Kiku Masamune Lotion: Japanese Lotion Guide


Kiku Masamune Lotion is a Japanese hydrating toner that contains sake and comes in two product variations. These lotions are bestsellers in Japan (and abroad) and have some pretty staggering reviews to match!

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What is Japanese lotion?

Lotions (also known as skin conditioners, toners or hydrating toners) are an essential step in Japanese skincare routines and are a unique product in Asian skincare that don’t really have a Western equivalent. While they have a watery consistency and are applied right after cleansing like Western toners, Japanese lotions are not astringent but are softening instead. Lotions are used to hydrate and soften the skin, preparing it for the deeper moisturizing steps that follow. To learn more, see our Japanese Skincare Routine guide.

What is Kiku Masamune?

Kiku Masamune (菊正宗) is a sake brewing company that was first founded in 1659 in Kobe, Japan. Ran today by the Kano family, they are famous for their dry sake, a fermented rice alcohol. In addition, they also produce a range of skincare products containing sake as the star ingredient. These skincare products have gained quite a following and often rank high on Japanese beauty websites.

Sake and Skincare

Sake is often found in Japanese beauty products and was traditionally used by geisha as part of their skincare routines; usually as a facial lotion diluted with water, before applying makeup. Sake is rich in enzymes and amino acids which help moisturize, lighten and smooth the skin. It is believed there are also beauty benefits to drinking it (warming the body and promoting circulation) and bathing in it too. Fermented rice is used as an ingredient by many beloved Japanese and Korean beauty brands, such as SK-II and Tatcha.

Kiku Masamune Lotions

There are two Kiku Masamune Lotions in the product range.

Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist

Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist

The most-popular and highest-rated product is the Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist. This lotion comes in a pink bottle, is a holy-grail product for many, and is often mentioned and recommended on beauty forums. Just look at the number of reviews! It contains rice ferment filtrate, amino acids, placenta extract, arbutin, ceramides and licorice extract, for their moisturizing, plumping, brightening and anti-aging properties.

The lotion is a thin, watery product that is used immediately after cleansing and/or exfoliating. This hydrating toner is slightly milky in color and helps to prepare and soften the skin for the moisturizing steps that will follow. Once applied to the skin, it spreads easily and absorbs relatively quickly. It leaves the skin feeling light and hydrated, without too much stickiness. It is suitable for layering if you follow anything along the lines of the Korean 7 Skin Method.

The lotion has quite a distinct fragrance, it smells of sake and to some people it smells like banana or bubblegum. This aroma tends to dissipate after application, but might be a product to avoid if you are super sensitive to fragrance. It comes in a gigantic half liter bottle which makes it super affordable and suitable for use as a facial mist, face mask (instructions below) and all over the body. Depending on your daily use, one bottle can last up to 6 months. It likely has a pH of around 6-6.5, according to a home test shared online.

As this product is a ferment, some people do experience breakouts. For some, this seems to be an initial purge which clears over time, while for others it is simply not compatible with their skin type. To introduce it into a skincare routine, patch test before starting use on the whole face. Trial the product for some time (around 2 weeks) to determine its suitability. If you need to discontinue use, the remaining product can always be used on your body.

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Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Lotion Bright Moist

Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion Bright Moist

The alternative product in this range is Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion Bright Moist which comes in a white bottle. This variation is very similar, is just as loved and is used in the same way. The consistency is a little lighter and thinner making it better suited for oily and combination skin. The fragrance is less intense and it differs slightly in terms of ingredients, for example, this product does not include the ceramides included in the other variation.

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What is the difference between the white and pink bottles?

The white bottle Kiku Masamune Bright Moist is a little less moisturizing, absorbs faster and is better suited to oily and combination skin types. While the pink bottle Kiku Masamune High Moist has ceramides 3 and 6 II and is extra moisturizing, making it better suited to drier skin types. Some people use the pink bottle in cooler drier months for added hydration and then switch to the white bottle in the warmer months.

How to use Kiku Masamune lotion?

  1. Apply Kiku Masamune lotion immediately after cleansing or exfoliating.
  2. Be sure to start with clean, dry hands.
  3. Pump a generous amount of lotion into the palm of your hand. You can always start with a smaller amount, the more product used, the longer it will take to absorb.
  4. Rub or pat your hands together to distribute the product using the warmth of your hands. Alternatively, you use cotton pads to apply the product, but this will use up more lotion and your hands won’t get the added benefits!
  5. Gently apply the lotion over your face and neck in a wiping motion and then start patting the product into your skin. Use your fingertips around the eyes and palms around the cheeks, forehead and neck.
  6. At first your skin will feel slightly sticky. Be sure to continue patting gently all over the face in an upward direction until the the product has fully absorbed into your skin.
  7. If your skin is feeling extra dry, you can apply a second layer of lotion. If you follow the Korean 7 Skin Method, you can apply up to seven layers.
  8. Once the product is absorbed, follow with the next step in your skincare routine. These lotions should be followed with a moisturizer at some point, such as the Kiku Masamune Sake Emulsion (also known as milk).
  9. The lotion comes in a huge bottle and can also be used on the whole body, including arms, chest and hair. It also makes a great facial mist or sheet mask (see below). You can also place the product in a refrigerator for a cooling effect.

Pump Bottle Packaging

Many people have trouble with the pump that comes with these products! The pump can be a little sticky, making it hard to control the product dispensed from the huge bottle. The product instructions say to press the pump very gently to avoid this. It is common to replace the pump on the existing bottle, decant it into smaller pump bottles to use as a regular lotion (with pump bottles like this) or into smaller spray bottles to use as a facial mist (with spray bottles like this). These are also handy for travel!

Kiku Masamune Sheet Masks

As Kiku Masamune lotion works even better when left on the skin to absorb over a longer period, it is perfect for sheet masks. While you can purchase pre-packaged Kiku Masamune Sheet Masks like this and like this, thanks to the large lotion bottle you can also easily make your own. This can be done a few ways:

Using Pre-Prepared Masks (such as these Muji Sheet Lotion Masks)
  1. Start with clean hands and a clean face.
  2. Take a small amount of lotion, place one pellet like this (or even like these) into the lotion and allow it to soak for a minute or two.
  3. The pellet will absorb the lotion and begin to expand. Ensure it is fully saturated.
  4. Gently unroll the pellet and you’ll have your prepared sheet mask. If it is dripping too much, give it a gentle squeeze to remove excess lotion.
  5. Apply the mask to your face, leaving on for about 3-5 minutes. Don’t allow it to dry out. You can always apply a reusable silicone sheet mask cover on top to prevent evaporation.
  6. Remove the mask and discard. Follow with the next step in your skincare routine.
Using Cotton Pads (such as these Muji Cut Cotton Pads)
  1. This lotion mask method was invented by Chizu Saeki, a Japanese skincare expert and author of the Japanese Skincare Revolution.
  2. Start with clean hands and a clean face.
  3. Dampen a cotton pad in water and squeeze it to remove any excess water.
  4. Pour lotion onto the cotton pad and allow it to soak in.
  5. Repeat multiple times until you have around 7-9 cotton pads prepared.
  6. Apply these all over your face, including your nose, cheeks, forehead and chin.
  7. Leave for 3-5 minutes on the skin. Don’t allow them to dry out.
  8. Remove the cotton pads and discard. Follow with the next step in your skincare routine.

What are the ingredients of Kiku Masamune lotion?

These ingredient lists are translated from the Kiku Masamune Japanese website.

Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High Moist Ingredients (Pink Bottle)
water, glycerin, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamic acid, arginine, leucine, ceramide 3, ceramide 6 II, placenta extract, arbutin, glycyrrhizic acid, soybean protein, maltitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydroxyethyl cellulose, sodium styrene/alkyl acrylate copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance

Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion Bright Moist Ingredients (White Bottle)
water, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamic acid, arginine, leucine, retinol palmitate, potassium ascorbyl / tocopheryl phosphate, sodium tocopheryl phosphate, placenta extract, arbutin, dipotassium glycyrrhizinate, glycerin, peanut oil, hydrogenated lecithin, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, styrene / acrylates copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance

The Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Range

The products in the Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Range are as follows:

Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Makeup RemoverCleanserSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Face WashCleanserSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion Bright MoistLotionSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion High MoistLotionSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care SerumSerum
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Face Mask MoistSheet MaskSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care Face Mask High MoistSheet MaskSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care EmulsionMoisturizerSee price
Kiku Masamune Sake Skin Care CreamMoisturizerSee price

More from our series on Japanese Skincare:

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