Beauty tips to steal from the perfection-obsessed Japanese skincare routine Advertisement

Beauty tips to steal from the perfection-obsessed Japanese skincare routine

This year, we’re honing in on J-beauty

By ERIN COOK  July 17th, 2018

At some point in 2014 (or was it 2015?), a rumour began circling amongst beauty junkies: apparently, over in Korea, women take their skincare so seriously, a 10-step skincare routine is the norm, and porcelain skin is the rule, not the exception. Over the past few years, it’s safe to say we’ve been borderline obsessed with K-beauty, its devotees, and its innovative formulas. But now, we’re ready to move on. Introducing J-beauty. Not to be confused with K-beauty, J-beauty is shorthand for the Japanese skincare and beauty industry. 

A post shared by Nicole (@nicintokyo) on Mar 13, 2017 at 4:56pm PDT

What is J-beauty? 

K- and J-beauty are quite different. “Korean beauty is innovative and cutting edge,” explains Japanese beauty blogger Nicole from Beauty Tea Time in Tokyo, “[but] Japanese beauty is authentic.”

“The Japanese are known for producing high quality products in different fields, including beauty,” Nicole continues. “High quality products cannot be made without research and proof. Japanese skincare products are supported by a lot of facts and that’s why I would describe it as authentic.”

How is J-beauty different to K-beauty?

As a beauty blogger based in Tokyo, Nicole is familiar with both Japanese and Korean products. “Korean beauty products (both skincare and makeup) are some of the most innovative in the world,” she says. “But keep in mind that Korean pharmaceutical laws are not as strict as they are in Japan. Often, their products are more effective — containing a high concentration of active ingredients — but they can be very harsh for sensitive skin.”

As a whole, Japanese skincare products aren’t as cutting edge as Korean products but they’re more user-friendly and less likely to cause irritation. “Japanese beauty products focus more on safety,” Nicole explains. 

A post shared by Nicole (@nicintokyo) on Apr 21, 2018 at 2:42am PDT

How many steps are in a Japanese woman’s skincare routine?

In the morning, a five-step regime is normal in Japan. Whereas in the evening, it’s six steps.


A standard morning routine consists of: face wash, lotion, serum, emulsion and/or moisturiser, sunscreen.


For the typical Japanese woman, an evening routine includes: make-up remover, face wash, lotion, serum, emulsion, moisturiser.

A post shared by Nicole (@nicintokyo) on Nov 18, 2016 at 10:34pm PST

How is J-beauty different to our skincare?

You may have noticed two unfamiliar products in the Japanese woman’s daily regime: emulsion and lotion.

While we’re yet to embrace emulsion and lotion, they’re non-negotiables in Japan. (Full disclosure: after researching this article, we’re about to go out and buy a bottle of each.)


While emulsion is similar to moisturiser, it’s slightly lighter and “contains more moisture than creams,” Nicole says.


In Japan, lotions are slightly different product to what we’re familiar with. As Nicole explains, “lotion is a water-like liquid that balances your pH balance after washing your face.” They’re used to restore your skin’s natural pH balance after cleansing.