The Gorgeous Skin of Japanese Women: Formspring.me Question

 from formspring.me:
I just got back from Hawaii and noticed how flawless most Japanese women’s skin is.  What make-up are they using?!

Gosh, I wish I knew for sure! The lovely skin of all the Japanese women and girls around me was always a complex for me growing up – since I moved to Japan just as I hit those ohsofun years of puberty, and experienced all the skin problems that entailed.;-) I always wanted to stop people on the street and ask them what their secrets were…

I’m by no means a dermatologist but as far as what I understand from reading Japanese mags, talking to Japanese friends, and watching Japanese TV – in general the “naked face” or “no make-up look” is not what younger Japanese women go for. It’s interesting – in the US that’s sort of the gold standard when it comes to foundation…that you look like you’re wearing nothing! (I think that’s why Bare Minerals is so successful here, as well as the almost constant advice that you look best when you just “dot concealer on your flaws and leave the rest of your face without foundation and natural-looking.”)
In Japan, the standard is TONS of makeup – so much so that they have shows on tv where girls are forced to wash off their makeup and everyone laughs at them to see that their faces are completely different (and missing eyebrows is a favorite taunt). Many young Japanese women go the whole shebang: primer, foundation, concealer, dark contour, highlight, setting powder, and oil-blotting sheets throughout the day. Their skin-care regimen is in general much more involved than that of many Americans: responding to polls many girls admit that they spend 1-2 hours in the morning on their skincare/makeup, and another 1-2 hours in the evening! (Among women under the age of 30, or at least the ones that reply to said polls for magazines and TV shows.) When it comes to makeup brands, it seems that the Japanese will buy the most expensive brand of foundation – they definitely don’t skimp there. Dior, Chanel, Lancome, Shiseido, SK-II, Kate, RMK – all mainstays in the foundation market. They use specific concealers for their pores and specific concealers for their undereye area. Even in the heat (like Hawaii, or during summer), they will still layer on the makeup, and use blotting sheets meticulously to soak up the oil and impart a layer of powder on their faces (I’m a big fan of the Biore brand of blotting sheets – why the heck don’t they make them here??). Many Japanese girls also cover up from the sun and use sunscreen religiously (though there is the contingent that uses tanning beds, though they’re not a majority by any means).

Also, I suspect a large component of their beautiful skin is diet: taking a daily vitamin is still quite a new concept since the accepted practice in Japan is to get one’s vitamins from FOOD. Even young Japanese women “on a diet”will still eat a wide variety of vegetables (prepared in a number of different ways) at every meal, a large amount of fish weekly, and use condiments that are soy-based, miso-based, and vinegar-based. The amount and variety of vegetables, seafood, and skin-healthy condiments that we use in the US pales in comparison. Plus, living in Japan in the major metropolitan areas, everyone gets tons of exercise walking around or riding their bikes or commuting – so they’re getting above and beyond that 30 minutes of recommended exercise a day, which I’m sure has something to do with their skin quality. Plus add in long, hot baths, soaking salts, and trips to the esthetician (for some), and that might just be a good picture of why the skin of Japanese women looks so fabulous. (The main dermatological complaint in Japan? Dry, flaky skin!!)

I’ve scanned a couple recent features from Vivi Magazine and S-Cawaii Magazine on how to apply foundation [click to enlarge], so you can see the method that they suggest for applying makeup. (I’d venture to guess that this method is pretty indicative of – if not a little more involved than – the average Japanese girl’s makeup routine. Imagine if they listed this step-by-step in Marie Claire or Lucky! Who would follow it here in the US??)

Japanese women or those who have more knowledge of this subject, please feel free to weigh in!
Thanks for your question!
xoxox
Carly

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How do You Keep Yourself Looking So Good?: Formspring.me Question

from formspring.me:
How do you keep yourself looking so good, young and skinny? 🙂
Awww, thank you! You’re so very sweet:-) 

It’s probably a combination of genes and habits (and maybe Photoshop??? hehe;-).

On the beach in Hawaii.  I don’t know how I survived living there for 4 years without turning into a lobster.

I’ve used the highest SPF I possibly can (that’s still affordable) since I was 16 when I realized I am just physically unable to tan. I’ve been using SPF 110 for the last year or so – I always buy the Neutrogena brand that has Helioplex in it, and I put it on after my moisturizer, every single day, rain or shine, whether I’m going in or staying out, on my face, neck (front & back), chest (if exposed), backs of the hands, and arms (if exposed). When I go to the beach, I stay hidden under a huge umbrella, with a huge hat, huge sunglasses (yes, HUGE is the word of the day), and often drape my clothing over my head to cover myself. I always wear a long t-shirt when I swim outside (though I recently purchased a long-sleeved rashguard, so now I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair of board-shorts to go with it. Heck, I would wear something like a 1920’s bathing costume if I could just so I could be more covered-up.) All this is not exactly carefree or fun, but it’s second-nature to me now.

I’ve also never smoked or done any drugs – and was never a “partier” during my school years.

I only drink water (I hate alcohol, and cut coffee, soda, and juice out of my diet about 10 years ago or so). Sure, I might have the tiniest sip now and then of Hub’s diet Coke or Lil Tot’s apple juice, but on the whole most sweet drinks just taste too sweet to me, and soda too fizzy. I guess I’ve just lost the palate for it! (I do drink some green tea or peppermint tea once in awhile for the health benefits, but 98% of the time I’m drinking water.)

I also eat lots of fruit and raw vegetables, stopped using salad dressing like 13 years ago, eat a handful of nuts and 1T – 2T of ground flaxseed every day, and try to choose things that have more health benefits than health risks to put in my body. About 2-3 days a week I’ll only eat and cook vegetarian or vegan meals; I eat red meat rarely, though I do love chicken. (I always joke that I was a vegetarian for 6 years until KFC did me in…because I do have a terrible weakness for the stuff. But I might eat KFC like once every 6 months??  Colonel’s Extra Crispy!)

I only recently started learning a lot about nutrition and how the body works through my subscription to Health Magazine (they are the best – seriously!!) and Parents Magazine, and doing Tony Horton’s diet and exercise programs [Power 90 and P90X] through the years. There was so much I didn’t know about health and nutrition and food until I was in my late 20’s!! What a waste high school Health Class was. (Is anybody with me on this??)

So yes, I LOVE Ruffles potato chips and chocolate cake and fruit pies and peanut butter cookies and butterscotch candies and licorice and Twizzlers and shortbreads and chocolate but I do try to eat those things rarely and barter them for other things in my diet that may have very little health benefits as well.

Like I will eat only a small amount of white rice (this makes me popular with my Japanese in-laws!!) in exchange for eating a small slice of cake for dessert. I may eat an ounce of potato chips but then will forgo my serving of carbs or make my serving of meat smaller at dinner. Though I like fat free milk better, I eat my cereal with soymilk because it’s the same amount of calories with higher protein from a non-animal source, no HGH or other preservatives etc. Stuff like that adds up in the long run, I guess.

I am still trying to get back into my usual workout routine which I had to take time off from while I was sick during the Spring. Until then I was jogging or speed-walking intervals 3x a week, and did another day or two of weight-training and/or yoga or stretching. But after hitting 30 , moving to suburbia, and sitting about the house all day [in front of the computer], the pounds have definitely crept on so I’m no role model in that respect.:-)

img source

I also take a multi-vitamin, extra Vitamin D, and a calcium supplement daily, as well as use a retinol-based serum mixed in with my night cream that has really produced visible results. Plus Oil of Olay products have also really helped the quality and texture of my skin.

Hope that answers your question!
xoxo
Carly

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8 Weird Yet Wildly Effective Beauty Tips

We all hear the same tired skin care tips year in and year out. You know the ones…“moisturize daily” and “drink plenty of water.” Effective? Yes. Interesting? No. Here are some WEIRD ways to care for yourself that actually work:

1. I’ll have the Bird Poop Please: Based on a traditional skin care secret practiced by the beautiful Geisha of Japan, this facial combines powdered nightingale droppings (generally sanitized using ultraviolet light technology) and delicate Japanese rice bran. This unique mix both exfoliates and lightens dark areas of the face. This facial is known as the “Geisha facial,” and it is showing up as a new offering at many day spas.

2. Extra Ssssspecial Scalp Care: If your scalp is “shedding” and dandruff is an issue, try a scalp massage with Solid Snake Oil Shampoo. The natural blend of oils heals dandruff quickly while making hair buttery soft and shiny. (no oil was extracted from snakes in the making of this shampoo, LOL)

3. Put on SPF 285: When outside, shielding skin from damaging UV rays is vital to combat anti-aging. But what about when at home working or playing near your windows? Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, professionally installed Panorama window film will protect your skin from 99% of the most damaging UV Rays.

4. Pretty in Pink The old tried and true go-to belly fix, Pepto-Bismol, makes a fantastic face-tightening mask. Slather it on with a facial sponge and let it dry. Then remove with warm water. Skin will feel moisturized and tighter immediately. As an added benefit, this mask can also help cold sores heal faster.

5. Knock Your Socks Off! With sandal season around the corner, now is the time to fix those dry, cracked heels and feet. After showering at night, smear Vaseline all over feet especially on the heel area. Don’t be shy! You’ll need to use a lot for it to really work. Next, pull on a pair of thin white socks and hit the sack. When you wake up in the morning remove socks and be thrilled at how soft and beach-ready your feet are.

tips courtesy of Panorama Window Film

And…a couple of my own weird yet wildly EFFECTIVE beauty tips:

6. Super-dry cuticles and nails that won’t grow?  Before you go to bed each night, massage cuticles with Neosporin.  Within only a few days, not only will your cuticles be healed…but amazingly, your nails will be significantly longer than without the massaging.  Make it a nightly habit, and in 3 weeks you’ll be astounded at how fast your nails have grown!  (And how strong they are:-)  [The Neosporin aids in quick cell turnover, healing, and regeneration, and the massage stimulates bloodflow to the cuticle bed.]

 

7. Spoon me  After a cry and your eyes are puffy, nothing, I repeat nothing feels as good as two spoons on the eyes that have been chilled in the refrigerator (or freezer, for faster chilling).  It brings the puffiness and redness down right away, with none of that concern of Preparation H getting into and irritating your eyes [a commonly-recommended remedy for under-eye bags].

8. Black Licorice Chew black licorice pieces when canker sores pop up.  Studies have shown that licorice extract has been proven to aid in the healing of canker sores in the mouth.  (from Health Magazine)

Do you guys have any weird but effective tried-and-true beauty tips?
xoxo
Carly

images from womansdays.com, usa.lush.com, Panoramafilm.com, drugstore.com, oneida.com, istockphoto.com, amazon.com

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Beauty Products You Never Knew You Needed…But I Know You’ll Want (I do!)

Japan is also fabulous for (among other things) innovative beauty and health products. [I know you’re probably all sick of the whole “Japan is so great yada yada yada” routine, but honestly, if you got me started on the “Things I hate about Japan” that list would probably be longer.;-) So to keep things positive, I’m just focusing on the cool stuff – mainly consumerism and product innovation at its best.] Here are some neat products I’ve found:


Use instead of earring post nuts to keep your studs secure. Me, when I sleep on my side at night the studs I’m wearing in my ears always stab me in the side of the head when my ear is flattened. The nuts get caught on clothing and hair, get gunky with soap/shampoo/dead skin in them and have to be cleaned frequently – and I never thought about how much of a pain they are. These solve that, plus provide relief to people suffering from metal allergies (there are alot in Japan) since they are non-metallic. An added bonus: you can wear the pearls in the front and the stud in the back…very multifunctional! The store also had different versions like gemstone rounds or acrylic pastel colored balls for sale as well.
Cost: $8


For your Uggs, high-top sneaker, or other boots. Place inside the shoe in the heel area and it gives you a small height boost, so you don’t look short and with stocky legs, and don’t have the boot visually cutting you off at a weird place. They have ones that give you a 2 cm lift or a 3 cm lift. They’re made of silicone and so provide added cushioning to your heel – a big help for the tons of walking you have to do here.
Cost: $12.50 for the 3cm lift ones


Japanese people are also obsessed with ear canal cleanliness. Seriously. The colored Q-tips show the gunk you get out better, and the spiral shape really gets it all out. Or so I’m told.
Cost: $2.80 (from JBox.com; will ship to the U.S.)

Fake Eyelash Mascara
(sorry I can’t find a photo or a listing online, but basically, it looks like your average mascara)

Last year eyelash extensions were all the rage (I got some too) – they were cheap (about $80 for a full top set), lasted about 4-6 weeks if you were careful, indistinguishable from your natural eyelashes, you looked gorgeous round the clock with or without extra makeup….but they had problems, such as people being allergic to the glue, your natural eyelashes growing out and the extensions twisting and matting at strange angles and then poking you in the eye (yeah, that stage kind of sucked), and then your natural eyelashes growing in shorter or sparser because of the added weight and damage that the extensions had incurred. So now everyone’s just applying falsies for day and removing them at night with their makeup (even my 57-year-old MIL). But the problem is, no matter how realistic the false eyelashes look, they’re still kind of floating on top of your real ones. What to do? Enter this mascara, specially formulated to coat both natural and false eyelashes so that the two become indistinguishable. (Regular mascara can damage some types of falsies, but with this you can reuse your pair until they fall apart.)
Cost: $7


You know how, even after you shave your pits, you get this sort of bumpy terrain going on under there? I don’t necessarily mean ingrown hairs (which this product also helps alleviate), but just the sort of pit-appearance. It doesn’t look as nice as say, the skin on your forearm, does it? (Whether or not you use Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth deodorant – which is specifically a growth retardent, not a skin-smoother per se.) Plus under there you also got deodorant buildup…well, it’s just an icky area of the body. Enter WakiLaLa Clear Wash, a product guaranteed to make your underamrs pikapika (smooth and shiny) by scrubbing away dead skin and deodorant buildup, and leave everything smelling fresh.
Cost: $7.50


Why didn’t they think of this sooner??? A pen with a tint made of self-tanner, you draw in your eyebrows with this (carefully, mind you) and even after you wash your makeup off what you drew lasts for 3-7 days. Brilliant – especially for those who’ve overplucked or have eyebrows so blond they disappear every time you wash your face (that’s me! Though not a problem most Japanese women have LOL)
Cost: $13 (the linked page above isn’t loading the product photo, so I’ve included the photo from this site here…the pens are henna-based, but still the same concept, tho they only last 3 days, and the Peach John version lasts up to 7)

I know you probably hadn’t thought about it before (I know I hadn’t), but those pierced ear holes get kind of…smelly and gunky after awhile, no? Clean them with ear hole floss! Like dental floss, but stiffer and shorter. Like a toothpick, but thinner and more pliable. Genius! I found both mint- and rosewater- scented versions.
Cost: $3


You can’t be female and survive Tokyo’s August without these. This work like blotting paper, except when you blot, the sheets impart a layer of soft, lightweight powder. Some sheets have separate functions for each side: one side wipes the sweat, the other re-seals your foundation once you’re done. Your makeup stays put no matter what! (And they have scented versions, and Men’s Sheets….)
Cost: $3

Most of these products you can only buy in Japan; the links on the titles will take you to pages where you can buy them but you have to have a shipping address in Japan. Some Asian supermarkets will sell them (I’ve seen the WakiLala Armpit Clear Wash at the local Uwajimaya in Oregon, for example). Some you may be able to buy on JBox.com (for example, the cotton swabs above), which is a treasure trove of all things Japanese!

xoxox from Tokyo
Carly

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