Lashes in the Lush


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Skincare Brand in Town: Onsen Japonica's Fusion of Science, Tradition and Nature

An onsen, a Japanese natural hotspring, is as illustrative for Japanese culture as sumo, sushi and geisha are. The Japanese have been bathing in onsen for centuries because of the healing powers derived from its mineral conent. Besides several health benefits, the bathing ritual is also believed to be beneficial for our skin by soothing and rejuvenating the skin, promoting a youthful complexion. The good news is that you don't have to book a costly trip to Japan, as the amazing new skincare brand Onsen Japonica brings the beauty benefits of onsen water straight to your bathroom.

Back in 2004, when I was 19, I participated in a youth exchange program and lived with a host family in Nagoya for several weeks. During a weekend trip to the mountains I had my first experience bathing in an onsen and it was by far the best experience I ever had in a hot spring or thermal bath or spa of any sort. 

With my host family in Nagoya, Japan 2004

Apart from the relaxing effect of the warm spring water, the entire atmosphere is incredibly serene and wholesome. Onsen bathing facilities are typically nestled deep within beautiful and unspoilt nature and feature both indoor and outdoor bath tubs, most often made from Japanese cypress, marble or granite. The onsens I visited had large windows, overlooking lakes, rocks and pine trees. Time seemed to pass in a different pace which make it a great place for unwinding. When bathing and floating around in the soft and warm water, the only sounds you hear are those of streaming water and some soft chatter in the background from other visitors – traditionally, men and women bathed together at the onsen but gender separation has been enforced since the opening of Japan to the West. I would love to go back some day to immerse myself in the tranquil atmosphere and treat my skin to the hydrating and restorative benefits of the mineral rich water.

When I learned that a new skincare brand was to be launched in Singapore end of 2015, I was thrilled to find out that the key feature of the range is Japanese ONSEN water! The brand, called Onsen Japonica, has succeeded to create a unique formula to bring the powerful benefits of authentic Japanese onsen water to modern skincare, in what they call ‘a fusion of science, tradition, and nature’. The range consists of the following products:

  • Deep Hydrating Cleanser
  • Daily Intensive Moisturizing Gel
  • Deep Hydrating Night Serum.

All three products contain ‘Pure, Certified Onsen Water', sourced from the only onsen spring approved by the Japanese government for use in cosmetics. It is taken directly from its natural source, 300 metres below the ground and is not a chemically altered or manufactured water claiming the benefits of a traditional Japanese Onsen. The onsen water is sourced in the Toyama Prefecture, contains many minerals and salts, such as metasilicic acid and delivers deep moisture absorption. In addition, the products contain:
  • Sacran: A precious natural moisturizing and anti-aging ingredient with extremely high water retention capability, extracted from Suizenji Nori, a fresh water algae found in parts of Kyushu Japan.
  • Kucya: A deeply cleansing and detoxifying type of mud that is only found in Japan’s most southern island Okinawa. It’s over tens of thousands years old and consists of fine clay particles extracted from the sea bed, rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Reduces the appearance of visible pores and blemishes.
  • Fermented Rice Lees: Boosts skin brightness and aids in the treatment of spot discoloration and freckles. The benefits of fermentation in foods have long been known and are trending among foodies; its introduction to the cosmetics world is relatively new

What I first of all love about the range is that with three products you have covered your entire skincare routine, both day and night. No 8-step programs with toners, lotions, day and night emulsions etc. but three products that combined give your skin all it could wish for in terms of hydration, nutrition, soothing, rejuvenating, cleansing and toning. I really like this ‘less is more’, pure and minimalist approach – very Japanese. 

The same kind of zen can be found in the look of the products, that are modest and discreetly chic. This isn’t a marketing technique, but really reflects the pureness and honesty of the brand: the products contain authentic, naturally sourced, Japanese ingredients, no artificial colours, no artificial fragrance and are not tested on animals. LIKE.


I tried and tested the Deep Hydrating Cleanser. I'm in desperate need of a good new cleanser, as the one I've been using for years doesn't seem to do the trick anymore now that my skin is tortured on a daily base by the aircon, heat, humity and sweat that come for free with living in tropical Singapore. It seems like my skin isn't as thouroughly cleansed as it should be, judging by the sudden increase in outbreaks I experience. I think I haven't had a blemish since I was in High School - until now. 

The product description says the following:
"A unique, powerful blend of true onsen water and Japanese botanicals. Onsen Japonica Deep Hydrating Cleanser leaves your face feeling clean, fresh and deeply nourished. Pure, certified, mineral-rich ONSEN WATER renews skin with intense moisture absorption properties while Okinawa Island’s prized KUCYA MUD deeply cleanses and reduces the appearance of visible pores and blemishes."
I must say I'm somewhat relieved that the Cleanser doesn't contain fermented rice lees, which is the case for the Moisturizing Gel and Hydrating Serum. This ingredient is a natural source of arbutin, which is great when you desire a radiant, slightly lightened skin. I'm however a big fan of my natural tan (N.B. I tan only mildly, and -as far as possible- safe with lots of SPFs!) and like to preserve my tan as long as possible to avoid too much exposure to sun. 

The texture of the cleanser is amazing: it's a light brown/grey moussy clay that is sooo soft that I don't want to rinse the product off but want to keep massaging it onto my face again and again instead. Apart from the texture, my favourite feature of this cleanser is the fact that is actually very easy to rinse off (once you're done feeling how soft it is over and over :)). The product 'flows' off my face in an easy and natural way with just a splash of water; with other cleansers I often experience that I really have to rinse off the product thoroughly as it sticks to my face and leaves some residu, Rinsing off this Cleanser however feels very easy and natural, a very gentle, effortless gesture, with a very clean and very fresh result. 

My skin immediately feels softer and after using the product for a week or so my skin really seems to calm down. I haven't had any blemishes for a while, and my skin looks well balanced. When I exercise (2-3 times a week) I wash my face three times a day (morning, after exercise, evening), as opposed to two times back home in Europe (morning and evening), With my previous cleanser, every now and then my skin would feel a bit tight and 'stripped' from hydration when it had to endure 3 cleansing sessions in one day. With Onsen Japonica's cleanser I don't experience this feeling anymore, and my skin looks and feels clean and healthy every time. Would I buy this product again? YES!
Onsen Japonica, Deep Hydrating Cleanser, 100 g.
Price: 77 SGD
Available at Onsen Japonica Webshop; delivery in Singapore is free.

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