Friday, July 24, 2009

Chizu Saeki (BEAUTY GURU)

Japanese women seem to be always stylish and have beautiful skin. I often wish for that porceline skin myself. Now we can all find out the secrets to their beautiful skin thanks to a new book by Chizu Saeki The Japanese Skincare Revolution How to Have the Most Beautiful Skin of Your Life -At Any Age.

Japan’s top beauty expert and lifelong aesthetician Chizu Saeki reveals some quick and simple skincare techniques from her new book The Japanese Skincare Revolution (Kodansha International, March 2009. $19.95). Available at and

The Japanese Skincare Revolution by Chizu Saeki is the Japanese woman’s skincare bible. Auther and beauty guru Chizu Saeki shares with the world, for the first time, the natural, low-cost techiniques she developed over a career spent in the beauty industry. With it, you’ll learn what today’s Japanese women do to keep their skin looking young and healthy.

Here is an interview with Leading Beauty Expert Chizu Saeki Author of The Japanese Skincare Revolution.

Why did you choose the skincare industry for your profession?

When I was 13 years old, I saw Audrey Hepburn in a film catalog, and I was amazed that such a beautiful person could exist. This is what aroused my interest in beauty. I began imitating her looks, and gradually I realized what a wonderful thing it is to become beautiful. I quit the clerical job I had been working and enrolled in a beauty school to help others achieve beauty.

How are Japanese and American women different in their approaches to skincare?
Japanese women generally want to whiten their skin. When I lived in the U.S., I got the impression that Americans are more interested in hair design and don’t get hung up on details-brown spots, open pores, and such. They look to a more holistic kind of beauty.

There’s also a difference in perceptions of aging: the Japanese tend to take a back seat in everything as they grow older, but Americans think about wearing brighter colors, such as red, precisely because they’re getting older. I think they’re better at enjoying life; they’re the ones who believe in beauty that comes with age. That’s a wonderful thing, and we should follow their example.

Many women feel they need to spend a lot of money on expensive cosmetics. On the contrary, you encourage women not to spend a lot of money. What are some inexpensive but effective steps to maintaining beautiful skin?
1. Get to know your skin well.
2. Care about your skin.
3. Desire to be beautiful.
4. Put that feeling into your hands, and use those hands to touch and massage your face and warm up the skincare products you apply to it.
5. Thoroughly remove the makeup you’ve applied.
6. Frequently apply lotion masks.
7. Use serum.
8. Seal it off with cream.
9. Protect your skin year-round.
These points are always the same. Rather than buying a variety of products, I recommend practicing these basic steps, with feeling.

At what age should women begin to be concerned about aging? What basic steps should women take to protect themselves against the hands of time?
Nowadays our skin is at higher risk of sunburn due to global warming and destruction of the ozone layer. Growth generally stops at around age 25, and if you want to stay there, you need to take proper care. If you so wish, you can keep from looking a day older even into your thirties and forties. Different people live in different environments, eat different foods, and live different lifestyles, but my advice to everyone is to take preventative measures. Protect your skin from the elements regardless of age and, when you’ve reached a certain age, give it nutrients by feeding it serum. There’s really no set age at which you should start caring for your skin. Know your skin and incorporate what you feel you need. To young people, though, I’d like to warn against excessive use of skincare products. Your skin is still well balanced as it is, so don’t rely too much on cosmetics. Use lotion masks, protect your skin, and please do moisturize it.

Is there one beauty tool that every woman should have?
Your will and your hands. It’s your own hands and the desire to be beautiful that will do the magic. Don’t think that simply using cosmetics will make you beautiful; be responsible for your own face, and use your hands to the fullest. How much value you draw out of a product is really up to you.

Photo Credit: (c) Hirokazu Takayama.

Any quick and easy tips on how to defy age?
Well, always thinking “quick and easy” leaves everything half-baked. How you use your time is up to you, and it’s important to make skincare a part of your lifestyle. But when you only have so much time and can’t do everything, the most important thing is to eat-in a balanced manner. Your skin’s luster is dependent on your physical health. If your body isn’t well nourished, neither is your skin. Cosmetics help you take in from the surface what you can’t take in orally, but your beauty really comes from what you eat. Eating only what you feel like eating can give you a lopsided diet, and your body, never mind your skin, will be a wreck. There’s a lot of information out there nowadays on healthy eating. The key is to be conscious of what and how you eat, and to continue eating in a balanced way. I always make an effort to eat moderately. I have yogurt, tomato juice, and fruit every morning, and I make a point of eating things in season. Small efforts like these go a long way.

Why is it important to massage and tone muscles in the face?
Just as our bodies age internally over time, so does our skin-although of course there are factors other than age acting on the skin. The face is especially vulnerable because of all the muscles, as you can see from how wrinkles in the face run both vertically and horizontally. Massages help the muscles stay in shape, keeping your skin looking young and healthy.

Does your regimen also work for men?
I believe so. There are a few differences between men’s skin and women’s, including the amount of oil secretion and thickness, but they’re basically the same. So, man or woman, anyone can perform my regimen and benefit from it.

Some other question for her in various websites includes this:

This might sound elementary, but why is it so important to have a beautiful skin?

The art of beauty is all about strength of mind. When people realize how beautiful their skin is, their minds change completely. They have different smiles. In fact, your attitude completely changes when you realize how beautiful you are. Your choice of clothes changes, and you feel confident and energized about your abilities to do different things. It gives you a chance to take a second look at yourself.

When I give counseling to people, I don't ask about their skin; I ask about their life. Everything going on inside you comes out on your skin. If you don't eat properly, there is no way you will have beautiful skin.

The reason my skin was so damaged back then (after my husband's death) was because I didn't eat or drink water or sleep. I improved the condition of my skin gradually by eating little by little and using a "lotion pack" [see photos].

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Counter culture: Chizu Saeki at age 24, at a store counter of the French cosmetics maker Guerlain. CHIZU SAEKI

When I was depressed, a friend of mine told me, "Your husband understood your desire to make people beautiful, and that's why he allowed you to work, right? If he saw your skin now, he wouldn't be able to rest in peace." That's when I realized that, for my husband to enter heaven, I must make myself beautiful again.

That's why I believe that the art of beauty is the art of having a strong mind. That's why I say, it's not which cosmetics you use that matters, it's how you use them.

For your skin to change, you have to feel the changes in your skin condition yourself, like: "Oh, it's getting better"; "It's becoming lifted"; "It's getting brighter"; or "It's softer." I practiced that, and after I felt confident about my skin condition, I got back to work at age 45.

How long did it take for you to feel the changes?

I saw some results in a week. Human skin is renewed every 28 to 30 days, and your blood gets replaced in three months. So I realized stronger results in three months, and felt motivated to continue for another three months — then another three months.

I can give advice now with confidence because it's based on what I myself have experienced.

Looking at your face now, it's unbelievable that you used to have horrible skin.

Everyone has the seeds of beauty, even though you can't change your features. Everyone can have great, smooth skin. It all depends on how you take care of it. So I just wonder why so many people neglect their ability to make themselves beautiful, instead relying on cosmetics to work wonders for them — and when that's not enough, they might go under the knife (of a cosmetic surgeon).

So you are against the antiaging movement?

Exactly. Antiaging sounds negative. I advocate "beauty aging." What's the point of denying the life you have lived? The desire to become beautiful does not just apply to your face. It's about your hair and your thoughts. For me, "beauty aging" is about feeling positive about your life.

But you know, I'm not anticosmetics, either. After all, cosmetics are about selling dreams. Whether something is priced at ¥100, ¥1,000 or ¥10,000, as long you apply it with the hope of becoming more beautiful, it's a cosmetic. The price doesn't matter. To someone who complains that their cosmetics don't work, I say, "It's because you are not putting your mind to it." I also don't produce my own line of cosmetics, because I want to be free to tell people that how you use cosmetics makes such a big difference (and it's not just the cosmetics themselves that will do the trick).

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Tasteful toil: Chizu Saeki at her Salon Dore Ma Beaute (left and right) in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district, where she and her staff offer 2 1/2-hour facial/decollete treatments by appointment only. "Young people don't need expensive cosmetics," she says. "When I was working at cosmetics companies, I told people who didn't need such products the truth. I told them, 'Since you are young, you should let your body make you beautiful from within.' " SATOKO KAWSAKI PHOTO

It is a unique selling point of yours, I think, that you don't sell cosmetics.

I've never been really interested in whether I succeeded or not. I just wanted to help make ordinary people beautiful. Of course, I have absolute confidence in being able to sell cosmetics well, as I have spent years training people to do that. And certainly, creating a cosmetics line would be more profitable, but what I wanted to do was not business. And what I'm doing now here (in Ginza) is not profitable at all.

Is that really true?

I'm barely breaking even here at my Dore jMa Beaute salon (www.chizu-corporation. com/salon/index.shtml). There is no other aesthetic salon that doesn't sell stuff! Most of them sell expensive books of tickets (for a series of sessions), use machines and cram more rooms into their space — not like here. We only have five rooms, and no machines. But I created this salon to realize the dreams of women to enhance their beauty. I have huge debts. I'm doing this only to make this (idea about beauty) understood.

Yesterday, I saw a newspaper article that said many career women these days use a cosmetic product that costs ¥100,000, and that the price makes them proud of their social status — and that makes them happy and beautiful. That makes me realize how my message is not being heard enough.

Young people don't need expensive cosmetics. When I was working at cosmetics companies, I told people who didn't need such products the truth. I told them, "Since you are young, you should let your body make you beautiful from within."

Many people ask me why I make my techniques public in such detail. . . . But techniques change with time. There is no point in keeping old knowhow a secret. More and more products that have adjusted to modern lifestyles are becoming available, so the job of beauty advisers is let people know how to incorporate these new types of products into their daily skincare routines.

The environment is changing rapidly, with the ozone layer being destroyed, and some people are deliberately tanning their skins. Many other people have very high-calorie diets. So we must offer advice that takes such changes into account.

What is your opinion of Japanese women in general?

Young people are dependent on others. They rely on what others say and what TV commercials promote when deciding what cosmetics to use. And it's true, Japanese women are now more beautiful, because their makeup techniques have improved. Look at all those makeup products out there! But if you ask me, I think their skin is getting worse. Foreigners used to admire Japanese women's porcelain skin. But now, so many women here drink alcohol and smoke . . . then turn to high-end skincare products.

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Beauty treatment: Chizu Saeki's famed "lotion pack" routine involves (1) pouring a 500-size yen amount of moisturizing lotion onto a pre-wetted cotton-wool pad; (2) pulling the pad apart into five thin layers; (3) opening holes for the nose and mouth in one of the layers, and covering the lower half of the face with it; (4) using the other pieces to cover the forehead, left cheek, right cheek, chin and neck — in that order — and leaving them there for three minutes. PHOTOS AND Beauty treatment: Chizu Saeki's famed "lotion pack" routine involves (1) pouring a 500-size yen amount of moisturizing lotion onto a pre-wetted cotton-wool pad; (2) pulling the pad apart into five thin layers; (3) opening holes for the nose and mouth in one of the layers, and covering the lower half of the face with it; (4) using the other pieces to cover the forehead, left cheek, right cheek, chin and neck — in that order — and leaving them there for three minutes. S FROM "THE JAPANESE SKINCARE REVOLUTION" BY CHIZU SAEKI, PUBLISHED BY KODANSHA INTERNATIONAL. PHOTOS © HIROKAZU TAKAYAMA

So do you think Japanese women used to have better skin in the past?

Absolutely. They didn't go out of control like women today do. Today's women start wearing makeup, plucking their eyebrows and dying their hair while they are still in their teens! Where did their youth go?

What about their attitude to life? You are on record as saying that today's women are not independent enough.

Yeah. They have no idea what they want to become. I tell them, "If you don't know what to do with your life, how can anyone give you advice? Would you become an athletic swimmer if I told you to do so, then?" I don't like halfhearted approaches to marriages, either. They should have a clear vision of what kind of person they want to marry, and what kind of family life they want to have with a man. That's why I'm opposed to dekichatta kekkon (shotgun weddings). That's why they end up saying, "My life wasn't supposed to turn out like this."

The same goes for women's attitudes to work. If they have a clear vision of what kind of work they want to do, they can be more creative. But if you are just idly working, you end up feeling, "Why am I stuck with menial jobs such as making photocopies of documents and serving tea?" But they are being paid for that! If your job is to serve tea, why don't you do your best at that? Try to adjust your tea to the taste of each person you're serving — like this person prefers it really hot, or that person likes it not too strong, with the cup full or not so full. If you start serving excellent tea, people in the office might start asking you to do other kinds of work.

So my advice is, why don't you try to be creative about whatever job you have now, instead of just complaining? Even with the work of making copies, you can be creative, by attaching clips in different colors to make documents easier to sort out, or you can attach memos to them. Then your managers would notice how attentive you are and start giving you other work. I say, "What you are doing is labor, not work." Women tend to complain a lot, instead of making suggestions.

Do men need skin care, too?

They certainly do. Beauty for men is different from what many men, including professional baseball players, are doing now, like dying their hair or plucking their eyebrows. It's about looking clean, neat and manly. Men with kareishu (body odor that is said to become stronger with age) are not beautiful. There are so many things you can do to deal with kareishu.

But do they really need to work toward having beautiful skin?

Of course! Many men have a beard, and that's fine, but instead of just letting it grow, they should take care of it so they can make themselves look neat. Naturally, men with a clean look will be given important work. I don't think anybody would feel like giving work to anyone who looks like a bum. I think looking clean is part of the job for men — and it shows in the manner they eat and drink, too.

Is there anyone you admire among beauty experts overseas?

Well, I've worked quite a lot with beauty experts in France, and they share the same fundamental mission as me — to make people more beautiful. They take great pride in their work, and instead of making customers blindly buy products, they try to give counseling first. Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and Madame Estee Lauder are people in the United States who created cosmetic products because they strongly wanted women to become more beautiful. And then French haute couture started making cosmetics, with an emphasis on fragrance. So there are two currents of cosmetics products: The American makers developed themselves through marketing, selling dreams that women can be beautiful; the European approach is based more on the study of physiology. Such philosophies show in their product lineups and in their intended ways of use.

What message do you want to give to English speakers now that you have published a book in English? Do you think the Saeki method will appeal to foreigners?

Up until now, in the United States, for example, people have relied on others to condition their skin. But I hope people there will understand the power of the lotion pack, even though the size of cotton-wool sheets available overseas might be limited. (Saeki's lotion pack works better with larger-size sheets). I think foreigners understand and appreciate whatever makes sense.

The other day, you were on TV fielding inquiries from a mother agonizing over her son, who had become hikikomori (withdrawn from society). Your advice was: "You must change yourself before changing your son." Are you often asked for advice about people's lives?

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Yes. Almost all of the inquiries I get from customers on beauty are in fact related to the kind of lives they have led. When I listen to a woman with menopausal difficulties, I can tell what kind of worries she has in her life.

So I felt strongly (during my TV appearance) that it was the mother who had been causing the son's condition. You can't change people, but you can change yourself. That's the easiest thing to do, because you really can't change others.

If you could pick anyone to give a beauty treatment to, who would it be?

I became a freelance beauty adviser because I'd rather make ordinary women beautiful, not actresses or TV celebrities. At my salon here, I don't treat those high-profile people any differently from other customers.

So my answer is: "Anyone who has a wish to become beautiful." And I have the confidence to do that. My dream is to make ordinary women throughout Japan beautiful.

Video of her simple lotion mask. She's so cute speaking in english in a japanese accent kyaah >_<>

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