Let us guess what’s one of the most important things you’d do when you’re visiting Japan: you’ll pop into the drugstores and haul back all the famous Japanese beauty products that people are swearing by.
No doubt, there are many Japanese drugstore beauty products that have achieved holy grail statuses and have been much talked about in beauty forums, videos, and social media. But seeing is always believing – and we want to try them for ourselves if they’re really as good as people say.
This is why we gathered around the top beauty enthusiasts in the Daily Vanity team and got them to try out a few popular Japanese drugstore products that have been raved about by fans.
Here’s a great DV tip: You don’t need to buy an air ticket to Tokyo just to get your hands on Japanese drugstore beauty products. Did you know that these holy grail products are actually available at myCK stores? In fact, the ones that we’re reviewing in this article are all picked up from the myCK store near our office!
1. Kose Cosmeport Softymo Cleansing Oil
Reviewer: Melissa, 23
The hype: This cleansing oil is famous for being a gentle product that removes makeup effectively while deep cleansing pores. It leaves no oily residue and has been touted by beauty enthusiasts as a dupe for high-end cleansing oils in the market.
What do we think: This cleansing oil has an amazing texture that isn’t too thick, making it comfortable on sensitive skin. Compared to a few other cleansing oils I’ve seen or tried, it doesn’t seem to have any artificial colouring – something that I like, because it’s more natural.
But what’s most important to me is that it was able to remove my makeup effortlessly and be washed off easily, without leaving behind any greasy sensation. It also left my skin feeling very moisturised after cleansing.
Kose Softymo Cleansing Oil retails at SGD8.90 at selected myCK stores.
2. Kumano Reihaku Hatomugi Moisturising and Conditioning Lotion
Reviewer: Wan Kee, 26
The hype: Kumano is popular for many items they carry but its lotion is one of the most well-loved products. This lotion is made with hatomugi (or pearl barley), which is known for its brightening effect and deep hydration on skin. It is designed to come in huge bottles because fans also love to use it on their bodies for hydration.
What do we think: The first thing that struck me was how value for money this lotion is; you can get 1L worth of product at a pocket-friendly rate!
The lotion is very watery – a texture that I really love. I could also easily make my own “toner mask” with the lotion. I like how it allows me to have a quick and fuss-free masking experience. I also put it into a spray bottle to use it a facial mist. Its intense moisturising benefit makes it a product that I will certainly consider repurchasing.
Kumano Reihaku Hatomugi Moisturising and Conditioning Lotion retails at SGD13.90 at selected myCK stores.
3. Marusan Cotton Lab Care Clean Cotton Pads
Reviewer: Kristen Juliet, 33
The hype: Probably more of a “hidden gem” for those who are familiar with Japanese drugstore beauty products, Marusan’s cotton pads have a unique structure made with five thin layers that can absorb product easily. Fans also love that it feels very gentle on skin.
What do we think: I wouldn’t have expected myself to enjoy a cotton pad so much, but Marusan indeed sets itself apart from the rest. It is able to absorb product well while distributing it evenly. It also doesn’t leave behind any fibre residue, which – as we know – can be quite an annoyance. The cotton pads feel soft, which is especially great if you have easily irritable skin.
Marusan Cotton Lab Care Clean Cotton Pads are available in a box of 80 and each box retails at SGD1.95 at selected myCK stores.
4. Sana Nameraka Honpo All in One Moisture Jelly Gel
Reviewer: Allyn, 23
The hype: Soybean is a popular skincare ingredient in Japanese skincare products, and Sana is Japan’s No. 1 brand for soybean-based products. Its jelly gel, in particular, is popular because of its six-in-one function. It multitasks as a toner, serum, emulsion, cream, mask, and primer.
What do we think: I thought the texture of the product is quite unique – jiggly like soy beancurd but applies like a regular cream – so I was excited to try it. At first I was a little disappointed because it didn’t absorb into the skin very quickly due to the thickness of the cream but I eventually found myself enjoying it because it was very moisturising. In fact, I find that the product improved the texture of my dry skin way better than my regular high-end moisturiser!
Its 6-in-1 function is also extremely convenient for days when I’m too lazy to complete my entire skincare routine. By just using a heavier hand, I find that my skin is still as moisturised as per usual! No wonder this is a holy grail for so many people!
Sana Nameraka Honpo All in One Moisture Jelly Gel retails at SGD16.90 at selected myCK stores.
5. Sana Nameraka Honpo Isoflavone Wrinkle Eye Cream
Reviewer: Karin, 32
The hype: This can be used around the eyes and lips for anti-ageing benefits. It is formulated with no fragrance, artificial colouring, and mineral oil, and contains retinol, which is famous for its ability to lift and firm skin. It is loved for its fast-absorbing texture and intense hydration.
What do we think: I like the texture of the product. It absorbs easily and is lightweight. While I didn’t manage to observe any improvement to the lines around my eye area – after all, I have only been using it for a short period of time – I was glad to notice that the skin around my eyes feel more moisturised now than before. I would recommend this eye cream to those who are looking for a hydrating eye care product.
Sana Nameraka Honpo Isoflavone Wrinkle Eye Cream retails at SGD16.90 at selected myCK stores.
6. Naris Up Parasola UV Spray
Reviewer: Kristen Juliet, 33
The hype: This sunscreen spray comes with a special nozzle that makes it easy to apply the mist on any part of the body. It is sweat-, water-, and sebum-resistant, and has a non-sticky texture that is rare for a sunscreen mist.
What do we think: I brought this sunscreen mist along with me during my beach getaway in Maldives, and it was one of the best packing decisions I’ve made. This comes with a powerful spray that dispenses the mist easily all over my body and face, and has very fine mist, which feels comfortable on my skin. I also like that it leaves no sticky or oily feeling after application.
As a bonus, this has a pleasant fragrance that is nothing like the smell that you usually get with sunscreen. This means that I can do away with perfume and still smell fresh as I go out and about. I know I’ll reach out for this product again, especially at the next time I’m going for an outdoor activity that requires me to have thorough sun protection.
The product also contains skin-loving ingredients such as vitamin C, ceramide, and amino acids, which is definitely a bonus if you want to care for your skin while protecting it from environmental aggressors!
Naris Up Parasola UV Spray retails at SGD13.95 at selected myCK stores.
7. Tsubaki Premium Repair Mask
Reviewer: Eleanor, 26
The hype: Many fans say that this mask gives them the effects of a salon treatment but in the comfort of their own homes. Formulated with ingredients like Camellia Oil and Royal Jelly, this mask nourishes hair intensely. It also has an amazing scent to boot, adding to the pampering feeling you get after using it.
What do we think: Unlike normal hair masks, this doesn’t have to be left on and can be rinsed off immediately after application. This saves me time and hassle.
What struck me is also just how moisturising it is. After using it a few times, I notice that it improved my hair condition every time I use it – and I love that my hair feels smoother, softer, and becomes more manageable whenever I use this mask.
The Tsubaki mask also smells super good – and the scent stays in your hair for a decent amount of time. There’s something satisfying about getting a pleasant whiff of my hair every time I turn my head. If you ask me, I’d say that it’s a pampering treat I can’t get enough of.
Tsubaki Premium Repair Mask retails at SGD16.80 at selected myCK stores.
*Prices of products at myCK Far East Plaza branch may differ
myCK is giving away one set of the products we’ve just reviewed! Details below: