• Japanese Lotions

    Japanese Lotions

    Many people are often confused by Japanese lotions. They’re more commonly referred to as toners, astringents, or softeners in the Western Hemisphere.

    Here are what Japanese lotions are NOT:

    • They’re not a type of moisturisers (although most do hydrate skin).
    • They’re not formulated to remove traces makeup left behind, to balance pH, nor to close pores.
    • They’re also not meant to be swiped on.

    Functions of Japanese lotions:

    There is no equivalent product available in North American or European brands. This step is primarily a Japanese concept and it is considered an essential in a Japanese skin care routine.

    • Prepare for skin care products that follow by softening skin.
    • Hydrate skin! Majority of them contains a blend of several humectants (e.g. hyaluronic acid). Many skin care brands offer 2–4 different moisture levels to suit different skin types.
    • There’re also a myriad of additional features available (depending on the product) like brightening, soothing, firming, anti-ageing, treating acne… the list goes on. These formulas act as a skin treatment in addition to the first 2 basic functions listed above.

    There’re 3 main methods of applying Japanese lotions, and the method you choose depends on how much time you have and what you have available.

    • Pour appropriate amount onto your palm and gently pat into skin till absorbed.
    • Pour appropriate amount on to a soft cotton pad and gently press and hold it against your skin.
    • Saturate a sheet mask (or a few cotton pads) and place on skin for 5-10 minutes as a lotion mask. (This is generally done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in addition to applying it twice a day using the one of the 2 methods mentioned above.)

    How can they moisturise the skin when most are high in alcohol?

    Alcohol is a common ingredient in Japanese lotions (and other skin care products like sunscreens). It is added to give the product a lighter texture and to help it absorbs into the skin faster. In a lot of Japanese lotion formulas, the alcohol doesn’t dry out the skin due to the high concentration of hydrating ingredients that are also present.

    Alcohol is an important ingredient in very high humidity environment like Japan. Without it, the product can take quite long to completely absorb or skin will feel sticky — even on dry skin. There are alcohol-free options available but they are generally unpopular in Japan for the reasons just mentioned. They can work well, however, if you live in a very dry environment.

    You can browse through all the Japan lotions in this site here!

    • Awilda

      Are skin conditionner the same as Japanese lotions ? I have the Naturie hatomugi skin conditionner and use it has I would use a Korean essence meaning pat it with my hands onto my skin !

      • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

        Yup. Usually ones that come in a big bottle (half litre size ones like this) are designed to be used with large cotton wool pads as a lotion pack.

        • Awilda

          Oh I see,thank you :)

          • Awilda

            I have been wondering these days,should I use it right after cleansing or can I use my regular rose water before ?

            • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

              Either would be fine. Using plain rose water before wouldn’t affect anything.

    • SkinCare

      Hello Razilla, Thank you for all the explanations. I was just reading the Skin Revolution book, and I have started treating my face with massages and am thrilled to see first results. The complexion of my skin feels and looks so much better already after two weeks after having changed my routine. – I have one question for you: Can you recommend a good product to use for the Cotton Pad Lotion Mask in Saeki’s book? It is not possible to get Japanese products here in Switzerland and I’m not sure about what to use instead. Thank you for sharing your knowledge so generously!! :)

      • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

        You can use any Japanese lotion you like, although something that comes in a bigger-than-average bottle would make it more economical.

        Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Skin care Lotion (500ml!) is a popular one for this purpose that’s very good. http://www.ratzillacosme.com/skin/kiku-masamune-sake-brewing-skin-care-lotion/

        Thayers Witch Hazel (or something similar) is nice for oily, acne-prone skin and it’s readily available outside in Japan.

    • Odeza Mae B.

      Hi there,i bought a MILK LOTION in a japanese store.Is this a toner or a moisturiser?I know usually the japanese skin care is Cleanser,Lotion,Serum,Milk then Cream…….so forth.I’m just confuse!

      • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

        Most likely an emulsion (aka moisturiser milk).

        • Odeza Mae B.

          Thank you! I appreciate your respond :)

    • Sugarplum

      I’ve often heard that alcohol denat (not moisturizing cetyl types) will damage skin even if it doesn’t actually dry or irritate. Is this just fear mongering or does it have root in fact? I’m a bit worried because my oily skin generally prefers products that contain alcohol.

      Thanks so much for all the great info on your site btw. It’s such a great resource.

      • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

        There is a difference between Alcohol and Alcohol Denat. in cosmetics. The latter rarely appears in Japanese cosmetics.

        Alcohol denat. supposedly cause free radical damage. I said “supposedly” because I’ve yet to actually find a peer-review study showing that that alcohol denat. in cosmetics can do such thing. I’ve only read that from Paula Begoun, who is known to misinterpret quite a bit of info from scientific studies (and being a major hypocrite)… and most sites seem to be just regurgitating what she says.

        Regardless, free radical damage occurs all the time no matter what you’re use or do. It’s not possible to completely stop free radical damage. It’s just a part of life. I’d say stressing about potential long term effects of alcohol denat. in cosmetics will cause more damage that the ingredient itself.

        I personally thinks it’s a not an issue unless it’s drying or irritating your skin.

    • Sueanne

      Which Japanese lotions brands would you suggest?

    • Pedro

      Personally do you prefer using lotions with cotton or hands?

      • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

        Generally hands.

    • http://easttowestskincare.com/ Pedro

      I’ve bought the Astalift Jelly Aquarysta and Lotion (Japanese version – great products!). I think the company says to use the lotion after the jelly. Am I right? Sounds a bit strange…


      • http://ratzillacosme.com ratzilla

        Yes. According to Astalift Jelly Aquarysta’s Japanese usage instructions, a large pearl-sized amount should be massaged on bare skin immediately after cleansing. Lotion goes after.

    • Anni

      Hi there, your site gave me the exact info I was looking for. Thank you for that.
      However, what’s your opinion on shiseido softener? Any Japanese lotions you can suggest that’s available online?

      Thankyou so much.

      • http://ratzillacosme.com Ratzilla

        Hi Anni. Which Shiseido product are you referring to? They make so many. Shiseido’s international line (found in department stores throughout N. America and Europe) as a whole is not my cup of tea as I have been quite underwhelmed by various the products I have tried. My list changes all the time but I have always liked Muji’s Light Toning Water (High Moisture Type), Nano Biryuwsui Mist Lotion, and Albion’s Skin Conditioner Essential.

        • Nadine

          Hi, I am wondering if lotion is the same with “booster” in Korean trend? Cause it has hyaluronic acid and helps the skin absorb moisture? And if that’s the case, do you think it’d be safe to like have a booster first (lotion) before a toner which cleanses pores? Or is it the other way around- toner forst then lotion? Thank you so much!

          • http://www.ratzillacosme.com/ Ratzilla

            To me, what the Koreans call “booster” is the same as the “lotion” in Japan. Japanese boosters (sometimes called “pre-lotion”) aren’t the same — they have mild exfoliating properties (due to acids) to soften skin and rid dead skin cells to enhance (boost) absorption of skincare products that follow — you would apply that before lotion.

            I feel if you need a toner as an extra cleansing step, you just need a better cleanser/makeup remover.