J-Beauty might just be a skin care-lovers dream: brands, products, and routines that marry modern science technology with traditional practices and an emphasis on less-is-more minimalism. A far cry from the 10-step standard of K-beauty or the jam-packed medicine cabinets in the U.S., J-beauty, or Japanese skin care and makeup, is all about treating skin to gentle workhorses formulated with the best, most nourishing ingredients for a naturally radiant glow.
Centered primarily around cleansing, moisturizing, and protective nourishment (think major SPF), J-beauty practices are more about preventing future skin dilemmas than waging war on every spot and line to crop up. The result is skin at its least-stressed: soft, plump, and luminous. While those of us in the U.S. don’t have access to the full-scale glory of a Japanese department store’s beauty floor, there are many top-rated J-beauty brands and products available stateside that might just make you a convert for life. Whether you’re interested in a few high-tech products or traditional techniques to supplement your well-loved morning regimen or after a complete routine overhaul, there’s absolutely a J-beauty pick for whatever your needs may be. Scroll on and discover some of the best J-beauty products and brands out there.
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Spend any amount of time trawling the wild west of Reddit’s r/skin care forum and you’ll undoubtedly come across more than a few posts praising J-beauty brand Hada Labo, both for its efficacy and accessible price point. Owned by larger company Rohto (same brand as the amazing eyedrops), Hada Labo is arguably the most popular drugstore brand in Japan, with this ultra-moisturizing lotion sitting towards the top of its best-seller list.
Fine, so it’s not exactly a new discovery — in fact, these deeply moisturizing and soothing masks, absolutely soaked in the brand’s signature skin-perfecting essence, is a global best-seller despite the painfully steep price point. But it really is so popular for a reason. That trademark essence is formulated to soften and hydrate skin while eliminating discoloration and dark marks. The essence is sold in an individual, bottled form, too, but there’s something undeniably indulgent about letting it sink into skin in mask form.
If you’re looking to mainline moisture back into dry, frizzy hair (and that’s most of us after a summer of sea air and pool water), this oil-infused, cult-favorite shampoo from Shiseido might be your best bet. Adored for a formula that boasts hyaluronic acid and the camellia-derived tsubaki oil for which it’s named, the large bottles are also refillable for a sustainable bonus.
Impossibly soft and unapologetically feminine, CANMAKE’s pressed powder compact is nearly 71% mineral-formulated with SPF coverage and thousands of rave reviews across the internet. The consensus is this prettily packaged powder eliminates lingering shine and reduces pore appearance without the cake-y, dry feel that can so often accompany powder.
Baby Foot might be the ultimate case of “if you know, you know.” The idea of all the dead cells coming off your foot at once like some kind of skin-boot might sound mildly terrifying, but take it from someone who made Baby Footing her monthly quarantine project — it’s unbelievably satisfying and will blow every pedicure you’ve ever had out of the water.
Another girly-glam product from CANMAKE, this lush cream blush is loved by civilians and celebs alike — Jenna Lyons has called it a treasure and says she used to ask friends and family to bring extras home from trips to Japan. Fortunately, CANMAKE now has an official Amazon shop with these creamy, radiant blushes in every shade.
This fan-favorite liquid eyeliner comes equipped with an impossibly fine-tipped nib (it’s minuscule) for consistently perfect application, and the waterproof/sweat-proof/cry-proof formula makes it all the better — check out the weeping mascot proving the point on the box. Available in black and brown, it’s also a popular choice as an eyebrow pen because of that precise tip.
Powered by soothing camellia oil, this Tatcha cleanser is life-changing — speaking from experience, here. Gentle, softening, yet extremely effective at washing away makeup and lingering dirt, it’s also great for facial massage and lightly sloughing off dead skin. It was the very first skin care product I ever truly fell in love with, and it’s stayed the first step in my routine ever since.
Transform your average bath into a soothing, rejuvenating Japanese hot spring with these individually-packaged powders. They come in four types with varying scents, representing four different actual hot springs in Japan, and leave skin feeling soft, moisturized, and covering some much looser muscles.