To say that I am obsessed with beauty products (skincare or makeup) would be a severe understatement. For anything going on my skin, I feel like I should splurge more to ensure I am treating it well. Growing up, I ignored my mom when she told me to put on sun lotion (I thought I was rebellious). Now I know that I was just exposing myself to skin cancer, wrinkles, and sunspots. To catch up on the many, many years of neglecting my skin, I feel that I need to take extra care now. Although my journey into skincare was an expensive and tumultuous one, I'm hoping yours isn’t. To make your life easier, I have compiled a list of Japanese beauty products (most of which I have used, or I know someone who has used them) that can get you started on your journey.
Note: This is just a compilation of products - do not get everything on this list! Every skin type is different and will react differently to the products listed. I have combination (usually oily during the hotter months, and dry during the colder months), sensitive, and acne prone skin. My biggest priority in skincare is moisturizing and general health. Before investing in any type of skin care regimen I would recommend talking to a skin care professional, and/or researching and understanding what your skin type is. We do not receive any compensation for featuring the products listed below - I just really like them.
Facemasks with some of our friends at Yo!
Pure Smile Choosy Lip Gel Mask
During the winter or when I am in much colder climates, I LOVE sleeping with lip masks or applying lip masks before I sleep. No more painful cracks, and it helps smooth out the skin to better apply balms.
Lion Neat Foot Sheets
I am not a fan of the peeling foot masks (fortunately, I don’t have corns or calluses), but I am a huge fan of these and Salonpas! Feet need to be beautiful, and feel beautiful too!
Cure Natural Aqua Gel
Exfoliator/Toner. Top seller in Japan! It didn’t dry out my skin, which is rare in exfoliators. You should do this only 2-3 times a week.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence
Great sunscreen! No white cast, feels super light, and has ultra PA+ protection.
Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder
I love powder face wash because I feel like they also exfoliate your skin. This enzyme wash (enzyme face wash helps reduce pore size, congestion, and breaks down makeup) isin easy to-go single use pods. Great for traveling, horrible for the environment...
Lululun Face Mask
One of my favorite brands for face masks. Smells good and multiple come in a single packet. Free from chemicals, fragrances, and mineral oils.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I love this stuff so much, I asked for it for my birthday (again). I usually double cleanse (first with oil to get the stubborn makeup off, and then again with an actual face wash). This stuff gets any stubborn makeup off. HIGHLY recommend.
Natural Aqua Gel Cure
This exfoliator is better for me than the toner version. You can literally see this stuff work. You use this exfoliator 2-3 times a week (great for dull skin). You rub it in and can see the dead skin in seconds. I used this before my wedding day makeup!
Kose Softymo Cleansing Oil
Cheaper oil comparable to the DHC Oil. Still works great, but not as thick of an oil (you’ll need more of it to do the same action as the DHC).
Hadalalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist
Light weight and moisturizing! Good for sensitive skin, too.
Saborino Face Masks
Well loved by the Korean beauty community (and everyone else), these masks are great for everyday use. The regular package should last you an entire month (32 sheets)!
Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen SPF 50
I haven’t used this myself, but it is another cult classic. This is a water resistant sunscreen that claims it won’t mess up your makeup, so you can reapply all day.
Facial Peeling Gel by Meishoku
Another exfoliant (often branded as peeling gels or jelly). This one uses AHA and BHA to exfoliate clogged pores. Works great!
Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 Intensive Contour Cream
Excellent eye cream! I can’t use certain ones because my skin is so sensitive (learned this the hard way with Kiehls Avocado Eyecream). I will break out around my eye! But I have found that Asian skincare, in particular this cream, is light enough for my sensitive skin. Not too greasy, and worked well.
Princess Amidala makeup + Tyson
Canmake Cream Cheek
Cute cheek blushes. The biggest qualm I have with these aren’t as pigmented or as dark as I need them to be. I have a darker skin color so these are better suited for lighter skin tones.
Heroine Make Mascara
As a member of the oily eyelid squad, I declare this as the ONLY mascara that stays put on my eyelashes. It is a pain to remove (if you don’t have the right products to help), but it keeps my lashes lifted, separated, and doesn't run). Make sure you fully wash this off!
Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil
Cult classic! Love it. Although I love the Shu Uemura one better, in general, both are great. The thing I appreciate most about these pencils are the colors you can find (fits my hair color better than most American brands). Additionally, they are a softer/build-up product. You can definitely build this product up to get a darker pigment, but I prefer just a light shading, so this product is perfect.
Shu Uemura Hard Formula eyebrow Pencil
Another cult favorite!I love this one more than the Shiseido one because the hard formula works with the natural oils on your face (and I have much) to create artificial strokes of hair.
Mote Liner Liquid Eyeliner by Flowfushi
Brush tip liner that uses Japanese Kumano brush (for quality and precision). It was super cool (heavy, but easy to use pen). However, I felt like it wasn’t as waterproof as I was expecting it to be. Works great for regular skin types, but greasy lids beware!
Disneyland face paint at the age of 30? Still cool.
Shiseido Prepare Facial Razor
My aunt taught me this trick when I was younger. Many Japanese women shave their entire face (dermaplaning) for a couple reasons: to make the face appear “cleaner” (the less hair, the more feminine) and to help make up stick better to the skin. I always have a few of these razors handy! They really do make a difference in makeup adhesion, but also make maintaining my brows easier.
Any brand will probably do. I loved this for when I was a theatre kid (does anyone ever stop being a theater kid?). Perfect for between scenes, especially with those hot lights. It’s also great for when you’re in humid places. Just a pat-pat of this paper and you’re back to new! Most of the time, I wouldn’t even have to re-apply my makeup!
Kao Steam Hot Mask
I usually used this when I was traveling and continue to use it when I have migraines. It’s an eye mask that starts to steam and turn hot. It’ll help you get a good night’s rest, and calm any strain you have in your eye area. Anything that helps to get beauty sleep is beauty related, imo.
Rohto Cool Eye Drops
Many Japanese women want bright, clear eyes, so these drops are a must. I just love these because as a dry-eye sufferer, these are THE BEST drops ever.
Pukku Puku Bubble Soda Underarm Deep Clean Pack
In Japan, you want to be hairless and perfect everywhere (we don’t really, but society). Japanese women like to lighten their underarms to prevent that weird, dark shading you get from shaving. This product does that (you can achieve this with baking soda, too). I haven’t personally used it, but Kpop stars stan this.
Shiseido or Shu Uemura Eyelash curler
The best. I can never use any other eyelash curler. I love both, but my preference swings towards Shu Uemura, once again. My first curler lasted over 10 years ( I recently got a new one, thanks mom!)!
Sucker for cute packaging, so I was suckered into buying it. The brand is environment friendly and has biodegradable ingredients. Was a good product, but not life changing.
Gatsby Hair Wax
Folks with short hair in my life swear by this hair wax. Works well without that weird hardness or crusty feeling. The green one smells like green apple :)
Shiseido Tsubaki Hair Care
The most amazing smelling and luxurious hair care products. Loved the shampoo and conditioner so much, I bought hair water for this (hair water is just water with glycerin and other products to keep hair shiny) for my partner. Does it work? I don’t think so. But I bought it. On the other hand, the shampoo and conditioner keep my hair (the bleached 10x in and then dyed it back to black 2020 hair) pretty smooth, and did I mention it smells good?
Dolly Wink False Eyelashes
Love these natural looking lashes. The bands are comfortable, and the lashes feel really light.
Shiseido Mini Lash curler
Okay, you may be asking “why would I need a mini curler, isn’t the point to get all my lashes to lift?” Yes, BUT this mini curler allows you to reach the smaller more stubborn hairs, AND allows you to work with any eye shape. Many Korean beauty salons for Kpop stars use this tool because you can really get a good curl without having to depend on a standard eyelash curler shape.
Popular Products (that didn't work for me)
Biore Nose Strips
Although it did rip out my blackheads, I learned later that these are horrible for your pores! If you don’t properly close or treat your pores after, these strips leave your pore gaping and open for more stuff to plug it up, and stretch it out. You also risk ripping your skin with these.
Shiseido Perfect Whip
I want to like it, and be like everyone else. But this face wash always leaves my skin super dry.
Tried a bit of this and I can’t justify the price for the results I got.
K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo
Was not a tattoo. Real talk, this smudged pretty easily on me.
Sana Pore Putty Face Powder
Ok, this didn’t work for me. Remember, I have acne prone and sensitive skin. However, I can see why it works for folks who want some minimal and easy makeup. This helps reduce the appearance of pores and gives an overall smooth appearance.
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