I had wanted to read this book for a long time since I am fairly obsessed with all things Japanese – the culture, the food, their skincare esthetic.* After it was part of my Amazon wishlist for years I finally took the plunge and purchased it. I wish I could say that I loved the book, but unfortunately it disappointed me in so many ways.
The book started off great with wonderful, inclusive advice not just about skincare but about how to lead a fulfilling life. Not only does the author Chizu Saeki suggest taking a few minutes a day to really tune into your skin (advice I love), she also makes sure her reader knows that each person is unique and that uniqueness should be celebrated. She encourages her readers to embrace what makes them different and special, instead of trying to be like everyone else.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:
My message is simple: anyone who desires to be beautiful can be beautiful, and the power to do that is in your own hands. A major principle of the Saeki method to get to know your skin and care for it yourself according to its condition. To do this, you make full use of your hands. Your hands are the ultimate tools – they can gauge your skin’s condition like a sensor and smooth wrinkles like an iron. They can also warm and soothe tensed-up skin, making it more receptive to skincare ingredients. (Page 9)
Don’t fuss over every spot and line on your face. It isn’t as if their presence diminishes your worth as a woman. Most brown spots and lines can be erased with patience, and, at any rate, the overall demeanor and luster of your face are far more important in determining the impression you give. (Page 15)
Of course, it’s nice to have good skin – which is why I’ve carefully attended to my face through the years. But keep in mind that flawless skin isn’t everything. Beauty isn’t something to be plastered on from the outside; it’s fake unless it also exudes from the within. (Pages 15-16)
Interestingly enough, though Japanese women, like Korean women, are known for their multiple step home skincare routines Saeki actually encourages her readers to do less to their skin in order for their skin to look good. For her a few products work best. She puts an emphasis on how you apply those products to your face and encourages everyone to do daily facial massages. This is all great advice.
My favorite part of the book were the different facial massage techniques. Though I know how important facial massage is for the overall look and feel of your skin, I neglect my own face on a regular basis. Since reading this book I have made sure to massage my face, even just for a few moments, daily and to do a little lymphatic massage as well. The book includes a few nice of ideas about how to moisturize dry lips or prepare your skin before an important event. Saeki writes about the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to have beautiful skin and why you need sunscreen daily. All excellent advice. She even writes about how an active imagination leads to positive thoughts will positively benefit the look of our skin in the end. Though all of this is first-rate skincare advice, it is also very basic advice. No new ground is being broken here. Much to my immense disappointment there wasn’t much else that I took away from the book. For me this book certainly wasn’t revolutionary.
Saeki encourages her readers to do facial exercises. Please don’t get me started on why facial exercises are a waste of time; read this post of mine instead. There is very little truth to some of the skin science she writes about. Don’t listen to what she writes about how our skin functions. Listen to The Beauty Brains instead. Pressing a serum into your face will not help that said serum penetrate all the way down to your dermis.
While I do agree that you don’t need to go overboard with the number of products you use daily in order to have lovely skin, the fact that she says you should exfoliate just with a scrub without any mention of retinol or facial acids perplexes me greatly. The way she asks her readers to figure out their skin type and her analysis of each skin type is also very elementary.
The Too Bad
Perhaps if I had purchased this book years ago before the Korean skincare craze arrived in the United States I would have found it more valuable. The thing is most, if not all, of the advice found in this book is easily accessible in thousands of online articles about Asian skincare routines. I’ve written both here in my blog and on About.com about Korean skincare repeatedly. Though, of course, there are differences between Korean and Japanese skincare routines there is much that is the same – investing time in caring for your skin on a daily basis, performing facial massages, etc. You could purchases this book in order to have an easy way to look at how to perform the massages in the privacy of your bathroom instead of doing them in front on your computer. But frankly, you could take your phone into the bathroom with you, find a facial massage video on YouTube, and perform the massage in private. No book needed.
One of the more prominent homecare ideas Saeki repeatedly mentions in her book is making what she calls a “lotion mask”. This is essentially a DIY sheet mask. It’s great that the book contains an easy “recipe” for how to make a sheet mask at home with the skincare products you already have on hand. But with every store now selling sheet masks for very little money, do you really need to make your own? You could if you are like me and don’t want to buy a sheet mask ever again after this summer’s sheet mask scandal. Masking on a regular basis certainly does wonderful things for your skin, but there is no need for you to whip up those masks on your own if you don’t want to.
Bottom Line: While some parts of the book were charming this really isn’t a must read and certainly not a must buy. If you want to read a book by an esthetician as opposed to a dermatologist read Complexion Perfection! by Kate Somerville instead. If you want to know more about Japanese skincare just Google it.
*If you are as obsessed with Japan as I am I suggest watching videos from Begin Japanology. I learned many interesting things about Japan from these videos.