from Japan

What Do Students and Skincare Have in Common? Meet H

H - middle school English teacher



H was born in the Kumamoto prefecture in 1985. She is currently a middle school English teacher in Tokyo.

Dropping the Base

Yasuo Yoshikawa As a middle school teacher, do you normally wear makeup to work?

H I wear sunscreen, lip color, eye shadow, and brow shadow. I eliminated foundation from my routine because it stressed out my skin. 

Yasuo Well, you have beautiful skin, so whatever you’re doing works! How did you come to realize that?

H For starters, foundation coverage doesn’t last all day. And honestly, my students would make fun of me because it looked like I was wearing a mask or something.  

Yasuo Wearing foundation makes most people look older, even kids. My daughter also made this mistake when she was in middle school. It’s a natural time for girls to start growing an interest in makeup.  

H I think you have to have good techniques in order for it to look natural. 

Yasuo Not particularly. It’s more that most people just wear too much. A lot of Japanese women believe that you have to wear foundation, but that’s absolutely not true. If you have good skin, base makeup isn’t entirely necessary.

H Japanese beauty styles really emphasize the importance of base makeup. 

Yasuo Yes, many Japanese cosmetic companies preach that idea. But it’s wrong, because your skin doesn’t need it! So many young women falsely believe that they need it when their natural skin actually looks much better.

H I agree. I often feel uncomfortable when visiting makeup counters. The saleswomen look at me as if I’m doing something wrong by not wearing foundation.  

Yasuo Yes, because once you start wearing base makeup, you feel as though you can’t go on without it. I think women should only wear it once they develop uneven skin and/or blemishes and wear it quite minimally. It helps you look more youthful that way. I also noticed that the skin on your face beautifully matches that of your neck. It can be hard to maintain that look because the face often gets much more sun exposure. Looks like using sunscreen really pays off!

H There is this really great supplement that acts as a sunscreen. I take it mainly when I know I’ll be outside for long periods of time, like during school sports activity season.  


The Eyes Are the Window to The Soul

H Although I’ve now outgrown it, I used to be very insecure about my slit eyes.

Yasuo I once asked my readers what their greatest insecurity is, and “slit eyes” topped the list. It’s not easy to shake these feelings when magazines and cosmetic companies constantly promote ideas about enlarging your eyes. 

H I know, I rarely ever seen any makeup tutorials on how to apply makeup to smaller eyes.

Yasuo We need to look at all eyes as beautiful in their own way. No one is born thinking that they’re ugly, it’s only when people start judging one another that self-doubt begins to grow.

H Absolutely. Things got better for me when I began focusing less on my eyes, and more on my skin care regimen. Now, I feel great about my skin. 

Yasuo As a schoolteacher, do you have time to pay attention to your makeup throughout the day? 

H Not really—I don’t even have a lunch break. I normally eat with my students, and after that, I get ready for more class. Dealing with the students can sometimes be very intense, and while I am disciplining them, I can feel my makeup coming completely undone. Around 4pm, things settle down a little, and I’ll often go to the bathroom for some peace and quiet. I’ll re-apply my lipstick, which helps to ground me. 

Yasuo Do your kids ever notice your makeup? 

H They comment on my eyeshadow colors and what not. They love to scrutinize me, boys and girls alike. I strive to be put together because I want to be a role model for them.

Yasuo Middle school is a touchy time for children. They’re going through puberty and all of these sudden changes that make them feel insecure. So, I think it is nice to be able to be an inspiration for them.

Self Confidence Is Sexy!

H People often ask me if I maintain my beauty routine because I want to get men’s attention.

Yasuo Well, I think it’s human nature to want to be attractive. 

H I think so too. There’s nothing wrong with that, I think people are just embarrassed to admit it.

Yasuo Especially during puberty.

H Well, I think older people want to be attractive too, whether they admit it or not. 

Yasuo Everyone wants to look and feel good. But what we lose in looks, we gain in experience. Life is challenging. I’m constantly praising myself in an effort to keep my spirits high.

H Very few kids have high self-esteem these days. I once had my students take a test that measured self-confidence, and before taking it, boys and girls alike asked me if having self-confidence equated to narcissism. For some reason, they find it to be embarrassing. I was really shocked by their responses because I consider self-empowerment to be absolutely vital. 

Yasuo We shouldn’t view self-confidence as egoism. A bit of self-love is healthy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be desired.

H You have to take care of yourself and solve your own problems in order to enjoy life. Low self-esteem can lead to boundary issues and can cause someone to be needy or demanding. 

Yasuo Absolutely. Self-care is at the core of independence.

H Some people might see self-support as superficial, but I don’t think that’s true. Taking care of your own needs ultimately allows you to be more available for others. 


Listen and Learn

Yasuo Do your students ever ask you for advice that extends beyond the classroom?

H Yes, of course.

Yasuo What do you do when you’re unsure how to answer a problem?

H I always try to be a good listener, and let the student know that they are important and that they matter. Even if I can’t solve their issue, I can always listen. 

Yasuo Everyone has problems, and it’s easy to feel isolated in them. But letting someone know they’re not alone can help alleviate those feelings. Sometimes, teaching them coping mechanisms or simply listening are the most important things. I’m sure your outlook on self-care inspires your students.

H Some people might consider my skin-care regimen to be superficial, but that’s my business only. It’s my self-care!

Yasuo People should definitely do what’s best for themselves and not worry so much about other people’s habits. What products do you use for your skin care routine?

H I have dry skin, so I use Albion’s moisturizing lotion. I put it on in the morning and it keeps my skin soft and nourished all day. During the spring and summer seasons, I use Exage White White Rinse Milk lll.  In winter, I opt for a thicker cream, Excia Embeage Milk.   I also use a wonderful sunscreen supplement that my aesthetician recommended to me. It helps get rid of all of my blemishes. I truly cannot live without it!


Photos /make up/ Interview :  Yasuo Yoshikawa

Text :  Mikako Koyama