My latest beauty post is a roundup of my top 10 J-Beauty cleansers and exfoliators.
Cleansing is perhaps the most important step in a skincare routine. It removes makeup, sunscreen, pollen, dirt, pollution and whatever impurities that may build up on the surface of your skin over the course of a day. In addition, regular exfoliation stimulates skin cell turnover, the cycle in which old skin cells are replaced with new skin cells. This leaves you with fresh, clear skin which allows for better penetration of skincare products.
And, as I treat skincare as a form of self-care, physically removing impurities from my skin is my way of saying “Good Riddance!” to a stressful day.
My skincare mania has grown this past year, and I’ve been able to try many new products. However, there are products that have truly grown on me because they work well with my maturing oily skin. My skin is becoming increasingly prone to blemishing, so cleansing and exfoliating is something that I take seriously!
I arranged this list in alphabetical order. It was hard to pick my absolute favorite — I live by double cleansing, and my choice of cleanser depends on the kind of makeup I wore/type of sunscreen I used, etc.
Where To Purchase My Top 10 J-Beauty Cleansers and Exfoliators
I’ve added links to Amazon for my readers outside of Japan. Unfortunately, however, most of these items are only available via Amazon Japan, or directly through the retailer. Nevertheless, you can use a Japanese proxy retailer like Neokyo to do your Amazon Japan shopping for you for a flat fee!
Another place to shop is the online Japan marketplace Dokodemo, which has an excellent selection of cleansing and exfoliating products J-beauty products. What’s great about Dokodemo is that you can earn points while you shop and redeem them for future purchases. See more of my Dokodemo review here: 10 Sakura Themed Beauty Finds For Spring 2021.
This post contains affiliate links.
My Top 10 J-Beauty Cleansers and Exfoliators
1. Auna Mild Hot Cleansing Gel
Auna Mild Hot Cleansing Gel is one of my favorite kinds of cleaners. It’s a gel with a honey-like consistency that gently warms as you rub it into your face. My to-go hot cleansing gel is Skinvill (entry number 8) but Auna Mild Hot Cleansing Gel is a great choice if you have very sensitive or dry skin. The formula is free of fragrances, preservative, surfactant, colorant, mineral oil, alcohol, UV absorber, silicone, and it’s sulfate-free.
The light citrus scent comes from Chinese (amur) cork tree extract, which is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. (Apparently, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu, also used it as a painkiller!) Because this is a very mild cleansing formula, it won’t remove eyeliner or mascara, but it gets the job done when it comes to leaving your skin feeling smooth and fresh. Plus, it’s from Rohto, who’ve been in the game for more than 121 years!
Try it! Auna Mild Hot Cleansing Gel – Amazon Japan
2. Bifesta Micellar Cleansing Water Moist
Bifesta is Japan’s top-selling brand of micellar water, and it comes in 3 variations. “Sensitive” is formulated for those with delicate skin; “Bright Up” uses AHA and Vitamin C derivatives to exfoliate and even the skin tone. “Moist” uses 2 kinds of hyaluronic acid to hydrate while tiny micelle particles dissolve makeup, dirt and oil from the skin’s surface.
Two things I like about this product:
(1) it’s a “no rinse” cleanser, so you can start your nighttime skincare routine without having to leave your couch/bed. (You know how it is when you have one of those days!) Plus, it’s so hydrating that you can skip the toner/facial lotion and go straight for a sheet mask or rich all-in-one night cream/gel.
(2) the cost performance of this is phenomenal. It’s a 400 mL pump bottle that retails for around 1,000 yen and refill pouches are available. If you opt for a tenugui facial cloth instead of cotton wipes you’ll save more!
Try it! Bifesta Micellar Cleansing Water Moist – Amazon Japan
3. Cleansing Research Wash Cleansing r
Cleansing Research is a line of apple-scented AHA cleansing products from the BCL Company. (AKA the company that makes those fruity Saborino morning sheet masks!). I recently picked up its “aging care” formula Wash Cleansing r because I’m trying to add more AHA products to my skincare routine. AHA, or alpha hydroxy acids, work by helping the skin shed its old skin cells and stimulate the production of collagen. Perfect for dealing with fine lines!I like using this one as a nighttime cleanser because it lathers up into a creamy moisturizing face wash that exfoliates without leaving my skin feeling tight afterwards.
Try it! Cleansing Research Wash Cleansing r – Amazon Japan
4. DetClear Bright & Peel Fruits Peeling Jelly
DetClear Bright & Peel Fruits Peeling Jelly is one of my favorite peeling products. It’s also Japan’s top-selling exfoliating product. I’ve blogged about it in my summer skincare & winter skincare lists. It always makes an appearance in my stories and in my Instagram “empties” posts. What more can I say other than this is an affordable product that gets the job done.
It contains AHA and BHA. The AHA comes from 7 different fruit extracts and the BHA comes from plant extracts. I use this 2-3 a week on my face. I also use it in the shower on my shoulders, decolletage, elbows, knees and butt!
DetClear Bright & Peel Fruits Peeling Jelly comes in 3 variations: berry, tropical, and unscented. There’s an “anti aging” version and “whitening” version, too. (Berry is my favorite, though I am tempted to switch to the “anti aging! one!) In addition, you might be able to catch limited edition bottle designs on your next trip to the drugstore.
Try it! DetClear Bright & Peel Fruits Peeling Jelly – Amazon Japan | Amazon
5. FANCL Deep Clear Washing Powder
FANCL is a brand of additive-free skincare products that was released in 1982. Since then, FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil has become a holy grail item to many in the Asian Beauty Community. But, I think FANCL Deep Clear Washing Powder is also a worthy contender! To start, there’s 30 pods in this package, and inside is an unscented ash grey powder composed of enzymes, charcoal, clay, and rice starch to deep cleanse the pores and remove impurities on the surface of the face.
To use, simply empty the contents of the pod into your palm, add water. Rub your hands together until the contents reach a foamy consistency and gently massage into your face. This can get a little tricky, so it’s best if you have a cleansing brush or other tool on hand.
This product is intended to be a daily cleanser, but all that plastic, no matter how tiny, adds up. With that said, I would encourage anyone to stash a week’s worth of these in their emergency evacuation bag. Personal hygiene supplies at a shelter can be sparse, so it’s best to bring your own, and these take up little space in your kit.
Try it! FANCL Deep Clear Washing Powder – Amazon Japan | Amazon
6. Hada Nature Carbonated Skincare Cleansing Foam
Hada Nature Carbonated Skincare Cleansing Foam is a super fun textured cleansing product. It actually helped me get out of my comfort zone when making skincare routine clips for Instagram because I really wanted to show off its cleansing abilities! For starters, this is a tingly carbonated foam that transforms into a gentle yet effective cleansing oil. I like using this one in the mornings when I notice I’m a bit oily or before taking a shower/bath a night.
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Hada Nature Carbonated Skincare Cleansing Foam also works as a makeup remover, and it does an excellent job of removing mascara and eyeliner. To use, give the canister a good shake, then disperse the foam into your palms, pat into the face and rub in.
Try it! Hada Nature Carbonated Skincare Cleansing Foam – Amazon Japan
7. Skinvill Hot Cleansing Gel
This is probably my holy grail cleanser. Like the DetClear Bright & Peel Fruits Peeling Jelly ’ve been using this since the start of my J-beauty journey. It’s a thick gel with a honey-like consistency and citrus scent. (And, while this product is not intended to be ingested, it smelled so good that I was tempted enough to see if it was as sweet as it smelled. If you’re wondering…yes, yes it is very sweet!
Like all “hot” cleansing gels, Skinvill Hot Cleansing Gel that gently warms up as you rub it into your skin. What makes this product stand out from others on the market is the use of Vitamins A, C, and E in its formula to treat skin concerns. I also like that Skinvill routinely comes out with seasonal varieties and limited edition packaging.
The original version is a citrus scent and comes in the brand’s signature orange packaging. I’ve tried nearly all the variations and really like using the Lime Citrus Mint Hot & Cool Cleansing Gel during the summertime. If you’re in the mood for some deep cleansing, go for Yuzu Jasmine. It uses tiny Devil’s tongue/konnyaku pieces instead of microbeads to exfoliate.
Try it! Skinvill Hot Cleansing Gel – Amazon Japan | Amazon
8. Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil
Not all cleansing oils are created equal! Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil is is pricey, but it is legitimately worth every yen. Ever since I found out that Shu Uemura pioneered the double cleansing method, I’ve been eager to try the brand’s fabled cleansing oil, which according to the brand, sells 1 bottle of cleansing oil every second! It’s also the winner of 3 different cosmetics awards!
This smells amazing, and the blend of 8 botanical oils felt like magic on my skin. I highly recommend this for anyone who regularly uses eye makeup and needs a cleanser that will get the job done with minimum damage to the skin and delicate areas around the eye.
Try it! Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil – Amazon Japan | Amazon
9. Softymo White Cleansing Oil
Please don’t be put off by the “white” in the product’s title. Softymo White Cleansing Oil removes dirt and makeup, and it also clears the skin by preventing the build up of melanin which causes freckles and sunspots. (For more on Japanese “whitening” cosmetics and why they shouldn’t be overlooked, please see this post: The Truth About Japanese Whitening Cosmetics)
Its formula is a nourishing blend of olive oil, jojoba seed oil, sesame oil, and shea butter. Softymo White Cleansing Oil is a wonderful wallet-friendly cleansing oil that’s great for anyone curious to introduce a cleansing oil into their skincare routine.
Try it! Softymo White Cleansing Oil – Amazon Japan | Amazon
10. Tunemakers Undiluted Solution Peeling Lotion
Tunemakers is a brand of “concentrated/undiluted” beauty products that prides itself on its simple packaging and filler-free formulas. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen Tunemakers compared to The Ordinary on Japanese beauty blogs because of the affordability, simplicity, and effectiveness of its products. However, I’ve yet to try any of The Ordinary’s products, so I can’t make that comparison myself.
With that said, I tried my first Tunemakers product (AHA Special Essence) when it came in the March 2020 Raxy Beauty Box. Since then I’ve continued to use AHA Special Essence, but have started using Undiluted Solution Peeling Lotion as a wipe-off toner since January 2021. It uses a 5:3:2 ratio of AHA made with fruit extracts, fermented AHA made with fruit extracts, and ceramides to brighten and smooth the skin and remove blackheads. One 120 ml bottle lasts me about a month, and I’m currently on my second bottle.
Try it! Tunemakers Undiluted Solution Peeling Lotion – Amazon Japan | Amazon
My Top 10 J-Beauty Cleansers and Exfoliators
Did any of your favorite J-beauty cleansers and exfoliating products make the cut? Let me know what you would add to the list!
My Top 10 J-Beauty Cleansers and Exfoliators
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