It’s impossible to visit Japan and not come back with a bagfull of skincare products. After all, along with sake, Kobe beef, ramen (do you see a trend) and general over-politeness, they are known for their effective skincare products.
As soon as I knew I was visiting Japan, I started a thorough search – referencing blogs, trolling Instagram and watching vlogs – for what I should needed to buy while I was there, and after 10 days in the land of the rising sun, this is what I came back with.
A ton of sheet masks, to be precise. In Japan, masks are a regular feature in a woman’s beauty routine. In fact, they are so popular, there are masks made for every day use – like the LuLuLun 7 Days masks. They address different skincare concerns like hydration, whitening (brightening) and detoxing and are available in bulk so you don’t have to run out and get another pack when the week is up. The other brands that showed up in my search were the Kracie Hadabisei. I picked up the intense moisturising and pore-tightening versions of it. And while I was there I threw in a couple of Pure Smile masks as well.
Cure Natural Aqua Gel
Another product Japanese women swear by is the Cure Natural Aqua Gel which is like a peel that takes off the dead skin on application leaving you with a layer of new, baby soft skin that is better able to absorb the ingredients from your serums and moisturisers. You just apply the clear gel-like liquid, wait till it turns to a milky consistency and gently massage off the dead skin et voila, a layer of new skin.
Japanese women prefer to double cleanse, starting with a cleansing oil and following up with foam cleanser. Since I’m lazy, I just picked up the cleansing oils. I’d often hear rave reviews about the DHC Cleansing Oil, but was always too afraid to try it thinking it might dry out my skin. But after trying a sample of it while I was there, I was sold. I picked up the DHC Cleansing oil as well as my Biore Cleansing Oil. I currently use Biore, and it is available in Singapore. But I got a jumbo version at half the price – naturally I couldn’t say no.
Another thing Japanese women are religious about is applying sunscreen. Clear, fair skin is a premium and they strive to achieve that level of perfection as with everything else in their lives. The sunscreens have to be light, with almost matte consistency and be easily layered under their makeup – which they are also very particular about. I picked up the DHC Suncut Q10 Aqua Gel SPF 50/PA++++. I’ve used it before and absolutely love it, so naturally I stocked up on it.
Walking around the beauty drugstores, I saw one particular brand stand out a lot – Mote. They have liners and mascaras. While I couldn’t find the mascara serum I wanted from the brand (or maybe I just couldn’t decipher it on the packaging) I picked up black eyeliner from them. I love pen eyeliners – especially when travelling – because it means I don’t have to carry around my pot of gel liner and brush, and can do my liner on the go. And I’m particularly partial to pen liners whose tips have a pointed brush as the tip.
While Mote did have mascaras, I’d also heard about Déjà Vu mascaras. So I picked those up. In hindsight, I should have picked up one from Mote as well just to compare. Oh wells, there’s sure to be a next trip.
Visiting the Hakuhodo flagship store was like visiting a makeup brush Mecca. There were shelves and shelves lined with all kinds of brushes. Honestly, it became a bit overwhelming to choose. I already have a collection of brushes, so I didn’t want to get repeat brushes. I finally settled on 5 brushes (not all pictured). I thought they would cost a fortune, but they’re much, much less when you actually buy them in Japan. I may engineer another trip just so I can go pick up more Hakuhodo brushes. And of course to see the country again.
I really wanted to buy a Koh Gen Do foundation but the shades were more suited to pale Asian skin tones. The formulas are lightweight, offer good coverage and seem to settle well when swatched on my hand. Their illuminator/highlighter gets a lot of good reviews as well, but I didn’t manage to find it. I didn’t buy up any makeup per se because the colours were all quite shimmery and better suited to pale skin tones. If you’re into eyelashes, you definitely should pick up a few sets as well.
The great part about Japanese drugstore or even high-end beauty (or any) shopping is that you can get it all tax-free. All you have to do is show them your passport and you can collect your tax refund at the store. Nothing like Japanese practicality and efficiency.