Over the past decade we’ve seen a shift in Asian skincare thanks to trends such as Korea’s “glass skin” that celebrates dewy, hydrated, glass-like skin. The result? Our new normal has become a complicated, multistep skincare routine with one dedicated product for each skin issue. If you think, however, that Japan has said goodbye to three-in-one soap and hello to five different face toners, you would be mistaken. Japanese skincare, broadly speaking, still values minimalist and simplified skincare over excess. You see this in Japanese skincare’s simple packaging, the limited and natural ingredients used, and the multipurpose use of a single product. Today, let’s explore five J-beauty skincare products you should try on your next Japan trip. 

5 best japanese skincare products

1. Oil Cleanser: Muji Mild Cleansing Oil

Muji Mild Cleansing Oil is great for people with sensitive skin. It effortlessly removes makeup and moisturizes the skin with simple ingredients such as olive oil, jojoba oil, apricot juice and peach leaf extract. Muji’s oil cleanser stands out from others by removing makeup whether your face is wet or dry. When applied, the oil is light and runny, only to wash off as a milky, oil-free liquid. This concept alone makes this product a miracle cleanser for those days you want to skip double cleansing and give your face a one-and-done in the shower. Muji’s minimalist approach extends not only to the ingredients — free from artificial fragrances, colors, alcohol and mineral oil — but also to the packaging, making this product both an essential, aesthetic and affordable Japanese skincare item. 

5 best japanese skincare products

2. Three-in-One Mask: Kanebo Scrubbing Mud Wash

Kanebo’s Scrubbing Mud Wash is a multi-award-winning skincare item that is very popular across all genders in Japan. This cost-effective product serves three purposes: as a Moroccan lava clay mask, an exfoliant with disintegrating beads and as a cleansing wash. Apply the mud mask over your T-zone to absorb excess sebum and unclog your pores. Leave the mask to work its magic, then gently massage it into your skin for a mild exfoliation. Watch as the mask transforms into a luxurious foam as you rinse it off. Unlike other face washes and mud masks, Kanebo’s Scrubbing Mud Wash does not leave the skin feeling stripped of hydration. For the times you’re on the go, simply use this product as a normal face wash. Whether used as a self-pamper skincare treatment or a quick face wash, Kanebo’s Scrubbing Mud Wash’s versatility makes it a must-have for your J-beauty skincare routine.

5 best japanese skincare products

3. Exfoliant: Cure Natural Aqua Gel

Available at most Japanese drugstores, supermarkets and variety stores, Cure’s Natural Aqua Gel is an old and affordable favorite. Aqua Gel incorporates 90% activated hydrogen water and enriches its formula with aloe vera, ginkgo and rosemary leaf extract to help balance an uneven skin tone. Aqua Gel equally confounds and amazes as it gently removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells. As you massage the gel into your skin, little textured balls begin to form. Don’t worry, you’re not shedding. This gritty texture isn’t your dead skin cells, but is formed by the gel, as this new texture lends itself to help exfoliate the skin without the use of exfoliant beads. Aqua Gel is a truly unique product, making it an absolute staple in your J-beauty skincare routine.

5 best japanese skincare products

4. Serum: Damdam Rice Drops Balancing Oil Serum

Don’t limit rice to just a weeknight meal staple. The star ingredient of Damdam’s Rice Drops Balancing Oil Serum is komenuka, the finely milled outer layer of a rice grain. Packed with antioxidants and boasting properties like AHA phytic acids, komenuka promotes the turnover of new skin while keeping it hydrated. The serum comes out as a lightweight oil that instantly sinks into your pores, helping protect the skin from dehydration during the day and through the night. The mess-free packaging features a pipette, allowing for a precise and hygienic application. Damdam Tokyo is an up-and-coming brand intersecting Japanese craftsmanship and traditional ingredients with modern technology-based skin science. Paying homage to geisha and kabuki performers, who skillfully crafted barriers to protect their skin under layers of stage makeup, Damdam’s Serum puts an innovative twist on the typical oil serum. Priced similarly to other boutique serums, Damdam’s Rice Drops Balancing Oil Serum is a must-try in your J-beauty skincare routine. 

5. Nail Polish Remover:  Osaji Comfortable Nail Remover

Now this final skincare product may throw you for a loop, but this article aims to encompass all skincare products, including your nails. Osaji’s Comfortable Nail Remover is ideal for people who need an effective method of removing nail polish without acetone, while nourishing the nails in the process. There’s no more need for cuticle oil, as this nail polish remover contains essential oils and “Keratin Moist,” a dill seed extract, which strengthens and improves the nail’s surface barrier. Osaji’s product lacks the distinctly sharp scent typical of common nail polish removers. Instead, it offers a spicy blend of clove, coriander, sage, vetiver and yuzu. The cherry on top? Osaji’s remover comes in a luxurious glass bottle, making it an aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced addition to your vanity.

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