A ritualistic approach to beauty, inspired by Asian practices, is revamping our beauty regimes. Here are some of the new results-driven products inspired by age-old traditions
For many of us, cleansing the skin after a hard day’s work (or hard night’s play) is a chore to get out of the way fast. While British women are not shy when it comes to buying into the latest skincare innovations– just think how fast BB and then CC creams have taken off, for instance – our cleansing routines have remained strangely stuck in the past. With many of us still following a ‘cleanse, tone and moisturise’ mantra, first invented in the 1950s, it’s about time that our cleansing routines were revamped.
New products on the market – such as exfoliating powders – and a growing awareness of the benefits of double-cleansing, an essential part of a woman’s beauty regime in Japan but a new concept to the UK, call into mind an Asian approach to achieving tip-top skin. While we’re not advocating a 10-step approach, like many Korean women undertake, more accessible cleansing rituals, using hardworking, intelligent products, seem to be having a resonance.
Cleansing powders are currently having their moment in the spotlight. “We’re seeing a big increase in demand for these,” says beauty expert Millie Kendall MBE, founder of concept store Beauty Mart (www.thisisbeautymart.com). “DHC’s Washing Powder is hugely popular and is excellent for a deep cleanse. Our customers like the fact that they are made of a fine powder, which is gentler than traditional exfoliators. They like the old fashioned process of the powder changing its texture on contact with water and how they buff and polish the skin.
“Cleansing powders originate in Japan where women take a real pride in having flawless skin,” she continues. “A translucent, smooth complexion is revered. Japanese women also have a hands-on approach to skincare – they like the process of rubbing in products, massaging the skin, prepping the face, going through repetitive steps to get results – it’s all part of their beauty rituals.”
Annee de Mamiel, acupuncturist, aromatherapist, and founder of the De Mamiel beauty line, founded on the ancient principles of Chinese medicine, agrees: “Powder cleansers – such as our Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate – are gentle yet very effective. Many, including our version, are made without preservatives and do not contain any harsh chemicals. That’s just part of their appeal. They can also double up as a masque for a deep cleanse.
“I’m an advocate of the Japanese approach of double cleansing, too,” she says. “It gives a unique radiance to the complexion. Step one is to take off the day’s make-up and grime, using a powder cleanser. Then, follow up with a balm or oil-based cleanser, massaging the face. This will deliver the nutrients the skin needs and take away the toxins via lymph drainage.”
This new thinking when it comes to the art of cleansing isn’t just skin-deep – it has also reached hair-care, too. Forget the traditional two-step shampoo and conditioner approach, there’s a new generation of gentle cleansing creams that also condition the hair. Brands such as Shu Uemura, Palmer’s and Macadamia Hair have all recently launched their own one-step ‘cleansing conditioners’ whose main benefits are not to strip hair of its natural oils.
Verity Douglas, content editor at Cult Beauty (www.cultbeauty.co.uk), which sources some of the world’s best beauty buys also identifies Asia, and in particular South Korea, as leading the way when it comes to these new beauty trends:
“South Korean women are renowned the world over for their flawlessly beautiful skin as well as their extensive, eight-to-ten step skin care rituals,” she says. “Pioneering the latest, most effective and often the most extraordinary ingredients in skin care (don’t be surprised to see starfish extract, snail secretion filtrate and egg white alongside other super-scientific sounding compounds), where South Korea leads, the rest of the beauty world swiftly follows. It’s why we’re über-excited to usher cult Korean skincare brand Mizon into our store.”
Brightening essences – huge across Asia – are also gaining momentum with a European clientele. Chanel’s Le Blanc range of products, for instance, contains extracts of Akoya pearl from Japan to give skin a luminosity and lustre – an attribute women all over the world lust after.
Also seeing a resurgence in popularity at Beauty Mart are a new generation of papier poudres by Korean brand Mai Couture. The pretty booklets are based on traditional French blotting papers but instead are impregnated with foundation and blush colours. “They are hygienic, portable and give a flawless finish,” Millie Kendall reveals. “They are the next step in make-up.”
The final stage in every woman’s beauty regime is that all-important spritz of perfume. Take further inspiration from the East by investing in a barely-there scent (strong fragrances are not popular in countries like Japan). Bath Colognes from Jo Loves, for instance, aim to linger on the skin long after you’ve dried off negating the need for an actual perfume, while Aroma M’s niche perfume oils are inspired by the world of the geisha and come wrapped in traditional Yuzen paper from Kyoto. Subtle but effective.
Reinvent your beauty style with these Asian inspired products
De Mamiel Botaniques Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate, £41, www.demamiel.com
A powder-to-paste exfoliating cleanser with Vitamin C, ginseng and pearl powders to brighten and smooth the complexion.
One Love Organics Brand New Day, £34, and One Love The Cleansing Sponge, £11 www.oneloveorganics.eu
Sweet pea flour and fresh pineapple enzymes lightly buffs skin to perfection in this granule-style cleanser. Meanwhile, the Cleansing Sponge, made with pure konjac plant fibre, detoxifies pores and smooths skin while buffing away dirt and make-up. Ideal for even the most sensitive skin. This rose clay heart version is especially targeted for rosacea, mature and dry skin.
DHC Washing Powder, £9, www.thisisbeautymart.com
Papaya extracts gently clean skin in this iconic powder product.
Suqqu Musculate Massage & Mask Cream, £68, www.fenwick.co.uk
Products from this coveted Japanese brand are based around the practice of facial massage. This cream is ideal for effective double cleansing.
Mai Couture Blush Papiers, £12.50, www.thisisbeautymart.com
Press on to skin for instant make-up. Perfect for travelling.
Paul & Joe Blotting Papers, £10.50, www.beautybay.com
Achieve oil-free skin with these pretty, feminine papers.
Chanel Le Blanc Illuminating Brightening Concentrate, £98, www.chanel.com
Gives a luminous quality to the skin, correcting dark spots and evening out pigmentation.
Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Conditioner, £32, www.shuuemuraartofhair.com
Cleans and conditions in one step, leaving hair silky and weightless.
Macadamia Natural Oil Flawless 6 in 1 Cleansing Conditioner, £8.75, www.macadamiahair.co.uk
Contains chamomile and vitamin E and has a no suds formula meaning hair is cleansed but not dried out.
Jo Loves Green, Orange & Coriander Bath Cologne, £59, www.joloves.com
Jo Loves’ Bath Cologne are a new way of wearing scent – they have been designed to linger on the skin.
Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom Eau de Toilette, £16, www.thebodyshop.co.uk
Light and airy, this scent has been inspired by a spring day in Kyoto.
Aroma M Geisha Roll On Perfume Oils, £36. www.aromamperfumes.com
Available in a range of Japanese inspired fragrances – such as the delightful Flower Tea (Hana-Cha) – and pretty packaging.