home blog Skincare in Asia: A History of Traditional Practices

    Skincare in Asia: A History of Traditional Practices


    Skincare has been a vital aspect of society since the earliest civilizations. Throughout history, various cultures have developed unique beauty rituals and practices to enhance and maintain their skin's health and appearance. In this article, we will take a journey through time and explore the cultural history of skincare, focusing on the traditional practices of Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea. From ancient times to modern trends, we will discover the secrets behind their flawless complexions and learn how these traditions have influenced contemporary beauty standards.

    Ancient Skincare Practices in Japan

    The Pursuit of Flawless Skin: The Importance of White

    In Japan, the pursuit of flawless, radiant skin has been a long-standing beauty ideal. This obsession with fair skin can be traced back to the Nara period (710-794), when Japanese culture was heavily influenced by Chinese and Korean practices. During this time, Japanese women began using white powder called oshiroi, which was originally imported from China. They believed that white skin concealed imperfections and symbolized purity and beauty.

    Face Wash: The Secrets of Jodu and Cereal Grains

    Effective face cleansing has always been a cornerstone of Japanese skincare. In ancient times, the most common face wash was called jodu, a powdered soap made from grounded beans such as mung, adzuki, or soybeans. This natural soap not only removed dead skin cells but also offered a brightening effect. However, due to its sour smell, a perfumed soap was later developed as a luxury product for the aristocratic women of the Joseon court.

    For the lower and middle classes, cereal grains like rice and wheat bran were popular choices for face cleansing. These grains were wrapped in cloth and scrubbed onto the skin, resulting in a milky water that acted as a face wash. This cost-effective method provided similar benefits to jodu at a fraction of the cost.

    Moisturizer: From Herbal Recipes to Modern Formulations

    In the 1800s, Japanese women began focusing on the health of their skin rather than just its appearance. A beauty manual published in 1813, called Miyakofuzoku Kewaiden, described desirable skin as moist and naturally colored. It recommended various techniques, including facial cleansing, the use of lead-based facial packs, and herbal recipes to treat acne.

    Today, moisturizers play a crucial role in Japanese skincare. The emphasis is on creating a natural and flawless complexion. Japanese cosmetics heavily promote products that reduce blemishes and prevent future skin damage, giving the skin a more natural and radiant appearance.

    Ancient Skincare Practices in China

    The Power of Ancient Chinese Medicine: Acupressure and Acupuncture

    In ancient China, skincare was deeply rooted in traditional medicine principles. Acupressure and acupuncture were commonly used methods to stimulate acupoints and restore the body's energy flow. These practices were believed to help smooth wrinkles, alleviate sagging skin, and promote overall skin health. Today, acupuncture continues to be a popular skincare treatment in East Asian countries.

    Jade Rollers and Face Sculpting Tools: A Tradition of Beauty

    Jade rollers, which have become synonymous with beautifully sculpted skin, originated in China. They were used in ancient times, along with other massage and acupressure tools like Gua Sha, to promote facial lymphatic drainage, decrease puffiness, and achieve a more youthful appearance. Chinese skincare has always placed importance on face shapes, with an ideal face shape being egg-shaped or V-shaped chin. Facial sculpting methods and lymphatic drainage techniques have been crucial in achieving these desired face shapes.

    Mung Beans for Acne: A Natural Remedy

    Mung beans have been an essential part of Chinese cuisine for centuries, but they also have skincare benefits. Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, mung beans are known for their soothing properties on acne, cold sores, and rashes. They have been used in face masks and other skincare products to help calm and rejuvenate the skin.

    Green Tea: Nature's Elixir

    Green tea has been highly regarded in Chinese culture for its numerous health benefits, including skincare. Different types of tea have been traditionally used for various skin concerns. Green tea, in particular, is known for its antioxidant properties and its ability to detoxify the skin. It has become a popular ingredient in skincare products, offering a natural and gentle solution for maintaining healthy and vibrant skin.

    Ancient Skincare Practices in Korea

    The Pursuit of Porcelain Skin: The Ideal of White Beauty

    Korea has a long-standing tradition of valuing fair, porcelain-like skin. This ideal can be traced back to ancient times, where passages in historical chronicles describe the use of white powder and red pigments by Korean women. During the Joseon dynasty, the cultural influence from China and Korea placed significant importance on maintaining a flawless complexion.

    Traditional Self-Care: Balancing Energy Flow

    In Korea, traditional self-care practices focused on balancing energy flow within the body. Keeping the head cool and the feet warm was believed to promote a natural flow of energy and clear any blockages. Today, this concept can be applied by wrapping a warm cloth around the feet and using cooling creams or chilled cloths on the face to invigorate and refresh the skin.

    Face Wash: From Grounded Beans to Cereal Grains

    Similar to other Asian countries, face cleansing was an essential skincare practice in ancient Korea. The most common face wash was made from grounded beans, such as mung, adzuki, or soybeans. These beans were crushed into a fine powder and used to remove dead skin cells, providing a soft and smooth complexion. Cereal grains like rice and wheat bran were also popular choices for face cleansing among the lower and middle classes, offering a cost-effective alternative.

    Moisturizer: Embracing Natural Beauty

    Korean beauty trends have transitioned from the pursuit of flawless, white skin to a more natural and radiant appearance. The emphasis is on achieving healthy and well-hydrated skin. Korean cosmetics promote products that focus on reducing imperfections and enhancing the skin's natural beauty.

    Modern Skincare Trends and Influences

    Throughout history, traditional skincare practices in Asia have evolved and adapted to modern times. Today, these ancient rituals continue to shape and influence contemporary beauty standards. Asian countries, such as Japan, China, and Korea, have become leaders in the global beauty market, known for their innovative and effective skincare products.

    Modern Japanese beauty trends focus on creating a natural and flawless complexion, with an emphasis on lighter and brighter skin. The use of ingredients like matcha and rice water, known for their natural benefits, remains popular in skincare routines.

    Chinese beauty traditions, rooted in ancient medicinal practices, emphasize the balance of energy flow and the use of natural remedies. Acupressure, acupuncture, and jade rollers are still widely used to promote skin health and achieve a youthful appearance.

    In Korea, the pursuit of porcelain-like skin has transitioned to a more natural and radiant look. Korean skincare products and routines aim to enhance the skin's natural beauty while addressing specific concerns with gentle and effective formulations.

    As beauty trends continue to evolve, it is essential to recognize and appreciate the rich cultural history behind these practices. Ancient Asian skincare traditions have not only influenced contemporary beauty standards but also offer valuable insights into the importance of self-care and natural ingredients in achieving healthy and beautiful skin.


    Skincare practices have a long and rich history in Asia, with each country contributing its unique traditions and rituals. From the pursuit of flawless and fair skin in Japan to the emphasis on natural beauty in China and the reverence for porcelain-like skin in Korea, these ancient practices continue to shape modern beauty trends. By embracing the wisdom of the past and incorporating traditional ingredients and techniques into our skincare routines, we can unlock the secrets to healthier, more radiant skin. As we continue to explore the world of skincare, let us remember the heritage and cultural significance that underlies these timeless beauty traditions.

    Share Post

    Want to learn more about our Clean, Green-conscious product line?
    Call us at 1-800-951-7005 today to speak to our of our Skin Assistants or send us a message by clicking the button below

    contact us