• 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Tried and True Japanese Toners in 2022 (Beauty Expert-Reviewed)

The Japanese skincare routine has quite a few steps. There’s cleansing; then the first step after cleansing is toning. To help you ease into Japanese skincare, we ordered the 10 most popular toners from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a specialist and had her compare the following:

  1. Moisturization Ability
  2. Ingredients
  3. Feel

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese toners. We also consulted our specialist about skincare–for example, we asked about how to properly put on toner and the order in which we should apply toner, lotion, and essences. We share all this information at the end of the article, so stay tuned.

Featured in this article

Kaori
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-18-2022
Table of Contents

What is Japanese Toner?

What is Japanese Toner?

Unlike their Western counterparts, Japanese toners, known in Japan as 化粧水 (kesho-sui), which can be directly translated to cosmetic water, are meant to moisturize the skin, as opposed to cleansing the skin.


Using a Japanese toner after washing your face can help boost the effectiveness of other moisturizing products such as face milks or creams when used immediately after, and thus play an incredibly important role in the Japanese skincare routine.


The three major roles of Japanese toners are:

  • Provide water-soluble moisturizing ingredients to the skin
  • Provide water-soluble beautifying ingredients to the skin
  • Improve the blending and ease of spreading of the next skincare product to be used

Of these three, the first one is particularly important, as its main role is to deliver natural moisturizing ingredients and similar substances to the stratum corneum.

How to Choose Japanese Toner – Buying Guide

There are a lot of Japanese toners out there, so it's understandable you'd feel a little lost. That's why we’d like to introduce two things you should look out for when choosing toner.

Actually, it doesn’t really matter how “moisturizing” a toner is. Because of how the human body is constructed, it’s difficult for liquids to permeate skin. Well, then, if we aren’t supposed to care so much about hydration, then just what are we supposed to pay attention to?

Look for Something Moisturizing

We know we said that checking for hydration isn’t that big of a priority, but there’s no point in choosing a toner that’s all water and no humectants, right?

Check for a Hydrating Ingredient or Two

Check for a Hydrating Ingredient or Two
It’s helpful to at least know what ingredients are supposed to be hydrating. Here are some of the more popular ones in Japan.

  • BG: Butylene glycol retains a lot of water, but it’s not as sticky as glycerin. It’s a type of polyalcohol and is found in many cosmetics and skincare products.

  • Glycerin: Another type of polyalcohol, said to be the most absorbent. Other forms and names include glycerol and diglycerin.

  • Sodium hyaluronate: The salt form of hyaluronic acid, which is produced by the body to moisturize skin. Though similar often used interchangeably with hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate is smaller, allowing it to more easily penetrate skin. It becomes more effective when applied in conjunction with glycerin.

  • Collagen: Also produced by the body. In its original form, it’s a protein fiber that cannot be effectively absorbed by the skin. It permeates farther after it has been broken down into low molecular weight collagen.

  • Trehalose: A type of sugar. Because of its outstanding ability to retain water, it’s used as a moisturizing ingredient in many cosmetics.

Ethanols Do Not Equate to Dry Skin

Ethanols Do Not Equate to Dry Skin
You might’ve heard sometime, somewhere that toners that contain ethanol are dehydrating. However, ethanol is not a drying ingredient by nature. It might feel like it’s tightening up your skin, but that does not necessarily equate to dehydration.
Therefore, don’t feel like you have to avoid all toners that include ethanol. At the very least, we’ve tested all of our toners (some of which contain ethanol) for hydrating power–and hopefully, that gives you some piece of mind.

10 Best Japanese Toners

Now to introduce the 10 best Japanese toners available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from 1 to 5.

Image
1
FANCL Enrich+ Lotion II 1

FANCL

2
Kosé Cosme Decorté Lift Dimension Replenish Firm Lotion ER 1

Kosé

3
Shiseido Aqua Label Aqua Lotion Rich Moist 1

Shiseido

4
Etvos Ultimoist Lotion 1

Etvos

5
Kosé ONE by Kosé The Water Mate Moisturizing Lotion 1

Kosé

6
Kanebo Cosmetics Kanebo On Skin Essence F 1

Kanebo Cosmetics

7
POLA B.A Lotion 1

POLA

8
Etvos Moisturizing Lotion 1

Etvos

9
Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare Minon Amino Moist Moist Charge Lotion II 1

Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare

Name

Enrich+ Lotion II

Cosme Decorté Lift Dimension Replenish Firm Lotion ER

Aqua Label Aqua Lotion Rich Moist

Ultimoist Lotion

ONE by Kosé The Water Mate Moisturizing Lotion

Kanebo On Skin Essence F

B.A Lotion

Moisturizing Lotion

Minon Amino Moist Moist Charge Lotion II

Features

The Best Japanese Toner for Hydrated, Plump Skin

A Toner that Delivers Satisfyingly Moisturizing and Soft Skin

A Highly Moisturizing Toner With a Great Texture

A Toner that is Rich in Amino Acids With a Comforting Fragrance

A Japanese Toner that Balances a Light Texture With Moisturizing Ability

A Moisturizing Toner for Sensitive Skin

Best Toner for Hydrated, Glowing Skin

Best Toner for Healthy and Hydrated Skin With a Refreshing Fragrance

An Incredibly Gentle Japanese Toner

Price$31.95$69.35$13.52$37.77$23.86$86.65$125.39$34.45$12.56
Japanese ファンケル エンリッチプラス 化粧液 II しっとりコーセー コスメデコルテ リフトディメンション リプレニッシュ ファーム ローション ER資生堂 アクアレーベルアクアローションエトヴォス アルティモイストローションコーセー ONE BY KOSE ザ ウォーター メイトカネボウ化粧品 カネボウ オン スキン エッセンスF POLA B.A ローションエトヴォス モイスチャライジングローション第一三共ヘルスケア ミノン アミノモイスト モイストチャージ ローションII
Volume30 ml200 ml220 ml120 ml160 ml125 ml120 ml150 ml150 ml
FeaturesPreservative-free, petroleum-based surfactant-free, fragrance-free, UV absorber-free, artificial coloring-freeN/AAlcohol-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free, pigment-free, fragrance-freeAlcohol-free, fragrance-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free, silicone-free, petroleum surfactant-free, pigment-freePigment-free, oil-free, fragrance-freePigment-free, oil-free, fragrance-freeN/AMineral oil-Free, paraben-free, silicone-free, surfactant-free, artificial fragrance-freeAlcohol-free, pigment-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, mild acidity
Major ingredientsNiacinamide, Perilla leaf extract, sweet pea flower extract, lemongrass extractAdenosine, Alcaligenes PolysaccharidesN/ACeramide, allantoin, niacinamideCeramide, Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract, Coptis root extractN/ASenninkoku seed extract, sage leaf extractGlucocerebroside, allantoin, polyquaternium-51Glycyrrhizinate 2K
Moisturizing ingredientsConcentrated glycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, hydrolyzed collagen solution-4, collagen tripeptide F, vegetable squalane, ectoineGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, hydrolyzed collagen, dimethiconeGlycerin, BG, DPG, sodium hyaluronate, trehaloseGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, amino acids, PCA-Na, propanediol, sodium lactateGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, sodium hyaluronateGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, squalaneGlycerin, BG, DimethiconeGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, hyaluronic acid Na, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, amino acid, PCA-NaGlycerin, BG, sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, amino acids, PCA-Na
Best forDry skin, anti-agingDry skin, anti-agingDry skin, sensitive skinDry skin, sensitive skinDry skin, combination skinDry skin, sensitive skinAnti-aging, average skinDry skinDry skin, sensitive skin
ContainerBottleBottleBottleBottleBottleBottleDispenserBottleDispenser
Overall score4.674.534.134.083.953.823.813.753.73
Moisturizing ability5.04.85.04.55.04.04.33.63.9
Ingredients5.04.33.84.03.53.73.44.03.6
Feel3.34.03.43.33.43.33.83.43.3
Link
1
Japanese ファンケル エンリッチプラス 化粧液 II しっとり
Volume30 ml
FeaturesPreservative-free, petroleum-based surfactant-free, fragrance-free, UV absorber-free, artificial coloring-free
Major ingredientsNiacinamide, Perilla leaf extract, sweet pea flower extract, lemongrass extract
Moisturizing ingredientsConcentrated glycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, hydrolyzed collagen solution-4, collagen tripeptide F, vegetable squalane, ectoine
Best forDry skin, anti-aging
ContainerBottle
Overall score4.67
Moisturizing ability5.0
Ingredients5.0
Feel3.3
2

KoséCosme Decorté Lift Dimension Replenish Firm Lotion ER

$69.35

Japanese コーセー コスメデコルテ リフトディメンション リプレニッシュ ファーム ローション ER
Volume200 ml
FeaturesN/A
Major ingredientsAdenosine, Alcaligenes Polysaccharides
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, hydrolyzed collagen, dimethicone
Best forDry skin, anti-aging
ContainerBottle
Overall score4.53
Moisturizing ability4.8
Ingredients4.3
Feel4.0
3

ShiseidoAqua Label Aqua Lotion Rich Moist

$13.52

Japanese 資生堂 アクアレーベルアクアローション
Volume220 ml
FeaturesAlcohol-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free, pigment-free, fragrance-free
Major ingredientsN/A
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, BG, DPG, sodium hyaluronate, trehalose
Best forDry skin, sensitive skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score4.13
Moisturizing ability5.0
Ingredients3.8
Feel3.4
4
Japanese エトヴォス アルティモイストローション
Volume120 ml
FeaturesAlcohol-free, fragrance-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free, silicone-free, petroleum surfactant-free, pigment-free
Major ingredientsCeramide, allantoin, niacinamide
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, amino acids, PCA-Na, propanediol, sodium lactate
Best forDry skin, sensitive skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score4.08
Moisturizing ability4.5
Ingredients4.0
Feel3.3
5

KoséONE by Kosé The Water Mate Moisturizing Lotion

$23.86

Japanese コーセー ONE BY KOSE ザ ウォーター メイト
Volume160 ml
FeaturesPigment-free, oil-free, fragrance-free
Major ingredientsCeramide, Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract, Coptis root extract
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, sodium hyaluronate
Best forDry skin, combination skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score3.95
Moisturizing ability5.0
Ingredients3.5
Feel3.4
6

Kanebo CosmeticsKanebo On Skin Essence F

$86.65

Japanese カネボウ化粧品 カネボウ オン スキン エッセンスF
Volume125 ml
FeaturesPigment-free, oil-free, fragrance-free
Major ingredientsN/A
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, DPG, squalane
Best forDry skin, sensitive skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score3.82
Moisturizing ability4.0
Ingredients3.7
Feel3.3
7
Japanese POLA B.A ローション
Volume120 ml
FeaturesN/A
Major ingredientsSenninkoku seed extract, sage leaf extract
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, BG, Dimethicone
Best forAnti-aging, average skin
ContainerDispenser
Overall score3.81
Moisturizing ability4.3
Ingredients3.4
Feel3.8
8
Japanese エトヴォス モイスチャライジングローション
Volume150 ml
FeaturesMineral oil-Free, paraben-free, silicone-free, surfactant-free, artificial fragrance-free
Major ingredientsGlucocerebroside, allantoin, polyquaternium-51
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, diglycerin, BG, hyaluronic acid Na, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, amino acid, PCA-Na
Best forDry skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score3.75
Moisturizing ability3.6
Ingredients4.0
Feel3.4
9

Daiichi Sankyo HealthcareMinon Amino Moist Moist Charge Lotion II

$12.56

Japanese 第一三共ヘルスケア ミノン アミノモイスト モイストチャージ ローションII
Volume150 ml
FeaturesAlcohol-free, pigment-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, mild acidity
Major ingredientsGlycyrrhizinate 2K
Moisturizing ingredientsGlycerin, BG, sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, amino acids, PCA-Na
Best forDry skin, sensitive skin
ContainerDispenser
Overall score3.73
Moisturizing ability3.9
Ingredients3.6
Feel3.3
10

Rohto PharmaceuticalHada Labo Gokujun Premium Extra Rich Hyaluronic Acid

Japanese ロート製薬 肌ラボ 極潤プレミアム 特濃ヒアルロン液
Volume170 ml
FeaturesOil-free, alcohol-free, pigment-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free
Major ingredientsPolyquaternium-51, hydroxyethylurea
Moisturizing ingredientsDiglycerin, BG, DPG, Na hyaluronate, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, Na acetyl hyaluronate, hydroxypropyltrimonium hyaluronate, Na hyaluronate crosspolymer
Best forDry skin
ContainerBottle
Overall score3.68
Moisturizing ability3.4
Ingredients4.7
Feel3.3

How We Tested the Toners

How We Tested the Toners
We then tested for each of the following things:
Test ①: Moisturization Ability
Test ②: Ingredients

Test ③: Feel

Test ① Moisturizing Ability

Test ① Moisturizing Ability

First, we tested each product's moisturizing ability, which is arguably the most important thing to consider when choosing a moisturizing toner.


For this test, we used a special device to measure the amount of moisture in the skin of our tester's arms. We then had them apply a set amount of toner on their arm. We measured moisture levels immediately after application, then waited two hours, and measured again


We had three testers try each product and evaluated the products based on how much of an increase there was on average in moisture levels.

Test ② Ingredients

Test ② Ingredients

Next, we looked at the ingredients of each product. 


For this test, we had our expert, scientific beautician Kaori, strictly check all products focusing on the following points:

  • If the toner is rich in ingredients that can be expected to have a moisturizing effect
  • If the toner has plenty of beautifying ingredients
  • If the toner contains any ingredients that may irritate the skin
Toners that were noticeably heavier (some so thick, they felt like gel) were a cut above the rest–when it came to hydrating power, at least. Unfortunately, the opposite held true as well; the lighter a toner was, the less moisturizing it tended to be.

Test ③: Feel

Test ③: Feel

Finally, we looked at how each product felt, which can determine how easy it is to take care of your skin. We had five testers test each product by actually using the toners, and had them evaluate how each product felt based on the following points:


  • Texture (how well it blended with the skin, how easy it was to spread and apply)
  • Fragrance
  • How convenient the containers were to use

The Best Way to Use Toner

You went through all that trouble to find a toner that’s right for you–now you have to learn how to use it. Here are some tips and tricks.

Warm to Body Temperature, Then Slowly Massage

Warm to Body Temperature, Then Slowly Massage
Pour, push, or squeeze some product onto the palm of your hand. Then cup the toner between your palms, warming it until it’s about body temperature. That’ll help it seep into your skin. If you gently squeeze your palms together, it’ll help the toner heat right up.
After the toner’s body temperature, rub your hands together so that product covers the entirety of both palms, then slowly massage it into your face. You want to gently press it in. Don’t slap yourself.

Lock in Moisture With a Good Lotion

Lock in Moisture With a Good Lotion
It doesn’t matter how good the toner is; if you don’t seal it in with a oil, all the moisture is going to evaporate. After you apply toner, make sure you lock it in with lotion. It’d be ideal if you can use a lotion from the same product line, but it’s not necessary.
You can also use a serum or essence to seal in the toner. However, you’ll need a lot of product to do so, so we wouldn’t call it cost-effective. You especially don’t want to do this if you’re using expensive stuff.

Douse Cotton Pads Until They're Soaking Wet

Douse Cotton Pads Until They're Soaking Wet
If you use a cotton pad to apply your toner, there’s one thing we absolutely want you to do: make sure there’s not a single dry spot. In other words, when applying toner with a cotton pad, make sure you soak the pad through. You want it to look like the picture on the right, not the one on the left.
It seems like a waste of product, but there’s a reason we’re stressing this. If there is a single dry spot on your cotton pad, then it’s going to soak up healthy oils from your skin. That might actually be one of the reasons your skin is dehydrated.
Of course, the same holds true for toner masks. Make sure all cotton pads are thoroughly soaked before laying them on your face, and remove all cotton pads before they start drying out.
Kaori
Scientific Beautician
Kaori

The best timing for when to use a Japanese toner is right after you get out of the shower or after placing a hot towel on your face. Because your blood flow is increased, your toner will permeate your skin even better. It's also effective to pat in the toner for 30 seconds to let it blend in.


If you feel like the toner is too sticky, or you feel like your skin is soaking wet, then you might be using too much at once, so make sure to remove some of that excess toner with a tissue.

Add to Your J-Beauty Arsenal

There's more to a Japanese skincare routine than just toner! Here are some other great products we've tested and ranked.

Author: Yukina Matsuda/Translation: Jasmine Li/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yoshio Yoshida

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