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Is it time to shatter the myth of glass skin? Inspired by K-beauty fanatics, the quest for a mirror-like complexion is a little inconvenient. Achieving such lofty luminosity requires a 10-step routine, Narcissus-level focus and a slavish devotion to essences, ampoules and rubbery masks. If you find the idea a tad impracticable, you might be intrigued by an alternative approach to facial upkeep from a different part of the world. In Japanese beauty rituals, the peak state for your complexion is not glassy, it’s soft—think plush, pliable, touchable skin—and it can be achieved in a few simple steps.
The leading advocate of an ultra-silky complexion is Shiseido, which launches at MECCA this month with a cluster of “skin softeners”. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the category, you’re not alone. Softeners have more in common with an essence than a toner or a moisturiser. Applied after cleansing, these lightweight, gel-like emulsions soothe, balance and quench your skin. Think of them as watery serums. While softeners have an immediate effect on parched skin, they also fortify your complexion over time and ensure the treatments that follow are better absorbed.
Plus, unlike some of the more headline-making ingredients like snail slime, bee venom and donkey milk, skin softeners have rigorous science behind them. After all, Shiseido is a beauty pioneer with a storied history of innovation dating back to 1872 in Tokyo. Japan, you see, has the highest per capita spending on skincare and beauty products in the world, and its citizens demand the most cutting-edge products.
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Instead of endorsing a multi-act theatrical production for flawless skin, Shiseido proposes just four steps: soften, strengthen, moisturise and protect. While the Western approach prescribes aggressive exfoliation and astringent toners, the Japanese have a gentler philosophy that involves treating your complexion with reverence—and a soft touch. In fact, peeling, exfoliating and microneedling barely rate a mention; Shiseido has one exfoliant in its entire lineup, a polishing gel from its youth-oriented Waso capsule. In the J-beauty world, hydrating softeners are the key to nurturing your skin and creating the right amount of dewy.
Shiseido is so zealous about softeners that the brand has several different versions. Its original Treatment Softener blends Japanese mineral spring water, hyaluronic acid and plant extracts to plump your skin. This softener comes in two formats: one for normal, combination and oily skin and an enriched version for dry skin . The latter has additional hydrating elements, primrose oil and yuzu extract. Originally launched in 1897, and packaged in a striking glass bottle, Eudermine Revitalizing Essence is one of Shiseido’s oldest products with modern appeal. It delivers an instant moisture surge and is subtly perfumed with peonies for petal-soft skin.
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Other softeners are bolstered with age-defying technology. Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Balancing Softener addresses the look of fine lines with breakthrough wrinkle-smoothing ingredients, including mukurossi extract from the fruit of the soapnut tree. Once again, there is one for normal to combination skin and one for dry skin. Finally, Future Solution LX Concentrated Balancing Softener is its most advanced formula. For a softener, it really packs a punch. It refines skin texture, minimises the appearance of pores and helps target the visible signs of ageing with actives exclusive to the brand. It’s the easiest route to luminous skin.
Whichever softener you choose, and it could be the transformative product you’ve been longing for, the application is the same. Using your fingers or a soaked cotton pad, sweep the product across your skin and pat it in with the palms of your hands. To fully reap the benefits, follow with a “strengthening” treatment, like Ultimune Power Infusing Serum Concentrate, which creates more resilient skin from within, hydrate with a regenerative moisturiser such as Essential Energy Moisturizing Gel Cream, and protect your complexion with your favourite SPF. As with any regime, you need to be diligent but supple skin is an achievable objective.
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