Sure, you’re familiar with Japanese beauty powerhouses like SK-II, Cle De Peau, Shiseido, Shu Uemura and the list goes on. But how about the cult Japanese beauty brands? Unless you’ve been living like a local in Tokyo or have paid a trip to their decidedly less glamorous but equally well-stocked drugstores, we doubt so.
Occupied with cornucopia of beauty brands that are destined to take up a permanent slot in your vanity cabinet, the products are not only purse-friendly (think $8 eyebrow gel) but are also known for their impeccable quality. It’s no lie that the Japanese have a heavy dedication to delivering constant quality.
From nourishing beauty oil to collagen serum to everyday facial masks, we suss out 10 under-the-radar Japanese beauty brands (if you prefer K-beauty, we’ve got a guide here as well) and their star products you need to know about.
A sister arm of AYA Inc. in Japan, Fairy Drops carries a whole range of mascaras that comes with a teardrop-shaped applicator for easier application. Designed to coat every lash thoroughly, it promises to add extra volume and is tear-proof.
Try their Platinum Mascara that is enriched with beauty essences. It promises to nourish your lashes while keeping it curled throughout the day.
Fairy Drops Platinum Mascara, $14.50 from Sasa
Established in 1980, DHC is a well-known skincare company in Japan. It uses organic oil that is derived from Spanish olives, resulting in natural and effective solutions to any skincare problems you might face.
As an alternative to Shu Uemura‘s famed makeup remover, DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil is made of aforementioned olive oil that is said to help in removing dirt, excess sebum and makeup more effectively. What we love about it is it’s water-soluble formula, ensuring that it doesn’t leave any oil residue on the skin.
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, $17.50 from Sasa
Translated to ‘the spring of skin’, Haruhada’s products are formulated with various botanical extracts, hyaluronic acid and collagen to help replenish the skin to its original state. We’ve previously mentioned hyaluronic acid’s amazing ability to deeply hydrate the skin, remember?
The Horse Oil Treatment Cream may sound highly unorthodox, but it is a soothing cream that promises to improve eczema through deep hydration, hastening the skin’s natural recovery period in the process. Infused with Lavender essential oils that lends a subtle aroma, it is said to relax one’s senses as well.
Haruhada Horse Oil Treatment Cream, $21.50 from Tokyu Hands
Influenced by the ‘Shibuya Girl’ look, which is heavy on eye makeup, usually with hair and eyebrows that have been dyed blonde, Heavy Rotation focuses on eye products that offer great colour payoff and are easy to apply on. Within the range is a whole slew of eyebrow pencils, eyeliners and mascaras in dark to light blonde colour.
If you have slightly ash brown hair, we recommend the Colouring Eyebrow in Ash Beige, which is a tinted eyebrow gel that helps to set your brows in place after filling it in. If you have fuller brows, you can skip the powder or pencil step and head straight for this gel. Read our comprehensive guide on how to keep your eyebrows on fleek.
Heavy Rotation Colouring Eyebrow in Ash Beige, $8.80 from Sasa
This brand has taken over Japan by storm all thanks to its kawaii (cute) packaging and effective formulas. Gentle enough for everyday use, the serum-soaked masks are said to deliver intense hydration.
For those looking to brighten their complexion, choose the Whitening mask. It is thin, easily absorbed into the skin, allowing the active ingredients to penetrate the skin’s epidermis for better delivery of nutrients. We recommend buying the large box that comes with 32 pieces. After all, you’re going to finish it in a month’s time if you use it daily as suggested.
Lululun Whitening Mask, $29.90 from Lazada
Specialising in eye products, Dejavu carries liners, mascaras and eyebrow pencil. The brand has been heavily featured in Japanese magazines and is a cult favourite amongst many.
We swear by the Fibrewig mascara, which happens to be the best-selling item and has sold over 40 million pieces since it launched. When it comes to lengthening of lashes, you might have to apply a coat of fibre before mascara. However, this convenient product incorporates both steps into one. Meaning, this mascara contains fibres and as you brush it on, it evenly coats your lashes and lengthens it at the same, giving you a ‘paint on falsies’ look.
Dejavu Fibrewig mascara, $17.50 from Tokyu Hands
Are you a big fan of Sailor Moon? Then definitely check out Creer Beaute, the makeup arm from Bandai (the official toy figurine company of said animation series). For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon was widely popular in the 90s. It follows a high school girl in search of a magical artefact, battling villains in the process. Creer Beaute combines the image of each classic animated character with cosmetic products and launched the ‘Nodame Cantabile’, ‘Sailor Moon’ and ‘The Rose of Versailles’ range.
We love the Cosmic Heart Cheek from ‘Sailor Moon’, which comes is a compact in the form of Sailor Moon’s crest (in the series, this helps her transform to her alternate self with magical powers). The powder is smooth, applies on easily and gives a subtle pink glow for that naturally-rosy cheek look. Bonus: With this casing, you’re going to turn heads in the toilet when you’re touching up.
Creer Beaute Cosmic Heart Cheek, $44.40 from Sasa
Focusing on holistic skincare, Three incorporates natural ingredients into the products to aid the body into returning to its original state more efficiently. We love the packaging, it’s minimal, sleek and portable, making it an easy carry-on wherever you go.
We recommend the Balancing White Clear Essence, especially if sunspots and freckles are your main concern. Derived from natural ingredients such as Patchouli and other blended essential oils, the essence feel light on the skin and is very absorbable. Enriched with Arbutin, an active whitening ingredient, it promises to suppress the formation of melanin, leaving you with a more even tone and radiant complexion.
Three Balancing White Clear Essence, $165
A Geisha-inspired skincare brand that sports gorgeous packaging, Tatcha’s products are all made with gentle ingredients that cares for even the most sensitive skin. If you’ve heard, Camellia oil is one of Japan’s best-known beauty ingredients. From targeting at stretch marks to treating scars to infusing it with lip balms, Camellia oil is a said to be very hydrating for the skin.
Hence, we suggest trying Tatcha’s Camellia Beauty Oil. A lightweight and nourishing beauty oil for your countenance that is said to help the skin in sealing in moisture, this is infused with Licorice Root Extract to calm the skin. Bonus: The 23-karat gold flakes suspended within the facial oil gives the skin a sensual glow.
Tatcha Camellia Beauty Oil, $95
Literally translated to ‘new-born skin’, Hadatuko has been formulating anti-ageing products that leaves women with firmer, brighter and smooth skin. Hadatuko believes that what you put into your body is equally important for your skincare regime, hence the widely popular Marine Collagen Drink that contains 10,000mg.
If you’re not too keen on drinking a collagen shot everyday, we suggest slathering on the Aqua Collagen Serum instead. Formulated with hydrolysed collagen, this serum promises to stimulate cell turnover and collagen synthesis that strengthens your skin against external aggressors and formation of fine lines.
Hadatuko Aqua Collagen Serum, $134.90 from Sasa