Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chizu Saeki- The Japanese Skincare Revolution (Book Review)

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.


  1. I love this book. I have had it out from the library twice, but for some reason have not pulled the trigger on buying it. I have noticed that my forehead wrinkles seem less deep since I adopted some of her techniques. This is no small feat considering I am pregnant and am off the good stuff (retinol, that is).

  2. Got this book a couple of months ago because I was interested in the lymphatic facial massage - excellent. Also love the water massage and the lotion mask (fortunately, a friend told me to get the paper masks on Amazon). Enjoyed this book and was looking for more books or articles by her and found an interview with her online in the Japan Times from a few years ago that's really quite interesting - especially the part about her husband's death and her recovery from that (particularly the ashes part - unusual, but I do understand that degree of grief). Anyway, like that she prefers to use the term "beauty aging" instead of anti-aging.
    That is intriguing about all the EL products mentioned in this book. Wonder what is in the Japanese edition or those in other countries.

  3. Thanks for reviewing this! I looked up her age (yes, I did) and she is 70! What a beautiful woman. I will definitely seek out this book.

  4. I bought this book several months ago and have been using Chizu Saeki's methods with the Japanese Laneige line of products for about two months and really like the results. I also use products from the Rhoto Hado Labo line. The paper masks are key and they are very cheap on Amazon.

  5. Thanks for reviewing this book, and I also think that it would be great to see a post on toner options on the American market.

  6. What a beautiful woman! And I'm not just talking about her physical appearance. She radiates warmth and gentleness that is peaceful and reassuring. Soothing the skin and renewing the spirit should be as much a part of our skin care routines as is the use of retinoids, lasers, glycolic acids, etc. I'm going to cruise on over to Amazon to take a look at her book right now :-)

  7. I've had this on my Amazon wishlist for ages. Thank you for giving a better, clear ideia of what to expect from it.

  8. I found the section on lotion masks the most effective part of her book. I buy Compressed Paper Masks off of Amazon and lotion pack every day with them; it's made a huge difference in keeping my skin hydrated, and I enjoy being able to create DIY masks that I can tailor to my skin's condition on a particular day. She also spends a large part of her book going over facial and lymphatic massage.
    You don't need to buy her book; a lot of it is already on youtube:

    The basic gist of the videos is that skincare goes beyond using the right products; you shouldn't skimp on the amount you use and the method of application is important as well. As with any beauty "guru" though, I'd take what is said with a grain of salt and rely on what works best for YOU. ;)


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