• Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 1
  • Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 2
  • Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 3
  • Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 4
  • Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 5

Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!

Last time, we talked about toners. Now, we move on to the next step in the Japanese skincare routine: moisturizers and face lotions※1. 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 25 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.

※1 乳液: moisturizer / face lotion

This article's specialists

Aiko Kawakami
  • Last updated: 12-12-2019
  • 15,154 views
Table of Contents

Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2019

We picked out 24 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 24 Japanese face lotions and moisturizers available online.


※Japanese prices for the some of the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.

1
HydrationA+
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreA+
2

Sofinajenne Moisturizing Gel Lotion for Combination Skin

$30.09

HydrationB
ApplicationA+
Overall ScoreA+
3
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
HydrationB
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreA
6
HydrationA
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreA
7
episteme day moisture emulsion a 1

epistemeday moisture emulsion a

$129.11

HydrationC
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreA
8
HydrationA
ApplicationD
Overall ScoreA
9
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
10
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
11
HydrationB
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreB
12
HydrationB
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreB
13

Skin maniaClear Essence Milk

$26.51

HydrationB
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreB
14
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
15
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
16
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
17
HydrationB
ApplicationD
Overall ScoreC
18
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreC
19

cuturaMilky Lotion

$27.46

HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreC
20

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

$8.22

HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreC
21
HydrationC
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreC
22
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreD
23
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreD
24

Sofinajenne Moisturizing UV Lotion for Combination Skin

$29.99

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
Skin mania Clear Essence Milk 1

Skin mania

14
d program Moist Care Emulsion R 1

d program

15
d program Balance Care Emulsion R II 1

d program

16
Nameraka Honpo Soymilk Isoflavone Lotion 1

Nameraka Honpo

17
est the emulsion II 1

est

18
ELIXIR REFLET Balancing Oshiroi Milk 1

ELIXIR

19
cutura Milky Lotion 1

cutura

20
Hada Labo Shirojyun Premium with White Tranexamic Acid & Vitamin C Medicated Whitening Lotion 1

Hada Labo

21
Muji Moisturizing Milk Moisture 1

Muji

22
Kose LECHÉRI Lift Glow Emulsion II 1

Kose

23
Astalift Emulsion 1

Astalift

24
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

Clear Essence 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

FeaturesPretty Astounding when It C...We’re Obsessed with this Lo...A See-Through Gel that’s a ...Worth Way More than Its Pri...Soft Scent of Dew-Covered P...Lightweight Formula, but St...Makes Skin Feel Smooth and ...Best Quality for the Price....Bit Sticky upon Application...Spreads Easily and Absorbs ...Refreshing, Both in Scent (...Hydrating, but Thick and Le...Decently Hydrating, but als...It’s Meant for Dry Skin, bu...Smells a Bit like Alcohol. ...Light and Silky. Worth a Tr...We’ll Take the Stickiness, ...Felt Light on Skin. Will Wo...Bottle Keeps Its Contents f...Will Probably Help with Whi...We Don’t Mind the Tackiness...Can’t Expect Much Hydration...Why is It So Tacky when It ...Closer to Sunscreen than Lo...
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$26.51$30.94$30.34$11.94$98.71$15.55$27.46$8.22$10.50$25.05$35.64$29.99
HydrationA+BAABACABBBBBCCCBCCCCDDD
ApplicationAA+BBACADBBCCCBBBDCCCCCCD
Overall ScoreA+A+AAAAAABBBBBBBBCCCCCDDD
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.

The Big Takeaway: Glycerin-Based Lotions were Usually Moisturizing

The Big Takeaway: 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.

The Big Takeaway: Maybe It’s Because They Felt More Moisturizing, but We Liked Wet, Dense Lotions

The Big Takeaway: Maybe It’s Because They Felt More Moisturizing, but We Liked Wet, Dense Lotions
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 moisturizer, but you can’t discount smell. 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 to 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.

① Choose Something Properly Hydrating

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.

First Thing You Should Do is Look for Hydrating Ingredients

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※2, 1,3-Butanediol※3. 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※4. Has similar properties to BG. A humectant often used as a substitute.

  • Glycerin※5: Quite thick and sticky in texture. Extremely moisturizing and feels wet upon application.
※2 ブチレングリコール: butylene glycol

※3 1,3-ブチレングリコール: 1,3-butanediol

※4 ジプロピレングリコール: dipropylene glycol

※5 グリセリン: glycerin

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※6
  • Concentrated Glycerin※7 and Trehalose※8
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.
※6 ヒアルロン酸ナトリウム: sodium hyaluronate; the salt form of hyaluronic acid

※7 濃グリセリン: concentrated glycerin

※8 トレハロース: trehalose

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.

② Choose Something that Makes You Feel Good when You Apply It

② Choose 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 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

We consulted a skincare specialist, purchased the 25 most popular moisturizers and face lotions, and tested them all.
Your original writer 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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