2017 was all about Korean beauty products. Sheet masks, essences, serums and the 10-step skin regime were the talk about town with its focus on exotic ingredients—from Jeju volcanic clay to snail mucin—for perfect, glowing skin. But slowly and surely, there’s a slew of zany Japanese brands stealing a silent march through the beauty aisles of leading beauty stores with brands like first mover Shiseido, followed by Chojyu, Miccosmo and Kracie staking their claim. While K-beauty is all about cutesy packaging, Instagrammable products, routines, and an obsession with masks, The J-Beauty approach—like the country’s inherent culture—is more about tradition and understated luxury, all steeped in Japan’s heritage.
MIDDLE GROUND (EVERGREEN) SKINCARE
Unlike Western skin care that focusses on spot-fixes like blemish treatments, Japanese beauty takes a more holistic approach. It isn’t as involved as a K-Beauty regime but takes a holistic view, focusing on the overall look and feel of the complexion. Think of J-Beauty as evergreen skincare, that will help your skin in the long term rather than treat a specific problem in the short term.
The best part, there’s a simplicity to Japanese rituals, a middle ground between European targeted spot treatments and involved, time consuming Korean regimes. Much like the slightly austere Japanese way of life, J-Beauty requires fewer products used in a more methodical manner. Massage and technique also play a huge role in getting the best from the skincare regime.
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS THAT WORK
J-Beauty is the perfect blend of natural ingredients, innovative technologies and stellar research. Combine that with serene beauty rituals—where bathing is almost akin to a spiritual art—and you have exemplary beauty products. Like K-Beauty, the focus is on time-tested, natural ingredients. Rice extracts became a hit ingredient when it was noticed that sake brewery workers had wonderfully soft hands! Silk protein (Sericin) with its touted dark spot reduction properties became an essential ingredient in face serums, while soy proteins became an essential ingredient in moisturizers. Other active natural ingredients such as honey, tofu and white jelly mushroom are prominently used in beauty products to appeal to the millennial consumer. Simple packaging and affordable pricing are other key offerings of J-Beauty’s pared down approach to beauty.
The iconic Japanese Cherry Blossom tree’s fallen flowers are widely used to reduce skin inflammation, age spots and fade wrinkles. As a beauty and health staple of the modern-day geisha, Green Tea is clinically proven to reduce sun damage, calm acne and maintain the skin’s pH balance. Used for centuries in Japan as a natural deodorizer, Persimmon extract is used in Japanese body care products. As a strategic researcher at The Future Laboratory has been quoted as saying, “Classic aesthetic Japanese principles of kanso, shibui and seijaku—simplicity, understated beauty and energised calm, respectively—will come to the fore in beauty offerings that come out of the country.”