Life in Japan

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

You probably already know that Japanese women – or Asian women in general – are really into make-up and skin care. And if you’ve ever been to a drug store in Japan you might have noticed the huge variety of awesome Japanese skin care products and make-up items that are available.
But it might be difficult to choose the right products, especially if you don’t understand Japanese.

If you visit Japan you shouldn’t let the chance slip to grab a few. So, today I want to introduce some of the most popular Japanese skin care products.

Guys (I’m talking to you, my male readers!), don’t just run away yet! This might be interesting for you as well as these make a great gift for your (Japanese) girlfriend. You might be able to impress her, so stay tuned. emoticon emoticon

Top Japanese Skin Care Products


Japanese Beauty Ideals

A clean, soft and white skin is considered beautiful in Japan. While we can argue about the “white / pale” skin, I think the rest is true for most Western countries as well.
Not only in Japan, but in Asia in general, I’ve noticed that most women do a lot to keep their skin as healthy as possible.

It’s true, many put a sh*tload of make-up on their face, but let’s not discuss this right now.
However, it’s more important to get the basics right by having a proper and healthy skin care routine.

Asian women are well aware of that and thus you can find a huge, HUGE variety of skin care products in Japan. And it’s definitely worth trying them out if you get a chance to!


Top Japanese Skin Care Products

The Japanese Double-Cleansing method

In Japan it’s very common to use the “double-cleansing method” when washing your face in the evening. Many people just rinse their face or use a washing foam to get rid of their make-up, but that’s not enough to remove all residue. You’re harming your skin’s health.

That’s why many Japanese women first cleanse their face with an oil-based cleanser (e.g. cleansing oils or balms) and then continue with a water-based one (e.g. cleansing foams).

This goes back to the time when Japanese women wore heavy white (paint-like) make-up (e.g. Geisha, Maiko) which was hard to remove with just soap and water, so cleansing oils were used. Washing a second time with soap refreshed the face and got rid of any oil or dirt residue.

Don’t worry about the oil, even if you have oily skin. This cleansing method will get rid of excess oil on your skin and also remove waterproof make-up, sunscreen or environmental toxins properly.

After that you just continue with your normal routine. So next would be a toner.
Be careful, in Japan toners are usually called “lotion“.

Eventually you go on with an essence or serum and finally with your night cream.

If you use (heavy) make-up and / or sunscreen every day, try this method and you’ll see a difference soon!


Top Japanese Skin Care Products

Facial Sheet Masks are popular in Japan

Extremely popular in Asia, especially in Korea and Japan, are so-called “facial sheet masks”.
They’re different from what you’re probably used to. It’s not a cream you’re putting onto your face and then washing it off.
It’s a cloth soaked in an essence or serum and you just keep it on your face for 5-30 minutes (depending on the mask).

You would use them after you’ve cleansed and toned your face.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

These masks are awesome! I hate the ones you have to wash off as I always make a mess and I also feel that my skin is dried out afterwards.
The facial sheet masks are very convenient. You can even put them in the fridge in summer, so they have a cooling effect.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

There’s a huge variety with all sorts of ingredients (avocado, aloe vera, soy, collagen, Q10, snake venom and whatnot).

Personally I really like the “Pure Smile” and “The Face Shop” masks (both being a Korean brand). You can easily find them in most Japanese drug stores (especially the Pure Smile ones). There are also packs with several masks inside where they are not separately stored. These are usually cheaper, but the quality often is a bit lower.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

And of course, there are “limited versions” as well. Someone who likes travelling a lot (like me) can get special “region limited” masks. I especially liked the ones I got in Hokkaido (lavender) and Okinawa (goya and shikuwasa).

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

There are so many to choose from. It’s fun trying them all out until you find your favorites. (^___^)


Popular Japanese Skin Care Products

There are so many good Japanese skin care products, but I want to introduce the most popular ones that I’m using on a daily basis as well. I want to show you not only affordable ones but also some pricy high-class products.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

A very popular, good-quality and yet cheap skin care product line in Japan is “Hada Labo“. It might be difficult to find as they only write their brand in Kanji: 肌研
But once you remember how their brand looks, it’s easy to spot them. It’s the one with the blue label in the photo above.

I also like the “Tonyuu isofurabon” (豆乳イソフラボン: soy milk isoflavone) line. Their products contain natural ingredients and are very mild, so even people with sensitive skin shouldn’t have any issues.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

The CURE Natural Aqua Gel is still the most popular exfoliator in Japan. It’s really awesome!

It mainly consists of water (90% revitalized hydrogen water) and it’s one of the mildest facial scrubs I’ve ever come across. If you have extremely sensitive skin, then that’s your holy grail. But even with normal skin, you’ll love it!

Definitely get your hands on it when you can.

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

Very popular is Max Factor’s SK-II (Secret Key) line which originated in Japan.

It’s a very expensive brand, but the “secret key” ingredient they’re promoting was found within the sake brewing process. Apparently their scientists visited a sake brewery and found that all the people working there had very young-looking hands despite being old and having wrinkles in their faces.

After researching they were able to find the essence within the sake fermentation process that kept the skin so young. They called it “Pitera“:
“Pitera™ is full of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids that work together to allow the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process to function at its prime.” (SK-II)

Pretty much all their products contain “Pitera”, but the most popular one, the “Facial Treatment Essence“, contains over 90% of it. Thus, it’s also the most popular product of the line.

I really like the “Facial Treatment Essence” as well as the “Stempower” facial cream and the “cleansing gel”.

I’ve also tried their other products, but as they’re really expensive I only stick with those three.

You can get small samples in most Japanese department stores where they have a “SK-II counter”. And in bigger cities they often sell it “without consumption tax” if you’re a tourist and carry your passport.


Japanese Skin Care and Beauty Products on Youtube

As you might not believe what I’m saying or you simply might want to hear a second opinion, I thought it’s a good idea to show you what other people like and use. I’m going to introduce a few awesome Youtubers who often talk about the latest Japanese skin care and beauty products.

Melodee Morita is a Japanese who’s living in America. In her videos she always switches between English and Japanese, so it’s also a great opportunity if you want to brush up your Japanese skills.
As she’s often in Japan, she also introduces a lot of Japanese skin care products and even tells you how to get them in America.
You should also watch this video where she tells you how to use some of the products I’ve shown you in this post.

Kimdao is an Australian who has been to Japan a few times and is obsessed with Japanese fashion and Asian skin care products.
You’ll find a lot of the items I’ve introduced today in this video of hers.

Last but not least, you should also check out “Asian Beauty Secrets“. This is not limited to Japanese beauty products, but Asian ones in general.
In the video above the previously mentioned “Double-Cleaning Method” is explained.


Japanese ‘Beauty’ Products beyond Skin Care

If you ever go into a Japanese drug store (and you really should just for the experience), you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of beauty products there. Especially for women it’s paradise, but they even have some awesome stuff for guys as well.

As this blog post focuses on skin care products, I just want to honorably *g* mention a few other products that can be life savers!

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

Japan has a lot of body and hair mists. I’ve never seen such a huge variety outside of Asia.

And in most drug stores you’ll have “testers”, so make sure to at least try them out there.

My personal favorite hair mist is the one in the photo above on the left: Venus Spa Hair Fragrance (European Flower)

Top Japanese Skin Care Products

As you might know, Japanese summers are extremely hot and humid. No matter what you do, you will sweat.

And if you’re travelling in summer, you really need to do something about it.

Japanese deodorant sprays aren’t very good. Maybe you’ve already read about this somewhere. But there are “deo sheets” you can carry with you and some of them even have a cooling effect. You can just wipe your body with it and the sweat is gone. You’ll smell good and your body will cool down.

I prefer the Gatsby ones for men. But they have many, many different ones to choose from for women with sweet, flowery scents as well. ^^


What are your favorite Japanese skin care products?

Obviously I’m very curious to hear about your favorite Asian beauty and skin care products. Or do you have any favorite Asian beauty blogs or Youtube channels you’d love to share?

I’m always looking for new things to try out and I’m sure other readers would love to hear about your suggestions and experiences as well, so share away!~emoticon



This is NOT a sponsored post. I just wanted to share Japanese skin care products that I use myself and consider worth recommending to you. That’s all.


  • Despite having lived in Japan for 6 years I haven’t really explored the world of Japanese skin care products (I either just buy things randomly and am disappointed or I buy stuff when I’m in the UK, hehe), so this is a useful post for me! Do you have any recommendations for oil based make up remover? I’ve tried quite a few but haven’t really liked any of them…

    I love the gatsby deo sheets too. The ice ones are one of my favourite things in summer!

    • To be honest, I really struggled finding anything in my first few years in Japan as well and just kept getting all of my stuff from back home in Germany.
      I’m glad that I finally got around to try out a few things. Once you know what to look for, it becomes much easier. :)

      Cleansing oils don’t work well for me, so I go for oil balms or gels. Personally I like the SK-II Cleansing Gel. I’ve also purchased the Clinique “Take The Day Off Balm” which you can get in Japan as well. But I haven’t tried it yet. ^^;

  • I am English and live in the UK. I found your article about Japanese beauty products very interesting. I would just like to say that I am very thorough with my cleansing etc although i don’t wear make-up on my skin. I have found the Body Shop to be excellent and have used their products for several years. It’s easy to go there and get free skin care advice and samples. Also you can book a free Skincare or Make up session and the staff are well trained and friendly. They have such a variety of products there, for sensitive skin, oily, combination, dry etc. I use their products all the time! We also have other stores in the UK like Boots and you can find so many beauty products and brands there from very cheap to very expensive. I know this article is about Asian beauty products, but we have some good stuff in the UK also!

    • I think that there are many girls out there who think they don’t need any skin care because they use no make-up. But nevertheless it’s very important to cleanse and treat one’s face properly every day. I’m glad you’re doing so. :)

      Glad to hear there are various good brands in the UK as well. Thanks! ^__^

  • Oh my goodness I have been using 豆乳イソフラボン since my first days in Japan! You’re absolutely right, it’s really good for sensitive skin. When I came back to the USA I bought Oil of Olay and my entire face turned red. Even though I’m back in America, I still go to the Japanese market to buy 豆乳イソフラボン, haha.

    Oh man how I miss those masks! This is such an interesting post!

    Do you know of any other products that would be good for sensitive skin?

    • Hey Mary! :)

      There are still a lot of products I want to try, so I can only recommend the ones I’ve already listed here.
      I’m sure there’s more good stuff for sensitive skin in Japan, but there should also be stuff in America, right? Although I don’t know what kind of brands you have over there, so I cannot really help you with that. ^^;

  • My skin is sensitive. I tried so many products in japan but it really doesn’t work. Can you please tell me what kind of products For those who has a sensitive skin?

    • If your skin is really sensitive no matter what you’ve tried in Japan, then I would highly recommend to see a skin doctor. Maybe you’re allergic to something that’s common in Japanese cosmetics / skin care products?

      I’m not a skin doctor nor a beautician, so I don’t dare to give you any advice.
      When my skin is acting up I often use “SebaMed” which is a German brand, but available in Japan.

  • Hi! I’m going to Japan for the first time this summer and I wanna stock up on sk-ii products but idk where is the best deal to buy them? I was thinking maybe duty free at narita airport? Or is it the same if I went to the department store? I would preferably want to get some free samples too with my purchases like the ones you have in your photo..~~

    • Hi!
      Yes, airports’ duty free shops in Japan often have great deals, but also big department stores often offer “duty free shopping” for foreigners who don’t live in Japan. Definitely check it out! :)
      You can get samples if you ask in department stores, but especially if you try the “skin analysis” they’re offering with their “Magic Ring“.

  • Uh I just came back from Japan last week on 5/4/2015 . I found the cheapest SKII products are at AMEYOKO shopping street near Ueno station and they sale for 30 to 40% lesser than department store or Narita airport . If you use credit card then there is 5% handling charge but still come out a lot cheaper than department store and they have 3 big shop in the Ameyoko shopping so you will not miss them .

  • this post was so helpful! i’ve been refraining from buying “lotions” because i didn’t need any moisturizer… but now i know they’re actually toners. *_*

  • Hi ladies! i’m going Okinawa so do you know where I can find brands such as SK2, Shiseido, Cure etc and are they really much cheaper there? thanks!

    • I just bought SK-II products in Okinawa during my last visit. Actually they had a duty-free shop along the Kokusai-dori (Naha).
      Shiseido and Cure can be found in pretty much every drugstore. You shouldn’t have any problem. :)
      I guess they’re much cheaper, especially if you’re not a resident of Japan and can get them in a store where they offer duty-free (and there are a lot in bigger cities).

      • Thanks a bunch for the prompt reply! I’m hoping to find more than these 3 brands, since there are just so many Japanese brands in the market. Do I simply show my passport to get the stuff tax free? Heard I need to spend a minimum of 10,000 yen? :)

        • As I’ve only ever bought those items while being a resident of Japan, I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s enough if you just show them your passport.
          I don’t know if all stores have the “at least 10.000 yen” rule. With SK-II products you’ll easily get over that amount and you can save A LOT of money!
          I always tried to buy them at the airport, because for stuff that is that expensive, duty-free really makes a difference. ^___^

  • I really enjoy reading your blog! Most of the products you reviewed here, I would try it myself :)
    However, a friend of mine in Japan said there is this new product,Silkriller, made with 100% silk and it is introduce as one of the best skin care line as of late. Since you are in Japan, have you seen this product or used it? I am interested in it and news states it might be coming to America but wanted to know if you knew anything about this. Thanks!!

    Love, LOve LOVE. :)

  • hi.. i found your article very helpful to me..

    i am from India.. i want to know complete skin care product list with their company name as early as possible.
    please suggest beauty products (cosmetics ) as well .. as i am an

    as my brother is in Tokyo – japan for 3 dayz only , he wants to purchase it for me.. but i don’t have knowledge of Japanese products

    • I haven’t really tried out that many Japanese cosmetics. Most foundations were too bright for me, for example.
      I highly recommend to check out the Beauty Youtubers I introduced in this article, because they have suggested lots and lots of Japanese cosmetics in the past. I’m sure you’ll find something your brother could bring back from Japan! :D

  • hello! it’s such a great day that I found your article ^^ but i had skin problems here like pimples :( and my skin is oily too and sensitive. can you suggest any good products for my skin? this is so embarassing..

    • Hi Riri,
      Have you tried consulting a dermatologist?
      If you have problems with pimples since moving to Japan it could be an allergy or a hormonal thing, so no matter what you put onto your face it won’t get better.
      A first step is consulting an expert, I’d say.

      Good luck! ^_^

  • This is one interesting and helpful post! I’ve been in Japan for only 9 months and I’ve been using only 1 product which is ロゼット海泥スムース… I actually really like it but I always thought it wasn’t enough… if that even makes sense o.o; anyway I’m gonna try out as many of those as I can when I’m back in Japan next year, so thanks for those recommendations!! (*^o^*)

  • Hi, Thank you for the post!! This would be so much helpful when I’m in Japan this December. I just wonder if drugstores in Japan accept foreign credit cards? Or it’s cash only?

    • Generally speaking you’re ALWAYS better off with cash in Japan.
      That being said I think the bigger ones (especially those within department stores) MIGHT take (foreign) credit cards.
      In big cities like Tokyo you’ll find a lot of “duty free” cosmetic / drug stores. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’m quite sure they’ll take foreign credit cards.
      Good luck and happy shopping! ^__^

  • Oh well i have just lived in japan for 2 months now. And dont know japanese. So can you recommand me some products which can push my skintone up 😔 in romaji. Thank yew very much. And btw your post is really helpful bae. 😘

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