The 10 Best Skincare Brands from Japan

Don't miss out on the J-Beauty craze.


Do you ever wonder why the Japanese all seem to have clear, flawless skin? It’s not just a matter of genetics—it is also because of their skincare regimen and the quality of the products they use. Japan is very strict with quality and safety, with high standards. Skincare products, in particular, are regulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, under the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Law. You just know that you’re getting top-notch skincare if the label says it’s made in Japan.


In no particular order, here are the 10 most revered Japanese skincare brands that you should consider getting the next time you shop.


Kao Biore and Kao Curél


Biore is a widely accessible skincare line that you can find in most drugstores in Japan and other countries. Many people began their Japanese skincare journey with
Biore’s UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel and Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which provide SPF 50 protection against sun exposure without the sticky feel on your face. The Nose Pore Cleansing strips, on the other hand, are known for getting rid of blackheads.

 

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Aside from Biore, Japanese personal care and cosmetics company Kao also has a skincare line specifically designed for sensitive skin: Curél.


Curél's claim to fame is its “Hydrating and Penetrating Moisture-retaining Ceramide Care.” The products are formulated to stimulate production of ceramide, a substance that holds moisture in your skin and protects it from bacteria and irritation. 


If you have sensitive skin and you’re looking for a light, alcohol-free moisturizer that is safe for everyday use and can improve your skin condition, you may want to try
Kao Curél Intensive Moisture Cream.


DHC


One name that keeps popping in reviews is
DHC, a brand known for affordable skincare and supplements. Its Deep Cleansing Oil has a light formula that almost magically dissolves makeup from your face—even waterproof mascara you’ve been wearing for hours. It’s a deep cleanser and moisturizer in one.

 

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Hada Labo


This Japanese skincare brand is known for deeply moisturizing and revitalizing one’s skin. The key ingredient: Super Hyaluronic Acid.


Here’s what you can expect after regular use of
Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion: better moisture balance and skin that’s softer, more supple, and completely hydrated.

 

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SK-II


If you’re willing to splurge just to make sure you get the best results, you may want to try the SK-II skincare line that even A-list Hollywood celebrities claim to use. SK-II products contain Pitera, a clear liquid derived from naturally fermented sake that is abundant  in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids. 

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The
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence may be pricey, but  it is widely known to be worth the investment. This award-winning product promises total hydration and a dramatic improvement of the skin’s rejuvenation process so you’ll have smoother, clear skin after regular use.


Photo SK-II official website


Kosé 


One of the most trusted in Japan for over three decades, Kosé’s Sekkisei skincare range is known to minimize the appearance of sunspots and skin damage due to aging. Its best seller is the Sekkisei Medicated Emulsion, a lightweight moisturizer that contains licorice, a natural whitening ingredient. It promises to detoxify, hydrate, brighten, and smoothen skin.

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Kikumasamune 


Here’s another skincare brand with a sake-based product flying off the shelves. The
Kikumasamune Sake High Moisture Skin Care Lotion functions as a toner that promises to soothe, hydrate, smoothen, and brighten skin. It’s alcohol-free and suitable for all skin types. It comes in a 500 ml bottle—it’ll take a while before you run out.

 

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Cure


Cure is famous all over the globe for this one product:
Cure Natural Aqua Gel. When you search for reviews online, don’t be surprised if some people actually claim that this product changed their life. But before we try to make sense of how life-changing it is, let’s try to answer this question: what exactly can it do to one’s skin?


When you apply it on your skin, Cure Natural Aqua Gel hardens into thin, paper-like bits. What you need to do is massage these bits onto your skin and allow it to gently exfoliate the surface and remove dead skin cells and even small blackheads. Seems too intense for your taste? You’ll be relieved to learn that its activated hydrogen water formula is alcohol-free, color-free, scent-free, and gentle on the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and—gasp!—most parts of the body, including your face, elbows, calves, and yes, even your bikini line.


This product is exclusively distributed by Beautybox Corp. You may check out the official IG account here.

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Kanebo


Kanebo is one of the oldest and most trusted cosmetics and skincare companies in Japan. You’ll easily find Kanebo cosmetics in beauty counters in leading department store. You may have come across Kanebo cake foundation some 20 years ago but trust us, the company has been around much longer.


Kanebo has expanded its product range to include skincare, and one of the most popular at the moment is its Suisai line. The
Suisai Beauty Clear Powder for one is an award-winning face cleanser formulated to unclog pores and remove blackheads so your skin ends up clear and smooth. It comes in individual capsules so you can just open one and add water to the powder to cleanse your face daily. It’s ideal for travel, but a bit pricey.

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Photo Kanebo official website


Naturie


Naturie’s banner product is the
Hatomugi Skin Conditioner. This hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, color-free, and oil-free toner also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, with pearl barley extract, or hatomugi as its key ingredient. Apply it on your face before putting on moisturizer to treat dry, acne-prone, and even sunburnt skin.   


The
Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioning Gel on the other hand has a light, non-sticky feel and can be used as a toner, moisturizer, and serum for the face and the rest of the body. Both products are designed to hydrate and revitalize the skin.

 

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Shiseido


This list wouldn’t be complete without Japanese beauty and skincare giant Shiseido. Aside from being a renowned makeup brand, Shiseido has made a mark with various skincare products which cater to different needs.and budgets.


Yes, Shiseido does have a drugstore skincare line. One of Shiseido’s more affordable products is
Perfect Whip, a facial wash that cleanses without stripping your skin of its natural oils. It is safe for use on dry, oily, and combination skin. 


Then there’s
Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen. It has a moisturizing, waterproof, yet lightweight SPF 50 and PA++++  formula that helps prevent UV damage and the appearance of sunspots. You can apply it on your face as well as your body, but it won’t give you a sticky, icky feeling. It’s alcohol-free, fragrance-free, safe for sensitive skin, and suitable for children.   

 

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No shopping spree in Japan is ever complete without checking out the beauty counters in department stores and drugstores. Don’t forget to make room in your luggage, as these are just some of the products you may want to include in your beauty haul the next time you shop.


Main photo artwork by Marlo Adriatico.


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