Skin Care

By Candice Sabatini


What is it about Japanese skin care that turns even the most yen pinching woman into a “Price is no object” devotee?

Japan’s venerable cosmetic company, Kanebo, holds one of the answers. The company is causing quite a stir in the premier skin care world with its new Sensai line of skin care. Kanebo is one of the oldest and most respected beauty brand names in Japan and changing the name to Sensai piqued my curiosity. The first thing I learned was that Sensai means fine and delicate, which fits the brand as beautifully as a kimono fits a geisha.

Kanebo is a brand steeped in history and it all started in 1936 with a bar of soap. Kanebo was in the silk business and noticed that their workers had unusually soft hands. They realized quickly that the proteins found in silk softened hands and so inspired by that, the company created their first skin care product – Savon de Soie. From there, Kanebo expanded their product offering and refined the silk. Today, Sensai by Kanebo uses only the silk extract from the Koishimaru silk cocoon which was once reserved for use exclusively by the royal family.

Fast forward 70 years, and research by the Kanebo team of scientists has yielded oh-so-much-more information about that tiny treasure cocoon. Its fiber is processed to become oligo peptide; amino acids which are small enough to be penetrated into the skin. This dramatically increases the hyaluronic acid in the dermis – and we know what a skin plumpingly good idea that is! Other holistic ingredients, such as Shilan Extract and Kakyoku essence, go into creating Sensai’s age specific lines. Sensai Silk for younger skin, Sensai Cellular Performance for skin beginning to show signs of aging and Sensai Premier for those who need the most help with aging skin issues.


The Sensai skin care regime requires a bit of time, though the results are worth the effort. A key to the effectiveness is a double cleansing (aka Saho) routine. Just as a dry sponge really doesn’t soak up a spill, Saho theory is that your skin isn’t really clean until after its 2nd cleansing. Additionally, massaging the face is part of the routine and a “how-to” chart is provided with the products. This cleansing and massaging makes the products most effective in the desired “Beauty Chain Reaction” which allows for maximum efficacy of their serums, moisturizers and eye creams. I’m currently using their Cellular Performance and while the first few times I needed to keep referring back to the massaging instructions and the routine took longer than I’m used to, it’s now become easy and pretty quick and I love how hydrated and luminous my skin looks and feels. So, if you’re going to pinch yen, remember, nothing pinches more than a too tight pair of Choo’s. Beautiful skin is priceless.

Available at Barneys, 660 Madison Avenue, 212.826.8900. For more information, visit

Originally published September 2007
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