Onsen and Skincare
In July we will be writing a weekly post on how to manage your beauty, body and wellness to suit the conditions and climate of Japan.
Summer offers a lot of unique challenges for your health and well-being. This can be especially true for your life in Japan whether you live here or you are just visiting. Summer in Japan not only has high temperatures, but 80-100% humidity on most days as well. The busy life of work, travel or family will often take that valuable time away from making sure that you are caring for yourself.
What is a way to care for your skin in this climate that doesn’t take a lot of time, and is also both natural and healthy? Using natural ingredients like olive oil, lemon or lime juice, fruits and vegetables are easy to find in most supermarkets and are affordable. There are a number of sites that can tell you how to use these ingredients. This is one of them I recommend: http://rawforbeauty.com/blog/category/natural-remedies
Clearing your skin:
You may find that your face feels oily during summer, and the frequency and quantity of sweat has also increased. This build-up of oil and sweat layers itself on your face and body. Of course sweating is our natural mechanism for maintaining body temperature, but making sure to clean and clear our pores is important. Splashing your face with cool water seems to give you a little relief from the heat but it doesn’t seem to remove that thick layer of oil and sweat.
One solution to combat the summer sweat is to attack it with the natural heat and minerals of onsen bathing.
It is as simple as visiting an onsen once a week where you will quickly notice your body and skin begin to look and feel different. The natural minerals in onsens help to open up the pores in your skin and the different temperatures which range from 25 -42 degrees, to ice cold help to massage your skin. The natural minerals that can be found in the onsen hot spring will depend on the water source, but generally you can find sulfur, hydrogen sulfur, bicarbonate, acidic and iron for example. This is not the complete list but you can read how each mineral can benefit your body here: www.yadyad.com/en/onsen/effect
If you are new to Japanese onsen bathing look at this site which outlines the basic rules;
So now that you have a basic understanding of the process, let’s look at how you can bathe to help your skin.
Please remember that this is not a race to take a dip in each bath but rather to savor the experience and let your body tell you which baths it likes, how long you should sit in the same bath, and when it’s time to sit outside and let the breeze refresh you.
When I went to my first onsen over two decades ago, I was very conscious of my nakedness and this awkwardness made me rush through the experience. I thought everyone was looking at me and examining my every move to make sure I didn’t make a mistake. Of course at the beginning you might make a few minor infractions (like spraying close neighbors when you are using the hand-held shower) but if you just sit calmly and watch what other people are doing you will see the grace and beauty in the actions of Japanese bathing.
As you experience and visit more onsens around Japan you will know that staying for as long as you can is the best therapy for your skin. Change the temperatures from warm, to hot, to cold, to hot and rotate around the baths that have massaging bubbles or different minerals (which you will be able to know from the color or the smell). By the end of your onsen you will feel lighter, fresher, your skin will be shining and softer to the touch.
A great way to experience an onsen is to visit with friends. This summer Enoshima Island Spa is offering a variety of options to incorporate the spa, time with friends and great food. For more details;