The perfectly smooth skin of the Japanese female is legendary and the envy of women around the world. So how do they do it? Is it a matter of good genetics, wide sun umbrellas, lots of rice and fresh fish, and no tobacco?
Yes, that's indeed part of it, but there's another crucial Asian skin care secret that gets very little attention outside the country's borders: Japanese women shave their faces. And not just their cheeks and chins. Every part from the hairline to the eyelids to the shoulder blades, sparing only the eyebrows and lashes, if even that.
Getting rid of facial fuzz to achieve a silky smooth, porcelain texture is highly desirable, but it's a private matter that is seldom spoken about. Some barbers advertise the service, but most often the shaving is performed by the lady herself working slowly and carefully in front of her own bathroom mirror with an extremely sharp straight razor. Some women do it once a season, some once a month, others once a week, and a few every day like clockwork.
The shaving not only removes peach fuzz, but also provides exfoliation of dead cells off the skin surface, promotes more rapid turnover of the skin's outer layers, and makes application of foundation and other makeup easier. In older women, it removes the fine moustache and other distracting facial hair that appears with menopause.
The same practice is often used in Japan on the arms and legs and all over the body, although not generally in the pubic area where bikini lines in the West are all the rage. Some women even shave off their eyebrows and then paint them back on, feeling that real hair (quite dark in most of Asian descent) is just too vulgar a natural feature.
APSG Comment: Worried that shaving makes hair grow back darker and thicker? Relax. That's just a popular myth that has been repeatedly debunked by dermatologists and aestheticians. Shaving does nothing to alter hair texture, although if cut at a 45 degree angle, the blunt edge may possibly give that impression to look and feel in areas where hair is thicker to start.
If you're not into "do it yourself," in the United States you can visit your local beauty spa, where a similar process goes by the name "dermaplaning" or "blading" and can cost several hundred dollars a session.
The procedure is safe in experienced hands for all but those with active acne, where irritation of stagnant oils and bacteria may worsen the condition. In contrast to resurfacing procedures like laser and chemical peeling, skin color is not a factor limiting treatment.
One word of caution: Make sure you're on excellent terms with your barber, aesthetician, and especially your husband if they instead of you are ones wielding the razor.