You may have heard a rumour that J-Beauty is the 'new' K-Beauty, but we say there's room for both Japanese and Korean beauty products in your bathroom cabinet.
K-Beauty has brought us the 10-step skin care routine, 'cloudless skin', and most recently, 'golden phase skin', but J-Beauty is the new and more understated kid on the block.
So if your knowledge of the Japanese beauty culture starts and ends with the sushi menu at Itsu, never fear because we're here to help...
What is J-Beauty?
Yes, we will spell it out thank you. J-Beauty is Japanese beauty, or products originating from Japan, deriving from their beauty methods and habits.
"The Japanese beauty philosophy is very close to healthcare philosophy", says Miyabi Kumagai, Shiseido Brand Manager.
"Western culture is more concerned with correcting damages after they have occurred, whereas Japanese beauty care is more about anticipation. For them, everyday prevention is a natural action."
"All their care routines have been embedded in their minds from a young age, and they prefer anticipating rather than needing an instant emergency superficial cure."
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How is J-Beauty different to K-Beauty?
A lot of what we see come out of Korea is trend-based or 'on-demand' beauty. They're obsessed with instantaneous results, the latest gadgets and gimmicks, which is why all of their products usually have dramatic before and afters or quirky looking colours and formulas. It's the best of fun and fast.
Whereas Japanese beauty prefers to play the long game.
"Japanese beauty is more about taking the matter in depth with respect and basing the results on scientific research and logic", says Miyabi.
"A product will never be launched without 100 per cent certainty on its qualities and benefits. Japanese beauty is about innovation with a long-term reliability."
How come it took us so long to catch on?
As Emi Hayashi, Senior Vice President at KOSÉ Corporation points out, J-beauty is nothing new in Japan, it's just new to the 'Western World'.
"Japanese beauty has always been very big in Asia", says Emi. "The recent attention driven in the Western market is the trend of natural and holistic lifestyles."
Miyabi also believes it's because the Japenese are 'humble and discrete'.
"Culturally, they would rather take inspiration from Western culture than thinking that their own lifestyle would inspire others."
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What sets J-Beauty brands apart from Western brands?
So now that we know about it, why are we so obsessed?
Japanese beauty brands are often the first to have formula breakthroughs and science-driven products. Take for example, one of Shisiedo's latest releases: Essential Energy Day Cream SPF20.
It's the first of its kind to use Neuro Technology (yes, that means the brain), to help reawaken and reboot the skin to be more receptive to products.
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There are many Japanese products that will also improve the performance of your existing skin care favourites. So if you're not ready to switch entirely to a J-Beauty routine, you'll still greatly benefit from a product or two.
And it's not just skincare either, makeup from Japan also features amazing textures and long-wearing formulas. We highly recommend dipping your finger into a Decorté eyeshadow.
What are the best beauty secrets to learn from the Japanese?
Both Emi and Miyabi say that deep cleansing is a very important part of Japanese culture.
"Purity and the notion of cleansing are the key conditions to be as ‘neutral’ as possible and to best receive the benefits of natural or spiritual gifts", says Miyabi.
Miyabi adds "the hot springs not only relax but allow the skin to be cleansed of all superficial imperfections to prepare for a healthy and beautiful skin care ritual."
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"In fact, it is not unusual for Japanese women to spend more than one hour per day in the bath!" Now that's the dream.
Emi says the Japanese also pay great care to stay away from the sun and indulge in face masks and lotions that offer deep hydration and penetration.
Basically, treat every day like it's a spa day.