The Art of the Beauty Ritual

Early starts, long days, little left in the tank once bedtime rolls around: there are plenty of excuses for getting shut-eye with a full face of make-up. On the odd occasion I’ve woken up hugging a mascara-smeared pillow. And while there’s nothing I enjoy more than indulging in an at‑home spa session, finding the time is tough: give me Dior’s Capture Totale Dreamskin 1-Minute Mask any day. Although most of us are probably guilty of slipping under the sheets with make-up still on at least a handful of times, in Japan doing such a thing is considered the ultimate beauty sin. “We would never go to bed with make-up on,” says Shiseido product developer, Saeko Suzuki. While many of us find setting aside time for our beauty regimen a chore, for Japanese women that’s certainly not the case.

Removing every inch of makeup and putting time into a thorough skincare regimen is a way of life, explains Suzuki, and she says, Japanese women start young, “Usually around 12 years old.” According to Suzuki, starting a skincare routine as a teenager is something of a tradition and a ritual in Japan. “The mother’s influence is huge,” she explains. “Normally, teenagers would start using skincare by using their mother’s products.”

Setting up good habits at a young age might have something to do with the flawless, ageless skin that Japanese women seem blessed with. But when I ask Suzuki what the Japanese secret is to healthy skin, she says she believes the biggest difference between the Western approach and Japanese approach is the importance they place on hydration. While we might simply turn to a daily moisturiser, Suzuki explains that Japanese women place a lot of emphasis on additional steps to keep skin hydrated.

Cleansing, Suzuki explains, is another vital part of the ritual. “Skin needs to be cleansed properly, otherwise the following steps won’t penetrate the skin efficiently.” But she adds there’s a certain etiquette involved in skincare routines in Japan: because personal appearance is so treasured, Japanese women would never be seen without cleansed skin. “We always pay a lot of attention to how we look to other people, and the key point is the skin. That’s why we have fostered a skincare culture that is structured in layers.”

Slowly but surely, the rest of us are cottoning on to the benefits of embracing beauty regimens. Suzuki says that while Shiseido has always thought of skincare as ritual, there’s a definite international move towards embracing the philosophy. “It’s a global trend which can be seen among all women in the world,” she says. Suzuki says globally beauty has experienced a shift towards a holistic approach. “In the past, women really wanted to pursue their appearance only, but now they’re looking for inner beauty.” Women are considering external factors that impact on skin health. “We’re paying more attention to what we eat, what we drink, how we are living and how we are feeling. All these steps have an impact on healthy skin.”

SMART TIP: Add citrus to your bath to soften dry skin. The acids in the fruit speed up cell turnover, giving you a brighter complexion. The antioxidant vitamin C can also help fight free radical damage – staving off visible signs of ageing

Photography by Florian Sommet.

Beauty trends you need to know

A new age of technology is bringing all the bells and whistles to our hair and beauty routines. Find out how next-generation products can help in your quest for that all-natural glow.

Indie Beauty Buzz 

Indie beauty brands will continue to shake up the beauty industry in years to come. Jacob Stanley, MECCA Brands’ head of education, puts the success of independent brands down to the relationship and trust they can build with their consumers. “Smaller brands have the ability to connect with their tribe – and target their consumers – in an intimate way really easily these days, thanks to social media,” he explains. Stanley believes indie brands often come with a lot of credibility, too. “Their products are usually made in small batches, which is important to a lot of consumers. They are also able to take a lot of risks and try new and innovative technologies,” he says.

The Microbiome

The gut microbiome has been under the spotlight for a few years now and the skin microbiome is set to follow suit, says Tracy May-Harriott, global director of education for Elizabeth Arden PRO and PRIORI. “Sometimes called the ‘unseen warrior’ the skin microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria and immune cells, all working together to maintain the protective borders,” she explains. “This is a critical job as skin is in constant contact with the outside world and is the first line of defence against foreign invaders and toxins. “We’ll see more prebiotics and DNA research working towards logical ways to keep our skin super healthy. Several brands have this as their main unique brand story and I am sure we will see many more.”

Next-Level Hydration

Healthy skin is well-hydrated skin and as talk of anti-ageing continues to wane, we’ll return to skincare basics with a focus on hydration. “Cellular hydration is the most important thing you can do for your skin,” says David Whyte, Asia-Pacific global educator at Murad. “A cleanser, treatment product and moisturiser are vital. Additional steps will enhance and intensify results based on your lifestyle and needs.”  As the focus returns to skin hydration, new hydrating ingredients will enter the market says MECCA Brands’ Jacob Stanley. “They will be even more effective than good old faithful hyaluronic acid,” he says. “High-tech options, like Dr Perricone’s H2 Elemental Energy hydrogen complexes, and more natural options, like Tatcha’s Red Algae extract, are just the beginning. We’ll see some really powerful topical hydrators that instantly plump the skin, and keep it bouncy for the whole day and night.”

Beauty for All

We’re breaking down and challenging traditional beauty ideals more than ever before and beauty brands are responding. As a result, rather than target specific ages and gender, the industry is embracing diversity and moving away from a universal approach to skincare.  However, Mintel’s Kwek believes that no trend is a ‘one size fits all’ concept and how much we embrace individuality and gender-neutral beauty will vary from region to region. “Bigger brands may start introducing more gender-neutral packaging, and we’re already seeing brands engaging male faces for their advertisements or employing male retail staff,” she says