• Top 18 Best Japanese Salon Shampoos to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True! 1
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Top 18 Best Japanese Salon Shampoos to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!

Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten) for the best salon shampoo. We then chose the 18 most popular products and tested for the following:

1. Application
2. Mildness
3. Lather
4. Hair Texture
5. Cleansing Power

We consulted a researcher and talked about formulas–which would be the most mild and which would be the most effective? We also discussed the characteristics of different surfactants, including amino acids and sulfates, as well as nourishing ingredients and unnecessary additives.

We then compiled everything we learned into a buying guide about and list of the best Japanese salon shampoos available online.
  • Last updated: 10-27-2019
  • 370 views
Table of Contents

Top 18 Best Japanese Salon Shampoos to Buy Online 2019

We analyzed ingredients and ran the shampoos through tests to check for mildness. We tried the products out on samples of hair and then rated the texture afterwards. We also sniffed them and lathered them up and rinsed them out, so we could judge the entire “experience” of shampooing.
And based on how they performed, we rated the top 18 Japanese salon shampoos available online.
※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.

1. LaClair eau M Shampoo (6.7 oz)

$19.00

Japaneseラクレア オー シャンプー M
Scent
Price per ounce$2.81
BenefitsElastic & Moisturized Hair
Application4.8
Mildness5.0
Lather3.0
Hair Texture4.0
Cleansing1.0
Overall Score4.0

2. COTA i CARE 1 Shampoo (10.1 oz)

$31.81

Japaneseコタ アイ ケアシャンプー 1
ScentLavender
Price per ounce$3.14
BenefitsLight, Sleek Hair
Application3.5
Mildness5.0
Lather3.5
Hair Texture5.0
Cleansing2.6
Overall Score4.0
Japanesehoyu プロマスター カラーケア クール
ScentFloral Mint
Price per ounce$0.73
BenefitsConditioning, Color Preservation after Dyeing
Application3.1
Mildness5.0
Lather3.5
Hair Texture4.0
Cleansing4.6
Overall Score4.0
Japaneseデミ ミレアム シャンプー
Scent
Price per ounce$0.49
Benefits
Application3.1
Mildness5.0
Lather4.0
Hair Texture5.0
Cleansing2.3
Overall Score4.0

5. cocuu Slow Shampoo (8.5 ml)

$13.86

Japanesecocuu スロウ シャンプー
ScentOrange & Patchouli
Price per ounce$1.64
BenefitsMoisture
Application3.6
Mildness5.0
Lather3.5
Hair Texture4.0
Cleansing2.6
Overall Score4.0

6. SUNNYPLACE nano suppli Cleansing Shampoo (Oolong, 33.8 oz)

$10.89

Japaneseサニープレイスナノサプリ クレンジングシャンプー ウーロン
ScentCitrus
Price per ounce$0.32
BenefitsScalp Care
Application3.4
Mildness3.0
Lather5.0
Hair Texture5.0
Cleansing5.0
Overall Score3.9

7. LebeL IAU Cleansing Relaxment Shampoo (6.8 oz)

$10.44

Japaneseルベル イオ クレンジング リラックスメント
ScentRose & Leafy Greens
Price per ounce$1.54
BenefitsHydrated Scalp and Sleek Hair
Application4.8
Mildness3.5
Lather4.0
Hair Texture4.0
Cleansing1.3
Overall Score3.8

8. napla N. Shea Shampoo (Moisture, 10.1 oz)

$19.64

Japaneseナプラエヌドット シアシャンプー
ScentWhite Floral
Price per ounce$1.94
BenefitsMoisture
Application3.6
Mildness5.0
Lather3.5
Hair Texture4.0
Cleansing2.5
Overall Score3.6
Japaneseフィオーレ F.プロテクト ヘアシャンプー ベーシックタイプ
Scent
Price per ounce$1.15
Benefits
Application3.0
Mildness4.2
Lather3.0
Hair Texture3.0
Cleansing3.8
Overall Score3.4

10. COTA SERA Shampoo (27.1 oz)

$37.64

Japaneseコタセラ シャンプー
ScentLeafy Greens
Price per ounce$1.39
BenefitsMedicated Scalp Care
Application3.5
Mildness5.0
Lather4.0
Hair Texture2.0
Cleansing1.8
Overall Score3.7

Products That Didn't Make the Cut

And why they didn't quite make it.

Cleanses Perhaps Too Well–Leaves Hair Squeaky and Tangled

Cleanses Perhaps Too Well–Leaves Hair Squeaky and Tangled

LebeL’s Natural Hair Soap with Marigold (11) was similar in ways to our number six pick. Both were effective cleansers but contained ingredients that weren’t particularly mild (LebeL’s product was rated at a 3.5).

However, unlike the SUNNYPLACE shampoo, which turn hair into spun silk, LebeL was stripping. Locks tangled and felt so squeaky clean that we weren’t able to run our fingers through them.

Likewise, Loretta’s Mainichi no Sukkiri Shampoo (14) and Aujua’s Aging Hair Care Timesurge Shampoo (15) received only around 2.0 points on mildness but near perfect scores for cleansing. Both formulas featured sulfates as surfactants, so we hesitate to recommend them for regular use.

Ingredients are Gentle but Cleansing Power Sub-Par

Ingredients are Gentle but Cleansing Power Sub-Par

product’s shampoo (12) was the opposite; the mild ingredients earned it a score of 4.0; however, it got just 1.3 points for cleansing power. It didn’t lather either, so we honestly didn’t feel like we were washing our hair.

Doesn’t Excel in Cleansing Power but isn’t That Gentle Either

Doesn’t Excel in Cleansing Power but isn’t That Gentle Either

Abreeze’s Natural Organic Shampoo (13) wasn’t particularly gentle nor effective; it earned 2.5 and 3.0 points for mildness and cleansing power, respectively. However, it did get 4.0 points for lather and hair texture.

Neway Japan’s Nanoamino Shampoo (16) and Shiseido’s The Hair Care Aqua Intensive Shampoo (17) featured sodium laureth sulfate as their main surfactant. Therefore, they earned about a single point for mildness–and still managed to score a little beneath 3.0 for cleansing power.

beauty experience’s Clay Esthe Shampoo (18) was only slightly gentler, receiving a flat 2.0 for its ingredients. However, it also wasn’t as effective and got only 2.3 points for how poorly it cleaned.

How We Tested Our Products

We think a good shampoo, first and foremost, lathers easily and cleanses thoroughly. However, it needs to contain mild ingredients that will nourish–not irritate–your scalp. And it should leave your hair hydrated and sleek.
This is how we tested for those factors.

Test ①: Application

Test ①: Application
We transferred all the shampoos into plain bottles. We then gathered a group of editors and had them pass the products around and grade each on scent, how easily it lathered and rinsed out, and whether hair tangled upon application.
Test ①: Application
To try to keep things more or less objective, we asked testers not to tell us whether they liked the fragrance, but rather if it faithfully reproduced whatever it was supposed to reproduce (e.g. whether a rose-scented shampoo smelled like roses or sweet chemical perfume).

Test ②: Mildness

Test ②: Mildness
We conducted something called the “protein denaturation test.” Denaturation, by the way, refers to the altering or destruction of protein structure through the introduction of an external stressor.
Test ②: Mildness
We diluted each shampoo and dripped the mixture into egg whites. We then stirred gently as to not cause any frothing. After waiting a set period of time, we transferred the cups onto black sheets of paper.
Test ②: Mildness
Basically, the harsher a shampoo was, the more the mixture would cloud over. Therefore, the shampoo added to the cup of the left side of the picture was strong and earned only a 1.0 for mildness; on the other hand, the shampoo added to the cup on the right resulted in a clear solution and earned a score of 5.0.

Test ③: Lather

Test ③: Lather
It’s hard for a shampoo to clean if it doesn’t lather. So we diluted the shampoos, making sure to keep the shampoo-to-water ratio equal. We then poured the mixtures into large plastic cups.
Test ③: Lather
We set a hand mixer to a set speed and frothed up the mixtures for a fixed amount of time. We were looking for products that produced huge amounts of foam quickly. Therefore, the higher up the bubbles mounted in the cup, the higher the score a shampoo could earn.

Test ④: Hair Texture

Test ④: Hair Texture
We prepared 18 bundles of long hair. We then washed each with a separate shampoo before blowdrying, ten times each.
Test ④: Hair Texture
Because the very act of rubbing shampoo into your hair can be damaging, we applied using a comb. That way, we ensured that product was distributed evenly throughout the hair sample and that any damage dealt was consistent among the batches.
We also made sure the hair dryer was set to the same temperature and speed throughout testing. We dried without combing through or otherwise ruffling hair.
Test ④: Hair Texture
After we’d gone through the 10 reps, we measured for texture. We used a machine to calculate the amount of force it took us to pass a comb through hair; a higher measurement meant more friction and poorer texture.

Test ⑤: Cleansing Power

Test ⑤: Cleansing Power
Last but not least, we checked for efficacy. We started off by diluting the shampoos at a set water-to-product ratio.
Test ⑤: Cleansing Power
We then dyed a mixture of stearic acid and oleic acid (the main components of human sebum) red and applied it to glass slides.
Test ⑤: Cleansing Power
Finally, we gently submerged the slides into the diluted shampoo. The more artificial sebum came off, the higher the score.

Tips on How to Choose Japanese Salon Shampoo – Buying Guide

Here are five big things to look out for.

① Surfactants Determine How Much a Shampoo Will Strip Your Hair

Generally speaking, salon shampoos contain only mild ingredients, but not always.
When reading the ingredients list, just focus on the first three lines–these are the only items are present in high enough concentrations to really matter. Just keep in mind that products in Japan classified as “quasi-drugs”※1 don’t have to list all the ingredients that went into them, so they’re much harder to judge.
※1 医薬部外品: quasi-drugs (similar to OTC drugs in America)

Betains are So Gentle, They’re Often Used in Infant Shampoos

Betains are So Gentle, They’re Often Used in Infant Shampoos
Betains are often used in infant shampoos. Betain shampoos are not sticky or slimy but are very gentle. They also lather into plush, velvety foam.
Many salon shampoos actually feature some kind of betain as the main surfactant. However, though betains are mild, they also haven’t much to offer in the way of cleansing power. There will likely be days you’ll have to wash your hair twice.
Look for These Ingredients
  • ラウラミドプロピルベタイン: Lauramidopropyl Betaine
  • ココアン酢酸Na: Sodium Cocoan Acetate
  • コカミドプロピルベタイン: Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Amino Acids are Mild, But You’ll Need to Spend a Few Extra Minutes a Day Pampering Yourself

Amino Acids are Mild, But You’ll Need to Spend a Few Extra Minutes a Day Pampering Yourself
Amino acid shampoos have been gaining traction recently. They’re mild on your hair and your scalp.
However, they also aren’t the most effective cleansers–and they don’t lather well either. And shampoos that don’t lather don’t rinse out easily. And no matter how gentle the surfactant, leaving it on your skin for longer than necessary spells damage.
But we aren’t trying to scare you away from amino acids. As long as you make sure to lather up before applying to your scalp and then spend about five minutes rinsing product out, you’ll be fine.
Most amino acids will contain “cocoyl” or “lauryol”※2 in their name.
Look for These Ingredients
-Don’t Lather Easily but are Especially Gentle-
  • ココイルグルタミン酸Na: Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
  • ココイルグルタミン酸TEA: TEA-Cocoyl Glutamate
  • ラウロイルグルタミン酸Na: Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate
-Lather Relatively Easily-
  • ラウロイルアラニンNa: Sodium Lauroyl Alanine
  • ココイルメチルアラニンNa: Sodium Cocoyl Methyl Beta-Alanine
  • ココイルアラニンTEA: TEA-Cocoyl Alaninate
  • ラウロイルサルコシンNa: Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • ココイルサルコシンNa: Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate
※2 「ココイル」「ラウロイル」: “cocoyl” and “lauroyl,” respectively

Sulfates are Harsh, but They Will Do Wonders for Lank, Greasy Hair

Sulfates are Harsh, but They Will Do Wonders for Lank, Greasy Hair
There’s a reason sulfates are popular. They lather high and cleanse deep, and perhaps most importantly, they’re cheap. They’re often used as the main surfactant in commercial shampoos, and they’re even included in salon shampoos, albeit at lower concentrations.
Actually, sulfates are a bit too effective. They strip your hair and scalp of not only gunk but also moisture and nutrients–stuff you want to keep. It’s fine if you turn to sulfate shampoos every once in a while–when you’ve been sweating a lot or have seawater in your hair–but we wouldn’t recommend them for everyday use.
Look for These Ingredients
  • ラウレス硫酸Na: Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • ラウリル硫酸Na: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

② Know What Ingredients are Unnecessary

Shampoos really only need three types of ingredients: water, a cleansing agent (surfactant), and conditioners, such as nutrients and moisturizers. Yet some contain unnecessary additives or harsh antibacterials.

Tar Dyes are Represented by a Color Followed by a Number and are Best Avoided

Tar Dyes are Represented by a Color Followed by a Number and are Best Avoided
Image is important for marketing. However, shampoo is something you dispense, lather up, and then rinse out right away, so you don’t need dyes.
Scanning the ingredients list, you may sometimes stumble across a color followed by a number※3. These are knows as tar dyes. While they’re harmless in small amounts, they contain impurities that, if left to build up on your scalp, could cause irritation. Do your best to avoid them.
We will make an exception for caramel, which is sometimes included as a colorant. It’s the same caramel you get from heating up sugar–it’s a natural and safe ingredient.
※3 「赤」「青」「黄」「紫」「緑」「橙」: red, blue, yellow, purple, green, and orange, respectively

Salicylic Acid Irritates the Eyes, so You Don’t Want It in Shampoo

Salicylic Acid Irritates the Eyes, so You Don’t Want It in Shampoo
Salicylic acid is sometimes included in shampoo as a kind of antibacterial. If you’ve ever struggled with acne before, you’re likely familiar with it. It’s a powerful cleanser, which can also act as an exfoliant.
Salicylic acid won’t damage your skin or scalp (which is why it’s often used in acne medication), but we wouldn’t recommend it in shampoo because, when you rinse out, it can get into and irritate the eyes.

③ Next, Know What Ingredients Can Nourish Your Hair

Why not get a shampoo with benefits?

Ceramides Moisturize Dry, Brittle Hair

Ceramides Moisturize Dry, Brittle Hair
For dry, frizzy hair, we recommend ceramides. They hydrate without weighing down your locks.
Look out for ingredients like “ceramide 2” and “ceramide NP,”※4 or “cetyl-PG hydroxyethyl palmitamide” and “ceramide NS dilaurate,”※5 which are kind of mock ingredients, very similar in structure to ceramides.
※4 「セラミド2」「セラミドNP」:ceramide 2 and ceramide NP, respectively
※5 「セチルPGヒドロキシエチルパルミタミド」「ジラウリン酸セラミドNS」: cetyl-PG hydroxyethyl palmitamide and ceramide NS dilaurate, respectively

Hydrolyzed Keratin Patches up Damaged, Delicate Hair

Hydrolyzed Keratin Patches up Damaged, Delicate Hair
If you bleach, dye, or use heat styling tools, consider getting a shampoo that contains hydrolyzed keratin (or hydrolyzed lecithin).
Keratin is a protein that protects cells from damage, and it’s an important component of healthy nails and hair. When hydrolyzed, it absorbs more easily into hair and accelerates healing.

④ Make Sure the Shampoo Fits into Your Budget

④ Make Sure the Shampoo Fits into Your Budget
Commercial shampoos sell for, on average, about 2.6 yen (a little over 2¢) a ml, or about $0.71 per ounce. Salon shampoos, however, sell for about 5.6 yen a ml, or about $1.54 per ounce.
The latter may contain higher quality ingredients, but none of that matters if you can’t afford to restock regularly. Look at the price and compare it to how much product you get and how much you use up in a month before determining if the shampoo is worth it.

⑤ Follow Your Nose

⑤ Follow Your Nose
The scent of your shampoo lingers in your hair even after you rinse it out. So don’t discount fragrance. It’s an incentive to cleanse regularly and thoroughly and can lift your mood throughout the day.
Most commercial shampoos will have a description of scent–lavender and chamomile or whatever–listed somewhere on the bottle, usually near the ingredients list. Salon shampoos often don’t. However, if you’re curious, you can probably find more information on the company’s official site.
For a sweeter scent, look for floral fragrances; rose is especially popular. If you like lighter, more neutral scents, try citrus or herbal blends.

How to Properly Wash Your Hair

The very act of washing your hair can be a stressor. So we turned to a hair specialist, who taught us the dos and don’ts of cleansing.

① Start off by Slowly and Thoroughly Cleansing Your Scalp

① Start off by Slowly and Thoroughly Cleansing Your Scalp
Before applying shampoo, rinse your hair out for 2-3 minutes. As you rinse, gently massage your scalp, helping the water reach every square centimeter of it. That’ll help you wash away most air pollutants and styling products.
Next, lather up your shampoo and pile it onto your head. Use the pads of your fingers to massage foam into your pores for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you aren’t scratching at your scalp. That can put stress on not only your skin, but also on your baby hairs as well.
Maintain a distance of about 1 inch between your fingers and slowly work your scalp from front to back.

② Comb Through–Don’t Rub at–Your Hair. Then Rinse for Three to Five Minutes

② Comb Through–Don’t Rub at–Your Hair. Then Rinse for Three to Five Minutes
After you’ve cleansed your scalp, it’s time for your hair. Wash as follows.

  1. Place your fingers at the roots of your hair.

  2. Comb your fingers towards the ends of your hair, coating each strand with foam.

  3. Free your fingers from your hair.

  4. Return any leftover foam on the backs of your hands to the roots of your hair.

Think of these four steps of a set. Each portion of your hair should go through three sets. Like with your scalp, wash from front to back. Once foam has been distributed evenly throughout your hair, rinse out.
You aren’t done rinsing when all the foam has disappeared. That’s because you want to get rid of not only the bubbles, but also any cleansing agents that sank into your hair and pores. Aim to rinse for about three to five minutes. Basically, you should spend more time washing away the shampoo than you spend applying it.

Looking for a Better Deal? Consider Commercial Shampoos

Looking for a Better Deal? Consider Commercial Shampoos
Not everything good has to be expensive. After all, aren’t the best things in life free? We actually tested 26 commercial shampoos as well, and some produced stellar results. Learn more about them below.

Summary

We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 18 most popular Japanese salon shampoos, and tested them all.
Now, most salon shampoos you purchase at a salon at the recommendation of your stylist. However, some brands do sell online and in select stores–just beware of fakes. Take the time to do your research, be a discerning buyer, and we’re sure your scalp and hair will thank you for it.
Original by Mai Okutomi; 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
    6,610 views
  • Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    Top 24 Best Japanese Moisturizers and Face Lotions to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    Last time, we talked about toners. Now, we move on to the next step in the Japanese skincare routine: moisturizers and face lotions※1. 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 25 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.※1 乳液: moisturizer / face lotion
    Cosmetics and skincare
    10,279 views
  • Top 25 Best Japanese Whitening Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    Top 25 Best Japanese Whitening Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    It’s a buzzword in Japan: translucence※1. It’s similar to Korea’s glass skin–skin so pure that it’s nearly transparent, resembling layers of frosted glass. In order to respond to that aesthetic, cosmetic companies–both drugstore and high-end–here have been coming out with scores of whitening※2 serums, essences, and ampoules※3.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 25 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.※1 透明感: translucence (lit. transparency; used to describe glass skin)※2 美白: whitening (in this article, that refers to the tamping down of hyperpigmentation and the production of melanin, thereby preventing freckles and blemishes)※3 美容液: serums, essences, and ampoules (more on how we translated that term below)
    Cosmetics and skincare
    8,014 views
  • Top 10 Best Japanese Hair Dyes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    Top 10 Best Japanese Hair Dyes to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    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
    7,124 views
  • Top 18 Best Japanese Anti-Aging Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    Top 18 Best Japanese Anti-Aging Serums, Essences, and Ampoules to Buy Online 2020 - Tried and True!
    We might not be able to prevent aging altogether, but we can still age gracefully. That feels like the consensus here in Japan, where anti-aging skincare is popular and constantly evolving. As time goes by, our skin undergoes certain changes–hormones are thrown out of balance, certain functions are dulled–and serums that you used once may no longer be as effective.So which serums a) target the signs of aging and b) will actually work for you? In order to answer that question, we ordered the 18 most popular anti-aging※1 serums※2 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 anti-aging serums, essences, and ampoules.※1 エイジングケア: anti-aging (lit. aging care), which, in this article, refers to products meant to moisturize mature skin※2 美容液: serums, essences, and ampoules (all three are basically the same product, just with different concentration levels of active ingredients)
    Cosmetics and skincare
    5,643 views
  • Top 10 Best Lip Balms to Buy Online 2020
    Top 10 Best Lip Balms to Buy Online 2020
    A smile is the best jewelry one can have. When dry, cracked or chapped lips mar that smile, it can negatively affect one's appearance. Likewise, a pair of healthy lips can frame your face, render youthfulness and vigor to it, and enhance your looks. Our lips tend to dry due to factors such as cold and windy weather, extreme heat, and dehydration. While trying to find the top lip balms available, we realized that the best chapsticks not only moisturize your lips and offer protection from the sun's UV rays but also keep them healthy and hydrated. Read on to find the products that made it to our handpicked list.
    Cosmetics and skincare
    212 views
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