I have spent maybe a bit too much time browsing @cosme, which is sort of like the Japanese version of makeupalley, except bigger. There are rankings for every category and lots of reviews. You can see in the photo above that the Suhada Shizuku Pack Gel and the DHC lip cream both have @cosme stickers, so companies take the reviews and ranking seriously. The site also has an annual awards listing. A lot of the stuff I’ve mentioned below has high ratings on @cosme, so I assume it’s for a reason!
In Canada, I very rarely buy drugstore makeup or skin care products (a large chunk of my income goes to Sephora). But there’s something irresistibly appealing about Japanese drugstores. There’s just… so… much… stuff! And the divide between drugstore and higher end stuff is smaller — drugstores sell high end Japanese brands like Shiseido and Kanebo, and the quality of the cheaper stuff seems better than in North America.
Here’s a bunch of drugstore stuff I’ve bought recently. This might be useful if you’re coming to Japan and want to buy some inexpensive Japanese drugstore goodies to take home and need specific recommendations. Or maybe you just like looking at weird Japanese products!
Ishihara Awa Foaming Net – This is one of those things that costs practically nothing (I think it was ¥200) but is surprisingly indispensable. It’s a net bag with little balls inside — you pour your facial cleanser on and it lathers up into nice fuwafuwa (fluffy) foam. Basically it turns any cleanser into foam. Foam is supposed to be more gentle on your skin and more effective than using straight cleanser alone. And you can use it with any cleanser — I use it with my usual Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple.
Suhada Shizuku Pack Gel – Highly rated on @cosme, this is a “pack gel” which is really just a mask. It is very moisturizing, and forms little droplets of water on your skin as you apply it to your face. It’s supposed to have the effect of toner and serum and cream all in one. I slather it on before I go to bed and wake up with moisturized skin. It would be great to use on a long haul flight.
Oshima Tsubaki Oil – Tsubaki (camellia) oil is popular in Japan and you’ll find tons of tsubaki oil hair products. It’s been used for centuries in Japan as a hair product. Oshima Tsubaki Oil is probably the most famous — its bright yellow package and retro bottle are quite distinctive. I’m a fan of using plain oils for hair/skin care — I went through an argan oil obsession. I mostly use tsubaki oil to moisturize the ends of my hair, but you can use it on your skin, or as a hair treatment. (You can even use it for cooking!) You only need a tiny bit, so this bottle will probably last me forever and it was only ¥900 ($10).
Canmake Colorful Nails – At home, I only buy Essie and OPI nail polish, but they’re expensive here ($20+ for a bottle of OPI!) so I decided to try out some more inexpensive options. These Canmake polishes are only ¥300 ($3) or so, but they’re pretty decent, especially for the price. The colours are surprisingly opaque with one coat. I do use Seche Vite as a topcoat (my favourite topcoat of all time) — I brought a couple bottles with me. I have seen Seche Vite for sale here, but it’s pricey.
Here’s my nails with a Canmake blue polish and some snowflake nail stickers. There is SO MUCH amazing nail art stuff you can buy here — if you’re into nails, you’ll be heaven in Japan. Japanese gel nails are definitely on my to do list.
Cure Natural Aqua Gel – This stuff is awesome, and it’s super popular in Japan. I am going to pack a bunch of bottles in my suitcase to bring home because I love it. I don’t know how it works, but it’s a very gentle exfoliator that is (according to the bottle) 90% water. You rub it on your face and dead skin magically starts to roll off. Sounds gross, but it makes your face feel so soft afterwards! Here’s a video with subtitles about it. It’s kind of expensive — it was around ¥2500 ($27) but I highly recommend it.
EDIT: People keep asking me where to buy this in Japan. You can buy it in most drugstores. If you can’t find it, just order it from Amazon Japan. (If you’re staying in a hotel, you can have purchases shipped to a nearby Lawson and just pick them up. Amazon Japan can ship same-day as well.) If you are not in Japan, you can order it fairly inexpensively from Amazon.com here.
Fiancee eau de cologne – I haven’t bought cheapo perfume like this since I was in high school, but I was somehow compelled to buy it due to its high ranking on @cosme. It cost maybe $12, has a stupid name, but it actually smells really good. I have a thing for perfumes that smell like soap (I have a zillion of those Clean perfumes) and this has an unobtrusive, sweet, soapy smell. It truly does smell like shampoo, in a good way. And it lasts way longer than any of the Clean perfumes for a fraction of the price.
Fairydrops Perfect Set – I bought this because it’s an EXTREMELY GOOD DEAL! Fairydrops mascara sells for about $30 at Sephora in Canada, and US site prettyandcute.com sells the Fairydrops BB cream and vanilla powder for $40 each. This set was ¥2500 ($27).
And well, if Mayu Watanabe of AKB48 says I should buy it, I’m sold.
I bought the set for the mascara (I’m almost out of my #1 favourite mascara of all time, Diorshow Iconic), but I also like the BB cream and powder.The BB cream (in light ochre) is a good match for my NC 20-ish skin and I like that it feels lighter than the BB cream I usually use. It also doesn’t have SPF, which is weird for BB cream, but good if you’re getting your picture taken. (SPF can give your face a white cast in photos.) The mineral powder is fine but the best part is that it SMELLS LIKE VANILLA!
Loveruss Hair Water Jelly – Another hair product. I have naturally wavy hair, so I like products you can use to enhance the waves. And this stuff smells amazing. Like delicious peaches. Worth buying just for the smell.
Plus it has a cute pink bottle!
Shu Uemura eyelash curler – This is kind of a cult favourite in North America, so I decided to finally pick one up. (Since I’m in the home of Shu Uemura, after all. And it’s cheaper in Japan!) I was using a MAC eyelash curler before but I like this one better.
A couple other drugstore products that aren’t pictured but I like: Lux shampoo and conditioner, the DHC lip cream in the top picture (nothing really special about it, but it’s cheap and comes in a classy tube), Shiseido collagen drinks (it’s probably psychological but I feel like they make my skin smoother), Japanese sheet masks (love!), and packets of Japanese bath salts. Every drugstore has about a million different kinds of bath additives (bathing is practically a religion here) and they’re only about $2 a package. Less expensive than the Lush bath bombs I usually buy and just as fun.
So that’s it for now! I’ll probably do another entry like this at some point, because I’m always buying random Japanese drugstore stuff. (It’s hard to resist.)