If you’re familiar with cleansing oils, sheet masks, and rice, you’re no stranger to the wonderful world of Japanese beauty rituals.

That’s right: what if we told you that these skincare items we know and love, were part of traditional Japanese beauty rituals that date from the 18th-19th century? 

Back in the day, many of the Japanese beauty rituals were inspired by Geisha. You can think of them as art performers who danced, sang, played music, and conducted tea ceremonies among many other activities. Being that they performed dances and music in heavy makeup, you’d wonder how they were able to achieve a bright and clean face. Actually, we learned that they had a layer of wax separating the bare skin and the white powder they used for makeup. Amazing, right?

So what other secrets do the Japanese Geisha know that we probably don’t’? Here are five Japanese beauty rituals.

Adzuki Beans (Red Beans) – Exfoliating

If you’re a huuuge fan of mochi, you’d recognize the sweet red bean paste embedded in the center of that pillow-y soft goodness. But the truth is that adzuki beans are a versatile ingredient that’s present all throughout Japan. So it makes sense it has been used in Japanese skincare regimens since the Nara period around 1710. 

Now, let’s talk about skincare. Adzuki beans are well used in the skincare world as a powerful exfoliant to help clean and brighten up the skin. They help acne and clear up blackheads and the appearance of large pores. They also contain saponin – a natural foaming agent, and manganese, which is rich in antioxidants and helps to neutralize free radical damage in the body. 

While there are products out there that are inspired by the Adzuki bean, you can create your very own DIY version at home! You can simply add a half cup of the red adzuki beans into a blender and blend until the consistency becomes a very fine powder. Take a half teaspoon of powder into your palm and mix in a half teaspoon of water until it forms into a paste. Apply the paste onto clean face and gently massage in circles before rinsing off. 

Adzuki Bean Based Skincare Products

PDC Wafood Made Adzuki Scrub  

Chidoirya Adzuki Red Bean Powder Scrub 

Rice – Toner & Mask

The Geisha used to bathe, tone, and use face masks soaked in boiled down rice water. And we found they absolutely have all the more reason to! Rice contains gamma-oryzanol, a substance found in rice and rice bran that helps to boost collagen, even skin tone and smooth texture, and even whiten the skin over time. 

Rice Based Skincare Products

The Face Shop’s Rice & Ceramide Moisturizing Facial Toner

The Face Shop’s Natural Rice Water Light Cleansing Oil Moisturizer

Skinfood’s Facial Mask Rice Wash Off

Kelp – Gel Mask

Since Japan is surrounded by the ocean, it makes all the more sense for its inhabitants to incorporate seaweed in their daily lives. Not surprisingly, kelp is the star ingredient for all things skincare. Why? Not only is it the most nutrient-rich ingredient of the seaweed family, but it also provides amazing benefits to the skin. This includes providing hydration, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. The Geisha would soak sheets of dried kelp into water to soften before placing over their skin. The outcome resembles a modern day gel mask that helps to hydrate and plump the skin.

Kelp Based Skincare Products

REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Salt Exfoliating Body Scrub

Alba Botanica Advanced Skin Care Sea Kelp Facial Toner (2-pack)

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream

Rose Petals – Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are one of the most popular skincare items around today, but they are also one of the most ancient. Geisha would take pieces of excess silk they used for their garments, soak them in flower petal water, and use the sheets of silk as a sheet. The effects from rose petals then helped to calm down inflammation, reverse free radical damage, and soften skin. Interestingly enough, the incorporation of rose petals even dates back to the Ancient Romans. It kind of makes you wonder how there’s so many similarities across many cultures. 

Rose Petal Based Skincare Products

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

Garnier 3- in-1 Rose Water Moisturizer

Mario Badescu Rose & Aloe Facial Spray

Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner

Matcha – Face Mask

Ahh, the good old Matcha~ 

Just like adzuki beans, matcha is also a very versatile ingredient in Japanese culture and has been well incorporated in Japanese daily life. This also includes the Geisha, who were experts in conducting tea ceremonies and were avid tea drinkers themselves. Matcha is an antioxidant-rich superfood. The highlight is EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), which is a plant compound that helps soothe inflammation, reverse free radical damage, and brighten up the skin.

Matcha Based Skincare Products

Jade Leaf Matcha Powder

Volcanic Mud Facial Mask With Matcha Green Tea Extract

Boscia Matcha Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask

For more on Japanese beauty secrets from our favorite hosts, check out the full video:

Head over to more information and product recommendations:  youtube.com/c/BeautyWithin

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