Gems from The Japanese Skincare Revolution ~ Niban (Part II)

Hi everyone! I’ve just realised I may have committed a bit of a Japanese boo-boo…

In the Japanese language, when they count or list things, there is no single “standard” set of counters, really. It varies depending on what you are counting, e.g. vehicles, round things, flat things, etc. (In this regard it is MUCH harder than English!)

To date, in this series of posts in which I’m sharing snippets from The Japanese Skincare Revolution book, I have been using what is called the “ban” counter. So we’ve had Ichiban (Part 1)… Now we have Niban (2) – I think?!

Anyhow you get the picture! ;) I’m guessing most people aren’t reading this with the intention of correcting my so/so Japanese, but hey if anyone can correct me on my use of counters or confirm I’m correct, please do! I’m going to check in with my Japanese teacher next week and try and get some clarification. :)

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japanese beauty advert pre war

Image: flickr.com (this is reportedly from a Japanese beauty ad pre WWII)

When I started this series of posts I thought that it would be a straightforward exercise. I take note of the parts of the book I find most interesting or unexpected, and then talk (well ok – write! ;)) about them here. It’s become a bit more complicated because I’m finding the whole book interesting!

Tonight I’d like to share with you what Saeki-san calls “the five goals of skin beauty”, or, how you can evaluate the status of your skin. This is important as if you are able to accurately suss out how it is going and what it needs, you will be able to appropriately feed it from the inside and out, and it will improve!

What are the goals?

  1. Moisture. If your skin is doing well in this area it will have balanced oil and moisture content, makeup will go on smoothly and stay on for a reasonable time, its texture will be moist and velvety, it will be springy to the touch, and it is clear.
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    Balance is the key, as if your skin is too oily it can be a sign it is crying out for moisture! Saeki-san recommends that you should focus on providing oily skin with moisture rather than trying to strip it away, as stripping just encourages the skin to continue to overproduce oil to combat the temporary dryness. I found this principle to be very relevant in bringing my combination-oily skin down to its  current normal-combination state. (If you are not familiar with my typical skin care routine, you can check it out here.)
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  2. Smoothness. If your skin is good in this area it is soft, has an even texture, holds makeup well (coming back to oil again!), produces relatively little oil, and has an “active metabolism”.
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    By metabolism, Saeki-san means that the skin is replacing its cells regularly. I.e. you should exfoliate regularly! She recommends once-twice a week, I only do it once a week as I find that is enough for me. (Personally I think it’s best to err on the side of caution when starting to exfoliate for the first time, and see how you go doing it once a week for a while. You don’t want to irritate the skin!)
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  3. Firmness. Firm skin: springs back when pressed with the fingers, appears “fresh and glowing”, is balance in terms of oil vs moisture, feels moist to the touch, and has few lines and wrinkles.
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    Saeki-san identifies dust, aircon, and UV rays as having a negative impact on this area in partcular. She recommends taking particular care with your skin care routine in situations in which you are exposed to these environments (which for me probably needs to be all the time! :-0 The climate in Adelaide is very dry.) Foods high in protein (e.g. meat, fish, dairy) as well as foods high in Vitamin C can help in this area, according to Saeki-san. I am also guessing lots of water and hydration would also help in this area… What do you think?
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  4. Elasticity. If your skin is doing well in this area it should feel springy to the touch, have a “glow”, appear to have a fine and plump texture, “shows minimal sagging around the corners of the eyes and mouth”, and should be moist overall. (Is it just me or is there some overlap in the things to look for under each goal? :))
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    Saeki-san recommends the regular use of serums for the skin to help in this area, as she explains that this is an issue primarily related to the dermis, the hidden and deep layer of the skin which is supporting the epidermis that we see every day. Serums can reportedly get into these lower layers and help out, and Saeki-san also has some facial massage techniques which she claims will help in this area later in the book (don’t worry, I will mention these in a later post, we just aren’t quite there yet! ;)).
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  5. Last but not least, Saeki-san identifies a clear complexion as being the 5th goal. A clear complexion, according to Saeki-san, has a soft and firm appearance, feels moist, has clarity, has an active metabolism (again, exfoliation comes in here), and exudes a sense of vitality.
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    If your skin is kicking goals in #5, you are likely to have what she calls a “young and healthy” appearance, and makeup will serve to enhance your overall features rather than hide or attempt to mask things. In addition to general tips for goals 1 through 4, Saeki-san recommends avoiding cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Next time, we are moving on to Saeki-san’s recommended skin care routine for morning and night – including her advice on makeup removal -  and then we will go on to the facial massages. There will be pictures in the massage post – I’m going to try them out! (You might need to be prepared for some funny images!)

In case you are keen to pick up this book, it is “The Japanese Skincare Revolution” by Chizu Saeki (ISBN 978-1-56836-406-3). I purchased it myself via bookdepository.com and from memory it was less than $30 AUD! Bargain. :)

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What do you think about Saeki-san’s “5 goals”? Any surprises here, or not?

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Author:Sarah

Sarah is the creator and editor of, and chief writer for "a beautiful story". You can also find her on Twitter (@beautstoryblog), Instagram (@abeautifulstory) and facebook (facebook.com/beautstoryblog). Comment Policy: Sarah replies to and appreciates comments from readers. Comments are moderated - SPAM and offensive comments will not be published.

5 Responses to “Gems from The Japanese Skincare Revolution ~ Niban (Part II)”

  1. anna petts
    14/03/2013 at 10:54 PM #

    I remember a time when I worked at Body Shop in Melbourne, I served a lovely lady (Japanese? Not sure) who had the MOST AMAZING SKIN IN THE WORLD. No really, it was moist, glowing, smooth, I wanted to touch it so bad! All of the points listed in your post make sense. The weird thing about being pregnant is that my skin looks amazing…Crazy huh. I thinkI have also mastered the oil/dry dilemma and I am so good at suncream these days to reduce lines and pigmentation.

    Great post! :)

    • 15/03/2013 at 11:51 AM #

      Hi Anna, OMG you worked at The Body Shop?! I’m jealous! :) The customer’s skin does sound amazing!

      Ooh that’s great you are experiencing that as part of your pregnancy but I hope it sticks around for you! :)

      Yes I think in Australia the sun protection is really crucial. At last I have a proper UV umbrella… Now I’ve gotta be disciplined enough to remember to bring it with me when out and about!

  2. Alison
    27/03/2013 at 7:17 PM #

    Hi Anna, I’ve ordered this book myself and I wondered what products you are using with the methods described in the book. Specifically I’d like to know if the Okoii products you described in an earlier post fit in with this. I really liked the sound of those and would love to use the two together.

    • 27/03/2013 at 8:58 PM #

      Hi Alison, yes I use Okoii but also SK-II (SK-II is a very recent addition for me – the facial treatment essence). If you search “okoii” on the site here you can find out exactly what I use. :) – Sarah

    • 28/03/2013 at 10:31 AM #

      PS. As you will see on the Okoii website, they have a wide range of products designed for various skin types and concerns. The exact products I use may or may not work for you, so I recommend emailing the owner via the contact details on the Okoii website before you place an order. She is very nice and helpful, and will provide you with free detailled advice!