A look at 5 ancient Japanese beauty rituals
J-Beauty, or Japanese beauty, and its concepts are deeply rooted in centuries of tradition. Japanese women pay far more attention to their skin and hair care rather than colour cosmetics and fragrances. They meticulously care for their skin on a regular basis. In fact, the importance of healthy, radiant skin in Japan dates back to the era of geishas—the traditional female performers in Japan—who developed detailed beauty rituals ranging from skincare regimen to consuming foods that help enhance the overall health of one’s skin.
Take a look at some of these ancient Japanese skincare rituals and traditions that are practiced even today:
- An Oil Cleanse: Thought this is a new-age skincare step? Guess again. Historically, geishas treated the cleansing of their skin as an extremely important ritual and this was always done using the double cleansing method, first with an oil cleanser which would take off layers of their thick, white oil-based makeup and cleanse the skin and yet maintain its glow. This was followed by a foaming cleanser to thoroughly but gently further cleanse the skin.
- Bathing rituals and Onsens: The culture of bathing—at home, at a sento (public bath house) and at an onsen (natural hot springs)—is a vital part of Japanese culture. People take baths not only to clean their bodies and skin, but also for its therapeutic qualities where you relax, unwind and refresh your mind, body and soul. The bathing ritual across these baths is the same: the first step being to wash up at a shower station and properly rinse off any soap or shampoo before stepping into a tub full of warm or hot water for a relaxing soak. Sounds absolutely heavenly, doesn’t it?
- A Balanced Diet: Your skin is a reflection of your overall health, and nobody believes this more than the Japanese. Here, the traditional meal known as ichijyu sansai (which literally translates to ‘one soup, three dishes’) ensures a well-balanced diet consisting of seasonal foods, along with a staple of rice, and pickled vegetables which improve digestive health. Such balanced meals rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre help in reducing the body’s production of toxins that cause inflammatory skin conditions and premature aging.
- Reverence for Rice: This cereal grain is so much more than just food in Japan. Over the centuries, be it the application of rice bran on the skin, washing of the skin and hair with starchy rice water or the consumption of okayu (Japanese for congee, which is a type of rice porridge or gruel), it has been valued for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits… And you thought rice was bad for you!
- Gaga over Green Tea: Think matcha, sencha or just about any other kind of green tea and you immediately connect it to Japan. With 2-4 small cups of green tea being consumed daily, this elixir forms an essential part of the Japanese diet because of its excellent antioxidant properties. It helps strengthen the skin against environmental damage, reduces irritation and redness, treats acne, and even guards against premature aging!