My skincare journey began on a chilly evening in January 2013 at Gimhae International Airport.
I was 28 years old, and my skincare routine (if it could be called that) consisted of makeup remover sheets, and face wash. Japan was in the midst of the 2nd Korean Wave that brought with it K-pop groups like Kara, Bigbang, and Girls Generation, as well as curious skincare products that required an incredible amount of free time.
My time as an exchange student coincided with the 1st Korean Wave that started with “Yon-Sama,” his Burberry scarves and oversized pastel sweaters.
I had successfully avoided getting caught up in the craze, and was certain that the 2nd Korean Wave would have no effect on me.
So, when I perused the shelves of a duty-free shop and the sales clerk asked me about my skincare routine, I was very amused.
Surely she wasn’t going to try to sell Korean skincare products to me, who obviously didn’t look Korean.
When she asked me my age (28) and skincare routine (non-existent), she was adamant that I get to work on a skincare routine, starting with these products.
Never one to pass up a good sale, I said yes to the skincare, and that was the first step of my skincare journey.
My Skincare Journey — Introduction to K-Beauty
2 hours later, I was back in Tokyo. As I sipped on a bottle of flavored makgeolli, I unboxed my very first skincare haul — Etude House Moistfull Collagen.
I washed my face and carefully applied the products in the order that the sales clerk patiently taught me.
After one week, I noticed the results. My skin was visibly smoother. I became a K-beauty stan.
No longer could makeup remover satisfy my skin’s needs.
My skin needed more than to be “clean.”
My skin needed perfection, which could only be achieved through diligently following the sacred 10 step skincare routine.
As I lived in Nishi-Shinjuku at the time, I headed to Shin-Okubo whenever I ran out of products. It was just a 30 minutes away by foot. And, when my schedule (and funds) permitted it, I regularly traveled to Seoul.
Not only was I addicted to K-beauty, I listened to K-Pop, too! I even joined an official fan club (Boyfriend’s “Best Friends”) and attended my first meet-and-greet.
My love for Korean skincare and its quirky skincare ingredients (Bee venom! Snail Mucus! Seaweed!) grew and grew. However, my relationship with k-beauty changed with the birth of my daughter.
No longer able to fuel my skincare addiction with trips to Seoul or even trips to K-Town. I needed to rethink my skincare routine.
A single, baby-free walk down the skincare aisle at my local drugstore had all the answers.
Enter the world of jitan (時短 // cost-saving) skincare products, all made in Japan.
As a new mother, “time” became my greatest treasure and priority. Each product, whether in the form of a 60 second morning sheet mask or all-in-one night cream, would help me achieve my skincare goals in just one step! (Or, so it said on the packaging.)
Fascinated by these innovative Japanese skincare products, I began to showcase them on my motherhood in Japan blog, The Wagamama Diaries, and on my Instagram account.
As I posted genuine reviews about my favorite (and not so favorite) skincare and makeup products, my blog gained traction. Eventually it led to my transformation as a Japanese beauty blogger.
I’ve collaborated with some of my favorite skincare brands. And, in a rather curious turn of events, I’ve returned to my K-beauty roots through frequent collaborations with up-and-coming Korean beauty brands looking to make inroads in Japan.
Life As A Green Beauty Entrepreneur In Japan
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Fast forward to the global COVID lockdown of spring 2020, and I found myself without a job. But, equipped with the skills I gained from blogging and freelance writing, I was absolutely certain I could find a new opportunity. If not, I would make my own.
That summer, I came across a call for submissions for the 16th annual Edogawa Business Plan Contest. Perhaps this was my chance.
I came up with the idea of a superfood skincare line that uses komatsuna. It’s a Japanese vegetable native to Edogawa City. Edogawa City provides Tokyo with most of its komatsuna, and we even have an official komatsuna mascot. In addition to being versatile and tasty, komatsuna is blooming with skin-friendly vitamins A, C and E.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Edo Beauty Lab, we opened a boutique in Kasai, Edogawa City in September 2022. Our green skincare brand has relaunched as a lifestyle brand offering products that soothe the mind, body and skin.
Skincare Workshops & Seminars
This November, I’ll be hosting my very first bilingual skincare workshop!
Based on my popular skincare posts, The Ultimate J-Beauty Guide to Winter Skincare and Fight Winter Dryness With These Skincare Items From Japan, this is a hands-on DIY workshop that’s all about winter skincare.
I have a few other skincare workshops in mind, as well as a 1 day intensive J-beauty seminar to launch in Spring 2023.
My skincare journey in Japan began nearly 10 years ago and is far from over. Lately, I’ve been paying more attention to a quality skincare routine and have introduced aging skincare and “anti-aging” foods and supplements into my daily regimen.
Here’s to the next 10 years of my skincare journey, The Wagamama Diaries, and Edo Beauty Lab!