If you’ve ever wondered how Japanese people maintain mochi-hada (ricecake-like) skin all year round, it’s high time to take a deep dive into Japanese beauty. With an emphasis on cleansing and hydration, Japanese skincare is simple yet highly nourishing. Japanese skincare products are also widely known to be one of the safest and most effective ones in the market! To help you get started, we’ve sussed out the best products from popular Japanese skincare brands that you should try!
What do Japanese use for skincare?
Double cleansing and double moisturizing are essentially the two most important things when it comes to Japanese skincare. That said, you can’t go without an oil cleanser that helps to deep cleanse your skin from makeup and other residues. Follow that up with a mild cleanser to remove impurities from the pores. After cleansing, tone your skin with a hydrating lotion and lock the hydration in with a moisturizer. Rain or shine, don’t forget to apply sunscreen during the day!
How do Japanese get flawless skin?
The Japanese skincare routine goes beyond putting lotions and creams. It takes a holistic approach that covers your overall physical and mental well-being! For instance, diet plays a huge role in helping Japanese maintain their beautiful skin. The Japanese diet is rich in vegetables and fish, and low in sugar and meat. According to Healthline, sugar is one of the foods that accelerates aging! Japanese also consume foods that are high in antioxidants, such as matcha.
Apart from diet, Japanese people also take their baths seriously. From time to time, they’d indulge in steamy baths such as an onsen spa, which is an ancient beauty ritual that promotes both physical and mental well-being.
Which is better – Korean or Japanese skincare?
If you’re a fan of K beauty, you’ll be familiar with the 10-step skincare routine and a gamut of cool skincare products that promise to give you that dewy glow. On the other hand, J beauty is more minimalist in nature and sticks to using a few timeless ingredients that work just as hard to protect and nourish your skin. Coupled with the Japanese penchant for skincare innovation, it has birthed effective skincare products, backed with research and science.
So is one skincare routine better than the other? We think not. In fact, why not incorporate both J beauty and K beauty products into your skincare routine? Since we’ve already introduced the best Korean skincare products to add to your stash, let’s check out our favourite products from popular Japanese skincare brands that are creating waves both in Japan and worldwide.
Best cleansers from popular Japanese skincare brands
1. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
We love two-in-one products — and this DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (available on Nana Mall Official Store) doubles up as a makeup remover and cleansing oil. Pump twice and gently rub the oil into your face, the makeup will start to break down and slide off. Then, add water to your face and you’ll notice the oil transforms into a milky lather — this now acts as your cleanser!
Massage the oil cleanser in circular motions over your face before a final rinse off with water and you’re done! Have oily skin and don’t believe an oil-based cleanser will work? Guess what, oil attracts oil and combats all that dirt buildup so this product will be effective for you too! The DHC Deep Oil Cleanser is also infused with Vitamin E, virgin olive oil and rosemary to protect your skin against free radicals while keeping it nourished. Often find yourself too lazy to take off your makeup and cleanse your skin? This is one of the best Japanese skincare products for you then!
2. Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder
The Japanese penchant for innovative products shines through with the Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Wash (available on Suisai Official Store) cleansing foam which comes in small capsules for single use. Pour the powder into your palm, add water bit by bit and watch it emulsify into this large, cotton candy-like bubble, ready to be lathered onto your face.
Rich in enzymes, the Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Wash is especially effective in exfoliation. It works to remove grime build-up from deep within your pores without drying your skin out. But our favourite part has to be how portable these capsules are. This is one of the best facial cleansers from a Japanese skincare brand to bring on your short getaway. They don’t take up any space and leave even more room for more makeup products!
3. Transino Medicinal Clear Wash
Awarded as one of the ‘best face wash products’ by Cosme, the Transino Medicinal Clear Wash (available on Osakakuma SG (Ready Stock)) is definitely a must-try Japanese skincare product from one of the top brands! This cleanser lathers up to a dense foam which clings to your skin to effectively remove dead skin cells and cleanse your pores. It is also medicated with akebia extract – an effective anti-aging active with moisturizing properties, which leaves the skin feeling supple after each wash.
Best lotions & emulsions from popular Japanese skincare brands
4. Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Premium Hydrating Lotion
An important part of the Japanese skincare routine is to double moisturise. This basically means to apply moisture to your skin in light layers. That’s why hydrating lotions are an essential product to add to your stash – they act as a toner to help soften your skin and help it better absorb the products you layer on after. Hada Labo is one of the best Japanese skincare brands when it comes to hydrating lotions – not only are they affordable, but also highly effective.
We especially love the Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Premium Hydrating Lotion (available on Mentholatum Flagship Store) which contains five types of hyaluronic acids. This gives your face a boost of hydration when applied. While it has a rich, essence-like texture that helps lock in the moisture throughout the day, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky! For those using retinol products, try prepping your skin with the Hada Labo Lifting + Firming Lotion (available on Mentholatum Flagship Store)! It helps to smooth fine lines and improve skin elasticity.
5. Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner
The main ingredient in Hatomugi Skin Conditioner Lotion (available on Nana Mall Official Store) is Job’s Tears or hatomugi. Yup, you read it right. Job’s Tears, also known as coix seed or pearl barley, is shaped like a teardrop, hence the name. It can be cooked and eaten or used topically in skincare products. The Hatomugi Skin Conditioner is formulated to control acne breakouts, sebum production and works to moisturise dry skin.
Simply smooth this over your face and body after a shower and it’ll leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated. If you prefer gel-based moisturisers, then get a tub of the Hatomugi Skin Conditioning Gel (available on Nana Mall Official Store) instead. Having won the 2018 Japanese Cosmetics Award for the Best Lotion, it was no brainer adding it into this list of Japanese skincare products.
6. FANCL Enrich II Moist Emulsion
If uneven skin tone and dullness are skin concerns that have been bothering you, the FANCL Enrich II Moist Emulsion (available on Osakakuma SG (Ready Stock)) is the best Japanese skincare product for you. It contains evening primrose extract which encourages collagen production for youthful and dewy skin. Another key ingredient in this FANCL emulsion is sweet pea flower, which helps to mitigate skin-damaging stress factors. Good news for those with sensitive skin, this emulsion is formulated without parabens, fragrances, and artificial colours, so you won’t have to worry about nasty reactions!
Best essence & serums from popular Japanese skincare brands
7. SK-II Facial Treatment Pitera Essence
The SK-II Facial Treatment Pitera Essence (available on Osakakuma SG (Ready Stock)) is one of the top Japanese skincare products to add to your beauty stash. This brand has been around for over 30 years, earning itself cult status in Japan and even on the world stage. The hero ingredient here is undoubtedly the Pitera — a natural bio-ingredient from yeast that contains over 50 nutrients and vitamins to amp up your skin’s natural barrier. It also protects the skin from natural aggressors while locking in moisture.
Also known as the Miracle Water, the SK-II Facial Treatment essence can help in achieving the enviable clear and even skin that we admire in Japanese women. Simply dab this onto your skin after cleansing twice a day and watch it work its magic. Not sure if it’ll work for you? Get a 30ml SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. It’s small and affordable enough to get started on. But we’ve a sneaky feeling you’re going to be coming back for more!
8. Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence
Constantly frustrated by the dark spots and redness that randomly decide to make an appearance before a date? Instead of piling on foundation and concealer, tackle the root of the issue with Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence (available on Mentholatum Flagship Store) . It is one of the most effective yet affordable vitamin C essences from a Japanese skincare brand that targets problem areas on your face.
The vitamin C in the Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence helps fade dark spots and acne scars while controlling melanin production, which is what causes pigmentation. It also packs in Vitamin E and other anti-inflammatory ingredients to control redness.
Pro tip: Don’t cut the tube nozzle as the air-tight packaging is what keeps the product in the freshest form. Once the nozzle is cut and air enters the tube, the product oxidises and turns yellow — rendering it ineffective.
9. Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate
This list would be incomplete without mentioning Shiseido — one of the best Japanese skincare brands. The Shiseido Ultimune 3.0 Power Infusing Concentrate (available on SHISEIDO Official Store) is the perfect pampering anti-ageing serum to give your skin that extra boost of protection. It differs from other serums and specifically targets ageing concerns like wrinkles, fine lines and skin dullness.
The Shiseido Ultimune features the ImuGeneration Technology that includes Iris Root — improves skin’s vitality and Reishi Mushroom — an antioxidant known to hydrate and reduce signs of aging. This is one of the best Japanese skincare serums you can get if you want to look 40 going on 25 (you get what we mean).
Best moisturizers from Japanese skincare brands
10. Tatcha The Water Cream
Tatcha is one of the best Japanese luxury skincare brands that you have to try! Inspired by the beauty ritual of a geisha, Tatcha believes in a holistic approach when it comes to beauty and skincare. Their products are formulated with time-tested, natural ingredients, as well as luxurious ingredients like gold and silk. One of their most popular products is Tatcha The Water Cream (available on Strawberrynet SG Official Store). This best moisturizer is jam-packed with Japanese botanical ingredients like Japanese Wild Rose and Japanese Leopard Lily. It helps to refine skin texture, tighten pores, as well as encourage natural skin turnover to maintain a youthful glow! Tatcha The Water Cream is most suitable for those with combo to oily skin.
For those with dry skin, try the Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream (available on Strawberrynet SG Official Store) instead. It contains Japanese purple rice, an ingredient that is rich in antioxidants and helps to protect your skin against pollutants and stress. There’s also hyaluronic acid and Okinawa algae infused in Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream, which lets your skin drink up the hydration!
11. Curel Intensive Moisture Care Facial Cream
The Curel Intensive Moisture Care Facial Cream (available on Curel Official Store) is one of the best Japanese moisturizers that works for girlfriends out there with dry, sensitive skin. It uses Curel’s Ceramide Care Technology to replenish your skin’s ceramides, and repair its barrier function. While the Curel facial cream is intensely moisturizing, it has a light-as-air texture that absorbs fast without leaving your skin feeling sticky.
If you’re suffering from dry patches and dehydrated skin, Curel is definitely one of the best Japanese brands when it comes to moisturizers! For even better results, use it alongside the Curel Intensive Moisture Care Foaming Facial Wash and Curel Intensive Moisture Care Facial Lotion (both available on Curel Official Store).
12. Kose Sekkisei Cream
Sekkisei means snow in Japanese, and it is also the skincare line of one of most popular Japanese skincare brands, Kose. Kose Sekkisei offers moisturizers that help you achieve bright, translucent skin that’s as pure as snow. The Kose Sekkisei Cream (available on Kosé Official Store) is formulated with moisturizing herbal extracts such as coix seed, angelica, and melothria which helps to reveal supple, clear skin. It also contains ginseng and cordyceps which helps to retain skin elasticity and preserve youthful skin. Use the Kose Sekkisei cream as the last step in your skincare routine to lock in the moisture!
13. Sana Nameraka Soy Milk Wrinkle Night Cream
Looking to start an anti-ageing regime to prevent fine lines and wrinkles? The Sana Nameraka Soy Milk Wrinkle Night Cream (available on Beauty N The Fit Official Store.sg) is a great way to start! It is one of the best Japanese moisturizers by a reputable skincare brand that is formulated with soy milk and pure retinol. Soy milk is an antioxidant rich ingredient that helps to reveal smooth, mochi-like skin, while retinol is known to help increase collagen production and encourage skin turnover. This power combination helps to reduce signs of aging and deeply moisturize your skin through the night!
14. Ozio Royal Jelly
Protect your skin against UV damage and signs of ageing by adding royal jelly and honey into your skincare routine! These ingredients can be found in Ozio Royal Jelly (available on Yasuya Official Shop/官方唯一旗艦店), one of the best Japanese moisturizers from a popular Japanese brand. Apart from moisturizing and anti-ageing properties, honey and royal jelly also help to fight acne and fade scars! You can get the Ozio Royal Jelly in a tube or tub packaging, according to your preference.
15. Tsubuporon Wart Remover
Ever noticed small pimple-like bumps growing on your body? These are actually caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells that dry up and surface on skin. Over time, these bumps will darken and may become unsightly for some. Which is where the Tsubuporon Wart Remover Cream (available on Beauty Bistro) comes in. Featuring Coix extract that’s commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, the ingredient dries out skin even more, thus allowing these bumps to loosen up and fall off. The Coix extract also lightens and brightens skin, helping to fade out any dark spots caused by the bumps or any acne, giving you perfect skin like never before.
Best sunscreens from popular Japanese skincare brands
16. Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen
Have you heard of a sunscreen that fortifies even further in the presence of sweat and water? The Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk (available on Anessa Official Store) claims to do that and more! This Anessa sunscreen features an Aqua Booster Technology which bonds with sweat and water, preventing the sunscreen from thinning and fading away. But the benefits don’t stop there.
By infusing a host of other moisturising and beauty ingredients like hyaluronic acid and green tea extract, the Japanese have made sunscreens into a much more desirable product. Are we even surprised? Not anymore.
17. Biore UV Aqua Rich Sunscreen
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly sun care product, you can’t go wrong with Biore – one of the best Japanese skincare brands for sunscreens! Their Aqua Rich line features sunscreens with high SPF rating and staying power, necessary in Singapore’s unfailing humid weather. It also has a high PA rating — the more plus signs, the higher the protection level against penetrative UV rays.
We especially love the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (available on bioreofficial). It promises quick absorption into the skin, is lightweight and doesn’t leave any of that sticky residue we hate sunscreens for. At 90g, the Biore sunscreen just makes the cut to stow away in your carry-on luggage!
18. Allie Extra UV Gel
If you’re looking for a waterproof sunscreen that feels light on the skin, look no further! The Allie Extra UV Gel (available on Allie Official Store) is a highly-raved broad-spectrum sunscreen from a popular Japanese skincare brand. It has a lightweight gel texture that feels hydrating yet non-sticky. Most importantly, Allie sunscreen has an SPF of 50 PA+++ and has been tried and tested by several bloggers, showing impressive results! It also works great as a primer, and won’t cause your makeup to become greasy midday.
Best sheet masks from Japanese skincare brands
19. Minon Amino Moist Mask
No skincare routine is complete without face masks! One of the best Japanese skincare products in this category is the Minon Amino Moist Mask (available on NANA Mall Official Store). It’s known to be especially effective for those with dry and sensitive skin because of the active amino acid ingredients in the gel serum which replenishes the skin’s moisture levels and firms your skin.
Pro tip: If there’s extra gel serum remaining after you’ve placed the mask onto your face, don’t toss it away. Massage the extra gel serum onto areas of the face (including the neck) which could use more TLC!
20. Saborino Morning Face Mask
For busy folks who are always in a rush, the Saborino Morning Face Mask (available on Osakakuma SG (Ready Stock)) is an absolute godsend. It’s a three in one product that acts as a cleanser, moisturiser, and primer for your makeup – talk about efficiency! Simply leave it on for 60 seconds and you’re good to go. Containing honey, apple acids, orange oil and other fruity essences, the Saborino Morning Mask has an invigorating scent that wakes you up too!
21. Lululun Daily Sheet Mask
When it comes to facial masks, you can surely trust Lululun. This brand is widely known for their sheet masks and it easily takes the cake as Japan’s No.1 top selling daily masks! The Japanese skincare brand offers a wide range of products ranging from lotions to gel creams, but it is their crowd-favourite face masks that you should keep your eyes peeled for. In particular, check out the Lululun Daily Sheet Masks (available on Super Beauty Official Store) which come in packets consisting of 32 sheets. Perfect for daily use, if you ask us! This line of products alone comes in different types to cater to the variety of skin concerns that you wish to address. Can’t decide on one? Get the bang for your buck when you opt for the Lululun Daily Sheet Mask Bundle (available on Super Beauty Official Store) where you can pick a combination of types of masks to get!
22. OJO 3-in-1 Spa Face Mask
We can’t forget about OJO when it comes to the best Japanese skincare brands, specifically their 3-in-1 Spa Face Mask (available on Welcia-BHG Official Store). Featuring moon jellyfish extract, this sheet mask is bound to soften your skin while it builds a layer of protection. This means that no impurities will penetrate your skin, giving you smooth and unblemished complexion for years to come! But of course, ingredients like niacinamide and Cica extract are also present. And these ingredients will revitalise your skin from the inside out. So expect flawless, mochi-hada skin with this best Japanese sheet mask!
Achieve flawless skin with the best Japanese skincare brands
Ready to get the kawaii Japanese skin? You don’t have to do a complete overhaul of your skincare regime. Observe your skin and switch things up only as and when you need to. For more skincare recommendations, check out our rundown of the best clay masks and the best Sulwhasoo products!
This article was updated on 8 February 2022. Additional research done by Liang Shi Nan.