J-Beauty Has Some of the Best Skincare of All Time—Here Are My Favorite Brands

It’s no secret that Japan has some of the best skincare in the game. Of course, Japan is home to heavy-hitters like Shiseido and Tatcha, but there are also plenty of less well-known Japanese skincare brands that deserve your attention. Japanese skincare brands are constantly innovating. In fact, you’ll be floored by how many of the brands on this list have a proprietary ingredient or formula that makes them unique. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your skincare routine, these brands will help take you to the next level. There’s something here for everyone—essences perfect for those of us who make our skincare routine a nighttime ritual and sheet masks that do all the work for anyone who wants to keep their routine minimal. Keep scrolling for some of our favorite J-Beauty skincare brands and products—the glass skin of your dreams is right around the corner.

Shiseido has been a Tokyo mainstay since 1872 when it started out as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy. In fact, in 1888, Shiseido launched Japan’s first toothpaste (before that, there had only been damaging tooth powder). Since then, the brand has never stopped innovating, helping popularize a multi-step skincare routine and making high-quality skincare products that deliver major results. 

Curél actually got its start in the United States in 1984, but the Kao Corporation in Japan acquired Curél Skincare from Bausch & Lomb in 1999. From there, Curél began making products specifically targeting dry, sensitive skin using Kao’s proprietary ceramide technology, or the Advanced Ceramide Complex. Curél’s been the top brand for dry, sensitive skin in Japan for 14 years, and now, you can buy the Japanese line at Ulta to try it for yourself. This line of products transforms even the flakiest, more irritable skin into the dewy, hydrated skin of your dreams. 

Tatcha is where Japanese botanicals meet clinical research. Each Tatcha product is based on its building block Hadasei-3 complex, which blends together twice-fermented rice, green tea, and algae and is chock-full of vitamins, amino acids, and AHAs. Each Tatcha product feels like a tiny indulgence—and that’s exactly the point. 

DHC subscribes to the Japanese concept wabi-sabi, which means that there is beauty in imperfection. The company is focused on making products that help you feel beautiful in the skin that you have. DHC’s cleansing oil is one of the best we’ve ever tried, and you can’t beat its price point. 

SK-II products are formulated with its “miracle ingredient” Pitera, which SK-II scientists stumbled on after seeing how youthful sake brewers’ hands looked. From there, Pitera, a fermented liquid rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals became the cornerstone of SK-II products. They may come with hefty price tags, but once you try the products and see what they do for your skin, you’ll never go back. 

Build on the Japanese philosophy Kirei, MyKirei by Kao is focused on sustainability, balance, simplicity, order and well-being. Each product is refillable and made with environmentally friendly ingredients. 

Bioré has always focused on pores and how they’re tied to overall skin health. While Bioré has many products available in the United States, it’s its exclusively Japanese products that we can’t stop lusting over—including one of the best sunscreens we’ve ever used and a cleansing jelly worth swapping your makeup remover for. 

Consider Sekkisei the authority on glass skin. All of its products work to brighten and moisturize skin with herbal ingredients, leaving it gleaming and luminous.   

If you struggle with dry skin, Hada Labo is the brand for you. Each product is built on hyaluronic acid meant to be layered to help you achieve hydrated, supple skin. 

Saborino is like if the smartest kid in class made you a cheat sheet. Based on the word saboru, which translates to skipping school, this skincare brand is all about delivering the most benefits in the easiest way possible—sheet masks! Pop one of these masks on morning or night, leave on for a minute, and skip the seven-step skincare routine (but reap the same benefits). 

Next: 18 New Cleansers to Immediately Level Up Your Skincare Game in 2022