The 10 Minute Cleansing Ritual Of Japanese Women


I’m enthralled with Japan, Tokyo in particular, as you may have read in my piece on the Japanese hideaway onsen, Tomoko Spa, located in Beverly Hills. There’s an understated elegance, devotion to nature and sense of pride woven into every layer of Japanese daily life. The food, the sense of fashion, the gardens and the beauty culture – sigh – it’s my favorite city. So when I discovered luxury botanical skincare line, In Fiore, at the Credo Beauty Los Angeles store opening event last week and learned of their Japanese skincare influence (not to mention HUGE popularity in Japan), I could barely contain myself.

The green beauty line which launched in 1999, reads sultry apothecary, less health foods market and emerged onto the scene way ahead of its time, only now gaining real traction as the demand for nontoxic beauty continues to increase. Let’s be real – two decades ago mainstream consumers weren’t ready for luxury plant based skincare tonics and treatments. We still had yet to learn about kale, juicing, and the wonders of organic living! But that didn’t stop In Fiore from developing a cult following among a small circle of in-the-know fans, including celebrities Gwen Stefani, Liv Typer and Anne Hathaway, and a loyal customer base in Japan. 

Powerful body balms, face oils, serums and creams with beautiful, heady scent forward formulations and powerful essential oils comprise In Fiore’s line, but it’s their 4-2-4 cleansing ritual (a ten minute process inspired by Japanese skincare practices) that has become the brand’s foundation, and your entry point to achieving a glowing complexion on par with Japanese women. (If that’s your goal of course, but really, how could it not be…)

The 4-2-4 process
Step 1: Massage In Fiore Lustre face oil all over your face for 4 minutes

Step 2: Without rinsing, layer on the In Fiore Treate lotion and massage for 2 minutes

Step 3: Rinse for 2 minutes with warm water

Step 4: Rinse for 2 minutes with cold water

“The first step of massaging in the oil is going to start warming the skin and improving the blood flow,” explains In Fiore founder, Julie Elliott, “warmth and circulation is really essential for tissue healing. The oil is lipid-philic, so it will attract impurities and cleanse the sebaceous glands, while the second step of massaging in the emulsion for two minutes emulsifies the oil without stripping the skin or disrupting its natural ph. Then you start rinsing with warm water for two minutes to rinse the oils, followed by two minutes with cold water to stimulate the lymph and revitalize your complexion.”

The process is extremely popular among Japanese and South Korean women whom Julie says, value the importance of a disciplined regiment.

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“In my travels,” Julie adds, “I like to ask women about their beauty rituals and I noticed one common theme among Japanese skincare. There is this emphasis on the cleansing ritual with a huge emphasis on deep tissue facial massage, which makes sense because it is a bathing culture. But there is also this deep belief that the regiment is almost more important than the product, or to be more exact, if you don’t bridge the product with the right regiment, then the product won’t work as well.”

My experience
As an avid lover of facial massage, Step 1 and Step of the 4-2-4 are utterly relaxing and enjoyable. Tension beings to fade the deeper I massage my jaw muscles, between my brows and temples, and my skin starts to flush light pink with continued pressure increasing blood flow.

Step 3 feels lengthy as I splash wave after wave of warm water on my face longing for my iPhone timer to begin buzzing…but it doesn’t for a longgggg time.

Step 4 is simultaneously the hardest and best part of the process. Hardest because ice cold water is slapping my face, going up my nose, into my eyes and generally all over my bathroom counter for the longest two minutes of my life, except for the previous two minutes. The BEST because my senses feel awake, energized and upon inspection in my mirror my skin appears taunt and vibrant.

After four evenings of religious adherence to the In Fiore 4-2-4 protocol, my skin looks noticeably plumper, brighter and a cystic acne bump (that my husband pointed out was two pimples that had merged into one giant one) had all but deflated., In Fiore Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence 4.2 oz – $125, In Fiore Treate Gentle Cleansing Emulsion 4.2 oz – $70

For more on Japanese skincare and beauty – I’ll be traveling to Tokyo tomorrow to explore the world of Japanese beauty – products, spas, hair salons and nail trends. Follow along on my journey on Instagram and here on the blog!

-by Amy Chang
Photographed by author