• Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More) 1
  • Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More) 2
  • Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More) 3
  • Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More) 4
  • Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More) 5

Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, FANCL, and More)

Last time, we talked about toners. Now, we move on to the next step in the Japanese skincare routine: moisturizers and face lotions. Face lotions are important–they are, if you remember, the lid that seals your toner in. And, just like in America, in Japan, we have our high-end and drugstore brands, our revolutionary products, and dupes.

We thought it was high time someone separated the wheat from the chaff. That’s why we ordered the 23 most popular moisturizers and face lotions from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also invited a skincare specialist and had her compare the following:

1. Hydration
2. Application

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese moisturizers and face lotions. We also talk about the difference between lotion and cream at the very end of the article–be sure not to miss it.

Experts featured in this article

Aiko Kawakami
  • Last updated: 06-04-2021
  • 40,591 views
Table of Contents

Top 23 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions

We picked out 23 of the most popular products and tested them for the following: how well it moisturized our skin and how it felt to apply.


Then, based on how they performed on our tests, we graded and ranked the top 23 Japanese face lotions and moisturizers available online. Japanese prices for some of the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.

1
Japanese第一三共ヘルスケア ミノンアミノモイスト 保温乳液
HydrationA+
ApplicationA
Overall scoreA+
2
Japanese花王 ソフィーナ ジェンヌ 混合肌のための高保湿ジェル乳液
HydrationB
ApplicationA+
Overall scoreA+
3
JapaneseORBIS アクアフォース ホワイトモイスチャー(医薬部外品)
HydrationA
ApplicationB
Overall scoreA
4
Juju Cosmetics Aquamoist Fermented Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion 1

Juju CosmeticsAquamoist Fermented Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion

$5.10

HydrationA
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreA
5
Japanese花王 ソフィーナボーテ 高保湿乳液
HydrationB
ApplicationA
Overall scoreA
6
Japaneseアルージェ モイスト トリートメント ジェル
HydrationA
ApplicationC
Overall scoreA
7
episteme day moisture emulsion a 1

epistemeday moisture emulsion a

$129.11

Japaneseロート製薬 エピステーム デイモイスチュアエマルジョンa
HydrationC
ApplicationA
Overall scoreA
8
Japanese菊正宗酒造 日本酒の乳液
HydrationA
ApplicationD
Overall scoreA
9

TransinoMedicated Whitening Clear Milk

$32.75

Japanese第一三共ヘルスケア トランシーノ 薬用ホワイトニングクリアミルク(医薬部外品)
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall scoreB
10
JapaneseFANCL モイストリファイン 乳液IIしっとり
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall scoreB
11
Japanese資生堂ジャパン アクアレーベル ホワイトアップ エマルジョン(医薬部外品)
HydrationB
ApplicationC
Overall scoreB
12
ceracolla Moisture Milk 1

ceracollaMoisture Milk

$7.10

Japanese明色化粧品 セラコラ 保湿乳液
HydrationB
ApplicationC
Overall scoreB
13
Japanesed プログラム モイストケア エマルジョン R
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall scoreB
14
Japanesed プログラム バランスケア エマルジョン R 2(医薬部外品)
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall scoreB
15
Japanese常盤薬品工業 なめらか本舗 乳液
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall scoreB
16
Japaneseest エスト ザ エマルジョン II
HydrationB
ApplicationD
Overall scoreC
17
JapaneseELIXIR REFLET バランシング おしろいミルク
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall scoreC
18

cuturaMilky Lotion

$12.51

Japaneseキュチュラ とろ~り乳液
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall scoreC
19

Hada LaboShirojyun Premium with White Tranexamic Acid & Vitamin C Medicated Whitening Lotion

$9.38

Japaneseロート製薬 肌ラボ 白潤プレミアム(医薬部外品)
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall scoreC
20
Japanese無印良品 乳液・敏感肌用 しっとりタイプ
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall scoreC
21

KoseLECHÉRI Lift Glow Emulsion II

$25.05

Japaneseコーセー ルシェリ リフトグロウ エマルジョン
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall scoreD
22
JapaneseFUJIFILM アスタリフト エマルジョン
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall scoreD
23

Sofinajenne Moisturizing UV Lotion for Combination Skin

$29.99

Japanese花王 ソフィーナ ジェンヌ 混肌のための高保湿UV乳液(医薬部外品)
HydrationD
ApplicationD
Overall scoreD

Compare the Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions

Image
1
MINON Amino Moist Moist Charge Milk 1

MINON

2
Sofina jenne Moisturizing Gel Lotion for Combination Skin 1

Sofina

3
Orbis Aqua Force White Moisture-M 1

Orbis

4
Juju Cosmetics Aquamoist Fermented Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion 1

Juju Cosmetics

5
Sofina beauté Moisturizing Lotion Super Moist 1

Sofina

6
Arouge Moist Treatment Gel 1

Arouge

7
episteme day moisture emulsion a 1

episteme

8
Kikumasamune Nihonshu no Nyueki – Sake Lotion 1

Kikumasamune

9
Transino Medicated Whitening Clear Milk 1

Transino

10
FANCL Moist Refine Emulsion II 1

FANCL

11
Aqualabel White Up Emulsion II 1

Aqualabel

12
ceracolla Moisture Milk 1

ceracolla

13
d program Moist Care Emulsion R 1

d program

14
d program Balance Care Emulsion R II 1

d program

15
Nameraka Honpo Soymilk Isoflavone Lotion 1

Nameraka Honpo

16
est the emulsion II 1

est

17
ELIXIR REFLET Balancing Oshiroi Milk 1

ELIXIR

18
cutura Milky Lotion 1

cutura

19
Hada Labo Shirojyun Premium with White Tranexamic Acid & Vitamin C Medicated Whitening Lotion 1

Hada Labo

20
Muji Moisturizing Milk Moisture 1

Muji

21
Kose LECHÉRI Lift Glow Emulsion II 1

Kose

22
Astalift Emulsion 1

Astalift

23
Sofina jenne Moisturizing UV Lotion for Combination Skin 1

Sofina

Name

Amino Moist Moist Charge Milk

jenne Moisturizing Gel Lotion for Combination Skin

Aqua Force White Moisture-M

Aquamoist Fermented Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion

beauté Moisturizing Lotion Super Moist

Moist Treatment Gel

day moisture emulsion a

Nihonshu no Nyueki – Sake Lotion

Medicated Whitening Clear Milk

Moist Refine Emulsion II

White Up Emulsion II

Moisture Milk

Moist Care Emulsion R

Balance Care Emulsion R II

Soymilk Isoflavone Lotion

the emulsion II

REFLET Balancing Oshiroi Milk

Milky Lotion

Shirojyun Premium with White Tranexamic Acid & Vitamin C Medicated Whitening Lotion

Moisturizing Milk Moisture

LECHÉRI Lift Glow Emulsion II

Emulsion

jenne Moisturizing UV Lotion for Combination Skin

Features

Pretty Astounding When it Comes to Hydration! The Ultimate Drugstore Lotion

We’re Obsessed With This Lotion and Its Refreshing Scent of Spring

A See-Through Gel That’s a Bit Slimy but Also Super Hydrating

Worth Way More than Its Price Tag. Serious Hydration, as Long as You Can Get Over the Tackiness

Soft Scent of Dew-Covered Petals. Moisturizes Your Skin, Leaving it Soft, if a Bit Tacky

Lightweight Formula, but Still Manages to Be Incredibly Moisturizing

Makes Skin Feel Smooth and Soft–Shame it Doesn’t Actually Hydrate

Best Quality for the Price; Serviceable as Long as You Don’t Mind the Smell of Sake

Bit Sticky upon Application, but Skin Feels Hydrated After it’s Set

Spreads Easily and Absorbs Readily into Skin; Hydration is Average

Refreshing Both in Scent (Minty) and Texture (Light)

Hydrating, but Thick and Leaves a Sticky Residue

It’s Meant for Dry Skin, but It’s Not That Moisturizing...

Smells a Bit like Alcohol; Won’t be Enough to Quench Dehydrated Skin

Light and Silky; Worth a Try if You Aren’t Picky About Skincare

We’ll Take the Stickiness, but We Can’t Take the Smell

Felt Light on Skin; Will Work Well as a UV Base

Bottle Keeps Its Contents from Oxidizing; We Just Can’t Get Over the Medicinal Smell

Will Probably Help With Whitening, but Feels Quite Sticky

We Don’t Mind the Tackiness That Much, but the Cap Doesn’t Want to be Opened

Can’t Expect Much Hydration; Packaging’s a Hit or Miss

Why is it So Tacky When it Doesn’t Even Moisturize?

Closer to Sunscreen Than Lotion

Price$15.53$30.09$27.81$5.10$26.71$25.07$129.11$5.90$32.75$13.34$12.53$7.10$30.94$30.34$11.94$98.71$15.55$12.51$9.38$9.29$25.05$35.64$29.99
Japanese第一三共ヘルスケア ミノンアミノモイスト 保温乳液花王 ソフィーナ ジェンヌ 混合肌のための高保湿ジェル乳液ORBIS アクアフォース ホワイトモイスチャー(医薬部外品)A花王 ソフィーナボーテ 高保湿乳液アルージェ モイスト トリートメント ジェルロート製薬 エピステーム デイモイスチュアエマルジョンa菊正宗酒造 日本酒の乳液第一三共ヘルスケア トランシーノ 薬用ホワイトニングクリアミルク(医薬部外品)FANCL モイストリファイン 乳液IIしっとり資生堂ジャパン アクアレーベル ホワイトアップ エマルジョン(医薬部外品)明色化粧品 セラコラ 保湿乳液d プログラム モイストケア エマルジョン Rd プログラム バランスケア エマルジョン R 2(医薬部外品)常盤薬品工業 なめらか本舗 乳液est エスト ザ エマルジョン IIELIXIR REFLET バランシング おしろいミルクキュチュラ とろ~り乳液ロート製薬 肌ラボ 白潤プレミアム(医薬部外品)無印良品 乳液・敏感肌用 しっとりタイプコーセー ルシェリ リフトグロウ エマルジョンFUJIFILM アスタリフト エマルジョン花王 ソフィーナ ジェンヌ 混肌のための高保湿UV乳液(医薬部外品)
HydrationA+BABBACABBBBCCCBCCCCDDD
ApplicationAA+BAACADBBCCBBBDCCCCCCD
Overall scoreA+A+AAAAABBBBBBBCCCCCDDD
Link

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge
〈Aiko Kawakami〉
Skincare Specialist

She's a skincare specialist who's got over 20,000 consultations under her belt. She approaches skin with a combination of scientific evidence and experience, using her knowledge of dermatology and cosmetic ingredients to help women become even more beautiful, down to their fingertips. She's the representative of the board of directors over at ANSEM (Association of Nail & Skin Experts Maestro) and an instructor at the JCLA (Japan Cosmetic Licensing Association). She's also made numerous media appearances.

How We Tested the Moisturizers and Face Lotions

We tried out each of the 24 products and tested them for how hydrating they were and how easy they were to apply. Then we gave each one a final grade.

Test ① Hydration

Test ① Hydration

First and foremost, we looked at hydration. We used a moisture analyzer and compared the state of our skin before application to its state eight hours after application.

Glycerin-Based Lotions were Usually Moisturizing

Glycerin-Based Lotions were Usually Moisturizing
Products that did well on this test had one thing in common: they counted glycerin among the first few ingredients listed. And many of these top performers combined glycerin with BG. It backed up our claim that formulations featuring those two ingredients tend to be the most moisturizing.
But because ultra hydrating lotions all had glycerin in them, they were also dense and heavy in texture.

Test ② Application

Test ② Application

Next, we tried applying the lotions. We gathered up a few volunteers from several departments and had them talk about things like the fragrance and texture of the lotions, as well as whether the packaging was well-designed.

Wet and Dense Lotions Felt More Moisturizing

Wet and Dense Lotions Felt More Moisturizing
It was a surprise, but we leaned heavily towards thicker lotions–so dense that they didn’t drip or run from our hands. We can’t deny that they were tacky, but they also left our faces feeling dewy after application. We could tell that our skin was being hydrated.
We were also partial towards lotions with fragrances, rather than without. It may just be a moisturizer, but you can’t discount scent. There were products that smelled of alcohol or products with scents specific to certain brands, but in general, we liked light and refreshing florals.
And, though this is often overlooked, you want a bottle that is neither too big nor too small, but rather snugly fits into your hand.

How to Choose Japanese Moisturizer and Face Lotion – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the products, but first we’d like to introduce two things you should look out for when choosing face lotion.

Choose Something That Will Hydrate Your Skin Properly

First order of business: make sure the lotion is actually hydrating. Think of facial lotion like a lid that seals moisture into your skin. How it performs thus determines the health of your skin, at least to a certain extent.

The First Thing You Should Do is Look for Hydrating Ingredients

The First Thing You Should Do is Look for Hydrating Ingredients
It might be a drag, but read the ingredients list. That’s the most readily available indicator of how moisturizing a lotion is. The following are ingredients that are deemed effective in Japan.
  • BG: Also known as Butylene Glycol or 1,3-Butanediol. Slightly thick and sticky in texture. Can also be used as a preservative. So popular as a moisturizing ingredient that we’ve experienced supply shortages.

  • DPG: Also known as Dipropylene Glycol. Has similar properties to BG. A humectant often used as a substitute.

  • Glycerin: Quite thick and sticky in texture. Extremely moisturizing and feels wet upon application.

Then Look at How the Ingredients are Combined

Then Look at How the Ingredients are Combined
It’s not the ingredients that make the lotion; it’s the overall formulation. A lotion’s ability to moisturize changes depending on how ingredients are combined, so you can’t just think, "Oh, because these certain ingredients are at the top of the list, this lotion will definitely be hydrating."
Generally speaking, the following combinations are said to be the most hydrating.
  • Glycerin and BG
  • Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Concentrated Glycerin  and Trehalose
Looking at this, you can probably tell how effective glycerin is. We also checked for hydration during our tests, so look out for the scores.
Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami
The most hydrating facial lotions tend to have both glycerin and BG in them. Sugars like trehalose and sugar squalane are able to attract and retain water, so they keep your skin moisturized for longer. 

I also recommend lotions that contain oils, whether that be mineral oil or Vaseline. I know that mineral oil has a bad rap, but there are many gentle oils out there that have been derived from petroleum. Keep the age of your skin in mind when thinking about oil content.

Find Something That Makes You Feel Good When You Apply It

Find Something That Makes You Feel Good When You Apply It
You also want to figure out what textures you like and choose a lotion that fits your preferences. You could buy something that’s been showered in SNS fanfare and glowing reviews, but if you can’t stand how sticky it is, then you’re not going to be using it for long. And skincare, like exercise, only works as long as you keep it up.
Unfortunately, the more ultra-moisturizing ingredients–like glycerin and beeswax–are in a lotion, the tackier it tends to be. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, try products that are packed with ingredients like BG, which is lighter than glycerin.
Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami

The ingredient that I think works as a perfect seal is hyaluronic acid, which can bind and retain a lot of water. In particular, I recommend combinations of hyaluronic acid and glycerin or diglycerin. If you don't like the feel of oils, look for lotions that contain collagen.

What’s the Difference Between Cream and Lotion?

What’s the Difference Between Cream and Lotion?
There’s people out there that use cream in place of lotion, but do you know the difference between them?
The greatest difference between lotion and cream is oil content. Both are largely made up of water and oil, but cream contains more oil, while lotion contains more water.
Therefore, at night, when you should be going for heavier skincare, we recommend using creams; while on busy mornings, when you need something that’s going to absorb quickly into the skin, use lotion. After all, what kind of product you need always depends on your particular situation.
Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami
You can always swap out a lotion for a cream or vice versa when the situation calls for it. For example, you can use lotions before and after your period, when sebum starts building up under skin; you can use creams when your skin is dry and you need extra hydration.

Have You Got All the Steps of Your Skincare Routine Down?

Have You Got All the Steps of Your Skincare Routine Down?
It’s not a routine if it doesn’t have multiple steps, right? Japanese skincare often starts with a cleanser, then facewash, then toner, essence, lotion, and finally cream. Learn more about these other products below.

Summary

Upon testing, the author had the following to say: "I tried all the products, but what surprised me the most was that, out of our top three, two were gels. I actually have combination skin, so I want to try more of Sofina’s lotion, which finished in second and smelled amazing."
Be sure to keep the tips and tricks we talked about today in the back of your mind, so you can find a lotion that will keep you smooth and hydrated, regardless of the time of year or age of your skin.

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

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