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Today, I will summarize the “Skin Fasting” method created by Dr. Utsugi and Dr. Yamaguchi.
Their books are bestsellers in the “Beauty” category on Amazon Japan. I was curious so I bought it.
The two doctors (originally aesthetic physicians) have written books about the “Skin Fasting” method, which means not using any cosmetics at all.
Their books have been translated into Chinese and Korean. Although I don’t understand any of these languages, I was able to obtain two books in Japanese and have them translated using automatic translation tools.
The summary I am providing here is based on automatic translations, so it’s possible that I misunderstand some sentences.
In 2001, after analyzing the skin of hundreds of Japanese women under a microscope, Dr. Utsugi discovered that half of them had bad skin.
Healthy skin should have a diamond-shaped texture, as seen at level 0, but 1 out of 2 women no longer had any texture and had reached level III, the most severe level, which corresponds to the skin of elderly individuals. This skin had lost its elasticity, was prone to wrinkles and fine lines, and was extremely dry.
Upon closer examination of these figures, it was found that the more cosmetics women used, the drier and rougher their skin became.
The explanation lies in the fact that the skin barrier in these individuals had been compromised… by cosmetics.
According to Dr. Utsugi, breaking down the skin barrier allows cosmetics to penetrate directly into the skin. However, they irritate the skin and cause inflammation and redness. They do more harm than good.
The skin, the largest organ of the human body, is composed of two layers: the thin epidermis, which covers the surface of the skin, and the thick and resistant dermis, which is located beneath it. The dermis, being thicker and more resistant, acts as a “support” for the thinner epidermis that covers it.
There is another layer of the skin that should never be forgotten, and that is the stratum corneum. It covers the surface of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. This horny layer is a collection of dead cells! They are the hardened “corpses” of epidermal cells. These dead cells are called keratinocytes.
The structure of the stratum corneum is often compared to bricks and mortar in dermatology textbooks. The bricks are the keratinocytes, and the mortar is the intercellular lipids. In other words, the horny layer consists of layers of bricks (dead keratinocytes) and mortar (intercellular lipids), forming a solid and flexible wall.
The structure of the “bricks and mortar” horny layer is very important because it prevents:
- water evaporation
- easy penetration of foreign substances into the skin
The skin naturally produces its own natural moisturizing factors. Many cosmetic brands (including Deciem, for example) try to replicate these ingredients, but nothing compares to the skin’s natural functions. However, it is not the ingredients that are important, but the “bricks and mortar” structure and cosmetics do not allow it to be replicated identically. Imagine someone building a wall and alternating bricks with mortar, vs. someone randomly mixing bricks and mortar and calling it a “wall.” Which wall do you think will be stronger?
In addition, cellular turnover occurs as keratinocytes are pushed upward by new keratinocytes from below. During this process, the keratinocytes that reach the top reach sufficient maturity to function as a barrier. However, if you keep the surface of your skin sticky with lotion or cream, the dead cells do not dry out and curl up, making their detachment more difficult. This means that new cells are less likely to be produced. Over time, the skin will end up with more layers of dead cells than new epidermal cells and keratinocytes.
So, what about exfoliation? When many dead cells are removed at once, the basal cells have to regenerate the same number of new cells, which can lead to the creation of many immature epidermal cells before they are ready to divide. Therefore, there will be fewer and fewer new epidermal cells, and that is how the skin ages.
Thus, it is preferable to have a slightly dry skin surface. The ideal skin is not “moist” but “smooth”.
Another point to consider is sebum. Sebum is the oil of the hair. We can observe that the skin is more beautiful where we have fewer hairs, such as the inner arms. Over time, sebum oxidizes and turns into lipid peroxides, which can irritate the skin and cause inflammation. Sebum, which makes up the sebum film, also has a moisturizing effect, but it represents only 1% of the total moisturizing effect, with 99% attributed to the power of the natural moisturizing factor. Sebum has very little moisturizing effect and can be very harmful to the skin. That’s why the two authors criticize the use of oil on the skin.
Using cosmetics opens the door to:
- Damage caused by water: The natural moisturizing factor is completely different from fresh water in that it is composed of different types of amino acids and protein molecules linked together and in the form of electrolytes. Lotions, which are primarily composed of water, dry out the skin instead of moisturizing it.
- Damage caused by surfactants and oils: Creams and oils produced by manufacturers probably have the same moisturizing effect as sebum, meaning they moisturize the skin by only 1% compared to 99% attributed to the natural moisturizing factor. Dr. Utsugi is also against sunscreen creams. He believes that in daily life, one is exposed to the sun for a maximum of 15 minutes, and Asians are much less affected by skin cancer than Caucasians. In case of exposure, it is better to use physical methods such as wearing a hat and protective clothing.
- Damage caused by preservatives
- Damage caused by friction
- Damage caused by excessive washing
His skincare method includes:
- Do not wash your face in the morning
- In the evening, you can wash your face with lukewarm water by putting your face in a basin, then use the movement of the water to wash your face. Then, use a soft towel to absorb the remaining water.
- Afterward, do not use any cosmetics at all. If the skin becomes too tight, you are allowed to use a grain of white petroleum jelly, but that’s all. Petroleum jelly does not penetrate deeply into the skin and can be washed off after a few days.
He claims that with this method, thousands of women have gone from level III to level 0, sometimes in a few months, sometimes in a few years, depending on the case.
Critique of the Utsugi Method
I am certain that this method is suitable for certain women, there is no doubt about that. Especially since Japanese women naturally have beautiful skin and probably do not need cosmetics. They live in a country where tap water is of excellent and do not have to deal with the harmful effects of hard water like we do everywhere in France.
During my one-year internship in Norway in 2009, I had beautiful skin. The extreme cold in Norway prevented my skin from secreting too much sebum, so I didn’t have a single pimple for a year, and I didn’t even need cosmetics. By chance, I had a skin analysis done at that time, and my skin was in the level II state, even though it was the most perfect skin I had ever had. I applied without having Dr. Utsugi’s method, but under the microscope, it was clearly seen that my skin already lacked elasticity, and it was not caused by cosmetics because I didn’t use any for a year. Thus, the absence of cosmetic use did not guarantee to have level 0 skin. In my case, my skin was beautiful because of the weather, not because of 0 cosmetics. As soon as I found myself in more polluted countries or with hard water, I had to use cosmetics, otherwise, my skin would have been covered in pimples.
Furthermore, when reading reviews from Japanese women on Amazon Japan, we discover that washing with water alone is not enough. Many of them have developed medical conditions that are difficult to cure: seborrheic dermatitis.
Finally, when comparing the photos of the authors with those of Ms. Chizu Saeki, even though she is older, after years of layering and massage, she had better skin than the two of them combined. So there you have it…
I sincerely believe that this method is suitable for women who naturally have beautiful skin but have destroyed it by thinking that they absolutely needed cosmetics. To know if you naturally have beautiful skin, just observe the women in your family. If the “beautiful skin” DNA is present in your family, if you have cousins or your mother who wash their face with water but have beautiful skin, then yours has a good chance of being beautiful too.
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