipe your face dry.

Towel is a breeding ground for mold, yeast, and bacteria and it shouldn’t be reused, especially you’re acne-prone. It’s recommended for sensitive skin to dry face with a paper towel instead since laundry products often trigger skin reactions.

Further Reading

Browse Cleansing Foams

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This content is written for RatzillaCosme. No paid/sponsored content. If you buy through one of my stockist links, I may earn a small commission (paid by third party companies). Commissions help keep RatzillaCosme running.

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