Japan Haul: 9 Must-Buy Beauty Products

By: Kris Bacani

It's that time of the year again where everyone flocks to Japan for the Holy Week break. It's also one of my favorite countries -- in the past two years, I've went back three times! More than anything, I always looking forward to eating good food plus shopping for some must-have Japanese skincare and makeup products. 

As a makeup artist, a trip to Japan really isn’t complete without a skincare/makeup haul but instead of simply hoarding, I made sure to get only what came highly recommended to me by friends and restock some of my all-time favorites!

Koji Curving Eyelash Curler - I have a Facebook group of all my personal and bridal makeup workshop students, and last November I offered to sell these to them at cost. I thought only a handful would want to buy, but it turns out I needed to buy 29 pieces! I think I hyped it up too much but this really is my holy grail for eyelash curlers. In fact, this is my personal eyelash curler and it’s waaaay better than Shu Uemura for me. I managed to get 22 pieces for them after running around Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Diamond Lash False Eyelashes - I always make it a point to buy different kinds of false eyelashes for my clients whenever I’m in Tokyo or Bangkok. Diamond Lashes are my fave here!

DUP Eyelash Glue - As with falsies, I try different brands of eyelash glue all the time. I’ve read great reviews of DUP, and they say you don’t need for this one to wait a few seconds to become tacky. That means you can apply the falsies right away onto your lashline after applying the glue. Time saver!


Lululun Sheet Masks - Lululun is the #1 sheet mask brand in Japan, and when my sister saw a pack of 32 for only 1,500 Yen (around P750 pesos, so that’s just P23.5 pesos per sheet), we instantly snapped one pack each. We’re committing to finally doing sheet masks regularly! 

Senka Perfect Whip Facial Wash - Senka is the sister brand (and more affordable version) of Shiseido. If only for the price, it’s a no-brainer for you to try it out. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense facial wash, this is it. This reminds me so much of the Shiseido Ibuki facial wash I had 2 years ago. I think mine’s going to last me a year, it foams up easily so a little goes a long way.

Cure Natural Aqua Gel - I was a bit skeptical when I tried this one at a friend’s apartment. It’s this watery gel that you massage on your face, then after a few seconds of massaging, you’ll see white-ish “libag” (sorry, I have no other word for it!) form as the gel dries up. The “libag” are the dead skin cells that was exfoliated from your skin. I thought, “hey, maybe that’s just the product itself drying up”, but I was convinced that’s not the case because my skin was extra smooth and glowing after exfoliating. I like the fact that unlike traditional exfoliating scrubs, my skin isn’t aggravated by any kind of beads. No wonder this is a bestseller!

Cure Water Treatment Skin Cream - Bought this on a whim, because hey, if the Cure exfoliant is that good, then the moisturizer should be good as well! If there’s one thing I can’t have enough of, it’s moisturizer to quench my dry, dry skin.

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream - Obviously not a Japanese brand, but I was surprised to find an Etude House store in Shibuya 109. I was on the lookout for a good eye cream, and I read good reviews about this one so I bought one each for me and my sister. My under eyes instantly felt refreshed applying this, and maybe because of the collagen and its plumping effect, the fine lines on my under eyes were minimized after a few uses.

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Facial Mist - Are you dying to achieve dewy, radiant skin? Koreans even have a term for that enviable glow--“chok chok.” If you want dewy, then you have to have an actual dew, right? Enter this godsent Etude House facial mist, which is basically chok chok in an aerosol can. Not only does it give moisture, it retains moisture. I got the big can, but I’m thinking of getting the smaller, travel sized one so I can put it in my kikay kit and spray even in the middle of the day.

I’m really happy I got my fill of mouth-watering food, beautiful scenery, and of course, these must-have (mostly) skincare products straight from the motherland.

One of my pro tips before you head on out to Japan, South Korea, or any other known countries for skincare and makeup products is to research, research, research! Their drugstore offerings can be veerrrry overwhelming and unless you have unlimited pocket money, it’s best to know which brands and products to go for instead of just burning your money with anything that fancies your eyes. I mean, a lot of these products have very cute and elaborate packaging to begin with.

I personally seek out recommendations from my fellow makeup artists, students, and friends who just love all things skincare and makeup. Then I zero in on what I really need and what would be very useful for me. Another pro tip? Stock up on your holy grails, especially if you can’t get them as easily or for the same affordable price here in the Philippines!

What are your must-buys when in Japan? Comment below more recommendations that I can check out for my future trips!


 KRIS BACANI is a New York trained makeup artist and makeup teacher from Manila. She's also a certified yoga teacher and almost always busy daydreaming where to wander off next. See more of her work and beauty tips on krisbacani.com 

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