• Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More) 1
  • Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More) 2
  • Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More) 3
  • Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More) 4
  • Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More) 5

Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks in 2021 - Tried and True! (N organic, Minon, and More)

Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for the best facial cleansing milk. We then chose the 15 most popular products and tested them for the following:

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

We talked to a specialist who used to work in cosmetics R&D about options for sensitive and dry skin. We looked for products that worked on waterproof makeup. What we ended up with was a definitive list of and buying guide about the best Japanese cleansing milks available online and in drugstores.

Experts featured in this article

Devan Jesmer
  • Last updated: 06-10-2021
  • 5,047 views
Table of Contents

What is Cleansing Milk?

What is Cleansing Milk?
Cleansing milk is similar in texture to a face lotion. It’s milder than other cleansers and less dehydrating; plus, it’s particularly suited to those with dry or sensitive skin.
Formulas differ from brand to brand and line to line, but generally speaking, cleansing milks are high in water content and low in oil. They’re less powerful. They don’t work well on long-wearing products like liquid foundation, cream blushes and eyeshadows, and waterproof mascaras and eyeliners.
If your makeup is as mild as your skincare, then you should have little issue. But if you use waterproof products, you should either pair milk cleansing with dedicated eye makeup remover or consider another type of cleanser.

Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks

We tried the cleansing milks out on makeup, measured moisture levels in our skin to make sure they weren’t drying, and consulted a skincare specialist about fail-proof ingredients. Based on how they performed on these tests, we ranked the top 15 Japanese cleansing milks available online.

※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.
1

COW BRANDAdditive-Free Cleansing Milk

$15.75

Japaneseカウブランド 無添加メイク落としミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing3.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients5.0
Overall Score5.0
2
Japaneseアクセーヌ ミルキィクレンズアップ
TypeRinse and Wipe off
Double CleansingNecessary
Can be Applied WetNo
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
3

COVERMARKTreatment Cleansing Milk

$30.30

Japaneseカバーマーク トリートメント クレンジングミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingNecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsYes
Cleansing5.0
Hydration5.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score4.0
4

Give & TakeOil-in Milk Cleansing

$9.84

Japaneseギブ&テイク クレンジングオイルミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing3.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients5.0
Overall Score4.0
5

MINONAmino Moist Moist Milky Cleansing

$16.39

Japaneseミノン アミノモイスト モイストミルキィ クレンジング
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingNecessary
Can be Applied WetNo
Eyelash ExtensionsNo
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score4.0
6

KEANABaking Soda Cleansing Milk

$16.39

Japanese毛穴撫子 重曹クレンジングミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing4.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
7
Japaneseママバター クレンジングミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetNo
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing4.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
8
JapaneseHACCI クレンジングミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetNot Listed
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing3.0
Hydration5.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score3.0
9
JapaneseAQ MW クレンジング ミルク
TypeRinse and Wipe off
Double CleansingUnecessary
Can be Applied WetNot Listed
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score3.0
10

ParaDoSkincare Cleansing

$19.67

Japaneseパラドゥ スキンケアクレンジング
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsYes
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score3.0
11

N organicMoisture & Balancing Cleansing Milk

$37.16

JapaneseN organic モイスチュア&バランシング クレンジングミルク
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetNot Listed
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing5.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score3.0
12

Nameraka HonpoMakeup Remover Milk

$9.67

Japaneseなめらか本舗 メイク落としミルク N
TypeRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYes
Eyelash ExtensionsNot Listed
Cleansing2.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score2.0

Compare the Best Japanese Cleansing Milks

Image
1
COW BRAND Additive-Free Cleansing Milk 1

COW BRAND

2
ACSEINE Milky Cleanse Up 1

ACSEINE

3
COVERMARK Treatment Cleansing Milk 1

COVERMARK

4
Give & Take Oil-in Milk Cleansing 1

Give & Take

5
MINON Amino Moist Moist Milky Cleansing 1

MINON

6
KEANA Baking Soda Cleansing Milk 1

KEANA

7
MAMA BUTTER Cleansing Milk 1

MAMA BUTTER

8
HACCI Cleansing Milk 1

HACCI

9
AQ MW Cleansing Emulsion 1

AQ MW

10
ParaDo Skincare Cleansing 1

ParaDo

11
N organic Moisture & Balancing Cleansing Milk 1

N organic

12
Nameraka Honpo Makeup Remover Milk 1

Nameraka Honpo

Name

Additive-Free Cleansing Milk

Milky Cleanse Up

Treatment Cleansing Milk

Oil-in Milk Cleansing

Amino Moist Moist Milky Cleansing

Baking Soda Cleansing Milk

Cleansing Milk

Cleansing Milk

Cleansing Emulsion

Skincare Cleansing

Moisture & Balancing Cleansing Milk

Makeup Remover Milk

Features

Works On All but the Most Stubborn Products

Strikes the Best Balance and is Compatible With Most Skin Types

Eliminates Even Waterproof Makeup but Doesn’t Dehydrate Skin

Mild Ingredients and Smooth, Slippery Texture

Smooth Application and Efficient Cleansing

Clears Off All Typical Makeup and Leaves Skin Feeling Refreshed

Buttery Texture That Blends Smoothly into Makeup

A Dense Honey-Based Formula That Hydrates

Easy to Work With and Formulated With Great Skincare Ingredients

Feels like Face Lotion and Leaves Skin Soft and Hydrated

Likely the Most Effective Organic Cleansing Milk Around

Convenient Texture and Pump

Price$15.75$34.10$30.30$9.84$16.39$16.39$16.39$48.68$76.50$19.67$37.16$9.67
Japaneseカウブランド 無添加メイク落としミルクアクセーヌ ミルキィクレンズアップカバーマーク トリートメント クレンジングミルクギブ&テイク クレンジングオイルミルクミノン アミノモイスト モイストミルキィ クレンジング毛穴撫子 重曹クレンジングミルクママバター クレンジングミルクHACCI クレンジングミルクAQ MW クレンジング ミルクパラドゥ スキンケアクレンジングN organic モイスチュア&バランシング クレンジングミルクなめらか本舗 メイク落としミルク N
TypeRinse offRinse and Wipe offRinse offRinse offRinse offRinse offRinse offRinse offRinse and Wipe offRinse offRinse offRinse off
Double CleansingUnnecessaryNecessaryNecessaryUnnecessaryNecessaryUnnecessaryUnnecessaryUnnecessaryUnecessaryUnnecessaryUnnecessaryUnnecessary
Can be Applied WetYesNoYesYesNoYesNoNot ListedNot ListedYesNot ListedYes
Eyelash ExtensionsNot ListedNot ListedYesNot ListedNoNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedNot ListedYesNot ListedNot Listed
Cleansing3.04.05.03.04.04.04.03.04.04.05.02.0
Hydration4.04.05.03.04.03.03.05.04.04.03.03.0
Ingredients5.04.02.05.03.04.04.02.02.02.02.03.0
Overall Score5.04.04.04.04.04.04.03.03.03.03.02.0
Link

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

And why they didn't quite make it.

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

MUJI Milk Cleansing had was not thin enough to be runny, but not dense enough to feel stiff. However, it didn’t spread very thin, so we were forced to use more product than average. Plus, hydration wasn’t long-lasting, but skin did feel soft and smooth after cleansing.

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

ARGELAN Moist Cleansing Milk was gloopy and left skin tacky and sticky. You’d have to take your time rinsing off afterwards. It gave off a plant scent–“citrus herbal notes” produced from a blend of essential oils.

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

One of the other organic formulas we tested out, chant a charm Cleansing Milk, spread well. However, it failed to do its job as a cleanser. There were no synthetic fragrances, but you could smell the aroma oils that were included as cosmetic ingredients.

How We Tested the Cleansing Milks

We determined that the best cleansing milks actually cleansed well. But it was just as important that they be hydrating and mild enough for sensitive skin.

This is how we tested for those factors.

Test ① Cleansing

Test ① Cleansing

We applied makeup to the backs of our hands. We then massaged in all the samples of cleansing milk for an equal amount of time and rinsed off. After that, we rated each product on cleansing power; a score of five meant the cleanser worked effectively on a great majority of products (including waterproof ones).

We tested on the following cosmetics. To give us a better idea of the maximum efficacy of each cleanser, we purposely chose long-wearing items.
  • Waterproof Mascara
  • Eyeshadow
  • Eyeliner
  • Lip Tint
  • Liquid Foundation
Formulas that featured plant-based oils, such as rice bran oil, were less drying and more mild overall. However, they lacked in cleansing power. If you wear heavy makeup, go for cleansing that feature esters and mineral oils.

Test ② Hydration

Test ② Hydration
We used a moisture analyzer to measure water levels in our skin before cleansing, right after cleanser, and five minutes after cleansing.
Out of all forms of cleansing, cleansing milk naturally has the most hydrating ingredients–and it turned out that all the products we tested packed a good amount of moisture. The best, however, tended to be thicker in texture; they acted as a cushion, staving off unwanted friction and locking in water.

Test ③ Ingredients

Test ③ Ingredients
We asked a specialist who used to work in cosmetics R&D to help us identify options for sensitive skin. She looked through all the ingredients lists, then graded the products on a five-step scale. The highest scores went to the mildest products.
※Keep in mind that a low score doesn’t equate to a dangerous product. It simply means that it was judged to be possibly irritating for folks with sensitive skin.
Test ③ Ingredients
We learned that just because a product is organic doesn’t mean it’s more suitable for sensitive skin. Many organic products contain a blend of various botanical extracts and essential oils, and it’s possible that at least one of the ingredients will cause an allergic reaction or irritate sensitive skin.
Furthermore, in Japan, there aren’t any clear regulations governing which products get to label themselves as “organic” and which don’t. If you have allergies, sensitive skin, eczema or any other kind of skin disease, make sure you patch test all products (including organic ones!) before applying to your face.

How to Choose a Japanese Cleansing Milk – Buying Guide

After testing the products, we determined five criteria which you should evaluate when going to look for your perfect cleansing milk. We'll go over them here. 

Pick Between Rinse or Wipe Off Cleansers

Pick Between Rinse or Wipe Off Cleansers
Some cleansing milks are rinsed off with water; others are wiped off with cotton swabs. You can let preference dictate which one you choose, but generally speaking, we recommend milk that you rinse off. There are two big reasons for this. 

The first reason is that it’s faster. You use the cleansing milk to lift makeup off your skin, then immediately splash your whole face with water, giving the grime less time to sink back into your skin. The second is that it’s gentler. You never want to rub at your face, whether that be with a cotton pad or otherwise.

Cleansers that you wipe off, however, are more convenient when you’re only trying to remove eye and lip makeup.

Understand Common Ingredients and Their Effects

The ingredients in a product are particularly important too, as different formulations answer to different needs.

For Those in Need of Moisture

For Those in Need of Moisture
The skeptics among you may be thinking that hydrating ingredients in a cleanser have no meaning; after all, you rinse them off soon after application. However, hydrating ingredients also serve to act as a barrier between your skin and all the cleansing agents in the formula; they keep the cleanser from stripping away essential oils and wearing down skin.
The following are moisturizing ingredients commonly found in cleansing milk.
Common Hydrating Ingredients
  • Ceramides
  • Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Glycerin
  • Collagen
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Sodium PCA
  • Sodium Lactate

Avoid These if You Have Sensitive Skin

Avoid These if You Have Sensitive Skin
Take “additive-free” labels with a grain of salt. A formula has to avoid just one of several common ingredients (such as fragrances or dyes) to be considered “additive-free.” It’s up to you to ascertain exactly what’s in the cleanser and what isn’t.
Below are some ingredients that those with sensitive skin should be wary of.
Common Sensitivities and Allergies
  • Alcohol (Ethanol)
  • Dyes
  • Perfumes/Fragrances
  • Preservatives Considered Highly Antibacterial (Benzoic Acid, Parabens)

Common Additives that Can be Drying
  • Mineral Oil

※Note: not all parabens are irritating. Many brands are dedicated to the safety of their products and conduct vigorous tests to ensure that their formulas are gentle. However, items that contain a large amount of parabens or parabens that are highly antibacterial can sometimes act as triggers when applied to sensitive skin.

Skip the Double-Cleansing to Save Time

Skip the Double-Cleansing to Save Time

Many Japanese cleansers need to be followed by a face wash; that’s the “double-cleansing” that you hear about so often. However, if you don't have the time or don't want to double-cleanse, then get a product that can be used on its own.

Washing your face too much can dehydrate it. Stand-alone cleansers are thus a good choice for folks with dry and sensitive skin. Or you could limit stand-alone cleansers to the winter, when winds strip skin of moisture and you have less sebum to contend with.
However, there’s a chance that longer-wearing makeup will leave behind residue, so we recommend that you double-cleanse if you regularly use waterproof products.

Check if the Product Can be Used in the Shower

Check if the Product Can be Used in the Shower
Many cleansers don’t work as well when applied with wet hands. If you like to take off your makeup in the bath or shower, then check the packaging. It should say whether or not the product’s formulated for bath-time use.

You Need Special Products for Eyelash Extensions Too

You Need Special Products for Eyelash Extensions Too
Eyelash extensions are attached with glue. That glue is weak to oil, so cleansing milks that contain things like mineral oils and esters may cause them to fall out. There are, however, mineral-oil formulas that are extension-friendly.
The easiest way to tell is, again, to read the label. If the product says it’s okay for eyelash extensions, then it’s okay for eyelash extensions; if it says nothing, then assume it isn’t compatible.

How to Use Cleansing Milk so That You’re Actually being Cleansed

Just making sure you’re doing it right.

Warm the Cleansing Milk up in Your Hands First

Warm the Cleansing Milk up in Your Hands First
Even if your cleansing milk has got oil in it, when you first dispense product, all that oil’s going to be surrounded by water. By warming it up, you’re allowing the oil to permeate through solution, which makes it easier to remove oil-based cosmetics.
You could allow the solution to warm up on your face, but that would take some time. Instead, cup the cleansing milk in your hands first, then apply to your face. It’ll not only leave you with less makeup residue, but it’ll make your skincare routine a bit faster too.

Let the Solution Emulsify before Rinsing off

Let the Solution Emulsify before Rinsing off
When you bring out the oil-like properties of cleansing milk, you’re making it easier to remove makeup; however, at the same time, the cleanser itself is now harder to rinse off, since oil repels water. That’s where emulsification comes in.
Collect a bit of water in the palm of your hands. Then bring it to your face and slowly massage into your cleanser. You want to work in just a bit of water at a time, until you see the milk emulsify into a whitish mixture. This’ll make it easier to rinse off not only the milk and oil-based products but sebum as well.

Other Types of Cleansers to Take a Look At

Other Types of Cleansers to Take a Look At

Cleansing milks are, of course, not the only product you can get to take off makeup with. There are other items, like cleansing oils, that are more powerful, but, depending on the formulation, could be rougher on skin. If you are looking for other effective products, though, take a look below.

Summary

We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 15 most popular Japanese cleansing milks, and tested them all.

We found that cleansing milks vary greatly when it comes to ingredients and texture, cleansing power and hydration. That’s why it’s so important to consider your skin type and the products in your makeup arsenal first. But the best choice is always to pick the gentlest cleanser you can get away with.

Author: Rio Sasaki/Translation: Jasmine Li


A J-Beauty Oil Cleanser Recommended by an Expert

Cleansing oils are also a great option for taking off stubborn makeup. And, for your consideration, aesthetician and beauty blogger, Devan Jesmer recommends this J-beauty favorite!

Expert's
pick

DHCDeep Cleansing Oil

6.7 oz.

$27.98

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    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. Hydration2. ApplicationThis 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.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    40,591 views
  • 10 Best Japanese Body Washes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, Clover, and More)
    10 Best Japanese Body Washes in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, Clover, and More)
    It can be hard to choose a good body wash when you have to worry about parabens, sensitive skin, oily skin, dry skin, and more. That's why we scoured Japanese e-commerce sites like Amazon, Rakuten, and Kakaku.com to find the best body washes available online. Then we purchased some of the most popular products and tested them for the following:Cleansing powerMoisturizing powerQuality of ingredientsFoam densityWe then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the 10 of the best Japanese body washes available online.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    19,068 views
  • Top 26 Best Japanese Toners in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, Fancl, and More)
    Top 26 Best Japanese Toners in 2021 - Tried and True! (Minon, Fancl, and More)
    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 26 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. Application (How It Feels on Skin)2. HydrationThis 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.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    28,195 views
  • Top 23 Best Japanese Whitening Serums in 2021 - Tried and True! (Haku, SK-II, and More)
    Top 23 Best Japanese Whitening Serums in 2021 - Tried and True! (Haku, SK-II, and More)
    It’s a buzzword in Japan: translucence. It’s similar to Korea’s glass skin–skin so pure that it’s nearly transparent, resembling layers of frosted glass. In the Western world, think "glow" or "dewy finish." In order to respond to that aesthetic, cosmetic companies–both drugstore and high-end–here have been coming out with scores of whitening serums, essences, and ampoules.As always, it’s difficult to tell what kind of skincare is effective and what isn’t. That’s why, this time around, we ordered the 24 most popular whitening 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. Hydration2. ApplicationThis is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese whitening serums, essences, and ampoules. See why we picked Chifure's Whitening Essence VC as our top choice and more!
    Cosmetics and skincare
    43,143 views
  • 10 Best Korean Serums in 2021 (Innisfree, Sulwahsoo, and More)
    10 Best Korean Serums in 2021 (Innisfree, Sulwahsoo, and More)
    Want to make your skin glow? Korean serums are mild, lightweight, and contain a high concentration of active ingredients that can help all skin types. Some common skin-nourishing ingredients are ginseng, green tea, and aloe vera. Korean skincare also utilizes more unique ingredients, like snail mucin, placenta, and propolis! Check out our buying guide, which we prepared with the help of aesthetician Devan Jesmer, where you'll find all the necessary information regarding Korean serums, and our top 10 highly recommended products. Innisfree's Green Tea Seed Serum is our top-ranking product because it absorbs quickly, soothes irritated skin, and prevents signs of aging. If you want to know more, don't forget to check out the rest products on our list!
    Cosmetics and skincare
    16,561 views
  • Top 10 Best Pink Lip Glosses in 2021 (Fenty Beauty, Maybelline, and More)
    Top 10 Best Pink Lip Glosses in 2021 (Fenty Beauty, Maybelline, and More)
    Pink lip gloss can be the proverbial icing on the cake to perfect your outfit and look. Pink lip gloss is vastly versatile, ranging from a subtle rosy shine to a popping neon pink, and everything in between, making it a solid staple to have in your bag. We put together a top 10 list of the best ones, and Mented Cosmetics' "Pink About Me" gloss takes our number one spot because of its smooth, non-sticky texture and buildable color which makes it versatile for any look. If you're having some difficulty finding the right pink lip gloss, take a look at the glosses that made our top 10 list and read through the buying guide for some insights and pointers. 
    Cosmetics and skincare
    441 views
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