The BEST Japanese Skincare Products You Can Buy From Amazon.com

Korean skincare products are HUGE right now (and for good reason), but don’t let that buzz distract from the amazing stuff coming out of Korea’s neighbor, Japan right now. Japan may not be quite as flashy or in-your-face, but dang girl, have they got just as much amazingness going on over in the land of the rising sun (this cracks me up a bit, as I moved from the “land of the midnight sun” to the “land of the rising sun” … why so many suns?!). If you’re stateside, there are lots of re-sellers that can get you almost any goodie your heart desires … even the oh-so-convenient Amazon.com. Keep reading for my personal favorite Japanese skincare products (so far) that are readily available on Amazon.

japanese skincare
My one true love, Kose’s Sekkisei medicated lotion

Sekkisei medicated lotion deserves its own blog post, and I promise to write a separate love letter to it, as I really do love this product THAT MUCH. I am prone to acne, and the red marks and scars from it took months to fade, no matter what I tried … until I met my dear friend, Sekkisei-san. Run, don’t walk for this one.

Japanese skincare
THIS is the holy grail of all Japanese sunscreens

Have you tried Japanese sunscreen? If your answer is no, WHY THE HELL NOT?! Again, another topic for a very lengthy post, Japan is a world leader in sunscreen (sorry, Korea, you can’t touch Japan on this one, at least not yet). Not only is this sunscreen a. affordable and b. TRULY full-spectrum, you cannot feel it on your face. I am not shitting you. “Oh, sunscreen is so greasy so I don’t wear it” or “It looks white on my skin” or “I think I’m invincible and premature aging and skin cancer would never, ever happen to me” are all ridiculous excuses once you try Japanese sunscreen, and especially THIS one (OK, the last one is ridiculous no matter what sunscreen you are/are not using).

japanese skincare
A new love, but a true love … Kose eye masks

I saw these eye (and frown line) sheet masks on the shelf at my local Kanehide (two birds) grocery store for less than 800 yen ($7 USD) for 32 pairs (if you ever shop Sephora, you know what a crazy deal this is) and of course snapped them up. OMG. They are the bomb.com. If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that a. I am a super fan of these, and b. after I posted them they created a much larger bubble of excitement than my normal tiny Instagram presence typically causes–because they are super awesome AND super cheap. They temporarily relax all of your eye lines and whatnot … and have retinol to keep the anti-aging train going long term.

japanese skincare
Lightweight moisture! Much wow, so try!

I have reviewed this product recently, and for good reason: it’s a cult classic in Japanese skincare. Why? Five molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, skincare’s golden child, provide lightweight (but heavy hitting) moisturizing to the skin via HA’s humectant properties. Use between toner and serum/moisturizer.

japanese skincare
Are you double cleansing? If no, WHY NOT?!

Imma save double cleansing for another day, but if you aren’t yet … time to board that hype train, sister (or brother). At least at night, and especially if you have worn makeup and/or sunscreen and have sweat any amount. If you live in Japan, you have zero excuse as this amazing Japanese skincare gem from Kose, Softymo DEEP cleansing oil, is like $4, and it WORKS. If you aren’t within the five minute walk of any grocery or drugstore in Japan, Amazon sells it (for a shit-ton less than it’s famous contemporary, DHC oil cleanser).

japanese skincare
This is my favorite beauty oil, of all the beauty oils. Sorry, sharks.

This is from a higher-end brand in Japan, Haba. Located in San-A department stores in Okinawa (and probably countless others in other parts of Japan), they are famous for skincare and particularly for using squalane oil. If you aren’t a skincare junkie, squalane oil is going to be the beauty buzz word/ingredient of the year, mark my words (move over, hyaluronic acid; there’s a new sheriff in town). This oil cleared my baby’s eczema, when nothing else did (see my original review here) and is my super favorite beauty oil of all I’ve tried for me, too.

japanese skincare
Ahhhhh … that Cosme award label. So comforting.

Kose’s hyaluronic sheet masks … so hydrating, so affordable. I can’t remember where, but I once read somebody call sheet masks the “one night stand” of skincare. I totes agree, and as such, I don’t like to invest a ton of money on them. These masks from Kose (apparently I have a love affair with Kose products … they should start paying me to pimp them) are amazing. I bought them first because of the Cosme award (similar to an Allure award stateside, perhaps) but kept using them because of the intense hydration and line relaxing I got from them.

japanese skincare
The best deodorant that ever existed. Ever. Anywhere.

Yes, I’m deviating south of the face. Hey, your entire body is covered in skin (or at least hopefully it is); you need to take care of it. Personally, I cannot wear anti-perspirants; they make my skin itch ferociously and I end up being the crazy lady out in public clawing at her pits trying to quell the pain. This deodorant (not anti-perspirant) from Deonatulle is both natural in ingredient and tough on stank. Usually you can pick one, especially living in the subtropics: natural ingredients or being stink-free; but this deodorant out-performs even the name-brand mens’ U.S. drugstore deodorants AND expensive Sephora deodorants, for a fairly cheap price. Whenever I have sent this to a friend in America, within a few weeks I generally have a request to send an entire boxful after they have tried this product.

japanese skincare
Camellia hair oil

Camellia oil is a perennial favorite in Japan. Especially popular in haircare, this is a terrific moisturizing product for not just hair ends, but also dry elbows and whatever else needs a little bit of TLC.

Japanese skincare
Bulk packets of sheet masks, for the dedicated or the budget-minded (or both!)

Some sheet masks in Japanese skincare (ahem, Lululun) are actually marketed to be used every.single.day. I don’t personally live that life, but if you do, more power to you! Other people may not be tied down to daily sheet masking, but still want to do it often enough that $5 a mask or whatever is totally crazy-town. Babyish masks from Kose are a good fit, as you get a bunch of masks in one packet (vs. individually wrapped), which is also quite attractive if you are a bit of a hippie like I am. I find Babyish to be a lot more moisturizing and beneficial than the Lululun ones, despite  them being marketed as a product good for the under-30 set (which I am, sadly, definitely nowhere near anymore).

japanese skincare
You know this was going to be here …

Finally … you know this was going to be here. There are a zillion and one different exfoliating gels out there, from all over the globe. This is a cult classic for a reason. See my review on Cure gel here, and the budget friendly dupe from Daiso here.

Following are some potentially affiliate links to the Japanese skincare products mentioned, if you are shopping Amazon from outside of Japan and looking for this shit.

 

japanese skincare
The best of the best Japanese skincare products on Amazon

Placenta & CoQ10 Lotion: A Cheap Pick From the Japanese Drugstore

I picked this mondo (500 ml) NID Placenta and Coenzyme Q10 bottle of lotion at a local Drugstore Mori recently, made in Japan by SOC (Shibuya Oil Company). It cost about 600 yen, or $5 USD, and came in three varieties: Placenta, Hyaluronic Acid, and Collagen. All also include Coenzyme Q10. I was immediately drawn to the hyaluronic acid flavor, which was visibly depleted on the shelf, but on a whim decided on the (somewhat icky sounding) placenta variety.

placenta
My ginormous jug of placenta

First: the elephant in the room. The placenta extract is from animal sources, but … why? Purported benefits are increased moisturization, collagen synthesis, and brightening/skin tone evening (“whitening” in Asian cosmetics). In fact, I drink a tonic each night (not gin and tonic, unfortunately) from my kampo (Chinese medicine) pharmacist that has, among other things, collagen and placenta extract in it to support the skin.

Is it effective? Well, like a lot of stuff we smear on our face and stuff in our bodies, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of science-based evidence proving it works. And, like many Japanese products (well, beauty products in general, to be fair), even if it does, there’s no indicator of how much of this giant bottle of lotion is actual placenta extract. So, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. Though just a $5 crapshoot.

Placenta and CoQ10 Lotion: Feel and Results

This has a similar viscosity to Hada Labo’s hyaluronic acid power house lotion. Thick, transparent, and leaves a slightly tacky/sticky feeling on the face. I don’t notice any scent to it.

It sinks in pretty well, and pretty quickly. I didn’t notice any huge gains in anything; no brightening or crazy hydration increases. It just, was. Not bad; I could apply makeup and it never has reacted weird or balled up on me.

Would I re-buy?  Mmmm. Probably not. This is a good option if you’re on a very tight budget (on one of the Japanese review sites, a reviewer said she had switched to this from another product while saving for her wedding and said it was good for the price). I would personally just buy the $10ish dollar Hada Labo lotion and bite the bullet for a face moisturizing lotion.

placenta
Or you can be super, er, thrifty and make your own sheet mask using bulk dry sheet masks from Daiso. But not these ones. These ones suck.

BUT–this isn’t a bad product. You can use it with the dry sheet masks you can buy at Daiso to make your own DIY sheet masks (for pennies), a good option for those on a budget or somebody throwing a slumber or spa party. This lotion is fine for me when I apply it to my face normally, but stung like some snail mucin sheet masks I bought in Taipei a while back when I used it in a sheet mask. FYI, Daiso sells a lot of different dry sheet masks. Don’t buy the ones in the picture. They’re just awful.

For me, what this product is the bomb.com for to use in lieu of water for powdered face washes and masks–by using a lotion like this, you are just increasing the nutrient density of these products, versus diluting them if you were to use plain tap water. Did you ever watch the Rachel Ray 30 minute meals cooking show? No? Well, she always said to add flavor at every possible opportunity, so instead of water into a savory dish she would always use stock. This is the same concept, except you don’t get to eat it after. I use it in my Amore Pacific enzyme peel and it works pretty damn awesome.

The Japanese language Cosme beauty reviewing website had just a few reviews on this, and most were good, praising the product’s solid performance for price and you can use it freely without worrying about wasting something more precious. The hyaluronic acid variety had many more reviews and 5/6 stars, so it may be the one to buy if you want to try this out. You should be able to find this product at most larger drugstores or Don Quixote in Japan; I haven’t seen it at my local grocery store or convenience store.

placenta

 

Klavuu Review: Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam

One of the (full size!) goodies from my Klog Box from Soko Glam this month was a tube of Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam. Made in Korea, this tube retails on that site for $30 USD, which seems to be an average going price in the US (like many things, with K-beauty outside of Korea it pays to shop around). Like many products SG sells, this one is currently on trend in Korea, even being featured in Vogue.   So, without further adieu, and since I couldn’t find a Klavuu review when searching, my Klavuu review on the Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam.

Klavuu Review
Isn’t the packaging so fresh and so clean?

Scent: It’s lightly scented (fragrance is listed in the ingredients), and I personally really enjoy the scent. It’s a lovely (not artificial-smelling) sweet honey-like scent mixed with a powdery freshness. I don’t know, I’ve never smelled anything like it, but I enjoy it.

Klavuu review
Dense. Super dense.

Appearance: It comes out of the tube very thick and creamy looking, with a beautiful pearlescent sheen to it when you look closely (it has pearl as one of its active ingredients, hence the (crazy-long) name of the product. A little goes a long way, it has good slip and spreads easily and creamy over the face. As you work it with your fingers (and especially if you use a tool like a foreo or clarisonic or the like), it creates a dense foam. If you like foaming cleansers, I think you will enjoy this.

Claims: This creamy cleansing foam features over 30 natural plant extracts to help remove all remaining traces of makeup and dissolve impurities your oil cleanser may have missed. Pearl extract brightens and provides anti-aging benefits while seaweed and algae extract boosts hydration. A delightfully light and soft lather for a luxurious cleansing experience. (from the Soko Glam website) 

My Klavuu review:

First, I will be straight up with you: I don’t typically like to spend much on cleansers because, well, they aren’t on my face very long. I don’t think it’s a good place to plunk down the bulk of your beauty budget, whatever it may be. Though I do agree with many people, particularly in the Asian beauty community, that proper and thorough cleansing can solve many of your skincare dilemmas.

The pH of this cleanser is 7. This sounds perfect, right? Well, for some lucky and perfect skinned people, their skin can tolerate damn near anything. But, there’s a good bit of research out there now that an acidic cleanser maintains the skin’s acid mantle (the skin naturally sits a little acidic), so it’s less likely to “strip” your skin and leave it feeling tight after washing. Also, acne doesn’t grow as well at acidic pH. If you’re curious about pH, Goals to Get Glowing is a bit of a genius on skincare pH.

Klavuu Review
Super dense foam; if you use a cleaning device it’s even denser.

This cleanser is plush as hell; I don’t usually use a foaming cleanser, and this one’s foam is dense and luxe. You could sit and wash all day and never run out of bubbles (or so I would imagine). My own face feels ever-so-slightly tight after using it. If I wash and move straight to a toner, I don’t notice it, but if my skin gets a good dry down (if you use retinol, this is often recommended to reduce irritation), things start feeling a bit too small.

Klavuu Review: My thoughts

This cleanser is totally different from anything I usually purchase, or would have picked on my own. I love the smell. I love seeing the pearlescent color of the cream as I work it in my hands. If you perused the ingredient list, you saw that there’s a laundry list of skin-soothing botanicals at the ready to make your face glow.

Would I repurchase? Probably no. I will enjoy this bottle, and I expect it will last a very long time, as a little really does go a long way. But, for the tightness I get afterwards (likely from the pH), and the price point, at this point I just personally don’t think I will reap the rewards it may offer another user. The reviewer on the Klog, where I bought this from, mentioned the pH and said for her, it wasn’t an issue at all, so like with everything, mileage will vary.

Overall, I think this is a lovely sensory experience and an effective cleanser (I use it after oil cleansing to be totally up front). For me, I get a bit of skin tightness after which doesn’t make me want to spend $30 USD for another bottle when it’s done, BUT it’s not a deal breaker that will keep me from enjoying the bottle.

Have you tried this cleanser? Or anything else from Klavuu? It’s hard to find many English language Klavuu reviews online. I’m curious to hear more reviews on the brand, as this is the first thing I’ve tried from them.

Klavuu Review

A Quality Skincare Routine from the Convenience Store: In Japan, It’s Totally Possible

If you’ve been to Japan, and particularly if you have been lucky enough to live here, you know about the magical outposts on every corner known as konbinis, or the convenience store to us gaijins. Whether Family Mart, Lawson, 7-11, Coco, et. al., you can do damn near anything from a Japanese convenience store. Send mail, pick up an amazon package, forward your luggage, buy tickets or sign up for a race … that’s in addition to the myriad of (useful) products and (tasty and fresh) foods they also sell (for a pretty reasonable price). These are not the convenience stores of the west. In Japan, there’s (quality) convenience store skincare.

What was shocking to me, a frequent shopper and admirer of the konbini, is the quality and selection of skincare items available at my local, humble Family Mart. Honestly, I don’t know why I was surprised. Silliness. So many well-loved cult classics in the west, ordered and hoarded by lovers of Japanese skincare, are literally on every corner here.

So, if you find yourself in Japan sans any elements of your skincare routine, here’s my recommendation (based on my closest Family Mart) for a pretty solid routine, from start to finish.

Convenience Store Skincare: Cleanse
Convenience store skincare
Step One: Oil Cleanser (I know you’re eyeing the hado labo hanging out there)

Step One: Oil Cleanse, Biore Perfect Oil, 1274 yen (including tax), or roughly $10 USD. This was a tough choice, as there were two great drugstore options at my konbini. I sided with Biore here. This product is definitely a little lower priced at other stores, but it’s a solid oil cleanser.

Convenience Store Skincare
It’s Muji! At the corner store!

Step Two: Second Cleanse, Muji Mild Cleansing Gel, price not labeled (it sells for 780 yen (roughly $6.25 USD) before tax at Muji, so it likely sells for that at FM too since the package is labeled as such). YES, Muji is sold at Family Mart. Like, every Family Mart. I told you konbinis were magical! (I have it on excellent authority that 7-11 on mainland Japan has its own exclusive line from Freshel). And you can see in the picture how the Biore cleansing oil was a tough choice, as Muji also has one (and has a travel size, if you don’t want to buy a huge jug while traveling).

Convenience Store Skincare: Tone and Treat

 

Convenience Store Skincare
Look … just look at it all …

Step Three: Toner, Muji Light Toning Water (High Moisture), price also not labeled (1,200 yen before tax, or $10 USD). Um, I love this stuff. It’s not sexy or fantastical (I mean, neither is Muji), but it’s a good, solid moisturizing toner and I use it everyday. And you can buy it at Family Mart!

Convenience store skincare
Yep, this picture again. But now, it’s totally not ADHD of you to be eyeballing the Hada Labo. Go ahead. Ogle away.

Step Four: Essence/Serum/Treat, Hada Labo Gokujyun lotion, 838 yen ($7 USD) with tax. There aren’t a lot of fancy, well, anything, at the convenience store, but this is a cult classic workhorse featuring super-humectant hyaluronic acid (I reviewed it’s premium variety here). Tap in a thin layer and move on to your last step.

Moisturizer and Sunscreen

If I’ve got a good moisturizing situation going on (like with the Muji toner and Hada Labo lotion), in super-humid Asia I often will skip a moisturizer and use just sunscreen (my local Family Mart did have moisturizers, but I skipped over to SPF).

Since it’s winter (ok, “winter”) in the subtropics, my convenience store didn’t have much of a selection of sunscreen. Typically they all carry (everyone’s favorite) Biore Watery Essence Gel and others, but today, this is all I found.

Convenience Store Skincare
I don’t know how much you cost, but I see FOUR plusses after the Pa … don’t let me down, rando sunblock.

It’s a full SPF 50 (sunscreen here typically aren’t advertised above 50 factor, as the amount of protection you get beyond even 30 factor is minimal) and PA ++++, the highest UVA rating available in Japan so … I haven’t tried this, but when you’re in a bind … try it out! Price was also not listed (apparently my local shop is a little lax on things), but likely under 1000 yen ($8 USD).

Convenience Store Skincare: Extras

Did I mention Japanese convenience stores have everything? Collagen is just making the rounds in the U.S. as a miracle skin, joint, everything cure, but that’s old news in Japan. Forgot your collagen supplement? Or just want a boost after a long, dry flight (or long run)? The konbini has you covered in the energy/vitamin drink section too:

Convenience Store Beauty
Beauty is just one tiny drink away …

So yes. You CAN cobble together a skincare routine even the most jaded Asian beauty aficionado could appreciate from the lowly convenience store (and this is just a neighborhood store; you should see the Lawson Natural stores!). At least in Japan.

**the following are affiliate links, which don’t cost you anything to purchase from**



Nordstrom Beauty Sale

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s Nordstrom beauty sale time; they’re price matching a LOT of products and brands including Laura Mercier, SK-II, Urban Decay, Dior, Shiseido (unfortunately not the product I reviewed yesterday), Origins, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Beauty Blender, MAC, Philosophy, Smashbox … you get the drift. A brief highlight reel of the 42 sale pages (42!!!):

Anastasia Brow Wiz $17.85 (15% off)

Mac Face & Body $23.80 (15% off)

Mac Pro Long Wear Concealer $18.70 (15% off)

All of the large Urban Decay Naked palettes $45.90 (15% off)

Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer $13.60-33.15 (15% off)

**note: this post contains affiliate links**

We’re price matching! Select beauty now 15% off at NORDSTROM. FREE Shipping. FREE Returns.

I like Nordstrom because a. they offer free shipping and returns, at any price point (no minimum order). They ship quickly to not just the lower 48 but to Alaska, Hawaii and APO/FPO addresses. They are awesome about returns and customer service issues. And no, they definitely didn’t pay me to say that.

Also, beauty purchases right now from the Nordstrom beauty sale come with three free samples.