Japanese skincare routine

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Morning & Evening Japanese Skincare Routine Steps


When it comes to skin care, Japanese people like to keep it simple. The main focus is to have a healthy skin. Hydrating and Moisturizing your skin would be the most important thing to do. 

A complete Japanese skin care routine can have up to eight steps. Japanese skincare focuses on layers of hydration along with gentle cleansing. I will explain all the steps first and tell you which steps goes for your morning and which steps goes for the evening routine. 

Step 1: Remove Make-up and dirt

First, use make-up removers to clean up the make-up, sunscreen and dirt off your face. The make-up removers can be customized according to your needs, whether it is by using micellar water, cleansing oil, milk cleanser, facial cleansing wipes or cleansing balm. 

Step 2: Face wash & Double cleanse like the Geisha.

Most of us may be familiar with the double cleansing method when we wear make-up. But we should be double cleansing everyday, even when we don’t wear make-up. Double cleansing is key to get rid of all the dirty stuff on your face!
This doesn’t mean you have to wash your face twice in a row with face wash. What you can do is use cleansing balm or cleansing oil to get rid of sebum, and dirt accumulated throughout the day, rinsing it off and then using a cleansing foam.

Step 3: Exfoliating - Don’t over do it! 

Exfoliating isn’t a daily routine. We’ve been told to exfoliate our skin once to twice a week to remove dead skin and unclog those pores. But the Japanese believe that you don’t need exfoliation if you clean your skin properly.

Especially when you have sensitive skin, it’s better to just do it once a week or every other week. 

Yes, your skin is not even, with some areas having more or less dead skin than others. However, when you exfoliate, you are removing layers off your skin and you don’t know for sure if you are removing dead skin and could be damaging your healthy skin. Exfoliation can thin out your skin barrier and if you do this often then you should wear sunscreen! (FYI, wearing sunscreen everyday to protect your skin is a MUST)

There is no direct translation for exfoliator however J-beauty exfoliators use the word gel ジェル or peel ピール.

Step 4: Lotion ~ Keshou-sui 化粧水 

Japanese lotion can be a little bit confusing, I think there are no western beauty products like a Japanese lotion. You can call it “Japanese toners”, but Japanese lotions are not the same as western toners or moisturizers. In Western beauty terms, lotion is often released as just another name for toner, however it is different in function and formula. 

Japanese Lotion is an important part of the double moisture method and is made to soften the skin, restore your pH balance and the first step to hydration followed by emulsion.

The consistency of Japanese lotion is usually watery and full of ingredients that support hydration, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Instead of using cotton pads, you can apply the lotion directly with your hands by gently pat it onto your skin. 
Many Japanese women also use lotions as a mask treatment, and some use it as a double body lotion too. 

Step 5: Essence

Here we go again, Essence? Is this just another “fancy” beauty term? Is it a toner? Is it a light serum? It is quite confusing right?! So, let me explain what it is.
The famous Japanese essences are SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and the Sekkisei Facial Essence. Japanese essence is mostly a bit watery and is a concentrate of ingredients that target specific concerns like fine lines and dull, uneven skin. It helps to hydrate the skin and helps cell regeneration for brighter and clearer skin. 

Apply a few drops of essence into your hands and gently pat or press the essence onto your skin. Japanese Essence also preps your skin to better absorb the products you’ll be using next. 


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Step 6: Serum

Like the essence, a serum is a great product that targets specific skincare concerns like dark spots, fine lines and pore size. Serum contains a high concentration on active ingredients and have a thicker consistency. A few drops of serum should be enough since they’re so concentrated. 

Step 7: Eye Cream 

Using eye cream to tackle dark circles, fine lines or puffiness - is this really necessary? Some say it’s just a waste of money. But in Japan eye cream is a daily skincare essential

The area around your eyes is thinner than the skin on the rest of our face. Fine lines and wrinkles will become more apparent when your skin is dehydrated, so moisturizing your eye area will reduce the appearance of these fine lines.

Step 8: Mask - Sheet Mask/ Face Pack 

In every convenience store and drugstore in Japan you will see Face masks. Masking is an essential step for Japanese women, not only weekly but for some it’s a daily skincare routine. 

There are so many different types of face masks, its mind blowing! Each J-beauty brand have at least 2 types of sheet, hydrogel or rinse-off mask

Step 9: Emulsion and or Cream

Emulsions are more lightweight in consistency than creams. It gives you that extra boost of moisture, especially when you have dry skin or during the winter months. Layer it on before your cream.

Emulsions can also be used on their own. When you use lotion and serum in your daily skincare routine you don’t need a heavy/thick cream as your skin is quite hydrated so using emulsion only would be just fine!

Step 10: Sunscreen is a MUST!

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!!! This is by far the most important step in your daily routine. The sun’s UV rays cause real harm to your skin cells and can even lead to serious illnesses. So whatever season, summer or winter, you must protect your skin and be aware of UV! Please stop being lazy and think “nahhh I don’t need it! Or I don’t get burned easily”. Always apply a layer of sunscreen, even when you’ll only be outside for half an hour. It’s super important to never skip this step. PERIOD! 


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Morning and Evening Japanese Skincare Routines - full routine or simple

So now we’ve got all the steps, let’s go to the routines and see which steps you can use.

Let’s start with the morning routine. A full morning routine would be;

Face wash - Lotion - Essence - Serum - Eye Cream - Emulsion/Cream - Sunscreen.

We all understand that we don’t always have the time to do a full fancy skin routine in the morning.
A simple but very effective morning routine for a healthy skin would be;

Face wash - Lotion - Emulsion/Cream - Sunscreen.


Let’s go to the evening routine;  

Make up remover/Oil cleanser - Face wash - Exfoliate - Lotion - Essence - Serum - Eye Cream - Face Mask - Emulsion/Cream.

And like I mentioned before, you don’t need to exfoliate on a daily basis! So you can skip this step during your easy evening routine. Same goes for face masks. Lululun face masks are made for daily use, they’re really gentle for your skin. However not all face masks are made for daily use. Some of the masks are designed for max 3 times a week.

If you don’t feel like masking or you don’t have the time for it, you don’t have to. But masking when your skin looks tired or dull, will gives you that extra glow boost. 
Simple evening routine would be;

Make-up remover/Oil Cleanser - Face Wash - Lotion - Emulsion/Cream. 

Beauty guru Chizu Saeki from The Japanese Skincare Revolution said,

“Those who are used to Western skin care routine may find the Japanese counterpart overly long and complicated”.

Saeki recommends women to spend time and care, not money for beauty. In her book she also said “If you spent 30 minutes putting on make-up, take 30 minutes removing it.
Don’t take it too literally! But it should be your mindset, that you should take the same care in the evening as you would putting on make-up.

There you have it! The Japanese skin care routine, I hope that this post has helped you a little bit about the Japanese skin care routine. If there is anything we can help you with, please feel free to send us a message.

1 comment

  • Very nicely and professionally said, many thanks! Japanese skincare routine is so precious philosophy and inspires many around the world. Chizu Saeki is indeed the one who has put it into perspective as first and her book “The Japanese Skincare Revolution” must be read by every woman :-) ありがと


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