I remember the morning while I was sipping on my morning coffee and stumble upon several articles about South Korean and Japanese beauty. Beauty editors travelling to Asia to discover the latest trends in beauty and makeup. In that moment I knew in my gut that K-Beauty and J-Beauty would take over the world, and I would devour every article that I could find online at that time. When I went to Japan the first time, I armed myself with patience and a long list of must-have products (and their pictures).
Once arrived there, I started scanning each and every shelf in Matsumoto Kiyoshi, a Japanese drugstore chain. It wasn’t possible to get everything in once go. Some shops wouldn’t stock everything, sometimes I did not have the time in between sightseeing. Even during my last trip, even if I had a list, I ended up forgetting to get certain products. I came back home with kilograms of beauty products and yet, I’m still finding myself buying online stuff I forgot to get (alas, at a higher price, but that’s how desperate I am).
I did manage to not forget to get my hands on products that are the cheapest in Japan and nowhere else, and thus would save me some serious cash.
Cure Aqua Gel
This has got to be the number 1 Japanese beauty product. One bottle is sold every 4.5 seconds. Why? This gentle water-based exfoliant gets rid of your dead skin and leaves you with soft pure baby skin. Use a few pumps of this to massage your face and you will notice your dead skin slowly being removed – painlessly and gently! This is a purchase that I did only in Japan, where it was around 20 EUR for a bottle (compared to at least 30EUR online).
DHC deep cleansing oil
I somehow skipped on this the first time around. I thought that it was too expensive, and ‘what am I gonna do with oil??’. I decided to give cleansing oils a try, so I first tested a Sephora one (which honestly did the job for the price). Then I levelled up to DHC, by buying a small version (70ml) of it.
But it was quite expensive – the small bottle of DHC deep cleansing oil (70ml) was 17EUR (roughly 18$), with the 200ml version costing double. As soon as I saw the 200ml bottle at less than 20EUR, in a drugstore in Hong Kong, I got my hands on it and never looked back.
The DHL cleansing oil is quite amazing, especially for removing any kind of makeup. I use it by pumping a few times on my wet hands and massaging my face. If you are removing make-up, I recommend following up with a face gel or foam. I also use it sometimes as a face cleanser, and make sure to thoroughly rinse with water.
Shiseido ‘Perfect Whip’
Perfect Whip is a face foam that you can use after the DHC cleansing oil. Just a pea-sized amount can produce so much foam and cleans your skin deeply. I loved it, even if I found it a bit too harsh on my skin – I switched to the Collagen version, which was kinder.
Kao MegRythm Steam Warm Eye Mask
I got these steam eye masks the first time in Japan and then again the second time. Last week I ordered extra ones online. They are basically eye masks that heat up as soon as you open the pack. For 15-20 minutes, they stay super warm and are perfect for relaxing. I love putting them on nights when I cannot fall asleep and are amazing on flights too.
Kiss Me Heroine mascaras
Kiss Me Heroine is another cult brand whose mascaras you have to get your hands on. I found their mascaras to not curl my eyelashes by itself. But, if I use a curler before applying it, my eyelashes will stay curled for hours and hours. On top of that, it was also waterproof, so nothing was in the way of me having flawless eyelashes.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
I tried the SK-II Essence twice before committing to the big bottle version. But paying 20EUR for a tin 30ml bottle was a lot. Buying the big bottle online was also a lot, and so much more expensive than in Japan. Even if I still paid for it 100E, it was the cheapest I could ever get (I got to that price after a discount and not paying taxes as s tourist). Wherever I would look online, it would be at least 50% more. This essence is light and hydrating, thanks to Pitera, an ingredient derived from yeast. I apply a few drops to my hands and then gently press it onto my face.
Lululun Face Masks
If you wanna get into sheet masks, Lululun is the brand to start with. I remember purchasing a small 7 pack to test it out. I loved it and whenever I get the chance, I buy them both in big pack and small pack versions (especially when they have special editions!)
Rohto Lycée eye drops
I had been hunting for the Rohto Lycée eye drops for days until I found them. And I was confused and randomly grabbed the ‘normal’ version. Only to arrive home and realise that they are not meant to be used at the same time as contact lenses. Annoyance ensued – I ended up using them only at night, or in the morning. I got over my dumb self, and 2 weeks ago I ordered from Ichibankao, the version for contact lenses. If you get these, make sure you read (or Google translate) everything on the box. That’s how I found out, before using them, that they are supposed to be minty. So you don’t freak out that your eyes feel extra fresh.
This exfoliating Baby Foot mask does exactly what it promises – giving you baby feet, soft as hell. These foot mask contains glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids and helps get rid of all the dead skin. After wearing them for one hour, make sure to soak your feet for 10 minutes every day afterward, and not apply any cream at all. You will be shedding skin like a snake in no time, and get the softest feet ever. It is quite an investment (around 15EUR for a pair), but I promise that it’s worth it. I have tried other similar exfoliating masks from other brands, but nothing compares to Baby Foot!