25 November 2023
While Korean skincare may be dominating the beauty space, Japan is still a treasure trove of high quality cosmetic products with exquisite packaging. Local brands like Cle de Peau, Tatcha, Shiseido and Kose continue to be firm favourites among skincare aficionados; and Japanese beauty routines that place emphasis on clear, translucent skin resonate with many.
With the advent of e-commerce platforms and the global expansion of Japanese skincare brands, cult favourite cosmetic brands that were once out of reach to non-Japanese fans are now easily accessible. However, some brands remain exclusive, with limited retail presence overseas. Here’s a round up of 5 of these exclusive, cult favourite Japanese skincare brands that I recommend that you check out when you visit Japan.
DamDam is one Japanese skincare brand that I’m most excited to discover in 2023. Founded in 2019 by Giselle Go and Philippe Terrien, DamDam is said to be Japan’s first clean skincare brand. I searched out for DamDam’s pop up in Mitsukoshi Ginza after seeing DamDam’s skincare products on the Best of Lists of Allure and ELLE magazines.
Inspired by the tradition of Japanese beauty rituals, DamDam’s pay homage to this heritage of slow, purposeful beauty. Time honoured ingredients in Japanese culture such as shiso and Kikurage amplified through DamDam’s formulations; with an emphasis on maintaining a healthy skin barrier. According to DamDam’s co-founder Ms Giselle Go, DamDam also partners with local farmers that employ regenerative agricultural practices to rehabilitate eroded soil.
The sophisticated simplicity of DamDam’s aesthetics first caught my attention at their popup. Subsequently, I was drawn to DamDam’s philosophy and branding and I went on to purchase their Mochi Mochi Luminous Cream at their popup. True to its name, DamDam’s Mochi Mochi Luminous Cream left my skin feeling moisturised and more luminous.
I got in touch with Ms Giselle Go, and she shared that DamDam will be launching its Tokyo flagship in 2024. For the 2023 holiday season, DamDam will be collaborating with a fashion designer and potters for a range of paraphernalia (I wish I bought DamDam’s tableware when I had the chance to in Tokyo!). In 2024, DamDam will also be featuring matcha as a skincare ingredient and will launch an eye serum and a hydrating gel. I’m excited to see DamDam’s new developments in the new year.
If you’ve been reading my blog or follow my socials, you might already know that Suqqu is among my favourite Japanese cosmetics brands for its sunscreens. Visiting the Suqqu counter at the Mitsukoshi Ginza is always a priority for me to stock up on my sunscreens as Suqqu is not available in Singapore. I’ve shared why shopping at Mitsukoshi Ginza to the duty free shops at the airport gives more value here; as well as one my recommendations to purchase exclusive and mid priced to luxury cosmetics in 5 Must Visit Beauty Stores & Experiences in Tokyo.
Known for producing high quality, modern skincare and makeup with traditional, Japanese aesthetics, Suqqu was founded in 2003 by FANCL Corporation. The luxury Japanese cosmetics brand has 3 skincare ranges: the Gankin Massage line under Suqqu is its original skincare line for improving the facial contours; the Aqufons range which contains geranium and watercress extracts for skin hydration; and its most expensive Vialume skincare for addressing signs of ageing in mature skin.
Suqqu’s 2024 makeup collection
Suqqu’s makeup line has also won over fans like Lisa Eldrige for its elegant, cosmetic finish. I love Suqqu’s eyeshadow quads- they’re buttery soft and very translucent but can be built up for a more opaque finish without smudging. Suqqu’s blushes have a similar lightweight feel, and each pan lasts me for a very long time. I highly recommend trying Suqqu’s sunscreens, they have one of the best, most elegant cosmetic finishes I’ve seen. You can see my swatches and reviews of Suqqu’s sunscreens in Sunscreen Reviews 2021 and Sunscreen Reviews 20219.
Paul & Joe Beaute is the cosmetics arm of the renowned Parisian fashion label founded by Sophie Mechaly. The brand, known for its playful, whimsical designs was named after Sophie’s sons, Paul and Joe.
Developed in collaboration with Japanese cosmetics company, Albion, Paul & Joe Beaute consists of a skincare, makeup and accessories range. The brand’s signature fun and flirty designs are reflected in Paul & Joe’s packaging. Every season, Paul & Joe Beaute releases limited prints and designs for their products. The designer’s cats, Gipsy and Nounette, serve as Paul & Joe Beaute’s mascots and the inspiration for many of their prints.
Paul & Joe Beaute’s products are sought after among Japanese ladies. Among Paul & Joe Beaute’s products, their makeup base (primer) and lipsticks are among their most popular products. I bought Paul & Joe Beaute’s lip balm with SPF 25; and it came in the shape of a cat! I’ll be back to share my review on my purchase!
Moving on from the colourful, whimsical world of Paul & Joe Beaute, to the Addiction aesthetics- sleek, monochromatic and stylish. Addiction was founded in 2009 by Kose; with New York based Japanese makeup artist Ayako Yoshimura at helm. In 2019, Addiction and Yoshimura parted ways; and International makeup artist Kanako Takase now serves as the brand’s Creative Director. Yoshimura is now the makeup artist to stars like Alicia Keyes.
Addiction is known for its high quality makeup products, and its eye shadows are a cult favourite among Japanese. The makeup products are said to be lightweight, with long lasting power and a diverse range of colours. Addiction also a limited skincare line of sunscreen and cleansers.
I bought Addiction’s sunscreen and SPF lip balm, and I’m excited to try it out. My experience with sunscreens thus far is that makeup brands do a great job of creating sunscreens with an elegant cosmetic finish. Hence, I snapped up Addiction’s SPF products without hesitation. I’ll also update this post with my review.
Argelan is the skincare line of Japanese drugstore chain, Matsumoto Kiyoshi. I’ve shared about Matsumoto Kiyoshi in this reel as one of my must visits in Japan for several reasons. A trip to Matsumoto Kiyoshi can be overwhelming with the huge variety of skincare and makeup products. However, one gem that I recommend seeking out in the organised chaos of Matsumoto Kiyoshi is its in house skincare and haircare line, Argelan.
Released in 2012, Argelan is an organic cosmetics line that uses a variety of plant extracts like aloe vera, rice bran and chamomile. The skincare range is limited for now, and consists mostly of cleansing and moisturising products under SGD$30. I highly recommend trying Argelan’s lip balms, they’re among the most moisturising I’ve tried and are very affordable. I also like Argelan’s shampoo and conditioners, they leave my hair feeling smoother and less brittle.
And that’s a wrap for my 5 favourite Japanese cosmetics brands that are not available in Singapore- yet. Do you have any other favourite J-beauty brands to share? Let me know if you would like to see more posts about exclusive Japanese skincare brands; and reviews of my buys in the comments below 🙂