7 Brilliant Beauty Products I Bought In Japan – & Where To Get Them In The UK

Rebecca Fearn

Japanese beauty, or J-beauty as it's known among makeup and skincare obsessives, has quietly risen in popularity over the past years, especially in the Western world. Beloved for its quality ingredients, unique textures and Instagram-worthy packaging, not to mention its highly curated approach to skincare routines, Japanese beauty – much like Japan itself – is rooted in tradition. But it also benefits from the most forward-thinking science and technology.
 
When it comes to skincare, Japanese beauty has a 'prevention' rather than 'cure' attitude, which celebrates SPF (a must, even in the winter months) and gentle, nourishing formulations over harsh, skin-stripping products, which may cause reactions. "If anything, I’d say J-beauty turns away from trends and leans more towards efficacy and simplicity in skincare," explains Amanne Sharif, communications director at cult Japanese beauty brand DHC. "We all wanted the perfect 10-step regimen, but we’re fatigued. Now, the focus is on nourishing your skin – gently cleansing and layering on hydration and moisture."
 
While this may explain why J-beauty is so covetable in the West, Sharif reveals that it's also thanks to the avalanche of cult beauty products finally becoming widely accessible (and affordable) outside Japan. As a result, the demand for Japanese beauty shows no sign of slowing down, with new trends such as 'mochi-skin' (soft, smooth, bouncy skin, just like your favourite mochi dessert, according to Sharif) making waves in the industry.
 
Nothing cemented my own love for J-beauty more than a recent trip to Japan itself. The makeup, skincare and haircare options were overwhelming, and it was important to know which brands and products to seek out, due to the language barrier and sheer level of choice.

The selection was enough to delight a beauty addict. Everything was so new and exciting. The drugstore culture over there is huge, while stores such as Ainz & Tulpe serve as your Sephora or Cult Beauty alternative, offering affordable options and higher end brands alike.
 
Unsurprisingly, I showed little restraint, stocking up on everything from cult Japanese cleansers and steam eye masks to super soft cotton pads and featherweight SPF formulas. Luckily, although many of the products I bought are far cheaper and more easily accessible in Japan, they are available to purchase in the UK – if you know how and where to look.

Ahead, find seven of my favourite Japanese buys, which you can easily pick up without having to hop on a 12-hour flight.

I'm a big fan of cream blush and can say that the cream-based formulas in Japan are unrivalled, even at high street stores. These little blushers cost about £4 in Japan and they are as good as some of the ultra high end cream counterparts I have tried in the UK. I bought four to bring home in the shade 07, which is a striking pink coral.

Canmake Cream Cheek, $, available at YesStyle
One of the better known J-beauty products available in the UK, DHC’s olive oil-based cleanser is sold once every 10 seconds in Japan and has already achieved bestseller status in the UK. Vitamin-packed, it emulsifies on contact with water, so removes all makeup with pure ease, and feels silky and nourishing on the skin. The pump is also super handy.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $, available at FeelUnique
We all know that hyaluronic acid is the queen of hydrating ingredients, but Japan really does do it best. Hada Labo offers its hyaluronic formula in a number of different textures but the lotion (which you use as a toner) packs the most punch in my opinion. It’s incredibly lightweight and creates the perfect base layer for applying serums, oils and creams afterwards.

Hada Labo Rohto Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist, $, available at Amazon
Japan is famous for its incomparable selection of sheet masks and I was directed toward the brand Lululun. Their pink masks feature powerful moisturising ingredients including hyaluronic acid, acacia honey and rice ceramide. These lived up to the hype and are definitely worth stocking up on, especially if you have dry or dehydrated skin.

Lululun Face Mask, $, available at Amazon
At first, I wasn’t too sure what this actually was, and in the interest of transparency, I’m still not totally confident I know! But the way it should be used is as a hair refresher. If you don’t have time for a shower in the morning, a spritz or two of this will liven things right up. I’ve found it really works, making my hair softer, a little more voluminous and shinier when I have no time to give it any real attention. I have the 'moist' version, but YesStyle sells all three available, including 'smooth' and 'wave'.

Shiseido Ma Cherie Perfect Shower EX, $, available at YesStyle
If there’s one thing I’m constantly on the lookout for makeup-wise, it’s budge-proof liquid liner. As a cat-eye enthusiast, I struggle to keep things smudge-free all day long, and beauty shopping in Japan was the perfect opportunity to scout what was out there. This jet black liner by drugstore brand K-Palette is impressively long-wearing and easy to use. Even the most amateur liner fans will find fashioning a feline flick to be a total breeze. I can’t find the exact version I bought online, but this one from YesStyle looks pretty much the same.

K-Palette 1 Day Tattoo Real Lasting Eyeliner 24h Waterproof Micro, $, available at YesStyle
I couldn’t visit Japan without picking up a sunscreen, and this Biore version comes heavily recommended online, largely due to its incredibly featherweight and silky texture. It offers ultra high level protection for the face and honestly feels like applying water. The practically undetectable formula is ideal for those who fear sticky, heavy sunscreen formulas that don’t sit well under makeup.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++, $, available at Amazon

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