• Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True! 1
  • Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True! 2
  • Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True! 3
  • Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True! 4
  • Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True! 5

Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

Winters in Japan can get really dry, especially with offices running their heaters, full blast, at what must be a million degrees (not pointing any fingers, but). Times like these, you need a little extra moisture. Especially because one of the secrets to keeping your skin young is to keep it hydrated. Japanese cosmetics companies caught wind of this and–lo and behold–the market’s swamped with moisturizing serums.

Great, but that makes it all the more difficult to tell which formulas will work for you and which… not so much. To save you some guesswork, we ordered the 19 most popular moisturizing serums 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 moisturizing serums, essences, and ampoules※1.

※1 美容液: serums, essences, and ampoules (all three are basically the same product, just with different concentration levels of active ingredients)

This article's specialists

Aiko Kawakami
  • Last updated: 10-25-2019
  • 503 views
Table of Contents

Introducing the Expert Who Lent Us Her Knowledge

This time around, we borrowed the expertise of a skincare specialist, who’s a well-known face both in magazines and on the web.
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 to Choose a Japanese Moisturizing Serum, Essence, or Ampoule – 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 moisturizing serum.

① Choose Something… Moisturizing

Okay, we know that’s obvious; below, we tell you how to do so.

Read the Ingredients List and Look for Hydrating Combos

Read the Ingredients List and Look for Hydrating Combos
In Japan, cosmetics need to have all ingredients listed, so you can read the packaging and have a rough idea of what the formula’s going to be like. However, if the serum’s been labeled as what translates roughly into an OTC drug※2, then the maker is under no obligation to provide a full list of ingredients–so it gets hard to make assumptions simply from reading labels.
In the cosmetics industry, the most popular hydrating ingredient in glycerin. Then there’s BG, DPG, and trehalose※3. If you see any of these near the top of the ingredients list, then you can expect the serum to be moisturizing–at least to a certain extent.
As we already explained, it’s hard to judge from just the packaging. So, at the very least, we made sure to test all of the products we purchased for hydration; take those results into consideration as well.
※2 医薬部外品: translated here as over-the-counter (OTC) drug; often also referred to as a quasi-drug
※3 トレハロース: trehalose

Formulas that Include Alcohol and Ethanol Feel Light and Airy and are Therefore Good

Formulas that Include Alcohol and Ethanol Feel Light and Airy and are Therefore Good
Alcohol and ethanol are volatile; therefore, serums that include them will feel less sticky and dense on skin.
Some eyebrows are probably going up now. After all, alcohol is rumored to shrivel up skin. But just because a product contains alcohol doesn’t mean that it’s drying. That actually depends on the condition your skin is in, as well as your physical constitution.
However, you would do well to avoid alcohol if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to it.
Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami
There are ingredients people feel are irritating, either because of some change in their health or because they've spent too long reading false claims about skincare. However, the truth of the matter is that out of the 14,000 plus cosmetic ingredients on the market now, there's not a single one that's universally irritating.

② Choose Something that You Enjoy Applying

② Choose Something that You Enjoy Applying
Hydrating serums come in all kinds of textures–some you may like, some you may feel iffy about. You can find gel serums, slick liquid serums, or dense cream-like serums.
It isn’t as if one kind of texture is better than another. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it all comes down to personal preference. Look for a serum that’s easy to apply–and has a texture and scent that appeals to you.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them
Now to introduce the 19 most popular Japanese moisturizing serums that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.
{The Products We Tested}
1. ETVOS Moisturizing Serum (エトヴォス モイスチャライジングセラム)
2. Ayura Rhythm Concentrate (アユーラ リズムコンセントレート)
3. ONE BY KOSE Hydration Boosting Serum (ワンバイコーセー 薬用保湿美容液)
4. Tune Makers Ceramide 200 Essence (チューンメーカーズ セラミド配合200エッセンス)
5. Tune Makers Fullerene Essence (チューンメーカーズ フラーレン配合エッセンス)
6. Rice Force Deep Moisture Essence (ライスフォース ディープシリーズ ディープモイスチュアエッセンス)
7. DECORTÉ Moisture Liposome (コスメデコルテ モイスチュア リポソーム)
8. Biso-Jin jewelry jelly (株式会社美創人ジュエリージェリー )
9. Curél Intensive Moisture Care Wrinkle Moisture Essence (キュレル 潤浸保湿美容液)
10. Acseine Skincontrol Essence AD (アクセーヌ AD コントロール エッセンス)
11. shu uemura TSUYA skin essence VG (シュウウエムラ TSUYA エッセンスVG)
12. SUQQU Light Solution Essence (SUQQU ライトソリューション エッセンス)
13. shiro KOMBU Skin Serum (shiro がごめ昆布美容液)
14. POLA B.A Serum REVUP (POLA B.A セラム レブアップ)
15. ALBION eclafutur d (アルビオンエクラフチュールd)
16. Chifure Essence Alcohol-Free (ちふれ 美容液 ノンアルコールタイプ)
17. LITS Moist Essence (リッツ モイスト 美容 エッセンス)
18. MAIHADA Hadajun Essence (米肌 肌潤改善エッセンス)
19. Kikumasamune Nihonshu no Biyoueki – Sake Essence (菊正宗 日本酒の美容液)
We then tested for each of the following things:
Test ①: Hydration
Test ②: Application

Test ①: Hydration

Test ①: Hydration
The first thing we looked at was hydration.
We applied a pearl-sized drop of each serum on our arm. We then used a moisture analyzer and compared the state of our skin before application to its state eight hours after application.

The Big Takeaway: Glycerin and BG are a Hydrating Super Combo

The Big Takeaway: Glycerin and BG are a Hydrating Super Combo
If it has glycerin, it’s probably hydrating. We also found that serums that combined glycerin with BG tended to be the most hydrating of all. They also tended to be dense.
Something else hydrating serums had in common? They contained ingredients derived from sugar. Trehalose is one of the most famous examples, and formulas that featured it were usually satisfactory.
Aiko Kawakami
Skincare Specialist
Aiko Kawakami
If you want something that's hydrating, then I recommend formulas that contain both BG and glycerin. Sugars like trehalose and sugar squalane are great at attracting water, so they're usually effective as well.

Test ②: Application

Test ②: Application
Next, we looked at how each serum applied.
We gathered staff from several departments and had them tell us their impressions RE the texture and scent of the formula and convenience of the packaging.

The Big Takeaway: We Liked Toned Down, Classy Smells and Droppers

The Big Takeaway: We Liked Toned Down, Classy Smells and Droppers
We felt droppers were the most convenient to use. It was easiest to measure out how much product we wanted to use (and it helped that they made us feel like we were using an expensive serum / we were scientists). We also liked denser serums, since the hydration they packed into our skin was immediately noticeable.
As for fragrance, we liked to keep it classy. Think subtle floral scents. You want to use serums daily, so as long as you aren’t sensitive to fragrances, it’s nice to wrap yourself in a gentle scent at the end of the day and pretend you’re at a spa.

The Final Verdict: Top 19 Best Japanese Moisturizing Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 19 best Japanese moisturizing serums, essences, and ampoules available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.
HydrationD
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreD
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreD
HydrationD
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreD
16. Biso-Jin jewelry jelly 1

16. Biso-Jin jewelry jelly

$102.12

HydrationC
ApplicationD
Overall ScoreD

15. DECORTÉ Moisture Liposome

$50.00

HydrationD
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreC
HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreC
13. Curél Intensive Moisture Care Wrinkle Moisture Essence 1

13. Curél Intensive Moisture Care Wrinkle Moisture Essence

$16.38

HydrationC
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreC
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB

10. Kikumasamune Nihonshu no Biyoueki – Sake Essence

$13.61

HydrationA
ApplicationD
Overall ScoreB
9. Rice Force Deep Moisture Essence 1

9. Rice Force Deep Moisture Essence

$100.00

HydrationC
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreB

8. shiro KOMBU Skin Serum

$86.99

HydrationA
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreB
HydrationA
ApplicationC
Overall ScoreB
HydrationB
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreB
HydrationC
ApplicationA+
Overall ScoreB
HydrationB
ApplicationA+
Overall ScoreA
HydrationA
ApplicationA
Overall ScoreB
HydrationA+
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreA+
HydrationA+
ApplicationB
Overall ScoreA+

If You Need Moisture, Moisture, and More Moisture, Check Out These Articles as Well

If You Need Moisture, Moisture, and More Moisture, Check Out These Articles as Well
If you have dry skin and want to properly care for it, you’ll need a good toner and lotion as well. We also tested all the products in these articles, so you should find them helpful.

Summary

We consulted a skincare specialist, purchased the 19 most popular moisturizing serums, essences, and ampoules, and tested them all.
Remember which serums are most hydrating, which are dense, and which are more lightweight. That way, you can find one that will not only keep your skin soft and lush throughout winter, but fresh and dewy in summer.
Original by Yukina Matusda; Translation by Jasmine Li

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