When it comes to Japanese beauty products quality is always guaranteed regardless of the price. While big Japanese cosmetic brands like Shiseido and KOSE have been favoured by discerning women for decades, there’s now an array of affordable options thanks to the growing presence of large Japanese stores like Don Don Donki, Tokyu Hands and Muji. Aside from stocking countless bath and beauty products from lesser-known brands at accessible price points, the options are pretty interesting too. From espresso-flavoured toothpaste to horse oil-infused face mask (and all for under $30) there’s really no excuse not to test them out.
#1: Breath Palette Flavoured Toothpaste, $1.90 each, from Don Don Donki
Replace your daily morning shot of coffee Breath Palette’s mind-boggling range of flavoured toothpastes. Available a white and sleek 25g tube, each toothpaste does not foam as much as the usual ones we use, and the flavours are all made of natural ingredients and extracts. Best part, there are 31 flavours to choose from, including espresso, honey and even Indian Curry, so you can be sure that fresh morning breath will never be the same again.
#2: Kiss New York Professional Make-Up Sponge, $4.90, from Don Don Donki
A 3D multi-functional makeup sponge that is suitable for use for every part of the face, including hard-to-reach areas like the corners of the nose or the eye contours. Free of latex, it is suitable for even sensitive skin and its firm material ensures smooth application of any base products, be it liquid foundation, cream highlighters or powder blushes. Do remember to wash it regularly: use a mild soap and rinse under running water until the water is clear.
#3: Heel File with Brush, $2, from Daiso
Our feet deserves as much TLC as we show our skin. Daiso’s 2-way stone and brush helps to exfoliate the dead skin from the soles of your feet while stimulating circulation to restores elasticity to the balls of your feet. After buffing your feet with the stone, simply brush away the debris to reveal softer, smoother skin. For maintenance, remember to moisturise your feet regularly.
#4: LuLuLun Hydrating Face Mask, $7.90 for 7 sheets, from Don Don Donki
Designed for everyday use, this hydrating face mask is soaked in hyaluronic acid and rice ceramide to deliver moisture deep into all skin layers for plumper, suppler skin. It is also made of a special microfibre materials which adheres closely to the contours of your face, ensuring maximum contact so your skin soaks up all the goodness in the mask. LuLuLun only uses fragrance-free, artificial coloring-free, mineral oil-free natural ingredients to minimise irritation, especially if you are prone to sensitivity.
#5: Bi-hada Ompa Electric Razor, $9.90, from Don Don Donki
Removing excess facial hair has never been easier with this vibrating electric razor. With a frequency of 100 vibrations per minute, this ergonomically designed blade expertly eliminates tiny hairs around the brows, above the lips or around the jawline. It also minimises friction and contact against skin to minimise any abrasion and redness. You can also use it in the shower as it is water-resistant.
#6: Suisai Beauty Clear Powder, $27 for a pack of 32, from Don Don Donki
Widely raved amongst skincare junkies all over the world, chances are, you might have seen these cute little cubes in Japanese drug stores. Not only are they super travel-friendly, this powder cleanser contains protease, a type of enzymes that eliminates dead skin cells to reveal softer, smoother skin. In addition, it is also made of soy milk, watercress and licorice root extract to hydrate and brighten the skin. Those who are averse to artificial colourants and fragrances will also be glad to know that the formula is free of these potential irritants.
#7: Lishan Horse Oil Face Mask, $3.90, from Tokyu Hands
Widely used in beauty products in Japan, horse oil is a rich source of linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid which repairs the skin’s barrier function and improves skin elasticity. Extracted from horses in Hokkaido, horse oil has a similar chemical structure as human skin so it is readily absorbed into skin rather than form an occlusive layer on top of it. In addition, it is also fortified in placenta extract and pearl barley extract to deliver an intense dose of nutrients and hydration to skin for an instantly brighter and smoother complexion.
#8: KOJI Clear Eye Talk, $15.50, from Don Don Donki
Chuck the visible eyelid tapes away and invisibly create your desired double eyelid with KOJI’s glue formula. Promising to last all day long, the application stick does not have any sharp edges that may poke your eyelids — plus points for when you’re touching up your makeup in the back of a taxi. At the end of the day, simply remove eye makeup with your regular eye makeup remover and the glue melts right off.
#9: MUJI Cosmetic Paper Linen Blended, $2.60 for 100 sheets
Banish mid-day shine without smudging your makeup with these handy blotting paper. Made with Japanese paper that consists of linen, it soaks up excess sebum on skin’s surface and feels soft and smooth. Free of artificial fragrances, it doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive of skin and slides into the tiniest of purses for convenient touch-ups while on the go.
#10: Tsururi Pore Cleansing Brush, $18.90, from Don Don Donki
Did you know that as a general rule of thumb, the denser the consistency of a facial foam, the better it cleans our pores? To make the most of your regular cleansing foam, whip it into a luxurious thick texture with this brush. After spreading the facial foam onto your skin, massage your face in circular motions using this brush to further deep-cleanse pores. The massaging motion also improves circulation for a healthy flush. Made of extra-fine Kanegoto fibres, the bristles of this brush feels gentle against skin and dries quickly so you never have to worry about bacteria growth.
#11: MAIKOHAN Lip Balm, $19.90, from Tokyu Hands
Formulated with a cocktail of botanical ingredients like olive oil, camelia extract, apricot oil, shea butter, sakura extract and camomile extract, it instantly drenches parched lips in moisture, leaving behind a high-shine glossy effect. Despite its wet-look finish, the lip balm stays on for hours on end and keeps lips soft and smooth, even when exposed to air-conditioning.
#12: MUJI Sensitive Skin Body Milk, $13
From smart storage solutions, comfortable apparel, delicious snacks and even beauty products, Muji’s skincare and makeup products all have a simple, minimalist appeal to them, particularly its Sensitive Skin Care series. Our favourite is this moisturising milk, which contains power antioxidant, purslane extract, which strengthens skin against external sources of damage like UV, pollution and dehydration. The formula is also free of fragrances, artificial colourants, mineral oils, parabens and alcohol — perfect for use even on children and those on sensitive skin.
#13: Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask, $14.30 for 10 Sheets, from Tokyu Hands
When you’ve been out and about under the hot sun all day long, what could be better than an ice cold drink to instantly cool you down and quench your thirst? Just like that ice cold drink, this face mask is your skin’s antidote to a hot day, thanks to its instant cooling sensation. Moreover, it is saturated in organic Japanese rice-derived ingredients and fermented sake to replenish skin with much-needed hydration and antioxidants for a healthier, more radiant complexion.
#14: KEANACY Pore Care Massage Gel Pack, $19.90, from Don Don Donki
If the sweltering heat is wrecking havoc on your skin, causing sebum levels to skyrocket and in turn, increasing the appearance of your pores, it’s time to step up your pore care routine. Instead of attempting to squeeze out blackheads via a DIY facial, this warming gel softens stubborn comedones and dislodges blackheads so you can just rinse it off to reveal a more refined skin texture with frequent use.