Skincare Made Simple
As a woman closing in on her fourth decade, the sands of time are making their presence known. All the evidence is there. Too much sun, less than ideal diet, lack of sleep, too many long nights when I was single; all my habits of the past are beginning to take their toll. While I do think I am holding up alright, I am starting to become borderline obsessive with how I treat my skin. I want to be the epitome of soft and supple, youthful and smooth.
I observe women of different nationalities, and often wonder how some of my sisters around the world manage to age so well. I can’t help but take notice of what Japanese women do. Simply put, they age beautifully. Wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, sagging; all a rarity among Japanese ladies. They just look fantastic no matter what age.
Some of it I am sure can be attributed to diet. Seafood, rich in Omega-3’s, is a staple in Japanese cuisine. What is dinner to us here in the US is actually breakfast in Japan. I remember flipping through Marie Claire one day and came across an article about what women eat around the world. There she was, a young professional woman in Tokyo, getting ready for work, and chowing down heartily on her fish, rice, soybeans, and seaweed. This got my attention. It seemed a bit odd at the time. But after thinking it through it hit me. What an energizing and healthy way to start the day. Can’t be bad for the skin.
Of course, what goes inside our bodies is just part of it. Genes have to be considered, too, as well as skincare habits. So this begs the question: what do my Japanese sisters do for the outside?
For countless millennia, women across the globe have relied on nature’s bounty. The desire to be beautiful, healthy, and youthful is universal. Clays, plants, oils; all have worked their magic throughout history. The ancient Japanese in particular relied on rice bran and ground adzuki beans, mainstays in their collective skin care regimen. This combo can be credited for smoothing and softening the skin of millions throughout the ages.
When I was a teenager, I was a regular at The Body Shop. Back then I bought a product called Japanese Washing Grains. This product was nothing more than ground adzuki beans and rice bran. This was my grand introduction to these ingredients, and they made an indelible impression on me. This product came in a plastic canister, with a geisha sketched on the label, and it smoothed my skin like nothing else could. So lovely. For years I used it but eventually stopped. The store wasn’t really convenient for me at the time, and those were the days before internet shopping. To make life easier I moved on and settled into something new. Every once in a while I came across something else that contained this magic mixture of beans and bran. But they just weren’t the same.
All these years I held that amazing product in my memory. But then I thought about it. Centuries ago, it is likely these ladies of a bygone era made their own skin care concoctions. There is nothing stopping me from doing the same.
I visited my local health food store, and I very easily found adzuki beans and rice bran. The cost? A mere $1.49 a pound for each. For about $3 I was left with a lot of ingredient to work with. I used my coffee grinder and ground the beans to a fine texture. All I had to do was mix my beans with one equal part rice bran in whatever plastic container I had handy and stir.
The next step in my experiment: I went to the sink, and got down to business. Using a very small handful of my bean-bran mixture I added just a bit of water, made a paste, applied to my face and scrubbed away. I made a bit of a mess, but nothing the running water couldn’t remedy.
The result? My skin is baby soft and smooth, with beautiful clarity. So soft that I could have gone without my moisturizer. And it all comes with a pleasant, earthy, and very natural scent. I look very rosy, and my skin seems to plump up a bit. My fine lines disappear.
I didn’t stop there. Why not use it on my entire body? Two handfuls mixed with water was enough to generously scrub every inch of me. My heels have not been happy this winter, but they are now singing the praises of my new homemade exfoliant. Lovely, soft and smooth! Stubborn calluses, meet your match!
I shudder to think at the small fortune I have spent over the years on fancy, expensive scrubs. While I love those products and from time to time will treat myself to them, I have found an extremely inexpensive, time tested way to keep my face and body soft and smooth. It is easy on my wallet and takes very little time and effort to make. Totally worth it. And I know exactly what I am putting on my skin. Rice bran and adzuki beans, and nothing more.
For old times’ sake I visited the Body Shop website, just to see if they still had my old favorite product or something like it. I found Body Shop Spa Wisdom Japan Adzuki Bean & Rice Washing Grains with sesame oil. So the same, but different. $22 for just under 5 ounces. One of these days I will check it out. If it is anything like its predecessor, it will be nothing short of amazing. But for now I will enjoy my homemade and very affordable creation, and thank my girlfriends across the Pacific for sharing their secret with the world.