Japan beauty must-haves: 10 products to pack for home

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Japan beauty
Art by Lala Singian

Elevate your daily beauty routine with these well-loved Japanese products

It’s a familiar story for many beauty lovers traveling to Japan: a quick trip to Don Quijote or any Japanese pharmacy to pick up a few essential products inevitably turns into a full-fledged shopping spree.

There is just something about Japanese beauty products that is hard to resist—be it their innovative formulations, cute packaging, or promises of flawless skin.

And before you know it, your suitcase is bursting with sheet masks, serums, and lotions—some in duplicates because you couldn’t bear the thought of running out. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone.

Here are a few of my favorite Japanese beauty products that you simply must bring home.

1. Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask

Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask
Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask

Japanese sheet masks offer unbeatable quality and value, and are possibly some of the best in the market. 

The Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask is a standout product in Japanese skincare for its ability to deliver both hydration and radiance. Crafted with 100 percent Japanese rice serum, this mask addresses multiple skin concerns including dryness, dullness, and enlarged pores.

Rice serum is rich in minerals that deeply nourishes the skin and is renowned for its anti-aging properties. The mask is free from artificial fragrances, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

I personally love using this mask the day before any event, as it ensures my skin stays moisturized, allowing my makeup to apply flawlessly the next day.


2. Quality 1st’s Derma Laser Super VC 100 Mask

Quality 1st’s Derma Laser Super VC 100 Mask
Quality 1st’s Derma Laser Super VC 100 Mask

The Derma Laser Super VC100 Mask might be my all-time favorite mask for achieving a brighter, more radiant complexion. Packed with a concentration of vitamin C, the mask tackles common skin concerns like dullness, uneven tone, and signs of aging.

Each sheet is generously infused with a rich, serum-like essence for thorough coverage and absorption. (Pro tip: Save the excess serum left in the pack—there’s plenty—and use it as a regular serum once the sheets are finished.)

The immediate effects of using the mask are impressive. Skin looks noticeably brighter and more radiant after just one use. Regular application over a few weeks leads to a more even skin tone, reduced dark spots, and an overall improved skin texture. 

With high concentration of four types of vitamin C, the skin glows after a mask, more so with components like hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts.


3. &honey Deep Moist Hair Oil 3.0

&honey Deep Moist Hair Oil 3.0
&honey Deep Moist Hair Oil 3.0

I must admit, the &honey Deep Moist Hair Oil may just be the ultimate champion among hair treatments—I dare to place it above the renowned Gisuo hair oil.

READ: 6 products to level up your hair care routine

The hair oil is a cult favorite, infusing strands with nourishing manuka honey, collagen, and royal jelly for softness and shine.

The scent alone is enough to turn heads. I’ve had people inquire about my perfume when all I’ve used is this mask. It leaves your hair with a lingering fragrance that’s like a blend of sweet honey and floral notes, and you’ll notice your strands soaking up its benefits with a noticeable improvement in softness, smoothness, and resilience over time.

READ: Trending now: Honest, no-fuss short hairstyles for women


4. Shiseido’s Premium Fino Touch Hair Mask

Shiseido's Premium Fino Touch Hair Mask
Shiseido’s Premium Fino Touch Hair Mask

If there’s one product you need to make space for in your suitcase, it’s Shiseido’s Fino Premium Touch Hair Mask—a must-have for anyone with dry, damaged hair. 

As someone with highlighted and dyed hair, I’m constantly searching for beauty products that can restore my hair’s health, and this Japanese mask does exactly that. Now on my third tub, I can say my hair has never looked better, back with its shine and bounce.

I often pair it with a clarifying shampoo to replenish moisture after a deep cleanse and the results are consistently outstanding. Its formula contains seven types of beauty essences as well as other elements that moisturize, strengthen and repair hair.


5. Hada Labo Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion

Hada Labo Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion
Hada Labo Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion

When exploring Japanese beauty skincare, it’s essential to remember that any beauty product labeled “lotion” often refers to toners—don’t make the same rookie mistake I did and confuse it with body lotion.

This lightweight Japanese toner has worked wonders for my skin. It leaves my skin feeling bouncy, reduces surface flakes, and makes my complexion look incredibly plump. The Hada Labo Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion has quickly become an essential part of my skincare routine on days when my skin feels like it’s lacking moisture.

Formulated with Japan’s upgraded high-performance deep moisturizing technology, this lotion actively infuses four types of hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin from the surface to the deeper layers, resulting in significantly softer, smoother, and more supple skin that’s primed for the next steps in your skincare routine.

Its rich, watery texture is suitable for normal to dry skin types and is best applied by patting it onto the skin with your hands.


6. ROHTO Melano CC Anti Spot Essence

ROHTO Melano CC Anti Spot Essence
ROHTO Melano CC Anti Spot Essence

Hailing from Rohto Pharmaceutical, known for their iconic eye drops, the Melano CC Anti Spot Essence is one of Japan’s most highly regarded skincare treasures. The Japanese pharmaceutical is a leader in health-centric beauty products, exemplified by brands like Melano CC, Skin Aqua, and Obagi.

Formulated with activated vitamin C and E, this essence is a potent serum designed to tackle specific skin concerns, notably acne scars and dark spots from UV exposure.

Using this product is straightforward. After applying my serums, I apply a few drops of the essence and target areas of my face with hyperpigmentation, letting it dry and absorb into my skin before layering my moisturizer. I’ve incorporated it into my nighttime regimen due to its slightly greasy texture.

Consistency is key and with regular use, I’ve witnessed the lightening of my hyperpigmentation and dark spots. 

READ: All the products I’ve tried to make my skin look alive again


7. OKUCHI Mouthwash

OKUCHI Mouthwash
OKUCHI Mouthwash

Oral hygiene is often overlooked, but the OKUCHI Mouthwash is one Japanese beauty product that has elevated my oral care routine.

The liquid is designed to remove dirt and leftover substances, solidifying them for easy removal. It also targets proteins, which are a common cause of bad breath. While it might be a bit gross to see brown gunk after spitting out this mouthwash, it is oddly satisfying to know it’s effectively cleaning your mouth. Simply gargle for 30 seconds after brushing your teeth, and you’ll notice your pearly whites feel cleaner than ever.

Mint is my personal favorite, and the convenience of individual packs for single use makes it perfect for traveling.


8. Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razors

Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razors
Schick Intuition Sensitive Care Razors

While Schick Intuition Sensitive Care  Razors aren’t exclusively Japanese, I’ve mainly found them in Japanese drugstores, and they’ve truly transformed my shaving routine. These razors are a game changer, as they eliminate the need for shaving creams or gels. All you need to do is wet your razor and you’re good to go, without the extra shaving products.

The key feature of the razor is the built-in moisturizing bar that surrounds the four blades, providing a smooth glide while hydrating the skin as you shave. The pivoting head also follows the contours of your legs and body, ensuring a shave that’s both close and comfortable.

The razors also come with disposable heads that you can simply replace.


9. TIRTIR Mask Fit Red Cushion

TIRTIR Mask Fit Red Cushion
TIRTIR Mask Fit Red Cushion

The TIRTIR Mask Fit Red Cushion has been making waves on the internet, and I had to see what the hype was all about. After trying it, I understand why it’s so popular.

Although I’m generally not a fan of cushion foundations, this one stands out as one of the best I’ve tried. Unlike many cushion foundations that offer light to medium coverage, this one provides buildable full coverage while feeling lightweight on the skin.

A little goes a long way though, so use it sparingly. The texture is wet and hydrating, and it definitely needs to be set with powder for a long-lasting finish. And when I say long-lasting, I mean it can stay put for up to 10 hours (tried and tested!) but it does claim to last until 72 hours, but I don’t think anyone should be wearing makeup for that long!

The finish of this foundation may be full coverage, but it does not look cakey at all. Instead, it gives you supple and glowing skin that looks incredibly natural.

One downside is its limited shade range, which might not be suitable for darker complexions. Note that TIRTIR is a Korean beauty brand, which has taken Japan by storm. And as with many Asian skin products, the shades tend to lean lighter. However, TIRTIR has responded to inclusivity concerns and released a wider shade range, though these shades might be easier to find online than in Japanese drugstores.


10. DHC Lip Cream

DHC Lip Cream
DHC Lip Cream

The DHC Lip Cream may look like something straight out of my grandma’s makeup pouch but that’s part of its charm. The no-frills, straightforward lip balm is one of Japan’s bestselling beauty products, so much so that it’s often kept behind the counter due to frequent shoplifting. If it’s worth committing a crime over, it must be that good right?

This lip cream is a deeply hydrating balm infused with botanicals like antioxidant-rich olive oil and soothing aloe, perfect for combating dry, chapped lips, especially during Japan’s harsh winters. Enriched with squalane and ginseng root extract, it provides long-lasting softness and can be worn alone or over lipstick for a natural shine. Despite its thick and emollient texture, it feels weightless upon application, deeply hydrating the lips for hours without leaving a greasy residue.

It lends a subtle shine to lips without being overly glossy, and it’s non-sticky—I’m confident you won’t get your hair caught in it. Plus, it’s fragrance-free. I love using this at night as an extra step in my lengthy skincare routine to wake up with soft, smooth lips, and as a primer for my daytime makeup, ensuring that any lip product glides on effortlessly.

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