10 Best Japanese Skincare Brands
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Searching For The Best Japanese Skincare Brands
The history behind Japanese skincare is both beautiful and modest. Flawless, light skin is perhaps its defining feature, one that dates back to the Nara Period (710-784 C.E.) when women would privately paint their faces with white powder.
The best Japanese skincare brands have received a bit of an update since then, and here, you’ll get to know what makes them so well-loved.
Today’s Japanese skincare routines are, of course, more modern, but they have strains of old traditions. Namely, that beautiful skin is a top priority. That’s why all of the best Japanese skincare brands focus on brightening, nourishing, and moisturizing skin through natural, clean ingredients. Read on to discover more.
10 Best Japanese Skincare Brands
Tatcha was founded in 2009 by Vicky Tsai, who, after experiencing some wellness rituals in Japan, felt completely changed. She started Tatcha with the intent to focus on making skincare an experience, fusing ingredients that are good for your body and soul with mindful practices.
More so about creating rituals, Tatcha recommends routines rather than one-off products, and often, their formulas serve double to triple duty to keep your routines as simple as possible.
Linking the “mind-skin” connection, the brand creates formulas to stimulate your senses like pearls, silk, and real gold. Of course, you’ll find nutrient-packed ingredients in the line as well, from green tea to red algae.
Offering lines for moisturizing, brightening, calming, clarifying, and aging, Tatcha has a full range of Japanese skincare products, including cleansing oils, essences, and brightening eye creams. Serums cost between $88-$120, while you can grab a cleanser for $36-$65.
- Natural ingredients
- Great range of cleansers, serums, and creams
- Made with luxury ingredients
- For all skin types & concerns
- Mindful formulas & routines
- Allure Best of Beauty winner
DHC stands for the Daigaku Honyaku Center. Created in 1972 by Yoshiaki Yoshida, the brand focuses on simple, effective products.
While browsing its line of traditional Japanese beauty products, you’ll notice that many of the formulas have either more than one purpose (double cleansers) or are incredibly pure (just one ingredient).
DHC’s signature product is its Deep Cleansing Oil which contains 100% pure virgin olive oil. In fact, olive oil is the base of the majority of their formulas.
This brand recommends a simple four-step routine: Double Cleanse, Double Moisture. Its products are also more affordable than some other names on my list of best Japanese skincare brands.
With a clean and natural approach to skincare, DHC’s formulas are all made with natural ingredients. Cleansers are $20, eye cream is $35, and potent moisturizers are $50.
- High-quality, natural ingredients
- Simple formulas
- Virgin olive oil as a base
- Easy, 4-step routine
- More affordable
3. Beauty Pie: japanfusion™
Beauty Pie doesn’t technically have Japanese roots, but it makes some awesome products I had to include on my list of best Japanese skincare brands. Plus, all of the japanfusion™ line is made in Japan, so despite this brand originating in the UK, it has authentic Japanese products.
Founded by beauty pro Marcia Kilgore in 2016, Beauty Pie offers products through a membership, giving you your favorite products for a fraction of their normal cost every month. That’s why the award-winning Genius Lift Elixir is available for just $14 instead of $47.
I love this line because it’s suitable for all skin types. With light and lovely products, there’s a focus on feeding and hydrating your skin within this collection.
Expect products like the Bio Ceramide Moisture Mask made with grape extract and yuzu ceramides and the 10-Minute Miracle Sheet Mask that get you fresh skin in a pinch.
- Vogue Beauty Awards winner
- Great for all skin types
- Exclusive luxury beauty club
- Made in Japan
- Luxury ingredients
Dam Dam is said to be Japan’s first clean skincare brand, offering a fresh range of products you’ll likely pile into your cart. Using “time-honored plant ingredients,” the brand, which was founded by Giselle Go and Philippe Terrien, aims to connect people with nature. They do this by using 100% natural and sustainable ingredients in their formulas.
Though the brand’s line is simple, it’s impactful, but more so it’s effective in a way that won’t irritate. Approved for sensitive skin, Dam Dam products deliver a weightless feel and nourish your skin. Creating a ritual around skincare, this brand is a must-have in your beauty bag.
The collection includes cleansing oils, a mask, face creams, an essence, and a serum. Prices range from $30-$45.
- 100% natural ingredients
- Traditional Japanese formulas
- Sustainable harvesting
- Affordable prices
- Made in Japan
If you aren’t familiar with any of the other names on my list of best Japanese skincare brands, you’ll likely have heard of Shiseido. A power player in Japanese beauty, this iconic brand has been around since 1872. It was founded by Arinobu Fukuhara, a pharmacist, who wanted to help Japanese people heal through herbal medicine.
That’s why you’ll find a spectrum of traditional plants within this brand’s formulas, though their collection has been brought up to date for modern needs and products contain a few more science-backed complexes than they would have 150 years ago.
Expect a massive selection of skin and suncare products from Shiseido, from cleansers and oils to mists and masks. Unlike many of the other names on my list of best Japanese skincare brands, Shiseido has products for all types of concerns. You can shop within your skin type or buy products designed for aging, dark spots, oil control, and firming.
Prices vary a lot as well. The Quick Gentle Cleanser is $29 while the Total Protection Emulsion SPF is $270.
- Luxury Japanese skincare
- Made in Japan
- Wide range of products
- For all skin types & concerns
- Botanical ingredients
With a history in the cotton industry, Kanebo has been dedicated to making women feel and look their best. Founded in 1961, the brand’s skincare products provide a sensory experience, from their formulas to their packaging.
Offering a full but simple range of skincare from cleansers to day and night cream, I love their sleek black packaging that would look good on any bathroom counter. The face wash is $65 and the beauty lotion is $73.
- Sensory experience
- A small range of skincare
- DNA-repairing formulas
- Made with eco-friendly materials
Nabbing awards from Glamour, Bazaar, Byrdie, and the like, SK-II has four core skincare lines that focus on brightening and anti-aging. Using potent luxury ingredients, the brand was founded in 1980 by Calvin Ng. Interestingly, Ng used a compound found in yeast as the star in all of his brand’s formulas.
A results-driven brand, prices start at $76 for treatment lotion and go up to $385 for renewal creams.
- Luxury skincare
- Potent, science-backed ingredients
- Four core lines
Launched in 1985, Sekkisei is a herbal skincare brand known for its moisturizing, brightening products. Researching 100+ Japanese and Chinese botanicals and herbs, their power-packed formulas are also divided up into four core lines.
Bottled into regal-looking blue bottles with gold accents, this potent line is ideal for aging skin. Grab a bottle of Lotion Excellent for $65 or cream for $50.
- Partnered with the Coral Reef Alliance
- Science-backed ingredients
- Great for aging skin
- Brightening, moisturizing
If it’s fresh, hydrated skin you’re after, you might want to check in with Minon’s collection of amino-packed skincare. Ideal for those with dry skin, this compact line includes cleansers, lotions, and milk to nourish and care for your skin.
Founded in 1973 by the Daiichi Sankyo Company Limited, Minon’s products are perhaps the most affordable on this list. The Amino Moist Milk clocks in at about $20 for a 50-day supply.
- Great for dry skin
- Hydrating & nourishing ingredients
- Line of cleansers & moisturizers
10. Shu Uemura
Founded by renowned makeup artist Mr. Shu Uemura, it’s no wonder his namesake skincare line is focused on cleansing oils and makeup-fixing mist. I’m in love with his brightly colored bottles, but more so the gentle plant extracts that each formula uses.
Ideal for sensitive skin, they work to restore your skin’s natural elasticity. A bottle of antioxidant cleansing oil is $15-$87.
- Gentle & balanced formulas
- Made with plant extracts
- Wide range of cleansing oils
- Ideal for aging skin
Which Brand of Japanese Skincare is the Best?
That’s a tough question because this is a list of the best Japanese skincare brands and they all bring something pretty awesome to the table. After evaluating each of the brands for variety, ingredients, authenticity, sustainability, and price, I’d have to go with Dam Dam.
I really like that this brand emphasizes slowing down and creating routines while paying homage to Japanese traditions and ingredients. Their ingredients are 100% natural and sustainably harvested. While its lineup isn’t the largest one here, it includes all of the essentials to help you create your own effective regimen.
What Are The 5 Japanese Skincare Products Everyone Should Have?
Unlike Korean skincare, Japanese routines don’t have a mandatory 12 steps, but still, there are some you should definitely have in your beauty bag:
- Oil cleanser
- Brightening serum
- Brightening eye cream
- Pore minimizing sunscreen
Japanese skincare is all about bright, matte skin so if you want to follow this trend, stay away from products that will give you dewy skin.
How Do I Pick a Good Japanese Skincare?
Navigating the realm of Japanese skincare can be tricky. How much do you need? Should you really spend this much on a cleanser? Thankfully, there are a ton of options which means it’s easy to find the right balance. I’ll walk you through some important points you should consider getting started.
It’s a lot easier to settle on a brand when you know its reputation. One that has thousands of 5-star reviews is great, but not every brand asks for reviews on its website.
When selecting a brand, I suggest looking into what makes the company what it is. Is it committed to natural ingredients? How about sustainability? If its values match yours, you’ll likely be pleased with its products.
Japanese skincare products are usually very gentle. Often made for sensitive skin, many of them still make a range of products for different skin types like oily, dry, or combination skin. Be sure a brand stocks your skin type to avoid products that don’t mesh well with your skin.
Some formulas are stronger than others. You might notice that certain products have 10% of your daily value of vitamin C while others have 15%.
Stronger doesn’t always mean better but in the example of hyperpigmentation, stronger vitamin C doses may mean the formula negates darker pigmentation more effectively. Compare formulas and find the one that fits your needs.
No matter what kind of skincare product you buy, you should always do a patch test. Skin sensitivities and allergies vary, so it’s a good idea to try out your next product on your arm and wait 24 hours before slathering it all over your face.
Know Your Needs
Knowing your needs is the key to finding what you need. Just like how grocery shopping without meals in mind means you’ll bring home a lot of random items when shopping for skincare, you may end up ordering something that isn’t right for your skin.
For example, anti-aging serums are great, but if you have acne and wrinkles, some combine ingredients for a double-pronged approach.
Japanese skincare is often thoughtfully made, which means certain brands factor in the sustainability of their ingredients. If this matters to you, be sure to suss out brands that choose ingredients that don’t stress out the environment, have recyclable or no plastic packaging, and offer carbon-neutral shipping.
There’s no point in buying expensive skincare if you can’t keep up with the cost month to month. You’ll likely be continuing your regimen for, let’s be honest, years, so it makes sense to go for a brand with pricing that fits your budget.
Pro tip: Some bottles last one month, while others can last up three, so make sure to factor that in when comparing prices.
What are the most important parts of a Japanese skincare routine?
Japanese skincare routines can be long. One might argue that each step is as important as the next, but the general aim of their regimens is all about hydration.
To hydrate your skin effectively, whether you go for the full routine or not, you should never miss out on these steps of the process:
- Makeup removal
How can I avoid wrinkles with Japanese skincare?
While this beauty rule should be followed no matter which skincare routine you have, Japanese skincare experts say it’s the most critical to avoiding wrinkles: cleansing your skin before bed.
It applies to those who do and don’t wear makeup and is followed up by a serum and PM moisturizer. Since hydrated skin doesn’t crease as harshly, having a moisturized face means your skin will resist wrinkles while you sleep instead of getting all creased up on your pillow.
Does Japanese skincare prevent aging skin?
Aging skin happens for a few reasons. One of them is lower collagen production while another is dryness. Japanese skincare takes care of these two issues. Many Japanese skincare products are made with collagen and the entire routine is dedicated to hydrating your skin.
How do I know if a Japanese skincare product is right for me?
Shopping for products within your skin type is a great start. If you have oily skin, chances are you won’t find your perfect fit within a “dry skin” lineup. Many of the best Japanese skincare brands have quizzes on their websites or live chats and consultations to help you find your ideal product.
Once you order and receive it, the best way to see if it’s right for you is to do a test patch. Here’s how to do one:
- Apply the product to your inner forearm
- Let it stay on for the duration it normally would (cleanser: 5 minutes, moisturizer: all day, etc.)
- Repeat for 7-10 days
Some beauty brands say 24-48 hours is enough time to tell if you’re in the clear, but skin irritation may take longer to show up. If you have sensitive skin, 7-10 days is recommended.
Is Japanese skincare good?
Japanese skincare has a great reputation because Japanese people have such beautiful skin. But just like any skincare line, formulas and ingredients vary, and some brands are more effective, clean, natural, and gentle than others.
How do I find out my skin type?
There are 5 main different skin types and finding out which one you are is key to buying the right products. The most common (and straightforward) way to find out your skin type is by doing the cleansing test.
To do so, simply wash your face and observe what happens after 30 minutes:
- Your entire face becomes shiny: Oily
- Your skin is tight and uncomfortable: Dry
- You have shine in one area: Combination
- Your skin feels comfortable: Normal
You could notice any of the above if you have Sensitive skin. This category is more so defined by how your skin reacts to certain ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, you likely will experience redness, rash, or breakouts after using specific products.
What’s a Japanese skincare routine?
Japanese skincare routines are all about hydration. They involve cleansing your skin and moisturizing it thoroughly. In this particular type of beauty regimen, you’ll often see double cleansing and double moisturizing, sprinkled with SPF, essences, serums, and scrubs in between.
An example plan may look like this:
- Makeup Remover
- Oil Cleanser
- Bubble Cleanser/Exfoliator
- Eye Cream
- AM/PM Moisturizer
What’s a good Japanese skincare brand to try for beginners?
Japanese skincare is simpler than Korean skincare, but it can be intimidating for those new to the routine. If you are, you’ll likely want to choose one of the best Japanese skincare brands that offer minimalized formulas or those that act as a 2-in-1. For that, I like Tatcha or DHC.
Hopping aboard the Japanese skincare trend can be intimidating, but I promise you it’s so, so worth it. Whether you’re adopting a lengthy routine or looking to try out a product or two, I hope you found what you were looking for in my list of the best Japanese skincare brands.
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