Top 25 Best Japanese Cleansing Gels to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for the best cleansing gel. We then chose the 25 most popular products and tested them for the following:

1. Cleansing Power
2. Hydration
3. Ingredients

Cleansing gels tend to be mild, but we wanted to see what options, if any, would be suitable for waterproof makeup and oily skin. We also asked a specialist in cosmetic ingredients to inspect the formulas, seeking options for sensitive skin. We then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the best Japanese cleansing gels available online.
  • Last updated: 10/25/2019
  • 166 views
Table of Contents

Top 25 Best Japanese Cleansing Gels Available Online

We tried the cleansers out on waterproof makeup (which usually contain plenty of oil). We measured moisture levels in our skin. We asked a researcher who used to work in cosmetic R&D to pick out the mildest formulas for us. Then, based on how they performed on our tests, we ranked the top 25 Japanese cleansing gels available online.
※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.
1. Bioré Makeup Remover Cleansing Gel 1

1. Bioré Makeup Remover Cleansing Gel

$5.55

Japaneseビオレメイクとろりん なで落ちジェル
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
Japaneseファンケル マイルドクレンジング ジェル
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing5.0
Hydration2.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
3. Cinderella Time Booster Serum Nano – Cleansing Gel (Extra Moisturizing) 1

3. Cinderella Time Booster Serum Nano – Cleansing Gel (Extra Moisturizing)

$18.37

Japaneseシンデレラタイム ブースターセラム ナノクレンジングゲル 高保湿タイプ
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing4.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score4.0
Japaneseキュレル ジェルメイク落とし
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingNeccessary
Cleansing2.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score4.0
Japaneseマナラ ホットクレンジングゲル
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration5.0
Ingredients2.0
Overall Score4.0
Japaneseソフティモ ラチェスカ するりんジェルクレンジング
TypeOil-Based
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score3.0
7. Fleuri Clear Gel Cleanse 1

7. Fleuri Clear Gel Cleanse

$34.33

Japaneseフルリ クリアゲルクレンズ
TypeWater-Based
Double CleansingRecommended
Cleansing3.0
Hydration4.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score3.0
Japaneseパールデイズパールモイスト クレンジング
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients4.0
Overall Score3.0
Japaneseドクターシーラボ スーパークレンジングEX
TypeOil-Based
Double CleansingUnecessary
Cleansing4.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients1.0
Overall Score3.0
Japaneseナーセリー Wクレンジングジェル ゆず
TypeWater-Based w/ Oil
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score3.0
Japaneseサンタマルシェ ディープクレンジング
TypeWater-Based
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration3.0
Ingredients3.0
Overall Score3.0
Japaneseオルビス クレンジングジェル
TypeWater-Based
Double CleansingUnnecessary
Cleansing3.0
Hydration1.0
Ingredients5.0
Overall Score3.0

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

And why they didn't quite make it.

Provides a Good Amount of Moisture but Only Below Average Cleansing, Even for a Gel

Provides a Good Amount of Moisture but Only Below Average Cleansing, Even for a Gel

Skinvil’s Hot Cleansing Gel (13) earned a full score for moisture but 2.0s on all other counts. Likewise, BCL Cleansing Research’s AHA Gel Cleansing (18) received a high score of 4.0 for moisture but 2.0s otherwise.

PLuS’s Amino Moisture Cleansing Gel (14) and Duplair’s W Cleansing Gel (15) earned 4.0s for hydration too, but packed below average cleansing, even for a cleansing gel. These latter two did get a 3.0 for ingredients, though.

Performs Only Decently Well, and Ingredients May be Unsuitable for Certain Skin Types

Performs Only Decently Well, and Ingredients May be Unsuitable for Certain Skin Types

Botanical Marche’s Deep Cleansing Gel (16) earned average scores for cleansing and hydration but was rated a 2.0 for its ingredients.

Contains Relatively Mild Ingredients, but Lacks in Either Hydration or Cleansing Power

Contains Relatively Mild Ingredients, but Lacks in Either Hydration or Cleansing Power

On the other hand, MUJI’s Gel Cleansing (17) featured mild ingredients that earned it a score of 4.0 but its sub-par cleansing landed it with a rating of 2.0. Moisture was graded at a 3.0.

Similarly, Aile’s Shinsei Cleansing Gel (19) had ingredients that received a 4.0, but it was deemed to be drying. Cleansing was average.

Formula May Prove a Bit Harsh; Doesn’t Offer a Deep Cleanse to Make up for It

Formula May Prove a Bit Harsh; Doesn’t Offer a Deep Cleanse to Make up for It

ÍPSA’s Cleansing Gel EX (20) and Re dermalab’s Moist Gel Cleansing (21) earned 2.0s for hydration and ingredients; yet, they offered only average cleansing power for a gel.

Doesn’t Cleanse Well and Isn’t Particularly Hydrating Either

Doesn’t Cleanse Well and Isn’t Particularly Hydrating Either

Mocchi Skin’s Gel Cleansing (22) and CLAYGE’s Clear Cleansing (23) offered sub-par cleansing but were only decently hydrating. Mocchi Skin’s product, however, did earn a slightly higher score for its ingredients–3.0, versus CLAYGE’s 2.0.

Doesn’t Offer Decent Moisturization or Cleansing

Doesn’t Offer Decent Moisturization or Cleansing

Finally, Kikumasamune’s Skin Care Cleansing Gel (24) and Chifure’s Cleansing Gel (25) could only get 2.0s for both cleansing and hydration; ingredients were rated as average.

How We Tested Our Products

Cleansing gels tend to be weaker, but we still hoped to find some products that would work on waterproof products and oil. At the same time, we wanted them to be non-drying and feature mild ingredients.
This is how we tested for those factors.

Test ①: Cleansing Power

Test ①: Cleansing Power
We applied makeup to the backs of our hands, then used the cleansers on them. We looked at how much product came off and graded each cleansing gel on a five step scale.
To test the limits of each cleanser, we tried them out on the following long-wearing items.
  • Waterproof Mascara
  • Eyeshadow
  • Waterproof Eyeliner
  • Lip Tint
  • Liquid Foundation
We learned that even oil-based cleansing gels weren’t a match for waterproof products (usually). If you wear them, you’ll likely have to invest in a dedicated eye makeup remover.

Test ②: Hydration

Test ②: Hydration
We used a moisture analyzer called the Corneometer to measure water levels in our skin before cleansing, right after cleansing, and five minutes after cleansing.
We found that denser gels were less drying and tugged less at skin.

Test ③: Ingredients

Test ③: Ingredients
We asked a researcher who used to work in cosmetic R&D to look at the ingredients lists. She graded each product based on how compatible it was with sensitive skin.
※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 products that contain high amounts of or many types of botanical extracts/essential oils could prove too much for sensitive skin. While all skincare products have to undergo vigorous testing before being released onto the market, there is a possibility that your skin will sensitize if it is constantly exposed to high concentrations of essential oil.

Tips on How to Choose Japanese Cleansing Gel – Buying Guide

Here are four big things to look out for.

① What is the Gel Based off of? Determines Things like Texture and Cleansing Power

There are three main types of gel cleansers: water-based, water-based but contains oil, and oil-based.

Water-Based Gels: Safe for Eyelash Extensions but Offer Little Cleansing Power

Water-Based Gels: Safe for Eyelash Extensions but Offer Little Cleansing Power
Water-based gels※1 contain no oil. Now, if you have eyelash extensions, you likely know that the glue used to attach the extensions is weak to oils. Most cleansers–including oil and milk cleansers–do contain oil. While there are oil cleansers formulated for extensions, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and just go oil-free.
There’s a few ways to identify a water-based cleanser. They’re usually marketed as oil-free※2. You can also look at the ingredients list. If the cleanser is water-based, then water-based ingredients and surfactants should be among the first things that appear. However, keep in mind that oil-free cleansers very rarely work on waterproof products.
Ingredients Featured in Water-Based Cleansing Gels
  • 水: Water
  • BG: Butylene Glycol
  • DPG: Dipropylene Gycol
  • PEG-#: Polyethylene Gycol #
  • ○○グリセル: -Glyceryl
  • ○○ソルビタン: -Sorbate
※1 水性ジェル: water-based gel
※2 「オイルフリー」「100%オイルカット」: oil-free

Water-Based Gels that Contain Some Oil: Light but Effective Enough for Most Everyday Use

Water-Based Gels that Contain Some Oil: Light but Effective Enough for Most Everyday Use
Some water-based cleansers will contain small amounts of oil, along with surfactants. Most cleansing gels fall under this category. Thanks to the oil, the formula blends more readily with makeup. It also spreads more easily over skin. However, it’ll still feel lighter than pure oil-based gel and likely be less effective on long-lasting products.
Water-based cleansers that contain oil still feature the same surfactants and water-based ingredients as their oil-free cousins. The oils※3 usually start appearing near the middle ot bottom of the list.
※3「○○オイル」「○○油」: -oil

Oil-Based Gels: Offer the Most Thorough Cleanse

Oil-Based Gels: Offer the Most Thorough Cleanse
Oil-based cleansing gels※4 include ingredients like cetyl ethylhexanoate and mineral oils–the same stuff you’d find in cleansing oil. They’re widely effective, even on waterproof items and liquid foundation. However, some formulas can be drying.
Identification is easy. If you see any oils topping the ingredients list, then you know you’re dealing with an oil-based cleanser.
※4 油性ジェル: oil-based gel

② Consider Cleansers that Don’t Need to be Used with a Separate Face Wash

② Consider Cleansers that Don’t Need to be Used with a Separate Face Wash
Many cleansers need to be followed up with a face wash. This is known as double-cleansing (sometimes written as W-cleansing).
However, you will often run into gel cleansers that state they can be used alone※5. There’s a couple of benefits to these. They save you time and money. Your skin is also less likely to dry out, since you aren’t exposing it to as many cleaning agents.
You’re more likely to find a water-based gel cleanser than can be used alone than an oil-based gel cleanser.
※5 W洗顔不要:can be used alone (lit. double-cleansing unnecessary)

③ Never Forget to Inspect the Ingredients List

③ Never Forget to Inspect the Ingredients List
A word to the wise: if you know you’re sensitive, never settle for a cleanser that simply claims to be “additive-free※6.” If a formula is free of any one of a number of specified additives (fragrances and dyes and so on), then it can label itself as additive free. What you need to do is identify exactly what it’s free of–and what it isn’t free of.
Below are the Japanese translations of common additives.
Ingredients that More Commonly Cause Irritation
  • アルコール (エタノール): Alcohol (Ethanol)
  • 合成香料: Synthetic Fragrances
  • 合成着色料: Synthetic Dyes
  • 防腐剤 (安息香酸、パラベン類): Preservatives (Benzoic Acid, Parabens※7)
Ingredients that Can be Drying

  • 鉱物油 (ミネラルオイル): Mineral Oils
※6 無添加: additive-free
※7 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.)

④ If You Want to Clear out Your Pores, Consider Hot Cleansing Gel

④ If You Want to Clear out Your Pores, Consider Hot Cleansing Gel
If you’re plagued by blackheads or enlarged pores, consider investing in hot cleansing gel. The heat opens up your pores and gives the cleanser more space to work and clean. It also helps with blood circulation, which in itself comes with all kinds of skincare benefits.
However, many of these hot cleansers contain ingredients that could prove rough on sensitive skin.

How to Use Cleansing Gel

The best thing you could do is to follow the instructions listed on the packaging. But if you can’t read Japanese or what some extra information, here are a few tips and tricks.

Apply with Dry Hands onto a Dry Face

Apply with Dry Hands onto a Dry Face
If your hands or face are wet during application, the cleanser will have to fight past all that water before it gets to your skin and the makeup you’re wearing. It won’t be as effective, and the moisture keeps hot cleansing gels from really heating up.
Even if the cleanser claims it can be used wet※8, we recommend applying it dry to maximize cleansing power.
※8 濡れた手でもOK: can be applied with wet hands

If the Gel Contains Oil, Warm It up in Your Hands Before Application

If the Gel Contains Oil, Warm It up in Your Hands Before Application
If you use an oil-based gel or a water-based gel that contains oil, warm it up in your hands before applying. That’ll help it blend better with makeup.
When you first dispense an oil-based gel, all the oil is actually surrounded by water. However, by warming up the formula, you allow the oil to shift to the surface of the gel, and that oil is what lifts makeup and other gunk off of your face. You can use the same trick with cleansing cream and milk as well.
The heat from your face will also eventually have the same effect on oil formulas. However, this shift takes a while. By cupping the cleanser in your hands before applying, you’re helping along the change and saving yourself time.

Make Sure You Let the Formula Emulsify before Rinsing off

Make Sure You Let the Formula Emulsify before Rinsing off
Again, this only applies to formulas that contain oil, but wait for the formula to emulsify before rinsing off. All you have to is collect warm water into the palm of your hands and massage it into your face, bit by bit. Eventually, the water will mix with the oil and the cleanser will turn a milky white.
As you know, oil repels water. However, you can get the two to mix if you add in the water bit by bit; the resulting oil-water solution is called an emulsion. By emulsifying your cleanser, you’re taking away its ability to repel water and you’re making it easier to rinse off.

Want to Try a Stronger Cleanser?

Want to Try a Stronger Cleanser?
Let’s say you wear a lot of waterproof products and you aren’t completely satisfied with what you saw here. Consider checking out cleansing oils, which are said to be the most powerful cleansers.

Summary

We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 25 most popular Japanese cleansing gels, and tested them all.
Every gel offers its own unique combination of ingredients and balance between hydration and cleansing. You can also choose between oil-free gels, oil-based gels, hot gels, or cool, slick gels. There is no one best product, but there will be a few products that are best suited to you.
Original by Rio Sasaki; Translation by Jasmine Li

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    It’s easy to see excessive plastic use when we go food shopping, but one area we might not pay as much attention to is in our shaving habits. Think about it: whether you use disposable razors where you throw away the whole thing or cartridge razors where the disposable blades are encased in plastic, if you shave a few times a week, all that waste can really add up.Luckily, all-metal, reusable razors are making a comeback, making it easy for you to get an eco-friendly shave. But it can be hard to figure out where to begin when you’re starting from scratch. In this guide, we’ll go over the major points to look for when buying an eco-friendly razor. At the end we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to get you started on your search.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    796 views
  • Top 19 Best Japanese Face Washes for Acne to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    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 Power2. 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.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    1,059 views
  • Top 17 Best Japanese Face Creams to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    Top 17 Best Japanese Face Creams to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!
    Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for the best face creams. We then chose the 17 most popular products and tested them.We focused on three things: how moisturizing it was, how it felt to use, and what ingredients it contained. We then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the best Japanese face creams available online.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    172 views
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