Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Book Review: The Japanese Skincare Revolution December 6, 2016

51bambfqanl-_sx350_bo1204203200_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 Good

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.

The Bad

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 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.

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Book Review: Allure Confessions of a Beauty Editor January 24, 2011

I will readily admit that I am quite a johnny come lately when it comes to reading this book.  It came out in 2006, and I am only getting around now to looking at it.  I figured since I am such a fan of the magazine Allure that it really was time to look at their book. 

I really wanted to love this book, but it definitely fell flat for me.  I’ve always enjoyed the letter from the editor page in Allure by Linda Wells, the magazine’s founding and current editor-in-chief, and once again her very short essays at the beginning of each chapter in the book were a highlight for me.  And the rest of the book – well it was a mystery to me frankly.  The book was so basic!  I still can’t quite figure out who the book’s intended audience was and why everything in the book was so dumbed down.  There are even instructions in the book on how to shave your legs! 

Is the intended audience for the book was a 13 year-old girl who was just starting to get interested in skincare and make-up then I would understand both the tone and content of the book, but I truly doubt that 13 year-old girls were the intended audience for the book.  In my opinion the magazine Allure is aimed at smart and savvy women who are very interested in skincare and make-up and who definitely don’t need to be told to exfoliate their skin or taught how to properly shave their legs.  I would assume that the average Allure reader really wants to know if there is a new and effective exfoliant on the market and how the latest innovations in hair removal work.  So why didn’t the book contain any information like that? 

Was there any new and exciting information in this book?  No, not really.  Overall I liked the make-up section the best.  Though most of the tips were old hat, I did pick up one or two new ideas on how to apply my make-up.  But so much of the book was extraneous and down right dull.  For instance, does anyone really need to be told that you have to apply your eyeliner before your mascara or you’ll end up with a huge mess?  I think you only need to be reminded of that if you have never applied eye make-up.

One more gripe for me were the photos.  The models in the photos are all extremely young, but what bothered me even more were how completely airbrushed the photos were.  Instead of offering up a realistic portrayal of how a woman could look if she followed the tips in the book, the photos instead offered an extremely stylized and unattainable beauty ideal.  No one has such perfect skin in real life.  The lighting in the photographs is amazing – no one and I will repeat no one can look that good in real life!  Yes, the photos in Allure are always stylized and high fashion, not particularly realistic, but the photos in the book, in my opinion, took that aesthetic too far.  Plus the photos looked really dated to me, as if they had been done in the late 1990s or early 2000 instead around 2005.  The photographs were so artificial that they ended up being a huge turn-off for me.

So who should you buy this book for?  I suggest getting the book for your favorite niece who is just starting to be interested in skincare and make-up or for your daughter who wants to begin wearing make-up and taking care of her skin.  And if you want a book at home with the most basic of information about skincare, body care, and make-up application this is the book for you.


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