This month we’re celebrating International Women’s Day! We’re happy to say that when it comes to skincare, women have definitely come a long way. In this blast from the past, let’s look back at a few ways skincare has evolved over the years, and how J-Beauty has added to the conversation.
We’re smarter with SPF, thanks to Japanese sunscreens
In the early 2000s, wearing SPF daily to guard against skin damage would have been considered a well-kept secret in the U.S. If we take a look back at how Japan was doing back then, we see that Japanese women were already taking precautions against sun exposure with parasols and long sleeves, to guard against sun spots, acne scars, and wrinkles. Over the years, a wide variety of sunscreens have been developed in Japan, along with UV-protective clothing. Japanese sunscreen has been formulated in gel, cream, milk, powder, spray, and even essence forms, and usually offers a high level of protection of at least SPF30/PA+++, if not more. Its popularity is on the rise, and we see it making its way more and more into the U.S.
We exfoliate better
The notorious plastic microbeads need no introduction, after coming under fire for harming life forms in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Microbeads turned out to be bad news not only for the environment, but for our skin as well. Ever since, many skincare brands have come out with physical and chemical exfoliants (aka peels), intended to replace their outdated counterparts. However, exfoliation can still pose a challenge in 2023, as many products are abrasive and can cause scratches, redness, and irritation to the skin. J-Beauty enzyme powders offer a friendly alternative, as they gently slough off dead skin cells to reveal smoother skin. They’ve been around for years, but lately they’re being embraced in the western world as a healthier option.
“Toners” are so 2003
What the heck does a “toner” mean in 2023, anyway? Long gone are the days of those stinging, astringent, and alcohol-based liquids we used to soak in cotton balls and rub on our faces to zap zits as teens. These quickly began to be frowned upon by dermatologists and beauty experts alike, who saw them as drying and irritating to the skin. The new generation “toners” are no longer designed exclusively for acne and oily skin, but formulated for all skin types. In fact, the arrival of J-Beauty essences and hydrating lotions has been game-changing, and they’re becoming known as the most important post-cleanse step to nourish and prime the skin for further treatment. As more people understand the true role of this step, more people are making the switch to J-Beauty essences and hydrating lotions. We even see western beauty brands developing their own essences, tonics, waters and softening lotions to help bridge this once misunderstood gap.
We take hydration more seriously
If we take a step back even further, we can see that astringent toners were only one part of a greater acne-fighting phenomenon that was big in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Banishing blemishes was a major craze and natural oils were seen as the enemy. The logic was that the more oil your skin produced, the worse off you were. Nowadays we understand that maintaining a healthy skin pH balance is a must for a youthful blemish-free glow, and stripping the skin of natural oils is an obvious no-no. Beauty oils are more popular than ever and are used to help treat a wide variety of skin concerns including anti-aging, brightening, and even acne prevention. If we look back in J-Beauty history, hydration has always taken center stage. We see that most J-Beauty routines involve restoring moisture to the skin with a balance of oil and water, and layering products in the right order of essence, emulsion, and cream helps to achieve this balance. Since moisture is key to keeping skin cells plump, smooth, soft, and elastic, hydration is a concern not only for dry skin but all skin types.
Our values are changing, even in J-Beauty brands
Twenty years ago, you were likely to find drug-store brands and luxury household names adorning your BFF’s bathroom counter. You probably weren’t too worried about what went into these beauty products and how they were affecting her health and the environment. Nowadays, people expect brands to uphold integrity. A growing concern for the planet has given rise to cult indie skincare brands, including J-Beauty brands, each with their own niche in sustainability, organic, natural, cruelty-free, clean beauty, or otherwise. Diversity is also welcomed in skincare more than ever before, with users opting for lesser-known brands from all over the world. People are eager to learn the skincare secrets that have been known in Japan for decades, and they’re willing to completely transform their approach to self-care from A to Z.
If you still don’t see how much skincare has evolved, just remember those pore strips you used to use while watching the telly. Bottom line: Women are definitely more skincare-savvy thanks to experience and new technology, much of which made its way over from Japan! Hope you enjoyed this coast through time as much as we did!