After my first glimpse into the geisha’s beauty rituals, I realized that Japanese skincare is designed to work with the skin instead of against it. Like their diet, ingredients they use on their faces are focused on balancing and calming the body, ideas which are rooted in traditional Eastern medicine.
“Efficacious, anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as Japanese Indigo, soothe the skin while repairing and healing the damage caused by inflammation.”
What is referred to as excessive “internal heat” in Eastern medicine parallels modern science’s recent focus on inflammation. Current research links premature aging to chronic inflammation, a condition in which the body’s natural immune response becomes unregulated and begins to cause systemic harm. The skin reflects this imbalance, causing redness and irritation. Efficacious, anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as Japanese Indigo, soothe the skin while repairing and healing the damage caused by inflammation. That’s why these timeless ingredients are at the heart of our ritual for sensitive skin, and have such a comforting effect. Calming the complexion is one way to bring the skin into balance.
Many aspects of the classic Japanese lifestyle embrace a balanced approach to living, too. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my travels to Kyoto that reduce chronic inflammation, from the inside and out:
- Brew and enjoy a cup of green tea. The meditative practice of preparing and sipping green tea relaxes the mind and reduces stress. Green tea’s anti-inflammatory effects and high levels of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) make it a powerful, anti-aging ingredient.
- Eat with a variety and savor every bite. Unlike many Western meals with an entrée starring at the center of the plate, most traditional Japanese meals offer a variety of different small dishes, served together. This principle is called ichi ju san sai (one soup and three side dishes, plus rice) and is essential to the Japanese diet. Beautifully arranged, these meals delight all of the senses and feed the soul.
- If you like seafood, try eating more fish. Fish is a staple source of protein in Japan, and is rich in fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory benefits for the whole body. Walnuts and almonds are an excellent vegetarian option to benefit from the same fatty acids.
- Add turmeric. In the southernmost region of Japan is Okinawa, which is also called the “Longevity Island.” Okinawans are famed not only for having the world’s longest life expectancies, but also aging healthfully. One reason for their long and healthy lives is the turmeric tea they drink. Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. You can easily make your own at home by adding a teaspoon of ground turmeric to approximately four cups of boiling water. You can also benefit from turmeric by adding it to your cooking.
- Let your skincare ritual reflect most of these principles. Many anti-inflammatory ingredients that soothe the body internally are also efficacious on the skin. Calmness, from the inside or the outside, restores skin’s natural glow.
I hope these tips I’ve picked up along the way help you discover simple ways to find more balance. If you’re already mindful of inflammation, please share your own ways of soothing and balancing the body from the inside out!