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10 Useful Everyday Japanese Beauty Products

Why don't we have these affordable, unusual and helpful products in the West?

By 6 min read

“J-beauty” is a billion-dollar industry. But with so many products lining the shelves, it can be difficult to know where to begin, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best cosmetic products you can find in Japan. These products are not only affordable but easily obtainable—even if you’re living in the heart of the inaka (countryside). 

Here are 10 of Japan’s most popular beauty products, all between ¥500 and ¥2,000 and found in drugstores, department stores, supermarkets and sometimes convenience stores nationwide.

1. DHC Cleansing Oil 

One of Japan’s most popular cleansing oil.

Cleansing your skin with oil is a centuries-old practice that helps protect good bacteria on the skin’s lipid layer. 

Most global beauty brands feature a cleansing oil, but DHC’s is one of the most popular in Japan. Containing a blend of organic virgin olive oil, rosemary leaf oil and Vitamin E (and no colorants, fragrances or parabens), DHC Cleansing Oil dissolves makeup and dirt from the face effortlessly.

How to use: 

  • Massage 1-2 pumps over dry face
  • Rinse off (It can also be used over eyelashes, including eyelash extensions.)

2. Cure Natural Aqua Gel

Exfoliate and refresh your skin.

This curious gel is Japan’s number one exfoliator, with a bottle sold about every four seconds

It produces a flaking effect on the skin, and there is much debate around what this is: the gel or the dead skin particles themselves? The truth lies somewhere in between. The product reacts on the skin’s surface and forms little balls of gel that are pushed around, collecting dead skin. 

The absence of harsh acids or microbeads also sets Natural Aqua Gel apart from other, less gentle and less environmentally-friendly exfoliators. Bear in mind that, unlike other exfoliating products, Aqua Gel doesn’t work on wet skin and is less effective if your skin is cold. Thus, it’s not a product you’ll want to use in the shower.

How to use: 

  • Massage one pump onto clean and dry skin for at least 30 seconds
  • Rinse off

3. Naturie Skin Conditioner and Skin Conditioning Gel

Rejuvenate your skin every morning.

The star ingredient of this ubiquitous skincare brand is coix seed extract, found throughout Asian skincare and said to brighten the skin. 

Naturie skin conditioner (toner) and conditioning gel (moisturizer) is quick-absorbing and leaves the skin feeling dewy. Their generous sizes and low price points have also helped cement Naturie as a household name.

How to use: 

  • After cleansing, use the skin conditioner with a cotton pad
  • Dab over the skin
  • Follow with the skin conditioning gel and massage onto the skin

 Tip: In the summer months, keep the gel in the fridge for excellent soothing after-sun care. 

4. Rosette Cleansing Paste

Foaming face wash to cleanse the skin.

Rosette’s Cleansing Pastes have been going strong since 1929, and their clay paste range is still the best-seller. These are a series of foaming face washes that use natural sea and glacial clays to purify and remove toxins from the skin.  

There are eight different colors in the series that target different skin concerns, such as blackheads, clogged pores and inflammation. 

How to use:

  • Apply a pea-sized amount to wet skin.
  • Massage into a foam on the face.
  • Rinse off. 

5. Facial razors (various brands)

An easy and safe way to remove facial hair.

The old “hair grows back thicker once you shave” myth is probably why these dainty facial razors haven’t caught on for women in the West. But shaving the face is something Asian women have been doing for centuries. 

Aside from removing peach fuzz, facial razors also exfoliate the skin, help with scar regeneration, enhance moisturizers’ effect and even out the skin’s surface, making makeup application easier.

How to use: 

  • Ensure the skin is clean and dry.
  • Use a razor parallel to the face.
  • Work in short, light downwards strokes, as if brushing the skin.
  • Use the other hand to pull the skin taught. 

6. Body towels (various brands)

Scrub away dead cells and exfoliate your skin.

In the West, loofahs and puffs are met with indifference, but this Japanese equivalent is an essential bathing item.

Its purpose is to clean and—yes, you’ve guessed it—exfoliate the skin. (Sensing a theme?) Using body towels is an old Japanese tradition that not only buffs the skin but improves blood circulation

How to use:

In the shower, shimmy a soap-laden towel across your body, working up a foam (the Japanese will do this for several minutes until they can’t be seen for all the foam they’ve created). Afterward, rinse the towel out and hang it to dry.

7. Lululun Face Mask Sheets

Make these masks part of your nightly routine.

Originating in Korea, face mask sheets have been a big beauty business in Asia for years. These face-shaped, serum-soaked pieces of fabric allow active ingredients to soak deep into the skin.

The Lululun brand is credited with making luxury sheet masks accessible to the masses. Their sheets come in various series targeting different age groups and skin types, but they all work to hydrate and nourish the skin. 

How to use:

  • After washing your face, place the mask over your face for 15 minutes.
  • Afterward, dispose of the mask and pat the remaining serum on the skin. 

8. Melty Cream Lip Balm

For soft lips and Japanese tastes.

Melty Cream lip balms are soft, long-lasting balms that come in various, unique flavors. The matcha-flavored balm is a keeper for those who like their beauty products to smell like delicious Japanese treats.

Deep green in color (though it goes on clear), it contains Uji matcha and cha leaf extract, so it smells literally like a mouth-watering matcha latte.

9. Atrix Medicated Hand Cream

Make cold winters in Japan a little more bearable.

Rashes in summer and chapped hands in winter are common complaints amongst foreigners in Japan. Before seeing a doctor, however, Atrix Hand Cream could be the answer. 

Sometimes eschewed in favor of prettier, more expensive hand creams, Atrix is just as effective, if not more. Containing anti-inflammatory agents and vitamin E, it helps repair damaged skin. 

What’s more, this cream is everywhere, including in your local 7-Eleven. 

10. Onsen bath salts (various brands)

The onsen experience at home.

Bathing in natural hot spring water is said to relieve an array of ailments. But if you’re not keen on the bathhouse experience, you can recreate it in the comfort of your own home.

There is a wide range of bath salts in Japan, including minerals extracted from onsen around the country. Packs of salts come with individual sachets, each derived from a specific, well-known hot spring and help to relieve stress and fatigue. They also come in various scents such as yuzu, mint and lavender. 

How to use:

  • As you run your bath, pour the contents of one sachet under the water stream.
  • Soak for at least 20 minutes. 

There are hundreds of fantastic Japanese beauty products on offer, but these affordable staples are an excellent place to start.

Can you recommend any other inexpensive Japanese beauty products? If so, let us know in the comments!

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