Japanese Beauty Products

Ran out of facial cleansers? Moisturizers? Don't know what to buy? Well luckily for you, Japan is in love with brands. Whatever other people use, they want to use as well. There’s a saying that if a nail sticks out, you have to hammer it down which means you should look and act the same as everyone else. And because of this, a wonderful ranking website called Cosme was made and is a great way to know what is popular, what is highly ranked, and what is good for your age group: www.cosme.net (Japanese only). When you go to a drugstore like Tsuruha or Yakuodo, you’ll see a blue and yellow medal on products that say "Cosme 第1位." It says ranked number 1 on Cosme with the year below it. They rank mostly makeup products but they can go into feminine products and other household items. I also like to ask around for recommendations by other people with a simple [おすすめは?(Osusume wa?)] which means “Recommendation?” It’s a great conversation starter at local restaurants, bars, and even with your coworkers.

American and Japanese beauty routines are similar with some slight difference. In Japan (Asia in general), there is a belief to double-cleanse your skin. As in you wipe off your makeup with a cleansing wipe and then use a facial cleanser (usually foam). After cleansing your face, you layer up on toners, essences, lotions, and moisturizers giving some nice, firm slaps to your face to increase blood circulation. There is a certain order when putting on your products: toner, essence/serums, moisturizer, and then lotion (to seal everything in). For more information, look up Chizu Saeki, Japan's renowned skincare guru, and her book The Japanese Skincare Revolution.

There are also rarely any scrubs or face washes with harsh chemicals in it because the belief is to be gentle and soft with your skin. Certain amounts of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are banned in Japan since the chemicals in it can cause chemical burns. Instead a lot of Japanese men and woman opt for a gentle foaming face wash such as those that come from a tube or bar soap. The popular face washes are those that come in bar form such as the green tea bar soap. Look for 顔石けん (kao sekken) which means face soap. If you don’t want to switch up your skin routine there is always the option of getting your friends and family to ship stuff to you or you could try the natural route and get Lush soap products. Some popular brands for moisturizers and serums include: Shiseido, SKII, DHC, Fancl, Biore, Kanebo, Sofina, Clinique, etc. Note, right now Kanebo is being sued for causing white spots to women so tread cautiously.

Useful Terms:

  • しっとり(shittori): moist, for dry skin
  • さっぱり(sappari): fresh, for normal skin
  • ローション (roushon): lotion, light-weight moisturizers (Japan’s version of toner)
  • エッセンス (essensu): essence, serums
  • ミルク (miruku): milk, lighter lotion-type moisturizers
  • クリーム (kuriimu): cream, heavy moisturizers
  • 乳液 (nyuueki): another kind of serum that is meant to be applied after your moisturizer to seal in the moisture in so it won’t evaporate
  • クレンジングオイル (kurenjingu oiru): cleansing oil, used as a face wash or makeup remover
  • ヒアルロン (hiaruron): hyaluronic acid, used for anti-wrinkle

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