Japanese 10-Step Skincare Routine


While Japanese skincare is all about simplicity, there are many different products that can be used in a daily routine. The following guide looks at what a Japanese 10-step skincare routine looks like, along with some product recommendations for each step. These are all bestselling products, which have been selected based on their ratings, reviews and awards globally. Many of them are considered holy-grail products and have impressive reviews to match!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

This article is part of our series on Japanese Skincare Routines:

Japanese Skincare Routines: The Ultimate Guide
Japanese 5-Step Skincare Routine
Japanese 10-Step Skincare Routine

Japanese 10-Step Skincare Basics

While at first glance this list may seem intense, it’s important to note that not all ten steps need to be followed on a daily basis! As everyones skin and routines are different, it is all about finding the products and steps that are right for you. A few things to note:

  • The products below are some of the best in their categories and a great starting point, but it’s also important to find products that are suited to you. Depending on your skin type, concerns, age and environment; what works for you, might not work for others.
  • Morning and evening routines will usually differ. Some morning routines might skip oil cleansing but include the use of sunscreen, while the evening might include oil cleansing and a heavier moisturizer, skipping the sunscreen.
  • Depending on your skin type and concerns, there may be some steps you don’t even need, such as essences and serums which are targeted towards problem areas.
  • Other steps might not happen daily, such as exfoliating (usually a few times a week) and sheet masks (maybe once a week or once a month).
  • And finally, Japanese skincare is about so much more than the products you use! It is also about practicing self-care through daily rituals, and taking a holistic approach to your overall lifestyle and health.

Japanese 10-Step Skincare Overview

The routine below includes the following steps and products:

1Oil CleanserDHC Deep Cleansing Oil
2Water CleanserHada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Foam Face Wash
3ExfoliatorCure Natural Aqua Gel
4LotionKiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist
5EssenceSK-II Facial Treatment Essence
6SerumMelano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence
7Sheet MaskKeana Nadeshiko Rice Mask
8Eye CreamNameraka Honpo Isoflavone Wrinkle Eye Cream
9MoisturizerNaturie Skin Conditioning Gel
10Sun CareBiore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

Japanese 10-Step Skincare Routine

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

Step 1: Oil Cleanser
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

This is the first step in a double cleansing routine, a central element of Japanese skincare. This gentle oil-based cleanser will remove oil-based impurities, such as makeup, sebum, sunscreen and pollution. Based on olive extracts, this is the brands signature product and one bottle of this is sold every 10 seconds worldwide!

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Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Foam Face Wash

Step 2: Water Cleanser
Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Foam Face Wash

The second step in a double cleansing routine is a water-based cleanser and this one has quite the following. Hada Labo have achieved cult-status around the globe for their products that feature a combination of hyaluronic acids. This foaming face wash is pH balanced and is a meringue-like foam that cleanses deeply, while keeping skin feeling smooth and moisturized.

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Cure Natural Aqua Gel Japan Exfoliator Peeling Gel

Step 3: Exfoliator
Cure Natural Aqua Gel

With one bottle sold every 4.5 seconds, this is a holy-grail product for many and has a ridiculous number of reviews. The Japanese take a gentle approach to exfoliation and this peeling gel is no exception. When applied to the skin, this gel is left on for a few seconds before gently rubbing it off in circular motions, clearing debris from clogged pores and removing dead skin cells. Be sure to only perform this step a few times each week.

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Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist

Step 4: Lotion
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist

Lotions are a unique but essential step in Asian skincare. They are patted onto the face and used to hydrate and soften the skin, preparing it for the deeper moisturizing steps that follow. This lotion is made by Kiku Masamune (a sake brewery!) and contains sake, amino acids and ceramide to help moisturize and condition the skin. This one is also loved by many for its affordability!

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SKII Facial Treatment Essence Japan Skincare

Step 5: Essence
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

Essences are lightweight (and similar to lotions) but usually contain more concentrated ingredients to help improve problem areas such as hydration, complexion and anti-ageing. Despite being in the luxury category and easily the biggest splurge on this list, this essence is often described as a miracle and is loved by many! It contains the unique ingredient pitera which helps to rejuvenate and totally transform the skin.

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Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence Japan Vitamin C

Step 6: Serum
Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence

Serums are designed to target specific skin concerns and there are endless variations on the market, When it comes to drugstore options, this one is another cult classic that is often sold out! It contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E to help lighten spots, heal acne scarring, brighten skin, promote collagen production and even out skin tone.

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Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask

Step 7: Sheet Mask
Keana Nadeshiko Rice Mask

Sheet masks are an essential part of many Asian beauty routines and are often a gateway into Japanese skincare! These masks are highly coveted and contain rice-derived beauty essence (along with sake) to provide intense moisture. Designed for those with dry skin and prominent pores, these are often top-rated on beauty sites and perfect for a meditative ritual.

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Nameraka Honpo Wrinkle Eye Cream Japan

Step 8: Eye Cream
Nameraka Honpo Isoflavone Wrinkle Eye Cream

Eye creams are designed specifically for the delicate skin around the eye and this is a drugstore favorite. The Nameraka Honpo range is based around soy milk and this eye cream contains retinol derivatives to help smooth skin and reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles. While the reviews are divided, many people swear by this affordable gem.

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Naturie Skin Conditioning Gel

Step 9: Moisturizer
Naturie Skin Conditioning Gel

Japanese moisturizers are used to seal in the moisture and active ingredients from all the layers that have previously been applied. This gel by Naturie is a bestseller (making it sometimes hard to get your hands on) and is an all-in-one product. It often tops beauty lists and contains hatomugi (aka job’s tears) as the key moisturizing ingredient.

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Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Japan Sunscreen

Step 10: Sun Care
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

And finally, sunscreen is applied religiously at the end of a morning skincare routine. Japanese sunscreens are incredibly lightweight, often have a watery texture, are suitable for most skin types and are far superior to their Western equivalents. This one has an impressive number of reviews and is loved round the globe!

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More from our series on Japanese Skincare:

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