Japanese Skincare Products for Every Skin Type

You’ve just moved to Japan, maybe you’re visiting, and you have no idea what skincare products to buy. There are a dozen different aisles with nearly a million brands that are only in Japanese. There might even be at least one English word that might vaguely give you an idea of what it does. Plus, what on earth are the ingredients? Is it good for your skin? Will it make your skin worse?

Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Since moving to Japan four years ago, I have tried nearly every product on the shelf. From cute, peachy lotions to the more refined ones, I can tell you which products are a must in your daily routine. My list will make shopping easier for you and your skin will thank you for the much-needed vitamins and minerals.

Without further ado, let’s start with the first on my list.

This article is not sponsored. Everything I write here is from my personal experience of trial and error. I have oily, combination skin with mild acne and these products might work differently for your skin type.

#1 ROSETTE Cleansing Paste

I’m Aspen Kumagai, an American living in Japan. Over four years ago, I made the craziest and best decision of my life. I hopped on a plane to chase my dreams and met the love of my life. Now I spend my days traveling across Japan, searching for my next favorite dish, and desperately trying to read the Japanese directions on the back of my face cleanser. Thank god for google translate.

Whether in the kitchen or on a mountaintop, I’m here to inspire you with home-cooked recipes, travel tips, and lifestyle hacks. I share my adventures (and my many mistakes) about living in a foreign country.

This was one of the first products I tried. All of them are clay formulated to cleanse pores and remove sebum. The gray pasty appearance can be a little offsetting at first but they are color additive-free. Perfect for sensitive skin. One website stated they were “fragrance-free” but I found that the yellow and blue bottles have fragrance listed in the ingredients. There are four different types, each one geared towards different problem areas:

  • White Clay Lift: This has collagen to help make skin feel younger and livelier.
  • Ghassoul Bright: This product targets dark spots and helps the skin look brighter.
  • Sea Clay Smooth: This is their best seller! It’s an overall cleanser that removes deep-set sebum to keep pores clean.
  • Acne Clear: This is medicated specifically to treat acne-prone skin. Stearyl glycyrrhetinate is the active ingredient.

How to use:

I will be the first to admit that reading the Japanese instructions was impossible and I made a lot of mistakes when I first used this product. (I thought it was a mask at first.) I’m so ashamed. To save you my embarrassment, let me share these quick instructions. Put 1cm (a dime size amount) into your palm and mix it with water. Apply to your face and allow the product to foam, making sure to cover the skin generously. Then, wash it off. That’s it!

Personal Thoughts:

If you have oily skin, I highly recommend this product! It does an incredible job at cleansing away dirt and leaving the skin feeling smooth. However, if you have combination skin or dry skin, I recommend only using this product once a week. It can make the skin feel taut even when combined with a moisturizer.

#2 Momo Puri

I love peaches! There is nothing like an overly sweet, juicy peach on a hot day. And why not have that same refreshment for your skin? This product is packed full of peachy ceramides that help lock in moisture without the negativity that comes with oil. Lactobacillus, a healthy pro-biotic naturally found on the skin, helps to balance the skin’s pH.

Also, the scent is incredible.

How to use:

First, use the cleansing wash (best in the shower) to remove any built-up sebum or dirt. Momo Puri also has a cleansing gel for anyone who wears make-up. Put 1cm into the palm of your hand and apply to wet skin. Massage into the skin to clear away all impurities, then rinse it off. Afterward, use lotion and cream to give your skin the moisture it needs. Pat gently into the skin. I never use cotton swaps for this step. I want to treat my skin as gently as possible. Momo Puri has a line of different masks available for a relaxing evening of pampering yourself. I highly recommend giving them a try!

Personal Thoughts:

It’s become one of my favorite additions to my routine. They have everything you need for daily care. Sometimes I use this product in combination with others, and it has never let me down. Bonus point, it’s inexpensive!

The only downside is that the lotion and cream can feel slightly sticky on the skin at first. If you try it and don’t enjoy the feeling, I recommend using it as a nighttime routine before bed.

#3 &be

It might look like a typo but yes, our next product is &be.

This herbal addition to the list is ethanol-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. It’s perfect for sensitive skin since it cleans without the harmful effects of surfactants. Some ingredients included in their products are artichoke leaf extract, rosemary leaf extract, and aloe vera leaf extract. The VC mist is 10% vitamin C.

How to use:

The Clear Cleanse Water does not need to be rinsed off. That’s right! Apply it to your skin using a gentle cotton pad to wipe away impurities, even make-up, and then you’re finished! It’s as simple as that.

Spray a bit of VC mist into your hands and pat it onto your skin for a healthy boost. The barrier oil can be patted on as well to protect your skin from dirt throughout the day.

Personal Thoughts:

I’m not a morning person. I wake up, drink coffee, throw on some clothes, and have about five minutes to get out the door. Washing my face is incredibly low on my list of things to do. This product has changed my morning and my skin’s health!

The only downfall is how limited their skincare line is. It’s formulated for all skin types, but I would love to see more layers to their products such as a lotion or cream. Using this product alone didn’t work well for me. I had to use this in combination with other products.

#4 NOV

My last and my absolute favorite product, NOV.

Where to even begin? This company is truly on the ball when it comes to skincare. They have multiple lines from NOV A to NOV III. They have a product formulated for every skin type and in fact, by going to their website, you can find your skin type and see the best line for you. The best news of all, is that they have an English site! That’s right. You don’t have to hover in front of the shelves with crippling embarrassment trying to decide what product does what.

I can’t go into each of their product lines because there is honestly a lot of them. The overall appeal is that NOV’s products are hypoallergenic. They work alongside dermatologists to create the best skincare line possible. NOV English Site Best of all, they have a product from the start of your skincare routine to the end of your routine. On the box of all their products is a detailed list showing the order to use their products. It was a life-saver for me because I didn’t have the first clue about skincare routines.

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve always had a hard time with acne and dry skin. I was honestly embarrassed by how scaly my skin would be during winter and how oily it would get in summer. Since I’ve started using NOV cleansers, my skin hasn’t had a breakout in years. (And since we’re in the age of wearing masks because of COVID, I’ve had only one pimple. It’s a miracle, honestly.)

The biggest downside to NOV is the cost. It’s incredibly expensive. The product is high quality, so the price tag matches. I’ve used NOV in combination with everything else on this list, and my skin is the healthiest it’s ever been. If you want to save money (doesn’t everyone) then it’s perfectly fine to use different combos of products.

Find what works best for you!

Where to buy everything?

If you live in the countryside of Japan, then I already know what you’re thinking. “Is this only in Tokyo? I don’t live in Tokyo!” You can buy these products at nearly any department store or extensive drugstore. To name a few: Tokyu Hands, Loft, Matsumoto Kiyoshi, etc.

Let me know which product you like the best! I’d also love to hear about any new products, not on my list. I’m always up for the next adventure for my skin’s health.

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