I love Japanese cosmetics and how different they are from the Western ones I was used to buying in the drugstores where I live. Maybe you have managed to find a good website that sells Japanese cosmetics or you are going to Japan and wanted to buy a few things to try out at home. I have put together some of my favourite Japanese skincare drugstore finds just for you!
I know that the formulas used in Japan are different, however, I have found that products are more effective and usually more useful! In the West, a standard beauty routine revolves around face wash, toner, maybe serum then moisturiser. In Japan, make-up is removed with a special oil, then the face is washed with a foam cleanser and then peeled using a peeling gel. Then the face is dried, a cleansing water is applied, then a serum, sunscreen and a moisturiser are applied before you move on to makeup. Now while there is a large variety of such products in the UK (and many brands are now developing others to catch up with more advanced skincare and makeup trends elsewhere) Japan still stays ahead of the market with innovative formulas.
For me, Japanese cosmetics are simply better at the things I want most from my skin- plump, hydrated skin that doesn’t become dry as the day goes on, a wash formula that really gets down into the pores but doesn’t irritate, and a serum or oil that gives my skin the vitamins and collagen it needs.
Japanese cosmetics are a kind of holy grail in beauty products, as their formulas are usually stronger and more effective than Western cosmetics. Some famous Japanese cosmetic lines like SKII and Shiseido use specific Japanese ingredients to combat dryness in the skin and to add more bounce to the skin. These are usually fermented food ingredients- things like rice malt (Pithera in SKII), miso and sake are used to polish the skin with enzymes.
Other products, like Japanese sheet masks, have become very popular in the West for their anti-aging properties and highly moisturising serums. Every time I go to Japan I stock up on face masks (which come in massive packs!) and foaming cleanser, which builds up into a huge foam ball that you then pat into your face. It cleans much better than a regular face wash as the foam created smaller particles, which then penetrate your pores.
Japanese hair products are also very good and I have found them to strip the hair less of oils which restores its natural shine. Japanese women are known for their beautiful sleek hair, and the majority of them will use light hair oils like the Camellia flower hair oils (found in Tokyu Hands and major department stores), which are relatively cheap in Japan and really do make your hair sleek and beautiful! There are far too many good products in Japan to name them all in one post, however, I will be buying and trying out more and more with every trip. Many of them are easy to use, with pretty packaging which I would love to show you! Please tell me if you would like to see tutorials on how to use the products, as I know they can be sometimes confusing to use due to the instructions being written in Japanese.
All of the product prices here are without Japanese tax (and if you are a tourist, more and more shops are offering their products tax-free as long as you have brought your passport with you.)
My Top 8 Japanese Drugstore Finds
1. Poretol Pore Cleansing Brush
The first from the left is the Poretol Pore Cleansing nose brush. It is used after steaming your face and washing it as the final step to remove blackheads and whiteheads. It is very useful, just make sure you steam your face and wash it first as it won’t be very useful otherwise! It has compacted bristles which are supposed to aid the clearing of the skin. Also, try not to press down the brush when you are using it on your nose, as this will simply push down on filled pores instead of clearing them out. It is more of a ‘sweeping out’ motion than a ‘digging in’ one.
2. Keratin Removing Smoothing Gel
This product was gifted as a little tube with the green face cleanser below, and it is very similar to the Cure Natural Aqua Gel, although it is a bit runnier. I have not used it very much yet as I prefer the Cure Natural gel, but it keeps the skin soft and supple and doesn’t make it dry. It is also used to peel away the topmost dirty skin layers and bring out the shiny and fresh skin layers underneath. It is best to use this only 2-3 times a week as it may irritate the skin otherwise.
3. Quality Cream Foaming Net
This net was one of the recommendations in the Cosme store in the OIOI store in Shibuya. Cosme is known for their rankings of Japanese products, and they always seem to find the best, most effective products that everyone loves every year. This net produces a rich and compact foam that is perfect to use with the Shiseido Perfect Whip or the green foam cleanser below. You simply put a pea-sized amount onto the wet net and rub it between your hands for a minute or two. A thick foam comes out of it and you can easily use only a small amount of the product as it doesn’t lose consistency. 450 yen (£3.30)
4. Akaran Essential Water Gel
This is a product unique to Japan- a gel-like consistency intensely moisturises and leaves perfectly hydrated skin. As a moisturiser, only a small amount is needed, and it can be also used all over the skin as a facial mask. It is a number 1 Cosme product! I have found it to be quite thick so I only use a small amount. I have noticed an incredible improvement in the hydration of my skin, and I think this product will be a life-saver in the colder months. 3400 yen (£25)
5. Rosette Cleansing Paste
The green foaming cleanser is a wonder in cleaning out pores without leaving your skin dry. It contains mud to clear out the pores and leave your face feeling fresh and ready for serums. This for me is actually better quality than the Shiseido Perfect Whip foaming cleanser, which many people rave about because it is so popular. If you are a Japanese product aficionado, I think the green foaming cleanser is more effective on pores and is better suited to Western skin. 600 yen (£4.50)
6. Shiseido Perfect Whip Cream
This foaming cream cleanser is one of the most often bought products in Japan, mostly for its effectiveness and its price. When I was in Tokyo, every 7/11 corner store was selling it in their product alley! There must be something amazing about this product, but I personally think it may suit Asian skin types better. I found that this cleanser didn’t cleanse my pores well enough unless I left it on for a long time, and that was very frustrating as I was hoping for amazing results.
7. Cure Natural Aqua Gel
This is one of my ‘holy grail’ products. It is a gel formula that you apply to dry skin, rubbing it around your face until little rolls of skin start flaking off. This leaves my skin cleaner and more bright than any other peeling I have tried before (as I think I can only compare it to an enzymatic peeling). It has no scent and is very gentle on the skin, and it is recommended to use it 2-3 times a week, depending on how much your pores get clogged up. 2500 yen (around £19)
8. Natural Conc Toner and Cleanser
This is a product specifically designed for the morning when doing a whole skincare routine may be tiring and a waste of time. The light liquid lotion clears away the dirt and oil that your skin has produced overnight, at the same time hydrating it and feeding it valuable substances. The lady in the Cosme store brought this out as a special item for me to buy, as I said I wanted to have a product I could use in the morning without too much trouble. You simply squeeze a small amount onto a facial pad (I use the square Shiseido cotton pads) and wipe across the whole face. I found it very light and pleasant to use, and I hope I will be able to repurchase it again as I see it becoming a staple in my morning routine. 850 yen (around £6.50)