Japanese Skincare Routine

skincare

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re a cosmetics enthusiast who have a finely tuned, carefully researched skincare routine. What’s the difference between Japanese skincare routine and Western skincare routine?

From my observation, many (Western) women’s morning skincare routine goes somewhat like this:

  1. Wash face — Water only or cleanser.
  2. Toner — Ok, maybe not as many have already automatically dismissed it as being useless.
  3. Serum — 50/50. For those feeling fancy.
  4. Moisturiser — Dry skin, oily skin… who cares? *Piles it on.*
  5. Sunscreen — “I’m not in the sun and my foundation has SPF in it already.”

The evening routine is somewhat similar as well:

  1. Cleanser — “This better thoroughly removes makeup and gently cleanse skin.”
  2. Mask (Rinse-off) — Only when in the mood or skin needs extra help.
  3. Toner — See morning.
  4. Serum — Actives work better at night, right? *Layers them up.*
  5. Moisturiser — Again, see morning.

佐伯チズ

Chizu Saeki (佐伯チズ), 68 this year, is Japan’s renowned skincare guru and she has never had any cosmetics procedures done. Her first English book, The Japanese Skincare Revolution (2009), has caused a stirred in the Western Hemisphere with her ‘revolutionary skincare’ concept. The book is actually a translation of her 3rd book, Bihada Kakumei 美肌革命 (“Skincare Revolution”), published in 2004. Since then, she has written 26 skincare books in Japanese already!

In Japan, Saeki is a regular fixation on TV shows and in women’s magazines. Most of her skincare techniques and routines are nothing new as they have been standard practice (although not as widespread) in Japan long before she published her first skincare book in Japan back in 2003.

A typical Japanese skincare routine goes somewhat like this in the morning:

  1. Wash face — Same as above. Nothing new.
  2. Toner (calledlotion in Japan) — Considers a must-have! In depth explanation of Japanese lotion (toner) HERE.
  3. Serum — Product changes according to skin’s needs. Another must-have!
  4. Moisturiser — To seal in active(s) given by the serum. A different purpose altogether.
  5. Sunscreen / Makeup Base — Since it’s considered very ill-mannered for women to not wear makeup in public and perfect fair skin is ideal, most act as both.

Saeki’s morning skincare routine is no different except she emphasizes on facial massages while doing each step.

Japanese moisturisers are bit different in terms of function and texture. Their main function is to seal in the actives(s) given by the serum you just applied, although they do moisturise skin as well. There’re 2 main types: creams and milks (very liquid-y) — Western moisturising ‘lotion’ does not exist in Japanese skin care.

According to a recent consumer survey in Japan, women spend an average of 10 minutes in the morning on skin care alone. Personally, I don’t find it surprising as it’s about the same for me. The average makeup application time for those under 26 is 15 minutes according to CanCam magazine readers poll (those over 26 spend average of 10 minutes). In Japan, your appearance matters. It matters a lot. Rather than vanity, it’s considered a sign of respect — for yourself and others.

The day has ended. What about evening care? The typical Japanese evening care routine is the same as the one Saeki is teaching:

  1. Remove makeup — Using a makeup remover first → Japanese skin care often refers this step as cleansing.
  2. Cleanser / Face Wash — A gentle cleanser to wash away sebum, dirt, and impurities from face → Japanese skin care often refers this step as washing.
  3. Toner (a.k.a. lotion) — See morning. Saeki does a DIY lotion mask nightly using unquilted cotton wool pads.
  4. Sheet Mask — Generally twice a week. (Sheet masks contain beauty serum not lotion.)
  5. Serum — Again, changes according to skin’s needs.
  6. Moisturiser — See morning.

Those who are used to the Western skin care routine may find the Japanese counterpart overly long and complicated. Saeki advocates women to spend time and care, not money for beautiful skin. In her English book she noted: if you spent 30 minutes putting on makeup, take 30 minutes removing it. It is not meant to be taken verbatim — of course — but rather, a mind-set that you should take the same care in the evening as you would putting on makeup. Personally, I think that’s excellent advice. Even people who are blessed with good genetics are still subjected to environmental and lifestyle stresses and ageing!

While I don’t agree with her on a lot of things — mixing sunscreen with moisturiser, scrubs should be used more often on broken-out skin, cleansing oils should be avoided as they contain surfactants (but soaps are OK) — I love that she advocates self-care techniques that can be done for free at home rather than expensive products or costly procedures. She teaches women how to have beautiful skin at their age rather than how to turn back the clock on ageing.

Whether her massage techniques really do work to improve sagging, firm skin, and smooth fine lines are anyone’s guess but many of her “followers” do swear by them. Lymph node massage to fight double chin in her English book:

If you’re not familiar with the Japanese way of caring for the skin and you’re looking for a good read, do check out Chizu Saeki’s The Japanese Skincare Revolution. The content may be slightly outdated with some questionable advice but she empowers women to take their skin into their own hands — quite literally — without fancy gadgets, expensive potions, or invasive procedures. Everytime I think about her advice on fantasizing celebrities that you have the hots for while putting on skin care products and applying makeup (to get the hormones going for healthy skin), I can’t help but smile.

If you are finding this English content outside of RatzillaCosme.com, then the site is guilty of plagiarism! RatzillaCosme.com accepts press samples but does not participate in paid product placement posts. Outbound links to retailers are usually affiliate links, which means that the site may receive a small commission if you click on one of these links and make a purchase.

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Nina
Nina

Thank you for this article. Can you please recommend some good Japanese skin care products for women over 30 and 40?
I have chizu saeki’s book. it really helped me understand my skin more, but im sure that there are habits only Japanese women have to make their skin that beautiful and young.
Like their food and and other things.
I wish that I can live in Japan and learn more.
But articles like this one are the closest thing to Japan right now.
Thank you again

Chispa
Chispa

I apologize for posting this in the wrong place, I did not see anything similar in your product list on your search page. What is your opinion of tools like this: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/motebeauty/item/sa-ebi-fa-u-00007/ ? Which I was thinking looked similar to the Hitachi Hada Crie (which I know only very little about). http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/yancomstore/item/belulu_classy/ This one even has LED lights that claim to do various things! Have you tried anything similar to these?/Have you heard that they are effective/do anything beneficial for skin at all? I would love to try one but wanted to know what you think since I really love… Read more »

Kristy Ross
Kristy Ross

Hi, i love creams Monsia.

Ga
Ga

Hi Ratzilla, just discovered your site and thinks it’s great for a Japanese skincare novice like me. I am looking to begin a skincare routine and was wondering if it best to use all products in the same line e.g. Whitening lotion, whitening essence, whitening emulsion or can I choose anti aging lotion, whitening essence etc? Thanks in advance and look forward to your advice!

Anasta Pr
Anasta Pr

Thnx for the info and the humorous twist)))

Martyna
Martyna

Lovely Ratzilla, thank you for your amazing work you’re doing in here, for a newcomer to Japan it is a life-savior! I’d like to ask you for some advice. I’m 25 and I’ve just arrived to Japan. My skin didn’t took it very well and my acne prone skin just went mad – I don’t know if it’s a water, climate change, or both. I’m having problems similar to adult acne, but my skin is actually mixed – I’m having an oily T-section and quite dry around-mouth part, but that’s where my pimples decided to locate. I’d like to improve… Read more »

Mariana
Mariana

I’ve been a reader from your website for quite a while! I absolutely love it, and we seem to have very similar skin type, which really helps when I read your reviews (-: I have a question: do you have any opinion on the suhada shizuku all-in-one pack gel? I started using it in lieu of a lotion+moisturizer (I’m very new to skincare, only used the tonyu isofurabon(?) lotion before, didn’t use a moisturizer), and my skin feels much better, but I was wondering if I should use a lotion before, or if the pack gel is enough. Also, as… Read more »

Sonia De Los Rios
Sonia De Los Rios

Hello! I LOVE your website! I am currently trying to start a new skin
routine now and I was wondering what would be a good start for me? I am
23 years old, I have fair skin and pretty acne prone, but I also want to
start anti-aging routine. I am considering the Hada Labo Super
Hyaluronic Acid as a lotion (toner), what do you think!? ?

-Sonia

Cynthia Heitkemper
Cynthia Heitkemper

I had the chance to read this book. Very informative. Little insights though, first I tried the massages that the author is teaching especially to prevent sagging skin. I am in my late 40s and since last year I have been doing the facial massages religiously and all I can say is that it definitely helped in improving the general appearance of my skin.. It is so easy to do plus its free. Second, I agree with you on the mixing of the moisturizer and foundation, its a big no no to me, I haven’t tried it and definitely will… Read more »

Guesto
Guesto

Hi, do you happen to have any posts detailing your own current routine? I combed through your site but haven’t seen one so far. I’d love to hear about the products that work for you.

joy
joy

Hi Ratzilla! I’m wondering if it’s ok to use skincare products with different brands?For example I will use Shiseido as my toner, then Dr. Cilabo as my moisturizer and another brand as my serum and so on?

Parsimonious Penny
Parsimonious Penny

Love this post, thanks for sharing!!

larilauton
larilauton

I recently met Japanese skincare style, and I’m delighted. I’m spreading to all people, and the interest is so much that I started selling Japanese skincare products. Thank you!

claud
claud

She is right about the scrubs on skin that breaks out. I have learned this myself by trial and error and it is interesting to see a skin guru thinks the same. I do it with salt body scrub but after reading more about japanese skin care I think that next time IÂll scrub my face a bit more gentle than I used to. 🙂 Anyhow: if u have skin break-outs use a scrub, ur skin will look much better after some days! 🙂

Judith
Judith

I wonder why it is necessary to use serum in the evening, after the mask, as masks leave a lot of lotion, normally after 15-20 minutes the mask is not dry, it still has lotion. Thank you.

Vicky
Vicky

Did she name any skincare products in the book? in case i read the tips and want to follow…

Amy
Amy

I use RMK (it’s a japanese brand) the ingredients they use are all moisturising. I have dry skin and my face tends to have flakes in the winter. I asked for samples and I was shocked at how instant it was. I use their Skintuner EX Light and Fruit barrier cream, I have no flakes and my skin is so clear. 🙂 !!

Only thing is it’s pricey. But my theory is, if it works then its worth it. Considering a lot of creams don’t do much for my dry skin.

moon
moon

from where u buy japanese products

?

Raquel
Raquel

Have your heard anything on the Japanese product “Orbis”??

Sandra3619
Sandra3619

Wow, this a great post! Im trying to follow a new skin routine, this is really helping, thank you

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

This is a great post, I’m really going to try to spend more time on my skin. I spend hours choosing the products I use on it, but only about 2 minutes putting them all on.
I’ve seen Saeki a lot on Japanese TV, but I never really looked her up; thanks for the info!
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