Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

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.

Table of Contents

Top 15 Best Japanese Cleansing Milks to Buy Online

We tried them out on makeup. We measured moisture levels in our skin to make sure they weren’t drying. We 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 BRAND Additive-Free Cleansing Milk

COW BRAND Additive-Free Cleansing MilkCOW BRAND Additive-Free Cleansing Milk

Visit Amazon for more details

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $4.11

The Best Drugstore Brand: Mild on Dry and Sensitive Skin. Works on All but the Most Stubborn Products

This brought together the airiness of gel and the moist feel of milk. It wasn’t tacky, but skin felt soft and supple long after use. Cleansing power was average, but products that weren’t particularly long-wearing (that is, they weren’t waterproof and they weren’t tints) came off with little fuss.

In Japan, you can get it for under 500 yen (~$5), which is just a single coin. If you’re looking for a steal, this is it. Our specialist also approved of the ingredients, so this may just be the next holy grail product for sensitive-skinned folks.

Japanese カウブランド 無添加メイク落としミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 5.0
Overall Score 5.0

2. ACSEINE Milky Cleanse Up

ACSEINE Milky Cleanse UpACSEINE Milky Cleanse Up

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Price: $30.15

Strikes the Best Balance: Compatible with Most Skin Types; Works on Most Makeup

ACSEINE’s a brand dedicated to sensitive skin. This is from their cleansing line, and it had a moist, milky texture. We struggled with waterproof mascara and tint, but eyeliner slid right off. That’s just enough cleansing power for everyday use.

The cleanser also helped prep for successive skincare. There were no added fragrances, but it had this wet smell. That was the only thing we had any complaints about (and it really wasn’t that bad).

Japanese アクセーヌ ミルキィクレンズアップ Type Rinse and Wipe off
Double Cleansing Necessary Can be Applied Wet No
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

3. COVERMARK Treatment Cleansing Milk

COVERMARK Treatment Cleansing MilkCOVERMARK Treatment Cleansing Milk

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Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $23.76

The Most Effective: Eliminates Even Waterproof Makeup but Doesn’t Dehydrate Skin

This had a sharp, citrusy smell to it that reminded us of grapefruits. It featured a blend of essential oils and stretched this thin membrane of moisture over our skin. That sealed in water and kept skin soft over long stretches of time.

Cleansing power was unparalleled. Cleansing milk is mild by nature, but this one worked on both waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Even the tint faded significantly. The formula spread well. As long as you aren’t sensitive to anything, this is one of the most effective cleansers you can get.

Japanese カバーマーク トリートメント クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Necessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Yes Cleansing 5.0
Hydration 5.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 4.0

4. Give & Take Oil-in Milk Cleansing

Give & Take Oil-in Milk CleansingGive & Take Oil-in Milk Cleansing

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $6.98

Best for Sensitive Skin: Mild Ingredients and Smooth, Slippery Texture

This had the slickness of oil and the refreshing scent of pink grapefruit. It worked fine on waterproof mascara and even tint, but for some reason, eyeliner wouldn’t come off. Probably had to do with how the cosmetics themselves were formulated; in any case, as long as you don’t wear anything too clingy, you shouldn’t have much trouble.

Our specialist also liked the ingredients; give the list a look-see if you have sensitive skin.

Japanese ギブ&テイク クレンジングオイルミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 5.0
Overall Score 4.0

5. MINON Amino Moist Moist Milky Cleansing

MINON Amino Moist Moist Milky CleansingMINON Amino Moist Moist Milky Cleansing

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Price: $11.73

The Smoothest Application: Slick Texture, Efficient Cleansing, Nonexistent Smell

This was quite dense, closer to cream than milk. That thick, smooth texture let us cleanse without rubbing at and wearing down skin. It also smelled like absolutely nothing, so application was quick and painless.

Again, the tint and eyeliner left behind residue, but mascara disappeared. Try it out on your own waterproof products; as long as the formulas are compatible, you’ve got yourself a winner.

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 Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Necessary Can be Applied Wet No
Eyelash Extensions No Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 4.0

6. KEANA Baking Soda Cleansing Milk

KEANA Baking Soda Cleansing MilkKEANA Baking Soda Cleansing Milk

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Visit YesStyle for more details

Price: $14.80

The Lightest Cleanser: Clears off All Typical Makeup and Leaves Skin Feeling Refreshed

The formula was light and half-transparent; it felt a bit like body wash. It spread pretty well, and the pump was well-made.

This is supposed to help clear out pores, and it did leave skin feeling clean and refreshed. Hydration was average; as long as your skin isn’t particularly dry, this cleanser should work for you.

Japanese 毛穴撫子 重曹クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

7. MAMA BUTTER Cleansing Milk

MAMA BUTTER Cleansing MilkMAMA BUTTER Cleansing Milk

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Price: $11.11

Worth Buying: Buttery Texture that Blends Smoothly into Makeup

We should’ve expected this, but the formula was dense, somewhere in between milk and butter. It left an oily layer stretched out over skin, so you’ll have to rinse off well.

The waterproof mascara and tint left behind a bit of residue, but cleansing power was sufficient overall. It was decently moisturizing, and ingredients were judged to be suitable for most skin types.

Japanese ママバター クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet No
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 4.0
Overall Score 4.0

8. HACCI Cleansing Milk

HACCI Cleansing MilkHACCI Cleansing Milk

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Visit Everglow Cosmetics for more details

Price: $44.99

Worth Buying: Dense Honey-Based Formula that Hydrates

It might have been the honey in the formula, but this cleanser was a bit sticky. It didn’t spread all that smoothly, but we also didn’t have any problems with it being too runny; how you’ll react to the texture is a matter of personal preference.

It was hydrating. As long as you aren’t sensitive to any of the ingredients, the cleanser should work for dry skin. We also enjoyed the soft, sweet scent of honey.

Japanese HACCI クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Not Listed
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 3.0
Hydration 5.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 3.0

9. AQ MW Cleansing Emulsion

AQ MW Cleansing EmulsionAQ MW Cleansing Emulsion

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Visit BonBonCosmetics.com for more details

Price: $59.19

Worth Buying: Boasts a Texture that’s Easy to Work with and an Army of Skincare Ingredients

A little went a long way–and application was very smooth. We might say that this cleanser had the ideal texture. It was classy with the scent of sandalwood and other essential oils.

The ingredients list was long and complex. However, as long as there’s not anything you’re sensitive to, we’d say this is an efficient cleanser that lives up to its price.

Japanese AQ MW クレンジング ミルク Type Rinse and Wipe off
Double Cleansing Unecessary Can be Applied Wet Not Listed
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 3.0

10. ParaDo Skincare Cleansing

ParaDo Skincare CleansingParaDo Skincare Cleansing

Visit Amazon for more details (Japan only)

Visit Yahoo Shopping for more details (Japan only)

Price: $20.27

Worth Buying: Feels like Face Lotion and Leaves Skin Soft and Hydrated

ParaDo is Seven Eleven’s private label. Their cleansing milk was rather thin in texture, similar to those “milky face lotions” that are popular in Japan. Even after we had rinsed off, it felt as if our skin was being protected by a veil of moisture.

It also comes in travel-sized containers; you could grab one for a flight or as a kind of sample. It had a rather strong fragrance that came from a blend of natural essential oils.

Japanese パラドゥ スキンケアクレンジング Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Yes Cleansing 4.0
Hydration 4.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 3.0

11. N organic Moisture & Balancing Cleansing Milk

N organic Moisture & Balancing Cleansing MilkN organic Moisture & Balancing Cleansing Milk

Visit Amazon for more details (Japan only)

Visit Rakuten for more details (Japan only)

Visit Yahoo Shopping for more details (Japan only)

Price: $33.55

Worth Buying: Likely the Most Effective Organic Cleansing Milk Around

This was an organic cleanser that smelled of citrus fruit. It had a rich, moist texture that spread well on skin.

This was the only organic product we tried that earned a full score for cleansing. However, the formula featured an abundance of botanical extracts, so if you know you’re sensitive, pay close attention to the ingredients list.

Japanese N organic モイスチュア&バランシング クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Not Listed
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 5.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 3.0

12. Nameraka Honpo Makeup Remover Milk

Nameraka Honpo Makeup Remover MilkNameraka Honpo Makeup Remover Milk

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Visit BeautyKat for more details

Price: $5.68

Caveat Emptor: Convenient Texture and Pump, but isn’t as Effective with Long-Wearing Products

If you’ve ever been to a Japanese drugstore, you’re probably familiar with the label design. This cleansing milk’s part of a long line of Nameraka Honpo products that feature a fermented soybean solution as a moisturizing ingredient. It spread well and didn’t have any kind of unpleasant scent. The pump dispenser was easy to use.

However, it didn’t work on any of the lip or eye products. If you don’t normally apply long-wearing products, you shouldn’t have an issue–or you could use this in conjunction with a dedicated eye makeup remover.

Japanese なめらか本舗 メイク落としミルク N Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Yes
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 2.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 3.0
Overall Score 2.0

13. MUJI Milk Cleansing

MUJI Milk CleansingMUJI Milk Cleansing

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Visit MUJI for more details

Price: $14.00

Caveat Emptor: Works Fine, but Has No Standout Features

This had that Goldilocks texture–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.

Hydration wasn’t long-lasting, but skin felt soft and smooth after cleansing.

Japanese 無印良品 マイルドミルククレンジング Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet Not Listed
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 2.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 2.0

14. ARGELAN Moist Cleansing Milk

ARGELAN Moist Cleansing MilkARGELAN Moist Cleansing Milk

Visit Amazon for more details (Japan only)

Visit Rakuten for more details (Japan only)

Visit Yahoo Shopping for more details (Japan only)

Price: $9.37

Caveat Emptor: Mild Cleansing that Leaves Behind Sticky Residue

The cleanser was gloopy and left skin tacky. You’d have to take your time rinsing off afterwards. It gave off a planty scent–“citrus herbal notes” produced from a blend of essential oils.

Japanese アルジェラン モイスト クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet No
Eyelash Extensions Not Listed Cleansing 2.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 2.0

15. chant a charm Cleansing Milk

chant a charm Cleansing Milkchant a charm Cleansing Milk

Visit Kirei Station for more details

Visit YesStyle for more details

Visit Nadeshiko Cheria for more details

Price: $24.67

Caveat Emptor: Chock Full of Sweet Aroma Oils, but Little Cleansing Power

This was an organic formula that 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.

Japanese チャントアチャーム クレンジングミルク Type Rinse off
Double Cleansing Unnecessary Can be Applied Wet No
Eyelash Extensions Yes Cleansing 1.0
Hydration 3.0 Ingredients 2.0
Overall Score 1.0

How We Tested Our Products

We determined that the best cleansing milks actually, well, cleansed. 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

Cleansing Power

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. 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

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

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.

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.

Tips on How to Choose Japanese Cleansing Milk – Buying Guide

Here are five big things to look out for.

① Cleansing Milks Can be Rinsed or Wiped off

Cleansing Milks Can be Rinsed or Wiped off

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’s two big reasons for this. The first is 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, 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.

② Here are Some Common Ingredients and Their Effects

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

  • セラミド: Ceramides
  • ヒアルロン酸Na: Sodium Hyaluronate
  • グリセリン: Glycerin
  • コラーゲン: Collagen
  • BG: Butylene Glycol
  • PCA-NA: Sodium PCA
  • 乳酸Na: Sodium Lactate

Not for Those with Sensitive Skin

Not for Those with Sensitive Skin

Take “additive-free※1” 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

  • アルコール (エタノール): Alcohol (Ethanol)
  • 着色料: Dyes
  • 香料: Perfumes/Fragrances
  • 抗菌力の高い防腐剤 (安息香酸、パラベン類※2): Preservatives Considered Highly Antibacterial (Benzoic Acid, Parabens)

Common Additives that Can be Drying

  • 鉱物油(ミネラルオイル): Mineral Oil

※1 無添加:additive free
※2 パラベン: parabens (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.)

③ You Can 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 just can’t be bothered, then get a product that can be used on its own※3.

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.

※3 W洗顔不要: can be used on its own (lit. double-cleansing unnecessary)

④ Only Certain Products Can be Used in the Shower

Only Certain Products 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※4. It should say whether or not the product’s formulated for bath-time use.

※4 「濡れた手OK!」「濡れたまま使える」: can be used when wet

⑤ And You Need Special Products for Eyelash Extensions Too

And 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※5; if it says nothing, then assume it isn’t compatible.

※5「マツエクOK」「マツエク対応」: extension-friendly

What is Cleansing Milk?

What is Cleansing Milk?

Cleansing milk’s similar in texture to a face lotion. It’s milder than other cleansers and less dehydrating. 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.

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.

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. Bottom line? Pick the gentlest cleanser you can get away with.

Original by Rio Sasaki; Translation by Jasmine Li

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