what fancy beauty products/things do I need from Japan?
June 10, 2016 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Husband flying to Japan and China shortly. I like beauty products and skincare, and asian beauty products are nifty and not always readily available in the states. What do I want him to pick up for me?

So my husband is about to head off on a business trip to asia, specifically Japan and China. I like fancy and weird beauty products and he has asked for a list of things to pick up. He most likely won't have time for shopping-shopping, but will definitely be airport shopper extraordinare.

What goes on that list? What magical unicorn product lines will rock my world? I'm interested in both skin care and makeup and tools too boot!

Skin care:
--I have normal to slightly oily skin in the summer, slightly drier in the winter.
--Not that sensitive and can handle retinoids and silicones well.
--love K-beauty type masks, toners, etc., but don't have a ton
--I am very fair, and concerned about dark spots and skin texture. Though I did just turn 40 and am waiting for the wrinkle fairy to hook up with her friend the sun damage fairy and really hit me hard
--Back in the days my skin was certainly smoother and more even and that fact annoys me.
--hate nearly all the sunscreens I have (too heavy or make my face feel sweaty--looking at you LaRoche-Posay)
--ENORMOUS fan of cleansing oils and micelliar waters
--keritosis piloris on my arms
--"tools" are always good suggestions too: sheet masks you use your own toner with, magical application thingies, etc.
--current products in use: shu umera cleansing oils, various types (currently the green antioxidant one). Paula's choice dark spot serum. A belif essence (LOVE THIS).

--I like makeup but don't always wear a ton of it, and don't go too crazy with colors.
--Love a gel eyeliner
--tubing mascara! Essential for me, I don't wear any other kind anymore.
--I'm a huge fan of the YSL glossy stain -type formulas.
--Also nice brushes or fancy compacts?
--I read and LOVE The Non-Blonde's blog. A big fan of Le Metier de Beaute eyeshadow formula. Have the naked 1 and 2 palettes. Most my lipsticks are my-lips-but-better rosy (I have naturally pretty pink lips) or some form of a blue based red or berry
--as above, fair skin (somewhat of a pale cool olive, but also skew pink. Many foundations--ALL of Laura Mercier's--are too yellow or warm for me. Don't know my MAC match, but am shade 2 for LMDB), blue eyes (prefer black, brown or plum eyeliners), brown hair. Insane brows but I tend not to use product on them.

Help me beauty folks of metafilter! Suggestions for good eyeliner? Tubing mascaras? Amazing sunscreen? Essences? Sheet masks? Serums? Fancy eyeshadow thingies? Weird formulas that are unavailable here?

(I'm looking for specifics--not just "sunscreen!" but specific brand/lines and product names. This is not going to be a good time for him to extrapolate, and he will be more likely to hand over the list to the person at the store and say, whatcha got of these...)
posted by kumquatmay to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The Shisedo Anessa sunblock line is kind of expensive even over there (like $15-20 for a 3oz bottle), but are the best feeling sunscreens I've ever used and a little goes a long way. They have a couple different versions, but I think the only differences are SPF rating, waterproof-ness, and whether it's specifically just for faces. Those details are in English on the front anyways. It might be a placebo effect, but the key is that they have a mixer ball (like in a spray paint can) in the bottle to make sure all the fairly thin ingredients are perfectly blended when they come out.
posted by mattamatic at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

DHC. Japanese skin care brand, but you don't have to go to Japan for it. They are online, and their products are amazing.
posted by poppunkcat at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2016

I love Biore Watery Essence sunscreen. Other people speak highly of Biore Perfect Face Milk, but I haven't tried it. Both are readily available in the US through Amazon if you end up liking them.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Dolly wink eyeliners and mascaras are pretty great.

Lululun masks are nice and you can buy them in huge value packs.

I'd also suggest trying some facial bar soaps and cleansing powders(they really are awesome).
posted by InkDrinker at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I too am a big fan of Biore sunscreens, both the UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence and Perfect Milk. The Aqua Rich is my favorite for everyday, but the Perfect Milk is waterproof/sweatproof which is very useful during the summer. The Perfect Milk leaves a bit of a white cast, but that probably won't be a big issue if you're pale.

I also like the bulk sheet masks which are fairly common in Japan, but much harder to come by most other places. Some folks prefer individually wrapped masks because they're more hygienic/less prone to drying out/etc., but I like that the bulk packaging cuts down on waste and tends to be cheaper. LuLuLun is probably the most popular brand, but I've also been digging these Hadabisei All-in-One masks for a super lazy skin care routine. These kind of masks are meant more as an everyday kind of thing, rather than a special treat.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I do love the suggestions for things to get in the US (for later), so keep those coming as well, but am looking specifically for only-available-outside-US for this trip.

Facial bar soaps and cleansing powders intrigue me: brand suggestions? (god knows what he'd come back with if I just said "face soap")
posted by kumquatmay at 10:36 AM on June 10, 2016

Most things in Japan are at least somewhat available in the U.S. thanks to the magic of the internet, but they tend to take much longer to ship/are much more expensive since they're coming directly from Japan, and I think almost all of the things mentioned above aren't widely available in the U.S. Generally it's limited edition products that are much harder to come by, but those are also harder to give guidance on assuming your husband doesn't speak Japanese and is planning on doing most of his shopping in the airport.

It might be worth dropping into r/Asian Beauty and seeing what kind of products folks over there are lusting over. I think this thread in particular might be helpful.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

I love my DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (gentle face wash that's lasted months!), which I bought in the airport in Japan. I also bought some cherry blossom soap and a charcoal sponge/loofah-thing in a little shop in a small town in Japan - love those as well.
posted by sallybrown at 11:10 AM on June 10, 2016

sallybrown is talking about a konjac sponge -- highly recommend. make sure it's not a knockoff!
posted by femmegrrr at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2016

Spend some time with the excellent Ratzilla Cosme blog to get your head around the world of Japanese skincare!

I'd add: I can't live without Japanese hyalauronic acid hydrating toners. I use Hadalabo Gokujyun lotion, but there are others.
posted by nerdfish at 1:10 AM on June 11, 2016

Seconding Ratzilla to pick a sunscreen; Japanese sunscreens are awesome. (Though some have a lot of alcohol, which means you stay matte in summer, but your skin dries out.)
I think the most popular powder cleanser is from Suisai, but Minon makes one as well and they're a good brand for sensitive skin. I like their ceramide lotion. My favourite Japanese toner is Chifure's Vitamin C Water, which is super cheap and brightens the skin with great ingredients, no alcohol etc.
If you like make-up, Japanese mascaras are great. I use Motemascara (stupid name) and love it. They also make great natural lipsticks - no bright colours, mostly (Visée has some), but mostly very natural ones in flattering formulas. I actually like the very cheapo Canmake lip balm thingies, they offer UV protection as well.
Or blushes - cream, powder... from cheap (Canmake has top ratings on Cosme.net) to expensive and princessy like Jill Stuart, there will be one you'll love.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 2:21 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

If your husband is going to Tokyo and gets a chance to go to Shin-Okubo, it shouldn't be hard to find Korean beauty products. The easiest brands to find are Etude House and TonyMoly (which have other locations in Tokyo). A pack of ten sheet masks in either brand from either the store or other places shouldn't cost more than 1,000 yen.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:35 AM on June 11, 2016

Oh, my favourite cleansing oil is Softymo's Speedy Cleansing Oil. Cheap, no smell (the Deep version has citrus extract or something) and works even on Japanese mascaras.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 3:07 AM on June 11, 2016

If your husband goes to Kyoto or passes through the Narita or Haneda airports, there's Yojiya. The facial oil blotting papers (aburatori gami) are the definitive item, but there's lots to choose from.
posted by sukeban at 4:13 AM on June 11, 2016

Cure Natural Aqua Gel!! It is an extremely gentle exfoliating gel. As you rub it into your skin, it will turn into little gummy bits like eraser dust that you rinse off. Your skin feels amazing afterwards.

My favorite eyeliner is the K-Palette 1 Day Tattoo line. They have liquid and gel pencil types and both are decently long lasting on my supremely oily eyelids. For mascara I really like the Heroine Make line.

For face masks the LuLuLun ones are good, but I think the Pure Smile ones are slightly better and come in a huge range of extracts from Rose to Snake Venom.

For soaps the big thing is to get super dense foam. The gold standard is Shisedo's Perfect Whip. But I like Rosette's stuff too, and it comes in different formulas (like for acne). But if you get one of these you will also need a foaming net. (there's videos on youtube on how to use them) Get the 480yen net, not the 100yen net it makes a difference. The foam is so thick that when you wash your face your fingers never actually touch your face.

Since it's summer now there's a big focus on staying cool and protected from UV rays. There's UV Cut spray that can go on over your makeup. I use Shisedo Sunmedic. There's also Cooling Deodorant wipes sold in small or large packs. They cool your skin on a hot day. Biore has one that also includes UV cut.
posted by Caravantea at 6:25 AM on June 11, 2016

Don't get Perfect Whip, the pH is way too high to be good for your skin. Get Hada Labo or the Bioré Acne foaming cleanser (even if you don't have acne), they're way gentlers.

Also, Japanese eye drops are fun because they have a minty, cooling sensation.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:21 AM on June 11, 2016

I love the high quality of Lunasol cosmetics, which he should be able to find in department stores. I have some of their eyeshadows, mascara, and cheek stain which are all excellent.
posted by raw sugar at 9:11 AM on June 11, 2016

Be prepared for the awesome Holy Grail product to maybe not be so awesome for you (DHC was like that for me, YMMV). As well as the suggested reddit site, plug some of the suggested products in to http://www.makeupalley.com/ to see what the (mainly Western) masses have to say about them before making your final choices.

Most of the major retailers of these products will also be able to sell them to your husband tax free but be aware of things like how many bags he can take on the plane etc. - I once got caught out and my bag of tax-free beauty products ended up having to be checked as regular luggage. You can guess how happy I was with that ....
posted by Megami at 11:02 PM on June 11, 2016

I just got back from Japan and had a long list of makeup and skincare to shop for. I will warn that going to a store was totally overwhelming. One thing that helped was having photos of the products/packaging of the item or brand so that it was easier to spot. For example, I was looking for Hada Labo but there was no English on the products to spot from the shelf. Finally, when I looked at the photo online I realized that I have some at home already, duh.

Flying home through Narita, my terminal had some skincare items to buy in duty free, but less than I thought there would be. Plenty of Shisedo though.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:15 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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