My morning routine: Summer Edition

In Japan, we tend to think of summer as starting from mid to late July. The current season is Tsuyu, or rainy season, where it rains constantly for a few days.  However, summer in Japan is HOT with some days over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).  When I moved back to Japan last August, Japan was in the middle of what was said to be the hottest summer in 1000 years!

If you have been to Japan in the summer, you will know that it is hot and humid.  Also, most urban people in Japan walk a lot – we take a lot of public transportation. This means walking 10-15 minutes to the train station, waiting for the train (many times with no air conditioning), and walking another 10-15 minutes after getting off the train.

Also, most houses and apartments in Japan do not have central heating, but instead have air conditioning units installed in the major rooms.  I don’t like leaving the air conditioning on while I sleep, so sleeping and waking up comfortably in the hot summer is a big challenge.

Japan has definitely gotten hotter in the past few years, and the government reported over 58,000 cases of heat stroke last year, with nearly 100 deaths.

Part 1: the night before
Many large cities in Japan suffer from the heat island effect, where the cities are hotter than the rural areas due to human energy consumption.  When I lived in Tokyo, it was still hot and sticky at night, with no breeze.   That makes for a lot of tossing and turning before falling asleep.  I usually feel that I cannot sleep very well in the summer!

1. Menthol shower gel

Because I don’t like to use air conditioning while I sleep, I need to lower my body temperature so that I can fall asleep. During the summer, many Japanese brands sell shower gels and shampoos with menthol in them, to make you feel cool.
2. Ice packs as pillows
When I got a fever as a child, my mother would always prepare an “ice pillow” for me.  It was essentially a plastic pillow filled with ice and water, designed to keep the head feeling comfortable while you battled a fever.  As I grew up, more brands started selling ice pillows with gel (what do you call them? That gel stuff that does not get hard and is in reusable cooling packs) so that the pillow would not be hard. Many people now use them in the summer to keep cool at night and yes, they feel really nice.


Part 2: In the morning
Here is my morning routine, mostly aimed at lowering my body temperature.  I leave for work extremely early in the morning and don’t have time for a shower.  The sun rises in Tokyo at around 4:30 AM, which means it is already hot in the morning. 
1. Body wipes with menthol

In the morning,  I use body wipes to quickly refresh my skin. The ones with menthol do a great job of getting rid of the stickiness on my skin and lowering my body temperature. I like the Gatsby Ice Deodorant Body Paper. Several companies sell similar products with varying levels of menthol, with men’s products tending to be stronger.

(this picture is from my summer favorites of 2010, when this blog was called a different name – you can see that my favorites haven’t changed much!)

2. Cooling sprays for your clothes
A few years ago, I found these cooling sprays being sold in stores. You spray them on your clothes, and there is a menthol effect that lasts for nearly 30 minutes.  I found it is especially effective to spray the collar and arm pit area of my shirts.
This product is from Kobayashi Pharmaceuticals, a brand well known for its strange product names… and it is called “Shatsu Kooru” (Shirt Cool)!

3. Ice coffee
Menthol seems to be the common aspect of all the products I mention in this post, but no, I do not put menthol in my ice coffee!  I like to make my own ice coffee in the mornings, with a pot of double strength coffee and a glass of ice.  On the other hand, many Japanese convenience stores (“combini”) came out with a line of specialty coffees last summer.

I personally like 7-11, which has a machine which will grind coffee beans and brew coffee for each cup separately.  And the price, 100 yen (about $1) is super affordable compared to Starbucks and other places!

Other major combinis in Japan, such as Lawson and Family Mart, have also come out with cafe-style coffees as well.  Many of my friends prefer Family Mart because they have lattes at around $2.

4. Makeup
Finally – some makeup recommendations!  This past year that I spent in Indonesia made me really change my makeup. I used to powder my face a lot to try to achieve a matte look, but I gave up in Indonesia!
I realized that I sweat a lot on my face, so it doesn’t really matter if I wear a setting spray since I will just sweat it off. If you become shiny and oily on your face but don’t sweat, I would definitely recommend a setting spray.

I do wear sunscreen religiously, even on cloudy days.  I wear SPF 50+, even if I have SPF in my moisturizer or anything else on my face.  I believe that sunscreen does a better job of protecting my face, and many Japanese sunscreens absorb evenly onto my face and body without leaving white streaks or making me feel greasy.  I particularly like the Biore UV Perfect Milk, which has SPF 50+ and PA+++.

I like to wear a BB cream instead of foundation on my skin.  Any base makeup is going to wear off on me anyway, and I find that a foundation wears off unevenly.  I like the Caring Colours Everlast BB cream which is from an Indonesian brand (link goes to my review).

On my eyes, I like to wear something easy and quick.  I am loving the Milani Shadow Eyez eyeshadow pencils which stay put and don’t crease, even without an eyeshadow base! (link goes to my review)

Hope you enjoyed my summer routine!  How do you keep cool in the summer where you are?

xoxo, K

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