How Japanese Minimalism Can Help Simplify Your Skincare Routine

Transformative Benefits of the Japanese Minimalist Skincare Approach for Healthier Skin and a Happier Life

You don’t need a high-maintenance routine to have the healthy and glowy skin you deserve.

In fact, when it comes to caring for your skin, dermatologists say less is more!

Minimalist skincare has picked up in popularity in recent years as a counter movement to the 10-step routine.

The Japanese Minimalist Skincare approach differs from the popular 10-step K-beauty routine by prioritizing a simple yet effective regimen that utilizes high-quality products with essential ingredients.

This philosophy emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity and aims to achieve optimal results with fewer steps.

By focusing on key products and essential ingredients, the Japanese skincare method promotes a mindful and intentional approach to beauty that can improve not only your skin, but also your overall well-being.

Whether you're looking to simplify your skincare routine or achieve a natural and radiant complexion, the Japanese Minimalist Skincare approach offers a compelling alternative to the more complex and time-consuming beauty routines.

Table Of Content

  • What defines Japanese skincare?
  • How J-beauty is based in Minimalism and Naturalism/Herbalism
  • How you can incorporate Japanese skincare principles in our own pursuit of Skinimalism
  • Transforming more than just Your skin: how minimalist skincare can enhance your life and well-being

What Defines Japanese Skincare

It wasn't too long ago when Marie Kondo introduced the West to the minimalist lifestyle.

Originating from Japan, the Minimalist movement is a concept that focuses on keeping life simple, clean, and uncluttered by living with just the essentials.

It grew from the traditional teachings of Zen Buddhism and can be seen in many different facets of everyday life, from Japan's architecture to their fashion choices.

minimalist life

Minimalism is a way of life for many in Japan. It's not just a trend; it's a way of thinking.

So it may not surprise you that for the Japanese, minimalism extends to beauty and skincare as well. They believe that skincare should be simple and effective, and they should not spend too much time on it.

Instead of piling on excessive amount of products on their skin, Japanese people seek out high quality products with impactful ingredients and maintain a simple 3 step routine that they can consistently do every day.

In fact, the Japanese "less is more" approach to skincare is echoed by dermatologists everywhere, including in the West.

And it makes sense. When your ritual consists of pilings layers on your 

  • your skin can't efficiently absorb all the products or there may be ingredient redundancy across multiple products.
  • you're introducing more chemicals that could irritate your skin or disrupt its natural defense barriers.
  • you're less likely to consistently stick to a routine, and the start-stop pattern can make it hard for your skin to adapt.
marie kondo quote

How J-beauty is Based in Minimalism and Naturalism/Herbalism

Japan was one of the first pioneers of the modern skincare and beauty industry. Yet the natural and minimalist foundation of their skincare started to take shape long before.

Long before modern medicine was available, the people in Japan leveraged natural herbs in the environment for self-care and even skin care.

They used these herbs to prioritize disease prevention, believing it to be better than cure.

This preventative mindset is applicable today, as the Japanese tend to prioritize preventative skincare over anything else.

These traditional herbs continue to be popular today and the practice is called Kampo, which is basically the Japanese version of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Read more about Kampo here and here.

There are 165 herbs in Kampo. Some of them are now commonly recognized and recently adopted in the West, such as Reishi mushroom, Ginseng, Yomogi (Mugwort), Kombu (Seaweed or Sea Algae), and Licorice Root. And some maybe less recognizable, such as Hatoumugi (Coix Seed), Gobo (Burdock), Lilyturf, and Shiso.

By the way, INÉ incorporates many skin-loving Kampo ingredients in our Skin Nutrient Bars. Check it out here.

Minimalism + Naturalism = Japanese Skincare

Eventually this natural approach to self-care and the minimalist way of life carried over into their outlook on skincare. As far back as the 8th century AD, during the Heian Period, Japanese court women poured rice water over their hair to strengthen it and add shine.

The focus on natural ingredients is reflected in many of the most popular premium, boutique, and drugstore brands in Japan today.

For instance SK-II, one of the longest established global skincare brands, built its brand off of a powerful anti-aging compound called PITERA. SK-II scientists first discovered this unique compound when they noticed that workers in Japan's sake breweries had noticeably youthful and supple hands for their age.

Origin of the Modern Japanese Skincare Miracle:

Pitera is a yeast extract derived from a strictly controlled natural fermentation process of rice water (aka Sake). Nicknamed the magical elixir of youth, it is an excellent source of peptides, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and organic acids.

Just like back in the 8th century Heian Period, even today the Japanese are known for using a lot of natural plant extracts and botanicals ingredients such as seaweed, algae, and fruits to create their skincare products.

In fact in Japan, skincare products tend to be natural ingredient-centric; as in, you will find an entire line of products revolve around a single marquee ingredient.

Like this store "Akomeya Tokyo" that sells products specifically related to rice from bags of locally made Japanese rice, to linen made with rice stalks, to beauty products made with rice water.

The Japanese would rather invest money in higher quality products that uses clean, natural ingredients rather than overloading their routine with a bunch of products that may contain fillers like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and preservatives.

These fillers and preservatives can lead to the weakening of the skin barrier, which might cause skin irritation put them at risk of developing skin problems that are costly to treat later on.

The goal of a minimalist skincare is to keep things simple and natural and leave no room for error.

Incorporating Japanese Minimalist Skincare Principles into Your Routine

Contrary to the 10-step routine, Japanese minimalist approach of caring for skin consists of only 3 steps: cleanse, hydrate, and seal.

It's essentially a simple but complete routine and should cover three skincare functions: Humectant, Emollient, Occlusive.

Step 1 - Cleanse

In Japanese skincare, products that cause "friction" are generally avoided.

That means anything abrasive that could cause micro tears to the skin, or harsh cleansers that can strip the skin of its natural defense barrier.

Opt for a mild cleanser that will reliably remove impurities and clear away dead cells while still being gentle on the skin.

Step 2 - Hydrate/Condition

After cleansing, the next step in a Japanese skincare routine is to apply a humectant and/or emollient product to condition the skin.

Japanese use hydrating serums or emulsions which penetrate deep into the skin without clogging up pores.

Look for active ingredients that help replenish moisture levels and maintain elasticity.

Step 3 - Seal

Once the skin is properly hydrated, the final step in a Japanese skincare routine is to seal the skin with an occlusive.

Sealing prevents moisture loss by sealing in the moisture, while also protecting against external factors like pollution, sun exposure, and wind.

Great Skincare is Achieved Through Consistency

That's it...just 3 simple steps!

It sounds very basic, but as long as you nail down these three essential steps every single day, there is no need to pile on layers of products. It's all about the quality, not quantity. This is what makes Japanese skincare so effective.

By reducing the number of steps:

  • you reduce the risk of introducing harmful additives.
  • you're less likely to get overwhelmed by the huge array of skincare products on the market.
  • you're more likely to remain consistent with your routine.

And consistency is achieved through little habits that you can repeat every day with minimal effort.

That’s why it’s important to invest in quality skincare products and select the right ingredients for your skin.

Real Life Benefits of Japanese Minimalist Skincare

We've mentioned a number of benefits from Japanese skincare, including it being gentler on the skin, reducing the opportunity for harmful or abrasive chemicals to sneak into your routine, easier to maintain consistently.

But we would be remiss to not discuss the other benefits of a minimalist skincare routine.

💸 Less Money Waste

One of the biggest reasons people choose to go minimalist when it comes to their skincare regimen is because they want to spend less money. While most people don't realize it, the average person spends over $1,000 per year on skincare products alone!

A minimalist skincare routine can help you be more intentional with your spending and help you discern what products actually deserve a spot in your routine.

🧹 Less clutter in your bathroom

Despite our best attempts to be organized, it's so easy to end up with a skincare graveyard.

We buy a trendy product, use it once or twice, until another catchy new product comes along and we rush out to get that one. This happens over and over again until one day you realize your bathroom is cluttered with forgotten, partially used products - some have expired, some you end up giving away because you don't have time for them.

With a minimalist skincare routine, you'll save space, your bathroom will look cleaner, and you'll feel better knowing that you're maximizing the use out of all your products.

🕔 More time for yourself

The beauty industry has become increasingly competitive, which means that everyone wants to sell you something. We've been led to believe that skincare isn't complete without a high maintenance routine.

Never mind that dermatologists advise against skincare overload; we forget that there were already more simple, effective ways to achieve beautiful skin.

When you eliminate unnecessary skincare steps, you free up more time to focus on the activities that truly matter. 

🧘‍♀️ Reclaim your sanity & mental health

You may have been feeling overwhelmed with the explosion of skincare products available on the market.

Every season, a hot new skincare trend comes long that compels you to add a new step to your routine. With skincare feeling like a full-time job, we start to feel like we're "not doing enough" for our skin. This has unfortunately increased the stress we already feel in our obligation-filled life.

Being more manageable and effective, minimalist skincare can greatly reduce the burden.

🌾 Better for the environment

It goes without saying that the fewer products you buy, the less packaging waste and carbon footprint is generated. Minimalist skincare is one of the most simple ways you can reduce the impact you have on the planet.

To top it off, minimalist skincare brands are also more likely to use clean ingredients that are closer to the original source and opt for more minimalist and eco-friendly packaging. For instance, INÉ chooses sustainable natural ingredients that require minimal processing and uses eco-friendly packaging.

Get the Ultimate Guide to Using Rice for Better Skincare

The Fountain of Youth is in Your Kitchen! Get Radiant Complexion in 3 Days.

Easy ways to see if your skin is getting all the nutrients it actually needs?

Learn how to create your own rice water serum.

Step-by-step guide on creating your own fermented rice body and face mask.

Get your soak on, and learn how to whip-up a Sake-tastic bath bomb.

27 pages chock full of minimalist skincare tips!

INÉ Skin Nutrient Bar: Your Key to Unlocking the Ageless Beauty of Fermented Rice Water!

Introducing the INÉ Skin Nutrient Bar

An Artisan Soap Bar Made with Japanese Sake

Immerse yourself in the transformative power of fermented rice with the Skin Nutrient Bar, meticulously crafted with 100% organic Sake Kasu, a legendary secret from ancient Japanese skincare rituals.

Each bar, lovingly crafted to preserve the full, potent benefits of Sake Kasu, is designed to cleanse, nourish, and rejuvenate your skin from head to toe—all in the meditative mist of your shower. Just as the Toji's hands glow from daily immersion in sake, your skin too can embrace the radiant benefits of sake.

  • Free from Harmful Additives
  • Vegan Friendly 
  • Non-Comedogenic
  • Safe For All Skin Types
  • No Artificial Coloring or Fragrance
Learn More

Say goodbye to complicated routines

Great skin starts in the shower.  Your shower routine should not only clean but also nourish your skin.

Infused with Sake Kasu, a cult secret fermented rice extract from Sake breweries, our nourishing Skin Nutrient soap bar is packed with all the nutrients your skin craves...over 100 skin loving nutrients including Kojic acid, Ferulic acid, and Galactomyces 💯

It's like giving your skin a big ol' hug from the inside out, leaving it feeling nourished, healthy, and radiant.

No Extra Steps; Just Shower With It

Bask in the Sake Kasu. Just lather up in the shower.