Aburatorigami: 1000-year-old Japanese Facial Care

If you could peek into a Japanese lady's purse, chances are you would find delicate sheets of paper called Aburatorigami.

If you could peek into a Japanese lady’s purse, chances are you would find delicate sheets of paper called Aburatorigami. But they have nothing to do with taking notes.

Aburatorigami (literally “oil removal paper”) has been an essential Japanese beauty must-have for over one thousand years. And it is not at all just for ladies with oily complexion.

As its main use, it removes excess oil and perspiration —without smearing makeup. It also controls application of foundations and powders which can coat and stress skin. It is also used to remove excess moisturizer, which exaggerate skin’s fine lines and wrinkles.

How Aburatorigami Works

The delicate sheets of blotting paper for skin care the Japanese way

Common facial wipes have relatively uneven surface texture. As a result, they do not make perfect contact with the skin.

The way to use a common facial wipe is to apply it to your face till it gets “everything” off, including skin’s natural oils. This is how skin ends up dry, makeup gets smudged and sensitive skin gets irritated.

Aburatorigami, made from high quality Abaca Hemp paperis not a facial wipe. You do not rub it on your face.  Rather, it works by basically tapping it gently on the skin. Makeup is not smudged, and skin is not stretched, creased or otherwise disturbed.

Super Smooth and Absorptive

Aburatorigami is exceptionally smooth. At the same time it has very high absorptive qualities.  Because of its smoothness, it makes near perfect contact with the surface of the skin, without penetrating into its pores.  This action allows removes the “excess” oil or moisturizer only by osmosis (blotting), without drying the skin.

Evens Skin Out

Besides not drying the skin, the other benefit of only removing excess oil or moisturizer is that it leaves the skin smooth.  Excess oil or moisturizer makes the surface of the skin uneven, scattering light and creating both dull and shiny zones at the same time. In contrast, smooth skin reflects light evenly, making the complexion look not only even but vibrant.

Preparing for Final Makeup

Aburatorigami removes excess moisturizer (which exaggerates skin’s fine lines and wrinkles) to create a smooth canvas for applying final makeup.

History of Aburatorigami

A few noble ladies in Kyoto discovered Aburatorigami by chance over a thousand years ago.

Today’s Kyoto became the seat of Japan’s imperial court in 794 AD.   Called “Heian-kyo” at the time,  it was transformed into a city of opulence and glitter.  Gold leaves were extensively used in decorating temples and in providing the emperor and the nobility with magnificent furnishings and crafts.

Goldsmiths used thin pieces of paper (called Hakuuchi-gami, meaning “sheet striking paper” ). The paper kept the gold sheets separated. The goldsmith then would use a hammer to turn the sheets into thin leaves by striking them repeatedly for thousands of times.  The process also transformed the paper and made it exceptionally smooth. After that, he would re-use the paper for packaging the gold leaves to be taken to Kyoto.

The paper was discarded after opening the packaging. A few noble ladies (who apparently did not like to throw things away!) took notice of the exceptional smoothness of the paper, and started to use them to remove excess oil from their faces. And it worked. Word spread through Kyoto that “This paper makes you feel just like you’ve taken a bath!”

This is how Aburatorigami was born, and its fabrication and use has stayed virtually unchanged for over a thousand years. 

Yuri

Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
Yuri

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Yuri

About Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
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