Before founding J-beauty skin care brand DamDam, Giselle Go served as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore for four years. It was a job that brought her from her home city of Manila to the Lion City of Singapore and eventually to Tokyo, where she fell in love with J-beauty. All three cities couldn’t be more different—with climates to match.
“I grew up in a tropical country, the Philippines, where it’s summer all year long, so my skin is more reactive to the changes in temperature and environment,” Go tells Glamour. “I try to listen to my body and how I care for it changes depending on the time of year or if I’m traveling.”
Once Go moved to Japan, she experienced winters that “exacerbated my dryness.” Luckily, her expert knowledge as a magazine editor helped her find the skin care routine she needed. “I tend to layer on hydration using different textures to seal them in—essence, oils, serums, creams,” she says. “Summers in Japan are incredibly hot and humid, and we spend so much of it outdoors by the sea or in the garden, so it’s more about lightweight products and topping it off with sunscreen that doesn’t melt and get into my eyes.”
The first seeds of DamDam began after Go couldn’t find clean beauty products with the same intentional rituals and ingredients of J-beauty. A longtime admirer of Japanese practice of osoji, a deep-cleaning ritual before New Year’s, and of mochi hada, a compliment that refers to having bouncy and plump “rice cake skin,” Go set out to create a J-beauty line with a focus on clean and heritage ingredients.
“I have a holistic view on self-care,” she says. “I grew up with traditional Chinese medicine, so it has influenced how I see skin care as part of overall health. It’s not just about topical applications but what I ingest in my body, my emotional and mental state, and the current environment I am in.”
As Japan’s first clean skin care brand sold exclusively at Sephora, DamDam is modeled after the “micro-macro of it all,” Go says. “From the ingredient list, to the products, to the overall ritual and how all these parts contribute to the whole—my body, my internal chemistry, my environment.”
Go hopes DamDam’s success will lead to more success for other Asian-owned businesses. “Through our content and social programming this AAPI Heritage month, we’re celebrating and uplifting fellow Asian- and AAPI-owned brands that share our values around craftsmanship and self-care,” she says. “Our goal is to spread awareness for the contributions, artistry, rituals, and unique perspectives we bring as Asian-owned brands.”
Ahead, Giselle Go shares her favorite J-beauty products, plus the trick to hydrated and plump “rice cake” skin for Glamour‘s Drop the Routine.
I double-cleanse using Silk Rice Cleansing Oil and Nomad’s Cream Purifying Cleanser. I love using cleansing oils to melt makeup away followed by a super-gentle, hydrating scrub. This one has a physical exfoliant called konnyaku that’s both smoothing and hydrating, delivering moisture into my skin as it dissolves.
I love Rice Drops Balancing Oil Serum as an overnight sleep-in treat because my skin just drinks it up. I wake up to really soft, well-hydrated skin.
The Mochi Mochi Luminous Cream sits so well under makeup and is just the right balance of a rich moisturizer for my dry skin. It has a lightweight finish, so it never feels heavy throughout the day.
My face mask
I use Skin Mud Pure Mask, especially for days when I need the extra care. I like to put it on while I am in the bath so that the steam opens my pores and the mask detoxifies my skin. Once I’m done, it’s like my skin is renewed—smooth, lifted, brighter.
My spot treatment
I have sensitive skin, so I steer clear of products with fragrance, synthetic dyes, or anything potentially toxic. La Roche Posay Effaclar is a classic for me. I’ve been using this spot treatment for over a decade now.
Locana Essence Gel SPF 40 is the best sunscreen I ever used for its efficacy, texture, and nonwhite cast. It’s made by an independent Japanese brand, so it’s not very easy to find, but it’s worth the hunt.
My lip balm
I have a pot of Little Wonder Lip & Skin Balm everywhere. In the city, in the countryside, my bathroom, my purse. I use it at night for “slugging” in the wintertime, to soothe sunburns in the summer, to tame frizzy hair when the humidity is high, on top of my cheeks as a natural-looking highlight, and of course as a lip balm.
A kassa, Japanese face-sculpting tool. I like using ones made from teak or keyaki, a Japanese elm, because they can hold the heat from my hand, making it good for blood circulation. Stones ones are good for
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