12 Traditional Japanese Skincare Products to Buy When in Japan
Japanese people are known for their clear and beautiful skin. Have you ever wondered how they keep their skin so glowy? The following 12 traditional Japanese beauty products have long been used in Japan and some are so popular, they're even used overseas. From affordable items to expensive yet incredibly effective products, most of the items on this list are made from natural ingredients and are good for all skin types. Why not bring back one of these beautifully packaged skincare products as a souvenir from Japan?
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1. Rice bran bag (もち肌 洗い袋) :Makanai Cosmetics (まかないこすめ)Yuri/Flickr
Rice bran bags have been used as a kind of soap for centuries in Japan. You soak this cloth bag containing rice bran in water, and stroke your face gently with it. The rice bran extracts are effective for exfoliation and moisturizing. Makanai Cosmetics' line is beautifully packaged and can be recommended for those with sensitive skin since their products are synthetic-chemical-free. You can buy it at their boutiques including the Kagurazaka store in Tokyo.
Address: 3-1 Kagurazaka,Shinjyu-ku,Tokyo (Google Map)
2. Komenuka Bijin (米ぬか美人): Nihonsakari (日本盛)
If you are looking for easy to use and rich skin care items using rice bran extracts, the Komenuka Bijin line produced by a sake manufacturer is another option. Their products also contain sake yeast extracts as a moisturizer. Continued use produces smoother and clearer skin. It’s effective for sensitive skin or anti-aging. You can find this line at retailers such as Tokyu Hands or Bic Camera.
3. Azuki & brown sugar soap: Kyoto Chidoriya (京都ちどりや)
Azuki red bean powder has long been used as a face wash in Japan. The microscopic grains of azuki gently exfoliate and renew the skin. Chidoriya’s Azuki & brown sugar facial soap uses camellia oil to moisturize skin and brown sugar to smooth skin texture as well. This soap is popular among those with sensitive skin as it contains no artificial additives. This beautifully packaged soap can be purchased at the Chidoriya boutique in Kyoto or at Opaque Marunouchi in Tokyo.
Address: 65-1 Jodoji Kamiminamida-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
4. Nihonshu no Keshosui (日本酒の化粧水): Kikumasamune (菊正宗)
The beauty benefits of Japanese sake are apparent if you look at the sake maker’s hands; they look clear and silky smooth despite most of their work being carried out in the chilling winter without air conditioning. Sake is rich in amino acids, which moisturize the skin well. Kikumasamune’s skin lotion, the easiest to find, is sold at many drugstores, and you can find various sake skin lotions at local sake manufacturers as well.
HP: https://kikumasa-cosme.jp/ (Japanese Only)
5. Hechima Cologne (ヘチマコロン): Hechima Cologne
Loofah water, or hechima-sui in Japanese, has been used as toner at least from the 18th century in Japan. It’s highly anti-inflammatory and rejuvenates skin after a suntan or sunburn. Hechima Cologne, with its history of 100 years, is a skin conditioner for all skin types with few additives. You can buy it at drugstores at an affordable price.
HP: www.hechima.com (Japanese Only)
6. Camelia Oil (椿油): Oshima Tsubaki (大島椿)
Camellia oil, richer in oleic acid and more antioxidants than olive oil, has been used as multi-purpose moisturizer in Japan for centuries: to smooth hair or to soften and moisturize the skin, and protect them both from the UV damage and from environmental exposure. You can buy Oshima Tsubaki Abura at drugstores. Or if you are after 100% camellia japonica oil, you can find it where it is produced, such as Izu Oshima, Sado, or Nagasaki Goto, although the amount produced is very small.
7. Boxwood comb: Jusanya
To make your hair more luscious, using a boxed wood comb is recommended. It protects your hair with less static electricity than other materials, although it’s a little bit pricey. You dip it in camellia oil in advance: this procedure is important to protect and improve your hair texture effectively. You can buy them at several boutiques specialized in traditional Japanese cosmetics including Jusanya in Kyoto or at the manufacturers’ stores in the areas where the products are produced, such as Kiso, Nagano or Satsuma or Beppu in Kyushu.
HP: www.kyoto-wel.com/shop/S81004/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Shijodori Teramachi Hairu, Kyoto (Google Map)
8. Son Bahyu cream (ソンバーユ): Yakushido (薬師堂)
Horse oil has been widely known in Japan to cure burns, cuts, and hemorrhoids with no side effect. With high absorption rate on human skin, powerful anti-inflammation, and natural moisturizing ingredients, horse oil is ideal for daily skin care of the face and body, even for those with atopic dermatitis. You can find Son Bahyu cream, 100% horse oil, at drug stores or other products at souvenir shops in the areas where it is produced, including Hokkaido and Kumamoto.
HP: www.yakushido.com (Japanese Only)
９. Oil Blotting Paper: Yojiya (よーじや)
Oil blotting paper is a popular souvenir from Japan. Originating from Japanese paper made of natural fibers used in gold leaf crafting, it is very effective in absorbing excess oil to keep the skin clean. There are various brands in beautiful packages, such as Yojiya from Kyoto. We recommend using genuine products called ‘hakuuchi-shi’ which are super soft and cause no irritation to skin.
HP: https://www.yojiya.co.jp/cn/ (中文)
1o. Makeup Brush: Kumano Fude (熊野筆)
Kumano Fude is the top quality brush brand in Japan made in Kumano-cho, Hiroshima since the Edo period. Carefully made by skilled craftsmen, kumano dude allow you to create very subtle expressions easily. Stylish, tender to the skin, yet durable, the makeup brush line makes a perfect souvenir! Why don’t you stop by their select shop in Ginza which boasts over 400 types of brushes?
HP: https://kumanofude.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: TAU 2F, Ginza Ueichi Building 1-6-10, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
11. Beni lip color: Isehan (伊勢半)
Beni, lip color, is truly traditional Japanese cosmetic from the Edo period. It made from safflower petals in traditional way and is contained in Arita ware. How do you use it? Beni is iridescent and changes into bright red when soaked with water. As it is made from pure natural ingredients, your lip is free from pigmentation. Isehan-honten in Aoyama, Tokyo is worth visiting not only to buy this beautiful cosmetic but to visit the attached beni museum as well.
Address: K's Minami Aoyama Building 1F, 6-6-20 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
12. Gofun nail Polish (胡粉ネイル): Ueba Eso (上羽絵惣)
This nail polish line use a traditional Japanese white pigment, gofun. Gofun is a powder made from scallop shells and is essential in Japanese painting. Ueba Eso, a Japanese traditional paint producer, developed nail polishes that use fully natural pigments. This line is odorless, non-toxic, and dries quickly. You need only alcohol to remove this water-based nail polish. Safe for pregnant women as well! You can buy it at several cosmetics stores including House of Rose.
Address: 579, Torocho, Shimogyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Google Map)
Thumbnail credit: PIXTA
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.