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
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.
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
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!
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.
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:
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.
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