Living in Japan means your skin moisturizer needs might require a bit of an adjustment, especially since the weather here shifts from dramatic humidity in summer to super dry in winter. We find it’s best to create a beauty kit that includes a daily moisturizer, a serum for when you need additional hydration, a mist for touchups during those long working days and a nighttime option for skin recovery as you sleep.

Of course, we understand it can be difficult to know where to begin to start picking out your ideal beauty arsenal. So we’ve assembled a roundup of some of our favorite items, tailored for different budgets and needs.

We also have one very special luxury serum giveaway for TW readers – scroll down for details!

House of Rose Sherbet Lotion

1. Best for Summer

House of Rose Sherbet Lotion

We think the photo says it all, but here’s why Sherbet Lotion is our number-one summer moisturizer: Aside from containing extracts of orange, bilberry and royal jelly, this toner and lotion contains peppermint extract, which provides a pleasant cooling sensation after you apply it to your skin.

Made by local brand House of Rose, this lotion is light and refreshing, and helps to tone the skin, which in turn helps your makeup last longer too. As for the scent, we love to breathe in its lemongrass fragrance. ¥1,980 from


Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioning Gel

2. Best Budget-Friendly

Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioning Gel

Released in 2016, this no-frills gel-serum won a spot on @Cosme’s Best Cosmetics Awards in 2017 and has become a bestseller in the Japanese market. Its key ingredient is an extract of Job’s tears, also known as Chinese pearl barley or hatomugi in Japanese.

Native to Southeast Asia, Job’s tears is rich in B vitamins, protein and amino acids, and known for its health benefits as a food ingredient (particularly to those seeking out gluten-free grains). With this skin conditioning gel, Naturie gives us all the superfood benefits in moisturizer form – the hatomugi extract contains 12 amino acids that naturally enhance your skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Look forward to skin being soothed, brightened and hydrated, while also enjoying antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits. ¥990 from


Elixir Superieur Luminous Glow Mist

3. Best for Daytime Touchups

Shiseido Elixir Luminous Glow Mist

We all know Tokyo working hours can be long and the in-office air-conditioning harsh, so what do you do when you’ve got back-to-back meetings but no time for a full makeup do-over? Pack this beautiful bottle in your handbag and it’ll see you through.

Elixir Luminous Glow Mist is a milk lotion and serum designed for use over your makeup. A few quick sprays and it’ll reinvigorate your skin, giving you an instant dewy radiance. It also has the added bonus of anti-aging ingredients and a fresh floral scent. Shake well before use to allow the water and oil formulation to mix before spraying. ¥1,800 

Best beauty products YSK Pure Shots4. Best for Night-Time Recovery

YSL Pure Shots Night Reboot Serum

Much more than just a night-time moisturizer, this paraben and sulphate-free resurfacing serum works hard while you sleep. Containing gentle exfoliating glycolic acid, it removes dead skin cells after which a blend of argan and seed oil kicks in to soothe and even out skin texture. Next, moonlight cactus flower repairs and protects, helping skin to regenerate.

The result? You wake up looking like a new person. ¥5,000 from

bioeffect serum

5. Best Luxury Age-defying Serum (and Giveaway!)

Bio Effect EGF Serum

All the way from Iceland, the award-winning Bio Effect EGF Serum launched in Japan in 2015 and has steadily gathered a loyal fanbase for its revolutionary age-defiance. Made from bioengineered barley plants – which are grown in a carbon neutral geothermal greenhouse and nurtured with volcanic pumice and pure Icelandic water – this serum contains no oil, no fragrance and no preservatives.

The secret to its success? The pioneering formulation that includes the world’s first plant-based Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), a protein that occurs naturally in our bodies and helps to boost production of collagen and elastin to maintain healthy, youthful skin. With regular use, the serum replenishes your body’s own natural supply of EGF, helping to slow down the aging process.

Bio Effect EGF Serum is sold in stores across Japan for ¥15,600 (excluding tax) as well as onboard ANA and JAL flights and at stores in Haneda, Narita and Kansai airports. (Sales at airport duty-free shops and onboard ANA airlines are temporarily on hold due to Covid-19.) More info at


We’ve got five bottles to give away to TW readers. Here’s what you need to do for the chance to win:

1. Sign up to receive our newsletter.

2. Send an email to [email protected] and tell us your name, postal address and three of your favorite Japanese beauty products (we’ll try to feature them in future articles). If you’d like to be considered to try out similar products in future for free (and attend testing events), please also include your nationality and job title.