The Japanese Skin Care Routine: A Step-By-Step Guide

Nourish and hydrate your skin with age-old beauty secrets and simple diet tips.

Reviewed by Daria KruchininaDaria Kruchinina, Licensed Esthetician
Written by Ramona SinhaRamona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

The Japanese skin care routine is simpler than the Korean skin care routine. Although it may not be as popular as its Korean counterpart, the J-beauty routine has a holistic skin care approach. It focuses more on nourishing and hydrating the skin, UV protection, and neutralizing the sun’s damaging effects on the skin.

This article takes you through the Japanese skin care routine, how it helps the skin, a step-by-step guide, and Japanese diet tips for maintaining gorgeous skin. Scroll down to read more.

What Is The Japanese Skin Care Routine? Why Should You Consider It?

Sometimes, your skin needs more than the basic cleansing-toning-moisturizing (CTM) routine. It has specific needs, and you have to customize your skin care routine accordingly.

The Japanese skin care routine is focused on the overall well-being of your skin. The steps may seem intense, but they improve your skin health by providing it with the right ingredients in the right order. This helps the skin absorb them and appear healthy and hydrated. The Japanese believe in nurturing the skin rather than relying on makeup and cosmetics.

If you want a smooth and healthy complexion, you should definitely consider following the Japanese skin care routine. The fuss-free steps can easily be a part of your natural skincare routine without making major changes. Here is a quick guide to the morning and night skin care steps.

 Japanese Skin Care Routine: Step-By-Step Guide

The Morning Skin Care Routine

Step 1: Cleansing

For the Japanese, cleansing is a ritual to be followed with utmost care. They follow an elaborate nighttime cleansing, so in the morning, it is sufficient to wash your face with clean and cool water to remove any residual cream applied the previous night. Use a gentle face wash. Rinse well and pat dry with a clean towel.

Step 2: Toner

Cleansing is often not enough to remove all dirt and residue from the skin. A toner helps remove the residue, tighten the skin pores, and restore the pH levels. It helps the skin absorb the following skin care products better.

Step 3: Essence

The essence is a water-based product and contains a high amount of active ingredients. It helps hydrate the skin and should be applied right after toning. An essence is lighter than a serum and a moisturizer and addresses skin issues like dryness, fine lines, and redness.

Step 4: Serum

Serums are targeted skincare products and contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than any other product. You can buy a serum as per the skin concern. For instance, for hydration, buy a serum with hyaluronic acid. Look for vitamins C, E, and D, collagen, and retinol serums if you want to address concerns like fine lines, hyperpigmentationi  XA medical term used to describe dark patches or spots on the skin due to high melanin (natural skin pigment) production. , and uneven skin tone. Make sure to consult your dermatologist.

Step 5: Moisturizer

The moisturizer in the Japanese skin care routine forms a barrier on the skin and locks in moisture and other ingredients you have applied so far. You may use a lightweight moisturizer or heavier one, specifically if you are in a dry climate or office.

Step 6: Eye Cream

The lotions, creams, and moisturizers are not enough to address the concerns of the delicate under-eye area. That is why you need an eye cream to protect and nourish the area around your eyes. Dab a little bit of the product around the eyes with the tip of your ring finger.

Step 7: Sunscreen

Japanese women are serious about protecting their skin from UV damage. Apply a sunscreen lotion as the final step of your skin care routine to prevent sunburn, tanning, and pigmentation. Use a product that has at least SPF of 30 and PA +++ rating.

If you love to wear makeup, this is when you should apply your foundation. You can also use a BB or CC creams or cushions instead of a traditional foundation with at least SPF of 30.

Your skin needs equal care and attention before going to bed. The Japanese nighttime beauty routine helps heal the skin while you are asleep. Here is a lowdown on how to prepare your skin for a night of blissful beauty sleep.

Japanese Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Step 1: Cleansing

A woman cleansing her face as a part of her morning skin care routine
Image: Shutterstock

The Japanese do not use drying face washes to cleanse their skin at night. Instead, they follow a double cleansing method.

  • Cleansing Oils: Cleansing oils help lift dirt, dust, makeup, and pollution from the skin surface. They work on the principle of oil dissolves oil. They prevent harsh rubbing and soothe your skin.
  • Cleansing: Use a gentle foaming face wash to cleanse your skin properly. The Japanese believe in treating their skin gently and use only ultra-rich foaming formulas to wash their face. Rice powder cleansers are extremely popular in Japan.

Step 2: Exfoliate

This step should be followed once a week, right after cleansing. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture. Japanese women do not use harsh scrubs or products for exfoliation. Instead, they use gentle exfoliating gels to remove the dead skin cells.

protip_icon Fun Fact
It is believed that Japanese women in the Nara Period (710-794 AD) used adzuki beans to exfoliate and purify their skin.

Step 3: Toning

Do not skip toning during the nighttime routine. Use an alcohol-free toner to soothe your skin and restore the pH balance.

Step 4: Skin-Softening Lotion

The lotion is a key step in the Japanese skin care routine and unique. It is often known as a softener and contains ingredients like ceramides, sake (Japanese rice wine), and amino acids. Lotions provide instant hydration and keep the skin soft. They also have a brightening effect.

Step 5: Essence

Just like the daytime routine, apply the essence after using the skin-softening lotion. This step will provide additional hydration to your skin.

Step 6: Serum

Young woman applying face serum as a part of her morning skin care routine
Image: Shutterstock

For nighttime skin care, it is essential to use a serum that heals the skin and strengthens the cellular structure. You may use beauty products that contain glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, or retinol. These ingredients stimulate cell turnover and combat the signs of premature aging.

Step 7: Spot Treatment

If you have acne-prone skin, you may use spot treatments on the lesionsi  XAny abnormality or damage in the tissue of an organism that has different characteristics from the surrounding skin. . These products dry up the lesion, eliminate the bacteria, and reduce the chances of developing blemishes.

Step 8: Sheet Mask

A woman applying a sheet mask as a part of her night skin care routine
Image: Shutterstock

Once in a while, you may pamper your skin with a sheet mask or a facial mask to give an extra boost to your daily skin care routine. A face mask allows the skin to rest while the serum saturates it with all the active ingredients.

Step 9: Eye Cream

A woman applying eye cream as a part of her morning skin care routine
Image: Shutterstock

Eye cream is an integral step in the Japanese nighttime skin care routine. Apply eye cream to the area around your eyes to repair and soothe the delicate under-eye skin. A gentle massage of the under-eye area keeps away dark circles and fine lines.

Step 10: Moisturizer

Young woman applying moisturizer as a part of her night skin care routine
Image: Shutterstock

This is the final step of the nighttime skin care routine. A moisturizer helps lock in the moisture and keep the skin hydrated all night long. This ensures your skin enjoys all the benefits of the products you have applied before moisturizing.

Follow this routine for a month to enhance your skin’s health and firmness. In addition, try these beauty tips to get the best out of your morning and nighttime skin care rituals.

Tips For Getting Gorgeous Skin The Japanese Way

  • Incorporate facials and body treatments in your routine.
  • Use exfoliating products with azuki beans.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Drink green tea and use it in your DIY beauty routines.
  • Massage your face and body with camellia oil.
  • Include probiotics in your diet to boost your immune system.
  • Use makeup to complement your skin and not hide your flaws.
  • Opt for a light sunscreen gel instead of a heavier lotion or cream.

Diet is also an important factor in keeping your skin healthy. The typical Japanese diet seldom includes red meat, fried foods, salt, and sugar. Instead, it focuses more on consuming raw vegetables, fruits, green tea, and rice. The fresh produce and fermented soy products boosts skin health from within.

Japanese Diet Tips For Flawless Skin

1. Tofu And Tempeh

Soy products like tofu and tempeh are high in protein and contain low levels of saturated fats. Soybeans contain eight essential amino acids and are also good sources of fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins (1). Consume more soy products for skin that feels and looks great.

2. Dark Chocolate

As incredible as it sounds, eating dark chocolate may maintain your overall health, including your skin health. Dark chocolate is rich in dietary polyphenols, known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (2). The Japanese believe that including dark chocolate in their diet helps delay the signs of aging.

3. Seaweed

Seaweed or Nori is widely used in Japanese cuisine. It is one of the secrets behind their glowing skin. Seaweed is abundant in bioactive compounds and has antioxidant and anti-aging benefits for the skin (3). You can take supplements with seaweed if you do not fancy eating them as part of your diet.

4. Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms or Ganoderma lucidum have been a part of the Asian diet since ancient times. These mushrooms are a staple in folk medicine and are believed to possess anti-aging properties. This medicinal mushroom has antioxidant properties and may reduce oxidative stress to delay the effects of aging (4).

protip_icon Trivia
Reishi Mushroom also goes by the name Lingzhi. It is a polypore fungus.

5. Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

Japanese people eat a diet loaded with nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Your skin reflects your inner health, and eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, carotenoidsi  XA class of naturally occurring pigments found in many fruits and vegetables with anti-inflammatory properties. , tocopherols, and flavonoidsi  XA group of natural substances found in almost all fruits and veggies with anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties. nourishes the skin from within (5).

Infographic: Japanese Skin Brightening Home Remedy – Boiled Rice Face Pack

Everyone is drawn to Japanese women because of their flawless skin. One natural remedy they swear by is the Japanese skin brightening face pack made of boiled rice. It has been a part of Asian beauty since ancient times.

Women in Japan, China, and Korea use boiled rice starch to wash their face and hair to enhance their beauty. It is also said to be the key to their beautiful skin. Though this face pack is commercially available, Japanese women prefer to make it at home rather than purchase it from the market. Check out the infographic below to learn how to make this nourishing face pack.

japanese skin brightening home remedy (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Download Infographic in PDF version

The Japanese skincare routine focuses on a holistic approach by providing the right ingredients that nurture and improve your overall skin health. It promotes proper self-care and overall wellness to achieve naturally-radiant skin. This extensive routine offers a rejuvenating experience and will bestow you with healthy skin. The morning skincare routine includes a cleanser, toner, essence, serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and sunscreen. The nighttime routine is a slight variation of this routine and includes exfoliation, spot treatment, and sheet mask for hydration and nourishment. Along with a proper skincare routine, you should also follow a diet high in tofu, fresh fruits, and vegetables and stay hydrated for smooth and glowing skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Japanese skin care routine better than the Korean skin care routine?

Both skin care routines have their pros and cons. The Japanese skin care routine is more minimalistic, holistic, and simpler in its approach. The Korean skincare routine has a multi-step approach and focuses on incorporating ingredients like snail mucin. You can choose the skin care routine that is suitable for you.

Is rice water a part of the Japanese skin care routine?

Yes, rice water is an integral part of the Japanese skin care routine. Rice water acts as a cleanser that cleanses your pores, leaving your skin soft and nourished. You can spray it on your face before going to bed.

What are the key principles of a Japanese skin care routine?

The key principles of a Japanese skincare routine include gentle cleansing, optimal hydration, the use of high-quality ingredients in skincare products, and sun protection.

How important is double cleansing in a Japanese skin care routine?

Double cleansing is an essential part of the Japanese skincare routine. It ensures that all impurities and product residue are removed from the skin before applying hydrating products for easy skin penetration.

Key Takeaways

  • The Japanese skin care routine focuses on improving your overall appearance and skin health with ingredients that hydrate, heal, and nourish your skin.
  • While both the Japanese morning and nighttime skin care routines give you healthy skin, eating a balanced diet and keeping yourself hydrated are also important.
  • Since the diet also plays an essential role in improving your skin health, including tofu and dark chocolate into your regimen may help delay signs of aging and make your skin look great.

Watch this video and unveil the Japanese skin care routine to achieve the coveted “glass skin” look. Nourish your dry, sensitive, or normal skin morning and night with a step-by-step guide. Embrace the radiance you deserve.


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