Japanese skincare is often synonymous with innovative and effective products. Combining age-old traditions with new-age formulations, skincare products from Japan offer a different experience from their peers. Take for instance Japanese lotions, often referred to as “softeners” in English. They’re not as thin as toners but not as potent as serums. So, what are they? Discover the world of Japanese skincare lotions and how to incorporate them into your routine with the help of this guide.

woman applying a japanese skincare lotion to her face

Japanese skincare lotions are lightweight but hydrating. (Photo from: Pexels)

The philosophy behind Japanese skincare

Japanese skincare puts a premium on hydration, gentle care and strengthening the skin’s natural barrier. More than treating existing skincare woes, it focuses on preventing these issues for long-term maintenance – so one can maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin. A typical Japanese skincare routine includes a cleanser, lotion, moisturiser and sunscreen. 

What is a Japanese skincare lotion?

A “lotion” (keshosui) is a hydrating liquid, often thicker than a toner but not as thick as a moisturiser, applied to the skin after cleansing and before moisturising. While not as potent as serums, they are typically packed with beneficial ingredients. 

Among the more commonly used ingredients in Japanese skincare lotions are those that give hydrating benefits such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and aloe vera. Some lotions harness the brightening and anti-ageing power of antioxidants found in rice extracts, ceramides and green tea extract.

On top of hydrating the skin and improving its texture, Japanese skincare lotions also help strengthen the skin’s barrier, making it resilient against damage. They also prepare the skin to better absorb subsequent products in your routine.

Top Japanese Skincare Lotions to Try

1. Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion

hada labo hydrating lotion

(Photo from: Watsons)

This fan-favourite product is loved for delivering intense hydration to the skin, thanks to its five types of hyaluronic acid in its formula. It’s also lightweight and gets absorbed quickly, leaving the skin hydrated without feeling sticky or heavy.

This lotion retails for SGD25 at Watsons.

2. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

This Japanese skincare lotion, which has amassed a cult-like following from all over the world, is enriched with the brand’s patented Pitera complex, which is a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids that promote cell renewal and skin hydration.

You can get this product at 230ml for SGD328 at Sephora

3. Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner

This non-sticky and alcohol-free skin lotion is made of hatomugi (also known as pearl barley or adlay mullet) essence, which helps improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture. It also contains 19 amino acids that deeply hydrate the skin. 

This lotion retails for SGD10.90 at Guardian.

4. Muji Sensitive Skin Light Toning Water

This Japanese skincare lotion uses water from Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, purslane extract, and grapeseed fruit extract that gently moisturises the skin. It’s formulated to be used even by those with sensitive skin.

Grab this lotion for SGD13.90 at Muji.

5. Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion

Hydrate and brighten your skin with the help of this lotion that’s infused with sake, amino acids and ceramides.

This lotion retails for around SGD32 on Amazon.

By incorporating a Japanese lotion into your daily regimen, you can enjoy the numerous benefits that come with this time-honoured approach to skincare.