Last month we focused on how sake can make your skin more beautiful. This month, we continue exploring Japanese foods or ingredients that not only have excellent health benefits but are brilliant for better skin too. Plus, we bring you a roundup of beauty products to help you include these ingredients in your skincare routine.
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS We all know that drinking green tea has excellent health benefits. So it makes sense that the antioxidant-rich leaves can do wonders for our skin too. All those enzymes, amino acids, and phytochemicals help to improve skin complexion, heal blemishes and scars, reduce inflammation, and slow ageing.
TRY IT The newly launched Fuji Green Tea range by The Body Shop gives us fresh and sophisticated bodycare products to re-awaken our senses and replenish skin. The products are infused with whole green tea leaves sourced from Mt. Fuji. Our favorite item in the range is the Fuji Green Tea Bath Tea (¥3,780), which you can pair with the handy Tea Bath Infuser (free with the bath tea at Japan stores).
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS Known as tsubaki in Japanese, this oil comes from nut of the camellia flower, which grows abundantly on Oshima island. The women who harvest – and use – the oil are renowned for having luscious hair and radiant skin. The oil is rich in oleic acid, vitamins, as well as nourishing omegas. It’s also packed with antioxidants.
TRY IT Tatcha’s luxurious Gold Camellia Beauty Oil for face, body and hair contains camellia, rice and macadamia nut oils. Infused licorice extract calms the skin, while young bamboo and green tea fragrances conjure up a feeling of being in the Kyoto countryside. Exquisite 24-karat gold flecks add a subtle touch of sensuality.
¥10,400 at tatcha.com
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS Known as the Japanese grapefruit, yuzu is a citrus fruit containing high levels of vitamin C, which can help replenish dead skin cells. It is said that if you regularly use yuzu-based products, your skin will turn smooth, silky and possibly even more fragrant.
TRY IT These Geroko Monogatari Nagomi Sheets are a modern version of traditional Japanese medicinal compress sheets from the Gero Hot Springs. Their delicate fragrances are created using essential oils from local trees, and a blend of scents including lavender, chamomile, rose and – you guessed it – yuzu. When the summer heat starts to get you down, these pretty aroma sheets are bound to perk you back up again.
¥270 for a pack of four (two sheets each) at www.geroko.co.jp
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS Sourced from the konnyaku vegetable and made into a firm jelly, this Japanese wonder food is high in fiber, calcium, and minerals. But it’s the ceramides that make it ideal for skincare. If your skin has depleted ceramide levels, it’ll struggle to retain moisture, leaving you with a dry, sensitive surface. Ceramide also prevents the production of melanin.
TRY IT Combining traditional wisdom and local ingredients, this innovative Konnyaku Face Sponge is made from konnyaku sourced from the Gunma region. While Edoites once used frozen konnyaku as a sponge, this version has been updated to suit a modern lifestyle. It’s used to cleanse your face without needing soap, and is suitable for sensitive skin.
¥756 at e-makanai.com
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS Known as the “king of beans,” azuki have long been used by Japanese women in the form of an exfoliating powder to remove dead skin cells. The beans polish the skin, leaving it looking healthier and refreshed, and stimulating circulation.
TRY IT Here’s how to make your own azuki bean face scrub:
1. Measure out 1 cup of dry organic azuki beans (available from Amazon.jp), and grind them in a blender until they resemble course flour.
2. Sift the flour, and pour into an airtight glass container.
3. Take 1T of the flour and add it to a small bowl of water; use just enough water to make a thick paste.
4. Apply the paste to your face and massage it into your skin.
5. Leave it on for at least 5 minutes, then rinse well and dab on your Tatcha Gold Camellia Beauty Oil for the perfect finish.
This article appears in the June 2016 issue of Tokyo Weekender magazine.