Top 19 Best Japanese Face Washes for Acne to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for face washes that work on acne-prone skin. We looked at products with salicylic acid; we looked at pore-clearing stuff; we looked at foams and clays and bars of soap.

After some hemming and hawing, we narrowed our list down to 19 options. We then tested them for the following:

1. Cleansing Power
2. Hydration (that is, how hydrated your skin is after cleansing)

This is how we hand-picked the best Japanese face washes for acne. For those interested, we also discuss face washing technique at the end of the article–just a quick heads-up so you don’t miss it.
  • Last updated: 10-28-2019
  • 2,327 views
Table of Contents

Top 19 Best Japanese Face Washes for Acne to Buy Online

We slathered artificial sebum on glass slides and washed them (that’s what that red stuff in the pictures is). We tried the products out ourselves, then measured moisture levels in our skin. And based on their performance, we ranked the top 19 Japanese face washes for acne available online.
※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.
1

BifestaMedicated Acne Care Foaming Whip

$4.56

Japaneseビフェスタ 泡洗顔 コントロールケア
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing5.0
Hydration4.0
Overall Score5.0
2
Japanese明色美顔石鹸
Active IngredientsSalicylic Acid
Cleansing5.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score5.0
3
Japaneseb.glen クレイウォッシュ
Active Ingredients
Cleansing4.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score4.0
4
Japaneseドクターシーラボ アクネレスソープ
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol
Cleansing4.0
Hydration1.0
Overall Score4.0
5

Primary Inc. Non A.

$26.81

JapaneseプライマリーNon A
Active IngredientsGlycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing3.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score3.0
6

Mentholatum AcnesMedicated Foaming Face Wash

$3.96

Japaneseメンソレータム アクネス ふわふわ泡洗顔
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing2.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score3.0
7

Astalift Lunamer ACFiber Foam

$18.99

Japaneseルナメア ACファイバーフォーム
Active Ingredients
Cleansing1.0
Hydration5.0
Overall Score3.0
8

Cow Brand SkinLifeMedicated Foaming Face Wash

$2.57

Japaneseスキンライフ 洗顔フォーム
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration4.0
Overall Score3.0
9

LION Pair Acne Creamy Foam Medicated Face Wash

$7.05

JapaneseLION ペアアクネ クリーミーフォーム
Active IngredientsGlycyrrhizinate Dipotassium, Isopropyl Methylphenol
Cleansing1.0
Hydration4.0
Overall Score3.0
10
Japanese鶴西ニキビケア洗顔
Active Ingredientso-Cymen-5-ol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration4.0
Overall Score3.0
11
JapaneseFANCL アクネケア 洗顔クリーム
Active IngredientsGlycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score2.0
12

kao Bioré Marshmallow Whip Medicated Acne Care

$3.99

Japanese花王ビオレ マシュマロホイップ アクネケア
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score2.0
13

kao Bioré Skin Care Face Wash Medicated Acne Care

$3.06

Japanese花王 ビオレ スキンケア洗顔料 アクネケア
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score2.0
14
Japanese常盤薬品工業 ノブ A アクネフォーム
Active IngredientsGlycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration3.0
Overall Score2.0
15

Mentholatum Acnes Medicated Pore Cleansing Face Wash

$3.80

Japaneseメンソレータム アクネス 毛穴すっきり粒つぶ洗顔
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score1.0
16
Japaneseオルビス クリアウォッシュ
Active IngredientsGlycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score1.0
17

RosetteCleansing Paste Acne Clear Medicated Foaming Face Wash

$3.42

Japaneseロゼット 洗顔パスタ アクネクリア
Active IngredientsStearyl Glycyrrhetinate
Cleansing1.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score1.0
18

RosetteCleansing Paste for Rough Skin Medicated

$3.92

Japaneseロゼット 洗顔パスタ<br>荒性肌
Active IngredientsSulfur, Photosensitizer 201, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate
Cleansing1.0
Hydration2.0
Overall Score1.0
19

BCL AHA Cleansing Research Medicated Acne Wash

$6.47

JapaneseBCL AHAクレンジングリサーチ アクネウォッシュ
Active IngredientsIsopropyl Methylphenol, Glycyrrhizinate Dipotassium
Cleansing1.0
Hydration1.0
Overall Score1.0

How We Tested Our Products

We determined that the best face wash for acne needed to be strong enough to rid our skin of excess oil and other impurities. And yet, it couldn’t be completely drying. This is how we tested for those factors.

Test ①: Cleansing Power

Test ①: Cleansing Power
We covered 19 glass slides with artificial sebum. We then applied the face wash on top of each sample, working it in for about 20 seconds, before rinsing the slides off with lukewarm water. Finally, we looked at how much sebum was left on the slides.
We found that the denser the foam, the stronger the cleanser. Foaming wash is usually made up of larger, looser bubbles, so they tend to be milder. On the other hand, bar soaps lather up to a plush foam, and they’re more likely to leave you squeaky clean.

Test ②: Hydration (How Hydrated Skin Was after Cleansing)

Test ②: Hydration (How Hydrated Skin Was after Cleansing)
We used a moisture analyzer and measured water levels in our skin before application. We then worked the products into our skin for 20 seconds each, rinsed off, waited for five minutes, and measured water levels again. Finally, we compared the figures and ranked the face washes.
This likely won’t come as a surprise, but plusher foams were more dehydrating. Makes sense–the better a product is at ridding your skin of impurities, the more oil it’s going to strip away. Also, keep in mind that dehydrated skin doesn’t always feel taut, so that shouldn’t be your sole indicator.

Tips on How to Choose a Japanese Face Wash for Acne – Buying Guide

Here are three big things to look out for.

① Stronger Doesn’t Equal Better–Cleansing Power Depends on the State of Your Skin

① Stronger Doesn’t Equal Better–Cleansing Power Depends on the State of Your Skin
You can get teen acne, and you can get adult acne. They’re caused by different things and require different treatments.
Teen acne usually appears in the T-zone (your forehead and around your nose), and it’s caused by the overproduction of oil. If you’re suffering from teen acne, you want more cleansing power–enough to rid your skin of excess sebum. Look for bar soap or thick foam cleansers.
On the other hand, adult acne usually appears around the U-zone (your chin and your cheeks). It’s triggered by things like stress, dry skin, and lack of sleep. If this sounds like you, try to avoid anything too callous; that means no scrubs and nothing that’s going to deprive your skin of too much oil.

② OTC Drugs are Good, but Not Necessarily More Effective–All They Do is Contain Some Active Ingredients

② OTC Drugs are Good, but Not Necessarily More Effective–All They Do is Contain Some Active Ingredients
You may notice that some Japanese face washes are labeled as “medicated※1” or “OTC drugs※2”. All that means is that the formula contains active ingredients at a certain concentration. Here are some common examples of active ingredients, along with their effects:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents: glycyrrhizinate dipotassium※3, allantoin※4, stearyl glycyrrhetinate※5

  • Anti-Bacterials: o-Cymen-5-ol※6 (formerly known as isopropyl methylphenol※7)

  • Exfoliants: salicylic acid※8

Be aware, however, that these ingredients are present in low concentrations, and you won’t get the same effects with an OTC drug as you would with a prescription drug. They do tend to work very well as preventive measures, but OTC drugs are neither guaranteed to heal acne nor stop heavy breakouts.
※1 薬用: medicated
※2 医薬部外品: translated here as “OTC drug” (also known as a quasi-drug)
※3 グリチルリチン酸ジカリウム: glycyrrhizinate dipotassium
※4 アラントイン: allantoin
※5 グリチルレチン酸ステアリル: stearyl glycyrrhetinate
※6 シメン-5-オール: o-Cymen-5-ol
※7 イソプロピルメチルフェノール: isopropyl methylphenol
※8 サリチル酸: salicylic acid

③ Keep Those Pores Clear–Look for Products Labeled Non-Comedogenic

③ Keep Those Pores Clear–Look for Products Labeled Non-Comedogenic
A non-comedogenic product doesn’t clog pores. And, as you know, blocked pores are one of the main culprits behind acne–in fact, a comedo is a kind of pimple. In Japan, if a product has undergone proper testing, it should say so on the packaging※9.
Of course, just because a product has had its non-comedogenic claims tested doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed not to cause acne. None-comedogenic face washes also tend to be more expensive, but we’d still recommend them over untested products.
※9 ノンコメドジェニックテスト済: non-comedogenic tested

What Causes Acne?

Propionibacterium acnes, right? (Known in Japanese as アクネ菌–literally, acne bacteria.) Not quite.

Final Answer: All that Sebum that’s Congesting Your Pores

Final Answer: All that Sebum that’s Congesting Your Pores
Acne happens when the balance of sweat and oils in your skin is skewed, causing the excess juice to clog up your pores. Our friend, the bacterium P. acnes is a result, rather than a cause.
P. acnes lives in your hair follicles and is an example of what medical literature calls “opportunistic pathogens”–that is, microorganisms that don’t harm their hosts under normal conditions. Actually, P. acnes can be pretty beneficial, as it produces fatty acids and glycerin, which are components of healthy skin.
However, once the pores it calls home are blocked, P. acnes begins to proliferate. P. acnes usually secretes a harmless substance that allows it to break down sebum and eat it as food. However, too much of this secretion causes inflammation of the skin, which in turn causes acne.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can solve all your breakouts by getting the strongest face wash available. After all, when you forcibly strip your skin of oils, it will respond by producing even more oil (in an act of rebellion). You’ve got to find that delicate balance between clear pores and hydrated skin.

Face Washing Techniques: How to Cleanse Your Acne-Prone Skin

Here are some tips from our Japanese editing department.

Our Two Big Rules–Lather up and Be Gentle

Our Two Big Rules–Lather up and Be Gentle
Let us teach you how to wash your face.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Get under those fingernails.

  2. Rinse off your face with lukewarm water–that’s 30-36℃ (or 86-96.8℉ to you nonconformists).

  3. Dispense a generous amount of product and lather up well.

  4. Start off with your most oily areas (that is, your forehead and nose) and gently work the product across your face for about 20 seconds.

  5. Rinse off again with lukewarm water and pat dry with a towel.

Try not to scrub at your face with your fingers; instead, let the cushion of foam do most of the work. That foam actually starts soaking up oil as soon as it touches your skin, so there’s no point to washing your face for too long. Make it a habit to rinse off after about 20 seconds.
Also, we said it once, but we’ll say it again. Pat dry with a towel. Not hit dry and certainly not scrub dry. Gently lay the towel onto your skin and let it absorb the water.

Don’t Wash Too Much–That Would be Counterproductive. Pay Attention to Your Moisturizers as Well

Don’t Wash Too Much–That Would be Counterproductive. Pay Attention to Your Moisturizers as Well
When your skin’s oily or you’ve got a bad case of acne, you’d think you could clear things up with just a few extra washes. If only. The truth is, when you wash your face too much, you deprive it of essential oils. Your skin then produces even more sebum to make up for the loss, and now you’re back where you started.
Also, make sure you moisturize right after you cleanse. Just avoid creams and lotions that contain a lot of oils, as these can also feed your acne. Look for toners and light moisturizers, which work largely by drawing water into your skin.

Round out the Rest of Your Japanese Skincare Routine with Moisturizers

Round out the Rest of Your Japanese Skincare Routine with Moisturizers
We can’t stress this enough–if you’re battling acne, keeping your skin hydrated is as important as keeping it clean. Below are some other products to help you out.

Summary

We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 19 most popular Japanese face washes for acne, and tested them all.
Remember, the worse your acne gets, the more likely it’ll lead to scarring–and there really isn’t much you can do about acne scars on your own. The best kind of treatment is preventive treatment, and that’s where face wash comes in. If you’re already suffering from a really bad breakout, go see a dermatologist.
Original by Yukina Matsuda; Translation by Jasmine Li

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    Let’s get this straight–there’s no such thing as a “best” hair dye. Strictly speaking. Just like there’s no such thing as a “best” concealer or “best” mattress or “best” jacket because it all comes down to you. What kind of skin do you have? What kind of sleeping posture? Do you get cold easily?This time around, we ordered the 10 most popular hair dyes found in Japanese drugstores and on Japan’s e-commerce sites and compared the following:1. How Vivid the Color was2. How Gentle on Hair the Dye was3. How Long the Color LastedHowever, we want you to keep in mind that the Japanese hair dyes we introduce were formulated with Japanese (naturally black, bleached Asian) hair in mind and are most effective on hair of a similar quality. If you’ve hair like that, great–you’ll probably find that it works better than your average box of CVS/Walgreens stuff. If not, though, results may be a bit unexpected.
    Cosmetics and skincare
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