It’s no secret that beauty treatments abound in Japan, and while maintenance like bikini waxing is relatively new to the ladies of Tokyo, removing facial hair has been popular since forever. Known in the West as dermaplaning, kao sori (“shaved face”) is a skin service J-girls rely on for smooth, fuzz-free complexions, as well as to maximize penetration of their multi-product skin-care routines. In the States, med spas use dermaplaning to treat hyperpigmentation, mild scarring, fine lines, and wrinkles.
After getting past the old wives’ tale of facial hair growing back thicker and darker, I decided to give it a shot. Hey, there aren’t many girls in Tokyo sporting five o’clock shadows, right?
The service at Beauty Face — the biggest kao sori salon in Japan, with over 70 locations nationwide — began similarly to the facials you're used to stateside. The salons are much like your typical day spas in any major U.S. city. Steam, lots of it, is used to start the makeup removal and cleansing process. (Most women in Japan and South Korea favor double cleansing to ensure skin is truly clean, and ready for treatment and product layering.) After removing my makeup and washing my face, the aesthetician covered my eyes with small hydrogel patches (aah) and bust out an old-school lather brush. Once she foamed up my entire face, she got down to work.
Having a straight razor taken to your face is freaky, but after feeling her expertise and precision, I quickly got into it and was able to relax. The razor passed over my face in short, sweeping motions, and it was essentially painless. Once finished, the aesthetician performed a suction-assisted lymphatic drain massage on my throat and an acupressure facial massage. Bliss.
The final steps were all about layering products: a hot-towel massage followed by a sheet-mask treatment, anti-aging serums, and moisturizer — finishing with hot-cold, red-light therapy. My skin was so fresh and buttery-soft, I briefly considered never wearing makeup again. (Briefly.) The entire process took about an hour and, despite the scary blade use, wasn’t the least bit aggressive. No redness or irritation afterward, and when I finally did my makeup, it slid on like a dream.
The results last a good two to three weeks, although the length varies depending on a person's skin and hair growth. Most J-ladies do the professional version every four to six weeks, as their facial. Also, some women go the DIY route, buying their own blades, and do it much more frequently. (Shiseido makes an inexpensive at-home option.)
The best part? It’s luxe face pampering at a bargain price point (under $35!). While we have similar services stateside (which usually cost about twice as much), glowy, smooth skin does make for a nice souvenir if you're visiting Tokyo. Who knows? Maybe, it'll inspire you to forgo foundation, too.
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