There’s a ritual-like method to many Japanese beauty products that make them hard to resist. Whether it’s a skin-boosting serum or sleep-inducing mask, the best of them instill a feeling of calm, while delivering effective results.
It comes as no surprise therefore, that the Japanese beauty industry has been enjoying a global moment! The best news? Their popularity means that they’re now some of the internet’s biggest sellers – so even if you’re not visiting Japan anytime soon you can still get your hands on them.
Containing stabilised enzymes (which are much gentler but just as effective as the AHAs beloved by so many Western brands) and tiny silk beads that act as manual exfoliators, this is a cleansing/exfoliating/moisture-boosting hybrid that really delivers. Massage onto clean, damp skin until all of the tiny silk beads have dissolved and leave on for one minute before rinsing. The result is smoother, clearer skin that doesn’t feel stripped or dry.
Essences have long been used in Japan and SK-II’s was one of the first products to garner an international following. Used after cleansing and before moisturising this essence promises (and delivers) a lot: firmer, smoother, clearer and more radiant skin that is more resilient to wrinkles. Its recipe has remained unchanged for 40 years with SKII’s trademarked Pitera working alongside vitamins, organic minerals and amino acids to clear long-clogged pores and boost skin health.
The global sheet mask obsession may well have been started by Lululun sheet masks, which have long been a bestseller in Japan. They come in a tissue like box and there are three types to choose from: Pink (for all skin-types), Blue (for dry skin) and White to brighten. Each mask is soaked in a cocktail of skin-perfecting ingredients that help to quench dry skin, boost firmness and radiance.
Google these and you’ll find page upon page of people extolling their foot-smoothing efficacy (and a good few who say that watching their feet peel isn’t for them). The premise is simple: pop these plastic booties on for an hour and then 5-10 days later your feet begin to shed a lifetime’s worth of dry skin (even if your feet feel relatively smooth). Your feet will look like new.
With their hot summers and drive to maintain an immaculate complexion, the Japanese know a thing or two about what makes a good sunscreen. This one (which is not to be confused with the Biore brand available elsewhere – Biore Japan is entirely different) is one of the most beloved. Usually high SPFs turn skin white in water or leave a slightly greasy residue but not Biore’s. Instead it feels like a lightweight gel thar dries like a primer and is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins.
Whether your eyes are sore from staring at screens all day, you’ve been fighting off a headache or you’re simply longing to relax, this product is the closest thing to bliss that we’ve found. Tear one open and these lavender-infused paper masks quickly warm up to a heavenly 40 degrees centigrade. Heat lasts for about 15 minutes so they are perfect for a quick break or you can use them last thing at night (many advocates swear they help them get to sleep faster).
The feline flick is ubiquitous in Japan, so it comes as no surprise that their best-selling liner is a must. Overcoming the all-too annoying tendency for liners to rub-off, this has a satisfyingly inky texture and easy to apply fine-tip brush. It dries quickly and does not budge, regardless of humidity, heat, water and even time.
A make-up artist favourite, these pocket-sized blushers are incredible. With a creamy texture that lasts throughout the day and a big range of colours (even the brightest ones are wearable) you’ll want to collect them all. Our favourites are the health-inducing hue of Apple Cream Red and the tan-enhancing peach of Cream Cheek.
The archetypal definition of a cult product: while it’s yet to really hit the mainstream in the West, those in the know (and there are millions of them) try it once and never look back. With an incredibly waterproof formula, it manages to curl, define and lengthen even the thinnest of lashes (without weighing them down). Our top tip? Get the brand’s make-up remover, which is the best thing we’ve found to get it off at night.
A native Londoner, Amy discovered her love for health & beauty while working at Harper’s Bazaar in New York before returning home to work for Conde Nast, Shortlist Media and Net-a-Porter. Eight years later, the mission remains the same: to discover the products and treatments that really work.