Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad

By Joan Coello

When it comes to product quality and innovation, Japanese makers are the cream of the crop, with exceptional achievements in the automobile and electronics sector. Apart from high-tech machinery, the Japanese also create beauty products of excellent quality and value, something that they’re rarely recognized for outside of Asia.

Beauty and fashion website, The Cut by New York magazine spills that makeup artists backstage at Fashion Week often use beauty tools and cosmetics from Japan. The Cut, together with Japanese makeup artist Maki Ryoke, shares seven Japanese drugstore beauty buys that even women in the West are in love with.

Walk into a drugstore in Japan and you’ll instantly be overwhelmed by the myriad of products available. New York based Japanese makeup artist Maki Ryoke explains that, “If a drugstore product is not good and cheap, it won’t survive. It’s a very severe market (in Japan). It’s the only place you can find high-quality makeup for super cheap”.

If you’ll excuse this writer’s humble opinion, drugstore makeup in Japan is by no means “super cheap”, but most of these affordable products function as well as (or in some cases even better than) high-end over-the-counter products. Here are the seven wonder products picked up by The Cut, together with some alternative brands derived from my experience using Japanese makeup items for over five years and two years of working at a company dealing with Japanese beauty products.

1. Fake eyelashes

Japanese women swear by false lashes to help complete their makeovers. I’ve even heard of girls wearing up to four pairs of fake lashes at once! Massive demand creates a highly competitive market for high quality eyelashes that are durable and comfortable to wear, yet very affordable. A typical drugstore in Japan can carry up to hundreds of fake eyelash designs, some of which are produced by popular Japanese fashion models and icons such as Tsubasa Masuwaka and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. No matter whether you like your lashes natural and sweet, or voluminous and dramatic, there’s bound to be a design that suits your look of the day.

2. Mascara

Many Japanese (as with many Asians) tend to have fine, short and straight lashes, so many women rely on mascara to give their lashes a boost, regardless of whether they’re wearing false eyelashes or not. Japanese mascaras generally have long-lasting hold even during humid summer months. Popular brands such as Imju and Fairydrops are more accessible in the States, but The Cut and Maki have picked Shiseido’s Integrate mascara as their favorite for its ability to make lashes appear “crazy, natural, long” with its non-clumping properties.

If you need something that is extremely waterproof, try the waterproof mascaras from Shiseido’s Majolica Majorca line. They’re so incredibly durable, you’ll need the brand’s very own eye makeup removing gel to remove it as regular makeup removers just don’t cut it.

Mascaras formulated with beauty serum in them are also immensely popular in Japan as they have moisturizing properties to gently care for your lashes while they look prep and pretty. Many of these mascaras are also formulated to come off under hot water (not boiling hot, of course!) so you can simply remove them while in the shower. Dejavu’s Fiberwig is a long-selling favorite, among other notable drugstore brands such as D.U.P, Leanani, and Little Witch’s Mote Mascara (a personal favorite).

3. Q-tips

Q-tips, otherwise known as cotton swabs or cotton buds, are a must-have in every household, be it for makeup application or for cleaning your ears. According to The Cut, Japanese Q-tips are finer, denser, and sturdier than American equivalents “which break in half and crumple any time you exert a little pressure”. It’s also nice to note that Japanese Q-tips come in various shapes for different uses, and in colors such as bright pink and black (perhaps to blend in with your room’s interior, or to hide the color of your earwax).

4. Cure Natural Aqua Gel

A water-based exfoliator that gently yet effectively exfoliates your skin, without the use of scrubbing beads or any of the like. Although this product’s formula consists of more than 90% water, its unique and gentle formula efficiently removes dead skin and impurities just by massaging a small amount of it over clean skin. It’s almost like magic. Cure Natural Aqua Gel has remained undefeated as Japan’s top-selling exfoliator for a few years running, and is currently winning over international users at an explosive rate. Customer reviews on Amazon have rated it a high score of 4.6 stars, with user reviews raving about its amazing results. Bigger brands such as DHC and ettusais have released similar products in Japan, but none of them have managed to surpass Cure Natural Aqua Gel in terms of popularity and sales.

5. Tsubaki shampoo and conditioner (Shiseido)

One of the characteristics that defines “Asian beauty” is a head of shiny, beautiful black hair. Tsubaki, which is Japanese for camellia, is formulated with camellia oil, an ingredient used in Japanese beauty routines since the olden times. Complete with beautiful packaging and a stellar line of celebrity endorsers, Tsubaki is the best-selling mass shampoo in Japan. Users love how the shampoo leaves their hair smooth, lustrous and frizz-free.

Other drugstore favorites inspired by the concept of “Asian beauty” include Kao’s Asience, formulated with oriental botanical ingredients, and Kracie’s Ichikami, which uses Japanese botanical ingredients including sakura (cherry blossoms) and rice extracts. The Ichikami line includes a silicone-free shampoo, which is said to be healthier for hair in the long run.

6. Deep Cleansing Oil (DHC)

When it comes to removing makeup, many women would probably agree that it is difficult to find a good makeup remover that is strong enough to remove even waterproof makeup, yet gentle on the skin and wallet. The Cut puts their vote on DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil, which is said to effectively yet gently remove makeup with “the lightest of touches”. The product boasts 2,000 five-star reviews on MakeupAlley, an American makeup review site.

Fancl’s Mild Cleansing Oil has a steady following of users who love it for its efficient cleansing powers despite its deceivingly light and smooth texture that is extremely gentle on skin. If price is an issue for you (Fancl’s product is slightly more expensive than DHC’s), the Deep Cleansing Oil by HIPITCH has been gaining good reviews among Japanese users for its cost-effective performance.

If you’re not into oil type cleansers, the Mandom’s Bifesta makeup removal solution is a must try! Its water-based formula quickly and effectively cleanses all traces of makeup without leaving any oily or stinging feeling. The series also has an eye makeup remover that promises to make removing long-wearing waterproof eye makeup a breeze.

7. Sekkisei emulsion (KOSÉ)]

Sekkisei is a skin care series well-received among Asians for its whitening properties. While Westerners may not be as crazy about skin brightening or whitening products, it seems the editors at The Cut have taken a liking to the texture of Sekkisei’s moisturizing emulsion. Formulated with five botanical extracts, the product appears as a milky lotion, but feels smooth and light when applied, melting into the skin for instant absorption. Popular Japanese blogger Madame Riri shares that perhaps moisturizers of such textures are uncommon among Western made products, hence its popularity among Americans.

Hada Labo’s skin care line formulated with hyaluronic acid has been a hot seller over the past couple of years, and is still going strong. The brand also has a whitening line for those who wish to have fairer skin.

If you’re not into the whole skin whitening trend, Minon’s Amino Moist series has been gaining popularity among Japanese ladies as of late. The brand’s Moist Charge Milk is said to be formulated with nine types of amino acids to provide optimal moisture, and is gentle enough for use on even sensitive skin.

It takes a fair bit of selflessness to share beauty secrets because by doing so, people who have benefited from these tips may end up looking more ravishing that you. Such a bummer! Nonetheless, we hope these tips on Japanese drugstore beauty secrets will come in handy! If you have any personal favorites to share, leave it in a comment below!

Sources: Madame Riri, The Cut, @Cosme

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Forget makeup or plastic surgery! This product is guaranteed to make you beautiful in an instant -- Who Needs Photoshop? Instantly Apply Makeup to Any Photo With This Amazing Camera! -- 11 unique experiences for tourists to Japan

However, although many drugstores carry Sekkisei products, the skin care series produced by one of Japan’s major cosmetic makers, KOSÉ, bears a slightly more hefty price tag than the average drugstore product.

© RocketNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Yes, Japan makes some good products because they put a lot of effort into research but the large Japanese cosmetics are still not very eco-friendly - I hope they will put more emphasis on creating a natural product line. If you know of any great eco-friendly products that work well, please share this as well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ergh, Tsubaki shampoo is cheap but made no good for my thin caucasian hair. Deep cleansing oil sold in Japan was no good either, and just stripped my skin of any moisture and left it dry and sensitive. Now I only use olive oil to remove any make-up (including eyes and lashes) and it works better than any other product.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There is so much conflicting information going around that it's hard to know what to think or who to believe when it comes to beauty products. I'm a believer in all natural health and beauty products since they are safer. Just make sure that you look through the ingredient list of your favorite product to get an idea for which ones are truly natural and which ones aren't. Purchasing and using all natural health and beauty products is an excellent way to do something great for ourselves and for the environment. What's great now is that some Japanese companies are using advanced nano-technology in developing cosmetics to change the ingredients into small molecules making it penetrate quicker and friendlier to the skin.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fake eyelashes? I saw a bin full of them on sale at DonQ for 30 yen a pair.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most of these hair and skin products are laden with ingredients which are either unnecessary, unhealthy, or ineffective fillers.

If you want an oil cleanser, buy a bottle of olive and/or grapeseed oil. Much cheaper, much better for you.

The aqua gel is just a scam - when you use it you're supposed to believe that the white lumps which gradually develop are exfoliated skin. Nonsense, it's just the gel itself forming those lumps.

Mascara - buy a basic mascara and replace it every couple of months.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fake eyelashes can be bought anywhere. However, they are simply not considered appropriate in many parts of the world. Meaning, if you can "spot" them, they're excessive for that situation. I've never noticed anyone wear them, besides Halloween, outside of Japan.

I'm currently using Japanese mascara, and it's ...OK. I really wish I'd known that "waterproof" is likely to be the default setting for it, though. Now I know why there's such a large market for cleaning oil. Alena and Maria are right; cosmetic cleaning oils are a scam. Either buy a proper makeup remover, or go cheap and gentle and buy extra virgin olive oil. I didn't believe it myself until I tried it, but THAT stuff really works! Holy cow.

Tsubaki smells nice, but fried my hair. My stylist told me that foreigners should be cautious with Asian hair products, as they can be rough on the hair and scalp. The hair strands of many east Asians are thicker, and can take more of a beating than my wimpy- wispies can.

I used to hate the idea of skin bleach, but as age and spots bear down on me, I wonder....maybe....Nah. Maybe.

The thing I miss from Japan: Cheap pore strips! For whatever reason, they're pricier in my home country. Feh! :-)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Top priority for me is that any cosmetic be cruelty-free, which immediately excludes most Japanese products.

As for colour - mascara here comes in a choice of Black or Black, No good. My fine blonde hair doesn't do well with Japanese shampoos, they're far too harsh and drying. Exfoliators - salt with a massaging oil (olive oil will do) works just as good as anything else.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dear Cleo and dear all,

I understand your concerns and I want to recomand you to try the store Cosme Kitchen. I have the same concerns than you and I care a lot about cruelty-free and ingredients. The cosmetics in Cosme Kitchen are all naturals or organics and from all over the world. They have also they own organic brand made in Japan, F organicas, hight quality and not very expensive. You can find around 30 stores in Japan and a lot in Tolyo near or in the train stations. Because I am living in Tokyo before I was buying all when I was coming back in France but now it's not necessary and very convenient. Hope you can try it. Steph

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those who says bad about Cure Natural Aqua Gel must be those who didn't even try it for once...or twice. I've tried some samples and finally made the move to buy the whole bottle few weeks ago. The best decision I ever made, regarding peeling gel. The peeling is real, because my skin become smoother and cleaner, plus I've tried on other surfaces like the tile or wood, just to see if the also clumped on those. It didn't. It didn't irritate my skin. It made my skin better, by letting it absorb other skincare products better. I usually just use aloe-vera-based moisturizers and sun block now. I've stopped using BB or CC cream on daily basis (use them on special occasion only) and my skin is so much better now. I also stand by the Dejavu Fiberwig mascara, because it holds my curl (I already have curly eyelashes) and less smudging. The price is quite comparable to drugstore' mascara. On the other hand, I don't really like the cleansing oil, because it's not that practical for me. It has to be used while showering with hot/warm water. I rarely wash my face with warm water at night. And if the oil is used alone, it doesn't really take off the make-up. Bifesta's cleanser is also the same, so I don't really recommend them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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