In recent years, Japanese skincare has been making waves far beyond just the Japanese market. You may know one or two people who are obsessed with Japanese beauty. You might even know those who request for certain products when they hear of your trip to Japan.
Skincare enthusiasts from around the world adore Japanese skincare for a multitude of reasons. If you don’t see where the love is coming from, here are a handful of reasons that might persuade you to delve into the world of Japanese skincare products too.
Why do you need Japanese skincare?
1. Better sun protection
If you’re trying to devise a good anti-aging skincare routine, proper sun protection is absolutely crucial. Over time, UV exposure weakens the skin’s water barrier. This can cause uneven skin pigmentation, wrinkling, and damage to the DNA. UV exposure attributes to 80% of visible signs of skin aging, as found in one such study.
You might be wondering how Japanese skincare, in particular, relates to this.
Western and Korean brands (amongst others) make sun-care products too, but there are important differences. The cultural differences between Asian and Western beauty standards can account for some of these differences. Tanned skin is considered beautiful in much of the Western world. Fair skin, however, is upheld as one of the paragons of beauty in a large number of Asian societies. As a result, there is less of a demand for high-end, high-quality Western sunscreens. Their formulations tend to be thick, greasy and heavy-duty. These are more suitable for occasional outdoor activities than for daily skincare routines and for wearing under makeup.
Asian sun-care products tend to be more cosmetically elegant as daily protection from the sun is a higher priority. These sunscreens tend to be less greasy, more suitable for daily wear, and with higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) ratings. In the world of Asian sunscreens, Japanese sun care products tend to be coveted over Korean ones due to labelling regulations.
Labels on Korean sunscreens only go up to PA+++*, where Japanese sunscreens go as far as PA++++. Hence, it’s easier to be sure about the strength of your sunscreen when buying products labelled under Japanese regulations. It could give you the peace of mind when it comes to your routine.
*These regulations have changed in 2017 to show PA++++ ratings, and is slowly being reflected in terms of products currently on the market.
2. A different skincare philosophy
Japanese and Western skincare each take different approaches to one’s skin. In general, the approach of Western skincare tends towards a focus on cleaning. This includes products such as exfoliators, foaming washes that leave your skin ‘squeaky clean’, astringent toners, and an emphasis on ‘oil-free’ products.
In comparison, Japanese beauty product users have noted that there is a greater emphasis on hydration and moisturization instead of aggressive cleansing. They don’t shy away from the inclusion of nourishing oils in their products. These different philosophies shine through in the types of products created. If you feel like you’ve been too harsh on your skin with your current Western products, it can be hard to avoid the issue without changing the kinds of products you use. This might be where the Japanese skincare philosophy and products could prove to be helpful to you.
3. Simpler formulations
In terms of formulation, there seems to be a tendency for Japanese skincare products to have simpler ingredient lists than Western or Korean ones. Japanese skincare formulations differ significantly as they do not include a cocktail of botanical extracts and various ingredients within a single product.
It might be fun to try a product full of newfangled ingredients; one that could potentially work wonders for your skin. But this also increases the risk of skin irritation due to a larger number of potential irritants. You might not even be sure of which ingredient in the list broke you out or inflamed your skin (or which ingredients you respond well to), since there would be so many to rule out. Therefore, you might find Japanese skincare formulations to be more forgiving and easy to work with, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
4. Greater variety
There’s a huge range of Japanese skincare products out there. Thankfully, you don’t have to seek out luxurious brands in order to get high-quality products. You can find a variety of high-end brands in Japanese department stores. Some even offer a greater range of products at the respective department store counter in Singapore. Older and wealthier consumers would favour the high-end brands at department stores, though they’re suitable for all. If you are looking for something more affordable, you can find an array of gems in Japanese drugstores as well. Some of these cater specifically to younger consumers.
While they are still affordable, Japanese drugstore beauty products are more expensive than drugstore products around the world. Western fans of Japanese beauty brands have hunted for these products online as they’re known to be superior in quality. They then stock up on their Japanese skincare favourites when traveling in Asia. Some popular examples of products are Japanese cleansing oils, mascaras, and sunscreens.
5. Better suited to your skin type
Different ethnic groups have varying degrees of skin quality and structure. For instance, studies have found differences in rates of moisture absorption, water loss, sensitivity of the water barrier, and signs of visible skin aging between Asian, Black and Caucasian skin types. This means there can be a lot of variability in the effectiveness of a product across different ethnic populations. These formulation of these products vary across different markets to suit certain types of skin. There aren’t many studies out there comparing different types of “Asian skin” to see how much variation there is. But, the chances are that your skin would respond better to Asian skincare products if you are also Asian. The formulations for these products are made for with the associated skin concerns in mind.
With these five reasons in mind, it’s easy to see why Japanese skincare has garnered itself such a massive, devoted following, and continues to enjoy increasing popularity. Are you feeling ready to try out Japanese skincare for yourself?