Honey extract, rice bran, pearl barley and similar nutrient-rich ingredients make up the foundation of Japanese skincare. It champions hydration above all else, with skin lotions (as thick toners are known in Japan) and milky but lightweight formulas. For some of us, big beauty names, such as Shiseido and Hada Labo, might already be a familiar sight.
Japanese beauty isn't a new fad in the world of skincare. If old Reddit forums and repeat global buyers are anything to go by, it's always had a quiet, large-scale fanbase. The evidence is clear in viral videos of Japanese hair masks, sunscreens and oil cleansers, where thousands chime in with their own positive, transformative experiences.
We took a peek into TikTok's community of J-beauty enthusiasts for skincare products that are absolutely worth the hype and your coin. Some of these consistently rank high in Japan on Cosme, a renowned J-beauty review site. What's also great about Japanese skincare is that you can buy refill packets of most products, so your old bottles are always in use. Great for the planet and your pocket.
Popular cleansers, serums, moisturisers and sunblocks are easily available on Amazon, along with their refill pouches. Make sure to shop with a Prime membership to get free, fast delivery.
1. Best Oil Cleanser: Biore Make-up Remover Perfect Oil
Social media is rife with the best recommendations of Japanese oil cleansers from drugstore brands. Some push for Kose's Softymo Speedy Cleansing Oil, while others vouch for DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil. Both are excellent choices, but the Biore oil is more effective against waterproof make-up. Unlike cleansing oils that emulsify into a milky appearance, this product maintains its formula to melt water-resistant eyeliner, mascara and sunscreen, say reviews. Another plus point is that it washes off immediately without a greasy film. Always remember to follow up with a water-based cleanser to avoid clogging pores.
2. Best Cleanser: Shiseido Senka Perfect Whip
The Senka Perfect Whip is one of Japan's bestselling facial cleansers. A pea-sized amount lathers into a fluffy cloud-like texture for a thorough but gentle cleanse. The rich foam penetrates deep into the pores to dislodge dirt, sebum and remnants of make-up. It's packed with hydrolysed silk essence and sodium hyaluronate to prevent moisture loss. Reviewers pair the cleanser with a net or cotton towel for extra exfoliation on particularly oily days. Since a little goes a long way, each bottle in this two-pack deal will last you months.
3. Best Exfoliator: Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder
Your solution to blackheads might just be in a 0.4-gram powder capsule. The viral Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Wash contains proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes, and amino acid-based cleansing ingredients that unclog pores. Peel off a single-use capsule and mix the granulated powder with some water to begin exfoliating. Reviewers attest to the squeaky-clean feeling after use, and how the formula truly strips away dirt. There are 32 capsules in the pack, so a bi-weekly exfoliation could stretch this box out for four months before your next purchase!
4. Best Toner: Hada Labo Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
Often touted as liquid gold in beauty circles, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium hyaluronic acid lotion offers a glass-skin glow. The formula is made up of seven types of hyaluronic acid to add and lock in hydration, without the use of fragrance, oil or alcohol. Follow up with this toner before moisturising and after cleansing, while the skin is still damp to enhance the results. Reviewers say that the consistency is thick and gel-like, and it immediately leaves the skin feeling plump and bouncy.
5. Best Treatment Toner: Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner
For a more treatment-focused toner, go for Japan's tried-and-tested favourite - Naturie's Hatomugi Skin Conditioner. It's a lotion made with Naturie's key ingredient, the coix seed extract, which is also known as adlay or pearl barley. Coix seed is naturally anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, anti-ageing and antioxidant, making it a powerful skin ingredient to have in your corner for acne and dryness. If hydrating toners usually break you out, this lotion is going to keep acne at bay by controlling sebum production. Reviewers with oily skin layer on the watery formula twice a day without feeling the weight of it.
6. Best Vitamin C Serum: Melano CC Vitamin C Premium Essence
Melano CC's vitamin C products have been circulating the internet for a while now. The serum, our pick, as well as the cream, are often featured in recommendations for fighting acne scars. It packs four types of vitamin C, including 100 per cent pure L-ascorbic acid, to lighten hyperpigmentation, even out skin tone and minimise pores. This is a potent essence, so it's only meant to go on lightly prior to moisturising. Reviewers find that active acne heals faster with the product, whereas dark spots can take consistent, long-term use to lighten slowly but surely.
7. Best Face Mask: Keana Nadeshiko Keana Rice Pack
Gritty, pasty and full of rice-derived goodness, this face mask by Keana Nadeshiko is a must-have if you want to reverse a dull complexion. Powered by four rice-based ingredients - fermented rice liquid, rice bran oil, rice bran extract and rice ceramides - the face pack moisturises, plumps and improves skin texture all at once. The skincare brand recommends use when pores especially feel bumpy, though it's gentle enough for daily use, too. You can squeeze out the contents from the packet for roughly ten face masks.
8. Best Sunscreen: Shiseido Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Gel, SPF50+/PA++++
In the long list of well-regarded Japanese sunscreens, the Shiseido Anessa range sits quite high. This gel-based sunscreen has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 50+ and a very high PA (protection grade of ultraviolet A rays). It's infused with plant-derived moisturising ingredients, like green tea extract, glycerin and tormentil extract, together with collagen and hyaluronic acid. The formula leaves a dewy glow behind, so you can use it to prime your skin before make-up. It goes on the body as well. According to reviewers, the sunscreen offers a powerful shield against sunburn without leaving a white cast, even under make-up.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.