18 Inspiring Japanese Beauty Secrets You Should Adopt

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

When you think of Japanese women you think of flawless soft skin, luscious perfectly groomed hair, slim, petite figures and a youthful appearance no matter their true age. Japanese women have always been renowned for their beauty, so what’s their secret? They obviously know some tricks that the rest of us don’t.

Well, luckily for us the beauty secrets of Japanese women aren’t so secret any more. Let’s find out what those secrets are, so that you can try them out for yourself.

1. Get Lots Of Vitamin C

The Japanese are big believers in foods with a high Vitamin C content. Their daily diet includes oranges and other produce that is rich in this nutrient. And vitamin C truly does have some amazing benefits for the health of your skin.

In addition to being one of the most powerful antioxidants, able to neutralizes free radicals and stop them from prematurely aging your skin, vitamin C is vital for making collagen. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in your body, and healthy collagen production is essential if you want firm, supple skin.

To ensure that you get enough of this superpower vitamin choose lots of organic produce like:

  • Papaya – 224%
  • Bell Peppers -157%
  • Broccoli -135%
  • Brussels Sprouts – 129%
  • Strawberries – 113%
  • Pineapple – 105%
  • Oranges – 93%
  • Kiwifruit – 85%
  • Cantaloupe – 78%
  • Cauliflower – 73%

(% of recommended daily amount per serving)

You can also take vitamin C supplements, and 1000mg a day, divided into several doses will give your body plenty of vitamin C to work with. The government recommended daily amount of vitamin C is much lower than that and is set at the level which prevents deficiency diseases like scurvy. There’s a wide gulf between preventing deficiency and optimum health through!

2.  Get Some Adzuki (magic) Beans

Adzuki bean powder is a centuries old Japanese skin care ingredient used since the Nara period (710-794 AD). Its enzymes gently cleanse skin without scrubbing of any kind. It’s used to cleanse and exfoliate the skin and to rejuvenate and brighten the complexion.

Japanese noblewomen used to place Adzuki bean powder inside a small silk bag, which they then moistened with water to create a cleanser to gently scrub the face and body.

The bean powder has a gentle enzymatic exfoliating action which sloughs off dead skin and the beans also contain a natural cleansing agent called Saponin. Saponins are found in a number of plants and herbs and have a gentle foaming action that doesn’t strip the skin of it’s protective ois like other detergent soaps and cleansers do. Saponins cleanse pores of dirt and bacteria and promote circulation to give skin a natural glow.

Adzuki Face & Body Cleanser Recipe

Adzuki powder can be purchased ready made or you can grind the beans to make your own for less.

  1. Roast the adzuki beans in a heavy skillet to remove moisture over medium to high heat for 5 -10 minutes, stirring constantly.  The beans should retain their red color, if they begin to turn then remove them from the heat immediately.
  2. Grind the roasted beans into a fine powder. You can use a pestle and mortar or a coffee grinder. The powder should be very fine and soft like ground almonds.
  3. Store in an airtight container to keep the powder from absorbing moisture.

To use the powder as an exfoliator. Mix a little of the powder with some warm water and massage into wet skin. Use 2 – 3 times a week.

You can also use the powder to make a deep cleansing treatment. Mix the powder more thicky this time, then smooth over your skin and leave for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the mask begins to tighten. Rinse with warm water, then pat skin dry.

3. Cleanse and Moisturize With Oils

Oils are starting to become a popular skin care product in the west, but the Japanese have known about the amazing skin care properties of oils for centuries.

Japanese women use oils to cleanse, tone and moisturize their skin. A very popular oil is Camellia oil (Tsubaki oil), which is a floral seed oil whose use is truly ancient. Geisha women used natural Camellia oil instead of water to remove their thick makeup and to cleanse their skin. It’s one of the most famous Japanese beauty secrets.

Camellia oil:

  • Is rich in free radical fighting antioxidants.
  • Helps to restore moisture to dry skin which fights the signs of aging by softening fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Has the highest Oleic fatty acid content of any plant-based oil. Oleic acid (omega-9) is the same beneficial substance found in olive oil.

Because of its strong emollient qualities, Camellia oil also softens rough skin in problem areas like the elbows, knees and heels. Camellia oil can also help to repair stretch marks after pregnancy, and minor scars.

Camelia oil is most effective when it is applied to damp skin.

Another common use of Camellia oil in Japan is for conditioning hair.

In the 11th century a Japanese women wrote the book which is considered to be the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji. The book mentions the women of the Japanese court women using Camellia Oil to dress their hair.

Camelia oil softens hair (because of its omega-9 fatty acid content) and makes it more manageable. It protects hair by forming a barrier against moisture loss and environmental pollutants. And it can help to treat the damage that results from coloring and other chemical hair treatments, by making hair more resilient, and repairing split ends.

Camellia oil is also used to condition cuticles and nails.

Another popular oil that Japanese women use is Rice Bran oil. Rice Bran oil is a rich source of Tocotrienol vitamin E, which is much more effective than the tocopherol form most commonly added to skin care products. It also contains a significant anti-aging antioxidant called Gamma-oryzanol.

Rice bran oil makes a good all round moisturizer for your face and your body and is particularly effective for sensitive skin. It’s a non-comedogenic oil and won’t clog your pores.

Rice Bran oil is also used to condition hair, and as it is a light oil which is fully absorbed, you can leave it in all day to give your hair some really deep protective conditioning, with a lovely surface shine.

As Rice Bran and Camellia oils have different benefits, some people like to use them both. In this case, apply one oil first then wait for it to be fully absorbed before applying the other.

4. Include Plenty Of Fish In Your Diet

Include Plenty Of Fish In Your Diet

The Japanese diet favors fish over meat, and is therefore very high in beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps to promote healthy and glowing skin.

Omega-3 fatty acids fortify the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis. As skin ages, its cells become thinner and less able to stick together. This results in the epidermis providing a less effective barrier function which allows moisture to be released from the skin and causes dryness.

Additionally, as epidermal cells begin to decrease, the skin gradually loses the ability to repair itself efficiently. At the same time, aging causes the structural elements that support the skin, collagen and elastin to become less prolific and to lose their integrity which causes wrinkling.

By bolstering the skin cells of the epidermis, Omega-3 fatty acids protect the skin cell membrane and increase the skin’s ability to hold onto water which leads to moister, softer skin with greater resistance to wrinkles, and may even eradicate existing fine lines.

Research has also found that Omega-3 fatty acids protect the skin from UV damage and from UV induced cancer cell formation.

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties Omega-3 speeds up the healing of wounds and decreases the inflammation caused by breakouts, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.

5. Eat Wakame Seaweed

Wakame seaweed is a sea vegetable that is widely eaten in Japan. Its antioxidants help to protect skin from UV rays and pollution and prevent the development of fine lines and dark under eye circles.

6. Revitalize Skin With Facial Masks

The regular use of face masks is an integral part of every Japanese woman’s skincare routine. These masks moisturize, cleanse, detoxify, nourish and increase circulation to the skin.

Shiro Nuka is a rice bran face mask which is very mild and is used once or twice a week for toning skin and lightening blemishes. It’s a good source of a natural moisturizing agent – pectin – which helps with the growth of new skin cells. Pectin is widely used in wound care and healing products and is a powerful detoxifier.

Pectin was used to heal children that were exposed to radiation in the Chernobyl disaster.

Tea masks made with Matcha and Yomogi provide toning and tightening tannins and are rich in free radical fighting antioxidants. These soothing masks tighten pores and lift skin.

Pearl powder is another Japanese secret. Mixed with  oils, or other hydrating ingredients like milk, egg or honey, pearl powder promotes new cell generation.

7. Tea Is More Than Just A Refreshing Drink

In Japan, Green tea is the most popular beverage and it has significant health benefits.

Clinically proven to possess  antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, Japanese women not only drink this tea all day long, they also apply a green tea concentrate to acne and use a green tea face mask for an overall skin conditioning boost.

Because the benefits of Green tea are so well known (and well loved) in Japan, they have created a super concentrated form of Green tea to really maximize those benefits. This drink is called Matcha tea, and it’s made from ground Green tea leaves. One cup of Matcha contains the same amount of antioxidants as ten cups of regular Green tea. The powder can be added to pretty much any food and drink to power up antioxidant levels. It can be added to cakes, milkshakes and smoothies, soups and sauces, etc.

Green tea isn’t the only Japanese super juice, and a wide variety of teas are consumed instead of coffee and sugary drinks like soda and milkshake.

Yomogi-cha (Artemisia princeps Tea): Yomogi is known as the “wonder herb” and leading cosmetic houses prize this herbal extract. The tea is taken to beautify skin, reduce blemishes, fade age spots and repair sun damage. Yomogi is a refreshing tea with pleasant green taste. It’s rich in vitamins as well as iron, calcium and phosphorus.

Biwa-cha (Loquat Leaves Tea): This tea is good for healing inflammatory skin conditions and boosting the immune system. It has a mild earthy taste with a touch of sweetness.

Hatomugi-cha (Adlay Millet Tea): This tea has light, slightly nutty sweet flavor. It is thought to lighten the skin and improve its appearance by fading freckles and getting rid of spots.

8. Treat Acne Naturally

The Japanese treat acne without the use of harsh chemical treatments.

Japanese women use an extract from the bark of Japanese Cherry tree, Prunus jamasakura.

These cherry bark extracts contain a compound called sakuranetin which binds to estrogen receptors in the skin. This reduces the effects of estrogen levels on the skin. In most women of reproductive age estrogen levels jump just before they have their period. This is also when they are most likely to break out in acne. Cherry bark extract prevent this type of acne breakout.

In Japan, Cherry Bark is so useful that health insurance pays for it. In North America, Australia and Europe you can buy this product as cherry “blossom”, although the cherry extract is really from the bark, not the flowers

9. Enjoy Herbal Baths

Bathing is a traditional part of Japanese life. It’s used for relaxation and for increasing the vitality of their skin, after they have washed themselves. The Japanese use a wide variety of herbs in their baths, which in addition to their skin benefits contribute to wellbeing with their aromatic  aromatherapy properties.

Hinoki bath: Hinoki is Japanese Cypress, a highly fragrant species of cypress native to Japan. It contains antimicrobial substances called “phytoncides” which destroy harmful bacteria and fungi on the skin, while aromatic qualities promote restful relaxation.

Green tea bath: This is a very common bath which is used to improve skin condition. The tannins in the tea tighten pores and help skin retain to moisture, while the antioxidants reduce redness and inflammation.

Yuzu bath: Yuzu is a citrus lemon that is valued for its highly exotic aromatic rind. It is loaded with essential oils that leave skin naturally moisturized. These essential oils also have the ability to rejuvenate skin, which makes it very important for older women.

Yomogi Leaves herbal bath: These leaves are valued for their ability to reduce blemishes and age-spots. Yomogi leaves have a fresh and spicy uplifting fragrance and contain vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, which all contribute toward skin health.

10. Bird Droppings!

This has to be one of the strangest beauty treatment and it definitely has the ick factor.

Japanese women regularly undergo bird poop facials. These treatments are known as Uguisu and the prized droppings come from a rare breed of Nightingale. The droppings of the bird native to the Japanese island of Kyushu, contain a naturally occurring enzyme that leaves the skin feeling soft and supple.

The enzyme is called guanine, and it is present in our own DNA. This amino acid works as a natural bleaching agent that lightens dark circles and eliminates blemishes.

Uguisu was first used by Geishas is the 17th century who discovered that the droppings helped to repair the damage inflicted on their skin by their lead based makeup. Today this pricy treatment is favored by celebrities like Tom Cruise and Victoria Beckham.

Probably the most effective element of the treatment comes from the urea in the droppings, which helps to lock moisture into the skin. This prevents drying and the rough skin, lines and wrinkles that come with that condition. Urea has been advocated by many societies throughout the ages as a skin care treatment, and you can easily access fresh urea every day if you want to as it is found in your urine.

All you need to do is pee in a cup, then either use a cotton ball to dab the urine onto problem areas, like acne, or dilute the urine with water to use as a skin tonic. As long as you are properly hydrated and your urine is colorless to light yellow, you won’t have to worry about any smells. If your urine is darker than this, don’t use it on your skin, and make sure that you drink more water because you are dehydrated.

11. Take Regular Walks

Instead of jumping into their cars for every little trip, the Japanese prefer to walk. This gives them plenty of gentle exercise which delivers plenty of health benefits. And a healthy body is reflected by healthy skin. Exercise lowers stress levels, and stress is well known to cause premature aging, adding on an extra 10 years for those most afflicted.

Walking boosts circulation which increases the delivery of oxygen to your cells, increases the rate of waste removal and increases the rate at which nutrients and repair products are delivered to your skin.

Walking helps to maintain a healthy weight, and excess weight has been found to initiate a process that ages you on a cellular level and it is even considered to be more damaging and aging than smoking.

12. Fish Therapy For Pretty Feet

The Japanese invented the fish pedicure which you can try out at a salon near you, thanks to its growing popularity. The fish pedicure uses “doctor fish” which are toothless fish, to nibble off the dead skin from feet and leave them baby soft.

13. Hair Cleansing With Natural Ingredients

Japanese women have traditionally used Funori seaweed to cleanse their hair. This dried seaweed is ground to a powder, then mixed with water to produce a gel. Funori seaweed is rich in vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron and makes a nourishing and gentle alternative to shampoos and conditioners.

Chemical shampoos and conditioners actually cause a lot of damage, they strip your natural oils away and damage the proteins in your hair. These problems keep you on a never ending merry-go-round of damaging your hair, then buying more products to try to rectify the problems caused by the shampoos and conditioners.

The best thing to do is get off the ride.

Switch to natural, gentle alternatives that let your hair achieve a healthy moisture balance and develop the strong proteins that it needs to be thick and shiny.

14. Protect Skin From the Sun

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The Japanese don’t tend to bother with sunscreens and all of the chemicals that they contain. Instead they protect their skin with wide brimmed hats, light, cool clothing and beautiful parasols.

In Japan wearing protective clothing is fashionable, with special UV rated long gloves, leggings, and neck covering hats being very popular. They even have hand covers that attach to the handlebars of their bikes to shield their hands from the sun.

Sunscreens are regulated products in Japan where they are classified as quasi-drugs. Quasi-drugs are products that have restricted use and are known to have effects on the human body. SPF 50 is the maximum sunscreen factor allowed on the Japanese market and these products are regulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

There are huge concerns over the safety of sunscreens in the west too. But the market is worth multiple billions, so the truth is well hidden.

Many sunscreens use zinc or titanium oxide as their active ingredient. Sunblock with it’s thick white coating is zinc oxide heavy.

But that look isn’t very popular once you get off the surfboard or hang up your triathlon gear. So manufactures developed a nanoparticle form of zinc oxide, which is found in common lightweight formulations. This is generally not disclosed on the label because lobbying by this billion dollar industry has persuaded governments to not require its inclusion to be disclosed.

According to a 2014 study carried out by MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences, nanoparticle zinc oxide can rapidly penetrate the cell walls causing significant DNA damage.

So to keep your skin safe follow the lead of the Japanese.

15. Use Japanese Makeup Tools

Japanese women favor the traditional style of makeup brushes that have largely remained unchanged for centuries. Following the wise route of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

The brushes are multipurpose and very practical and are used to apply foundation and powder, to contour and to apply face masks. The bristles have very full bodies as well as contours in a variety of directions and angles for creating shapes and detailing.

Calligraphy-style lip brushes have a wide body enabling them to hold a lot of color, and a fine tip for precision detailing and contouring. It’s like having two brushes in one.

Abaca leaf blotting paper is used to remove perspiration and oil without smudging makeup, it’s also used for smoothing foundation and removing excess moisturizer before applying the rest of the makeup.

16. Eat Mushrooms

Japanese women recognize the health benefits of eating plenty of mushrooms. Mushrooms boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and contain powerful antioxidants.

Five ounces of shiitake mushroom contains 27% of daily value of vitamin B3, 21% of vitamin B5, 21% of vitamin B6, and 18% of vitamin B2.

Shiitake mushroom is also a rich source of manganese 17%, phosphorus 16% and potassium 12.3 %, and is low in calories.

17. Go Easy On Makeup

Less is more when it comes to makeup as far as Japanese women are concerned, which allows the beauty of their skin to shine through. And lustrous skin beats any makeup product hands down.

Instead of spending hours layering on product after product, they carefully apply a small amount of makeup to accentuate their features, which produces a natural and beautiful look.

18. Stay Calm

Japanese radiance comes from within. They believe that stress is the number one enemy of great skin and they place a great deal of importance on maintaining poise, which is called Mie-nai Osharé – unseen or hidden beauty. This phrase represents the idea that maintaining your inner energy balance and achieving peace is the key to staying beautiful.

You can incorporate this value into your life by practicing meditation and gratitude. Both of these lower stress levels and release feel good hormones which rejuvenate your body and keep you looking young.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.