• #5-2. Skin Care As an Adjunct Therapy



    The white face powder (mainly composed of lead and zinc) was often used for make-up and this was the same in the US as well (the cake-type foundation still in use was developed by Max Factor in the early 1900’s).


    As light washing was sufficient for removing make-up at the time, thorough cleansing was not necessary. Most people did not even wear make-up. There are records that one kabuki actor mixed oil into the face powder to make the make-up last longer, which he later marketed under his name to a great success. As the early make-up products caused less irritation to the skin, skin care was done more for aesthetics rather than for strengthening the skin.


    As the Edo Period ended and Japan started opening its doors to foreign influences, American culture became a dominant influence. The American culture became more prevalent especially in fashion due to the US occupation of Japan following Japan’s defeat in WW2 in 1945.


    In the 1950s and 70s, Japan experienced rapid industrial growth. The Japanese government introduced an income doubling plan and met the goals in a very short time. With a higher income, people could indulge in beautifying themselves. Japanese manufacturers of cosmetic products such as Shiseido started aggressively marketing their products.


    People who finished schooling in small towns moved to large cities like Tokyo and Osaka for jobs. Cosmetics manufacturers encouraged these young women to appear more professional by wearing Western style make-up which became widely popular.


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    Excessive Cleansing Dries the Skin.


    Older cosmetics products often used harsh ingredients and caused various problems such as darkening and break-outs, etc. It became very important to thoroughly wash the face to remove these harsh chemicals. Soap used to remove western-style foundation made the skin dry up quickly.


    Japan boasts excellent water quality and tap water is safe enough for drinking. However, harsh cleansers quickly dried the skin and many people started to complain of dryness despite the humid climate in Japan. Many Japanese women still perform excessive cleansing, thinking that residual make-up products can cause skin irritation.


    -To be continued

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