The Japanese drugstore, Matsumoto KiYoshi, is a treasure trove of high quality beauty products crammed into what looks to be from the outside, well, a junk store. I actually passed by it a few times paying little heed to the obscenely bright baskets spilling out from the store entrance onto the sidewalk with signs screaming promotion deals. If you’re a tourist looking for reasonably priced, insanely effective Japanese skincare, this needs to be your first stop. But be prepared to be overwhelmed. With almost zero English direction or signage, it’s hard to know what’s what. After hours rummaging through testing this and that, I discovered a few Japanese drugstore beauty products and brands worth purchasing – in multiples. Particularly from two brands: Kosé and Shiseido’s Maquillage.
Kosé Daily Premium Cotton
Where has Kosé cotton been all my life?! Their brand of premium cotton is the exact, let me repeat, EXACT same quality, texture and feel as the cult favorite Shisedo Facial Cotton. And it’s only $3 for a huge box versus the $10 a pop you have to shell out for Shisedo’s cotton. The next time you go to Japan, or your brother’s girlfriend’s mom goes make sure they bring you back this cotton – and I’m talking multiple boxes.
Infinity By Kosé Primal White Washing Cream
No, I’m not trying to whiten my skin, but I am trying to make it appear brighter, less yellow (I am Asian, but as I’ve been aging I’ve begun to develop a yellowish tint to my skin making it appear dull). I’ve been using this face wash for a week on my face, neck and decollate. My face was always a little bit lighter than my neck, but now everything looks much closer in tone and visibly brightened.
Sekkisei By Kosé Lotion
This lotion is more akin to water than the light cream texture we associate with the word “lotion” here in the states. These waters aka “lotions” (It feels so weird calling it a lotion! Probably how Europeans feel when they come to America and call football “soccer,” but I digress…) refine the skin, hydrate, brighten and nourish. You’ll want to pat (because the Japanese don’t rub, they pat products in) on the Sekkisei Kosé Lotion after washing, after applying serums and again after applying creams to seal everything in. My winter lizard skin is dewy and PLUMP from this…lotion. www.everyglowcosmetics.com, 200ml – $45
One By Kosé Moisture Rice Power Medicated Moisture Serum
This serum contains Rice Powder Extract No. 11 which generates ceramides to help the skin store moisture and repair the moisture barrier, and is super lightweight, though a little thicker than the Japanese “lotions.” Combined with the above Kose lotion my skin is loving life right now. www.everyglowcosmetics.com, 60ml – $62
Infinity by Kosé Beauty Lip Serum
This lip serum has blown my current fave (Lanolips 101 Ointment) out of the water. Not only does it intensely hydrate with Goji Berry Honey and Safflower Oil, it brightens dull lips with the antioxidant Astaxanthin, plumps and softens old looking lips, and the texture is silky, not sticky! www.yesstyle.com, 10g – $23.90
Shiseido Maquillage Flat Change Base
Maquillage’s Change Base is a solid balm that glides onto skin with a silky powder finish absorbing oil, smoothing pores and fine lines and prepping skin for a powder touchup that isn’t cake-y. You can actually feel the balm absorbing oil and tightening pores as you rub it in. www.bonboncosmetics.com, $36.99
Shiseido Maquillage Dramatic Powdery UV SPF 25+++
The Japanese really know how to make amazing foundations. (For a liquid, check out Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation) But when it comes to powder, I’m obsessing over this drugstore find. Micro particles, people – micro particles – make up this powder foundation that imparts exert coverage, smoothness and a light feel. www.bonboncosmetics.com, $65 for case + refill, $48 for refill only
Shiseido Maquillage Watery Rouge Lip Stain
I live for a good lip stain, but most can be drying. This creamy liquid stain HYDRATES ladies and gentlemen and does not budge through meals, talking, and kissing (I made sure to test all of the above for you because no stone goes unturned here at BOND EN AVANT). With this lip stain, it doesn’t use an oil base like most lip products, it uses a water base that seals in the color on the lip and then tops that with a lipid layer. www.bonboncosmetics.com, $37.99
-by Amy Chang
Photographed by author