Chizu Saeki is a famous Japanese esthetician and beauty consulted who after a long career working for Guerlain and Dior opened her own salon. Her methods rely somewhat on classic Japanese traditions, but she puts has her own twist on things, rejecting the Japanese tendency to over-wash the skin (Ms. Saeki is very much against the two step cleansing routine of oil+detergent), and preferring the use of lotions and creams over oils. The book teaches Chizu Saeki's philosophy and techniques in a clear and organized way, tries to give an answer to common skin concerns, with the most focus on anti-aging.
The Chizu Saeki method relies on getting to know your skin and it needs and doing the work yourself, which includes thorough cleansing, massage, and the frequent use of lotion masks:
The most useful parts of the book are the detailed and illustrated explanations of applying the mask and the various facial massage techniques. I also like Ms. Saeki's non-fussy attitude and joie de vivre. She's very relaxed and is all about common sense and gentleness, no scary and attainable perfectionism to be found here, both in her work and in her views of beauty and age.
The focus of the book is on the actual work, not on products. I did find it a bit weird that in the only part that lists cosmetics, seven out of the nine products listed are by Lauder-owned companies: Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Origins, and Estee Lauder (the other one is from NARS). These products are pictured and named, but are not actually part of Ms. Saeki's text, which makes me raise an eyebrow at whoever is responsible for the American edition of the book.
I also thought that the lotion mask could have used a bit more explanation for those not familiar with the use of Asian paper masks. The "lotion" part might be confusing to some, as we think of lotions as a milky substance, while in Asian cosmetics the term refers to a rich liquid that's often called toner, though it has nothing in common with the astringent alcohol based (and really awful for your skin) toners of our youth. There are many excellent options on the American market, which gives me an idea for another post. It is worth noting that hydrating watery lotions are not the only thing that can be used in a mask like this, but also milky ones and light creams (as I've mentioned here). Respectively, instead of cotton squares you can use the aforementioned paper masks (you can find them on Amazon, eBay, or Asian markets).
All in all, the book is a good read, especially for those looking to learn more methods of skincare or reboot their own routine. It's probably not a must-have as you can google all the important information, but for the price of this little paperback and the hour you spend reading it, you do get some wisdom and inspiration that will make you feel a little more beautiful and confident in what you do. That must be worth something.
Chizu Saeki- The Japanese Skincare Revolution ($12.62) is available on Amazon.
Photo via Reuters.