The 3 Skin-Care Rituals That Japanese Beauty Gurus Rely On

Photo: Stocksy/Nabi Tang

When it comes to beauty routines, the cool girls in other countries always seem more interesting than our own. Take French women, for example—whenever one reveals the secret to perfectly messy tresses, it tends to make a splash Stateside.

Another nation with enviable get-gorgeous rituals? Japan. While Korea has gotten all the buzz lately—for everything from double cleansing to an endless number of fun sheet masks—its neighbor to the east is quietly killing it, skin-care-wise. And, for some brands, the wisdom and inspo is coming from a surprising place: geishas. The delicate rituals are actually what inspired Victoria Tsai to create Tatcha, a brand based off of Japanese skin-care habits.

For some brands, the wisdom and inspo is coming from a surprising place: geishas.

"[My customers] love when I spend time with geishas," Tsai said at the WWD Beauty Summit in New York today. Tsai says she works with about a dozen geishas every quarter, and keeps in touch via Snapchat. "They love to see what her life is like and be a part of another world that feels so exotic and yet so much like our own."

It's true—when you're so immersed in your own habits (I'm looking at you, busy women who swear by the amazing multitasking products out there), peering into a foreign country's way of beautifying life seems just much more enticing.

So what has Tsai learned? Keep reading for 3 traditional skin-care practices used by geishas that everyone should try, according to the beauty guru.

1. Oil cleanse

"The single most important thing geishas do is cleanse their skin," says Tsai. "In the Western world, it's basically looked at as a throwaway step." Their go-to way to keep their face fresh? With cleansing oils, of course. "They always make sure to take all that makeup off," adds Tsai. Since oils dissolve what's on the surface of your skin and penetrate deep into the pores (with added nourishment on top of that), it's no surprise that's how the Japanese get their glow.

2. Exfoliate daily

Everyone seems to have their own philosophy about how often to exfoliate. The Japanese, however, do it daily. "Geishas in particular use a wax primer underneath their makeup, so they must exfoliate every day," says Tsai. "The key is doing it gently—they use rice enzymes." That's how Tsai got the idea for her Rice Enzyme Powder ($65), which also includes crushed pearls to disappear dullness, a la the traditions of the country.

3. Use an essence

You may have heard of the "essence" skin-care step, but it's a bit of an enigma for most beauty shoppers. However, Tsai says the thinner-than-a-serum product, which hydrates and preps your skin to absorb moisture, is definitely worth the effort. "Essence is key," explains Tsai, who for a long time was not a believer, but now has added one to the Tatcha line ($95). "It's a complete game-changer. And its core is tied to the ritual of beauty waters." In Japan, women use essences as a pre-serum hydrating boost—so spritz up.

Regardless of what country you're from, here's what every woman needs to know about her skin-care routine. And if you're trying to go natural, these are the 3 most important clean skin swaps to make first

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