In the past year, I’m pretty sure I’ve reattributed all the time I used to spend doing my natural hair to skincare. I’ve been obsessed with finding the right skincare ingredients for my skincare needs (combination skin with hormonal acne), so while I was in Tokyo, I researched and purchased seven Japanese skincare products that I’ve incorporated into my morning and evening skincare routine. From what I read, skincare in Japan is focused on two things: hydration and brightening, so many of these products focus on one or both of those goals. I have combination skin – it’s normal to dry but also prone to breakouts in the middle of my cycle – and my main skincare concern is reducing hyperpigmentation from past breakouts. Now many of these products are not paraben-free, so if that’s important to you, then make sure you double check the product ingredients before purchasing (this site had all the ingredients translated). You don’t have to go all the way to Japan to buy any of these; lucky for you, they’re all available on Amazon!
Double cleansing in an important aspect of many Asian skincare routines, because most cleansers don’t adequately break down makeup and wipes often leave makeup behind. The DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is one of the most popular Japanese skincare products and is readily available in their drugstores. It’s a paraben, fragrance, and mineral oil free olive oil based cleanser that completely removes makeup and impurities from skin. I use it at nighttime on days I wear makeup to get it all off, so that my main cleanser can actually reach my pores.
I travel quite a bit, so I was excited to pick up the Suisai Beauty Clear Powder face wash which is a powder cleanser that comes in small travel friendly pods. You just dump a pod out into your hand (I usually dump out half at first), add water, and then cleanse your skin. The enzyme-activated formula whisks away impurities and unclogs pores as it protects the skin’s natural moisture. It does contain parabens but it’s redeeming quality is that it has lactic acid, the gentle AHA & star ingredient of one of my favorite skincare products ever.
The Cure Natural Aqua Peeling Gel is one of the most popular Japanese skincare products – they say a bottle sells every 12 seconds. I actually spent 10 minutes looking around for it at Ainz and Tulpe (where I bought all these products) because all the bottles I came across were empty. Turns out you’re supposed to take an empty bottle to the cash register and they’ll exchange it with a full one – so I guess folks are pressed about people stealing this product! Anyway, this is a water based exfoliator with glycerin and aloe vera so it’s incredibly hydrating. Once you rub it into your dry skin, the product starts to pill and pulls off dead skin cells with it. Its recommended to be used twice a week, but I like to use this once a week and a glycolic acid peel once a week.[pipdig_banner image=”https://www.ijeomakola.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Japanese-Skincare-Haul-Products-2.jpg”]
When I showed my bathroom vanity on IG stories recently, I got a couple of questions about this “toner”. Unlike in America where many toners contain alcohol, Japanese “toners” are called lotions and their primary purpose is to rehydrate the skin. This one is alcohol free (though it contains parabens) and has sake and kojic acid which help to brighten the skin and reduce dark spots. Since the bottle is so big, I apply this with a cotton pad both morning and night after cleansing and it helps replump my skin. Another way to use it is to take a paper towel or two and soak them with this lotion, then apply to your skin for a DIY sheet mask. It smells a bit funny if you’re unfamiliar with the smell of sake, but it’s not unbearable!
Hado Labo is probably the most well known Japanese skincare brand in the states (of the affordable variety – I’d say Shisheido is the most well known luxury brand) so I had to try one of their products. There’s a lot of hype online around the Hado Labo Gokujyun Lotion, but the Shirojyun line has the same moisturizing benefits (it contains hyaluronic acid) but also has ingredients that brighten and address dark spots like Vitamin C and arupuchin, which suppresses melanin production. This does contain parabens, but I made an exception because I’m really trying to fade these dark spots quickly and folks said this really helps! I use this at night in addition to the Kiku Masamune but I apply directly with my hands instead of with a cotton pad.
When I read about this super concentrated vitamin C serum, I knew I had to purchase it. Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients to incorporate into your skincare routine to fade dark spots, it’s nature’s brightener (this is why people suggest putting lemon on your dark spots… but that’s irritating)! The Rohto Melano CC serum’s small applicator makes it great for targeting specific areas and its drop packaging keeps the vitamin C from oxidizing or requiring refrigeration. that I use day and night on my dark spots. Rohto is actually the same company behind Hado Labo, but this product is paraben free and is the number #1 thing I would recommend for addressing dark spots (in addition to wearing sunscreen everyday!).
An emulsion is a highly concentrated moisturizer, so I use this Kose Sekkisai Emulsion before my SPF moisturizer in the morning and alone in the summer at night. Immediately after I use this, my skin GLOWS honey. Like radiates. It’s the priciest Japanese skincare product that I picked up but it is worth every cent. Plus it contains Vitamin C so it helps brighten the skin and fade dark spots! The Sekkisai line is promoted for “skin whitening” which I KNOW, I KNOW is SO problematic as a proud black woman but for some context, the “whitening” tagline that Japanese skincare is not at all related to skin bleaching, but rather refers to any product that evens skin tone and brightens dark spots. Problematic marketing, but effective ingredients, so I use it.
If you want to see exactly how I use each of these Japanese skincare products in my routine, check out this YouTube video!