How do Japanese women maintain their smooth, blemish-free skin? Aside from just having good genes and spending hours soaking in mineral-rich onsen, we mean. Well, turns out they’ve also been soaking in sake.

The simplest way to introduce the tradition into your lifestyle is by adding a cup or two of sake into your bath water, but there are also plenty of products on offer that allow you to slather yourself in rice wine-derived ingredients and reap the benefits. Speaking of which, here’s what the good stuff can do for your skin…

Give a Geisha-like Glow

Even with all that heavy daily make-up, geisha are known for having radiant skin. And it’s reportedly largely thanks to their custom of drinking a couple of small glasses of sake every day. Victoria Tsai, founder of Japanese beauty brand Tatcha, writes on “Sake warms the body internally while simultaneously stimulating circulation.” She also explains that the geisha beauty ritual includes soaking in a sake-filled bath for 30 minutes.

Turn Back Time

Toji, or sake master brewers, are famously known for having baby-soft, wrinkle-free hands well into old age. The reason? Making sake involves working with koji (cultivated mold that helps to ferment the rice), which is packed with enzymes and amino acids that help to moisturize and nourish skin.

Repair Sun Damage 

Asian women are known for using sake as a natural skin lightener thanks to the kojic acid, which is a potent compound produced during the fermentation process that reduces the amount of melanin your skin produces. For those of us who’ve spent too many years basking on beaches without proper sun protection, this means that sake skincare could effectively even out age spots and pigmentation.

Two Local Products to Try

Marubishi Sekken

Using Japanese sake from Kobe along with other natural ingredients such as honey, goat’s milk, lavender, sakura, and rice bran, this handmade travel soap contains no fragrances, stabilizers, preservatives or pigments. One box contains 16 bars, each of which weighs only 60g and provides just the right amount of lather to wash face, hair and body up to three times. Six different varieties are available, with each one catering to different skin types and preferences. ¥1,080 from


Koji Hada Cream

This light and airy meringue-like cream was created in collaboration with Furumachi Koji Manufacturing and uses koji extracts to help soften and moisturize skin. It was developed specifically with Japanese women in mind, paying attention to nutritional content, a slight hint of koji aroma, and pretty packaging that features a motif of the rice plant flower. Use it as a lotion, emulsion and serum all in one. ¥4,629 from