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!