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Simple Ingredients and Radiant Skin | 6 J-Beauty Brands to Try

Simple Ingredients and Radiant Skin | 6 J-Beauty Brands to Try

If you’re a beauty enthusiast, you’ve probably noticed the recent buzz around J-Beauty. Members of the beauty community love to learn about new products, techniques, and traditions, so it only makes sense to obsess over Japanese beauty, which has a rich history of using quality ingredients for amazing results. One of the reasons J-Beauty is gaining popularity around the world is because it’s simple yet effective. With a focus on clean and time-tested ingredients, Japanese beauty allows you to take a step back from the product-saturated beauty world and perfect your routine with just a few items. No gimmicks, no wild packaging, just products that work.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with gimmicks and fun packaging, but it does seem like the popularity of the simplistic J-Beauty trend goes hand in hand with the current no makeup-makeup movement. Right now, the pendulum is swinging away from heavy Instagram makeup like heavily drawn on brows and matte liquid lips, so it makes sense if you’re seeing more J-beauty products on the shelves.

If you’re unfamiliar with J-beauty, we’ve got the scoop on some of the most popular brands that have found success internationally. Since quality is key in J-Beauty, there is a common theme of naturally-derived ingredients and age-old formulas that promise to make your skin radiant and smooth. One thing to note about a lot of these brands is that they’re “prestige”, meaning their products tend to run at a high price point. Of course, if you’re interested in these products you can always use the holidays as an excuse to treat yourself or put it on a wish list. You can also tell yourself it’s an investment in your skin, ‘cause that’s what I do!


Founded in 1872, Shiseido is one of the oldest beauty brands in the world, let alone in J-Beauty. Known for their anti-aging and skin brightening products, Shiseido has plenty of international best-selling products. They’ve been innovative from the start with their ingredients, and while they have several makeup products, their most popular items are in skincare. They recently debuted the Waso line which was inspired by washoku, or traditional Japanese food. Waso products are made with ingredients like carrot, honey, tofu, and even white jelly mushroom. This combination of traditional Japanese food helps with oiliness, large pores, and other imperfections, making the products suitable for all skin types.


Tatcha wasn’t founded in Japan, but founder Vicky Tsai was so moved by her experiences with traditional Japanese beauty that she created this luxurious line to share with the world. Inspired by her time spent with real Geishas, Tsai works with Japanese scientists to create gentle and effective products using ingredients like ground rice brand for exfoliation, camellia oil for moisturizing, and green tea and algae for their anti-aging properties. In addition to their remarkable skincare products, Tatcha also has a lovely collection of lipsticks, including the Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick, taking a color traditionally worn by Geishas and transforming it into a modern, sleek shade. You can also get one of their starter kits to try their famous Rice Polish or Water Cream moisturizer.

Shu Uemura

Shu Uemura was a famous Japanese makeup artist who worked with old-school celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball and then went on to create his own brand. From the beginning, Shu Uemura cleansing oils have been a fan favorite, like the Anti/Oxi+ Pollutant & Dullness Clarifying Cleansing Oil, which uses green tea, moringa, and papaya extract to remove pollutants and polish your skin. Also, their iconic eyelash curler was mentioned in The Devil Wears Prada, so you know it’s good.


SK-II is a well-known Japanese brand that has slowly risen to popularity throughout the world because of their highly-coveted Facial Treatment Essence. You’ve probably seen Chloë Grace Moretz showing off her perfect skin with a bottle of the essence, as she’s part of their #bareskinproject, which encourages celebrities to celebrate their skin with makeup-free selfies. The popular essence uses a trademarked ingredient called Pitera, which consists of vitamins, acids, and minerals to support the skin’s cell renewal process, and fans rave about its effect on their skin tone, texture, acne, and other common concerns.

Koh Gen Do

Now that we’ve covered the importance of skincare in J-Beauty, we can focus on some makeup. Fresh, glowing skin is a central theme in Japanese beauty, so it’s important for face makeup to be lightweight and illuminating while still providing coverage. Koh Gen Do’s philosophy is that everything you apply to your skin “should nurture its radiant vitality”, and their famous foundations are all about radiance. The cult-favorite Maifanshi Moisture Foundation contains jojoba oil, olive squalane, and shea butter which will leave your skin soft and dewy, and is perfect for dry winter weather.


Another Japanese brand popular for their impressive ingredients is DHC, who expertly combine nature and science to create some of the most innovative beauty products in the world. Many of their products are olive oil-based, like the Deep Cleansing Oil, which also uses rosemary leaf oil and vitamin E to melt away impurities and refresh your skin.

No matter your skin type or beauty preferences, we can all agree that simple yet effective ingredients are appealing, especially when your goal is to have glowing, revitalized skin. J-Beauty is just starting to become popular internationally, but keep an eye out for some of these brands if you want to see what all the fuss is about. And if it’s a luxurious routine rooted in tradition that you’re looking for, J-Beauty has got you covered.

by Clare Saxton
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