J-Beauty: The effective products that can transform your skin long-term

Let’s be honest: Western beauty has a long history of quick fixes. And while we’re as enthusiastic about instant results as the next beauty junkie, we’re realising there is something to be said for long-term complexion care, too.

History tells us that J-Beauty can certainly deliver; aside from the famous onsen springs and Gankin massage techniques, facial essences, cleansing oils and double-cleansing methods are all traceable back to Japan.

Shu Uemura first introduced its cleansing oil in 1967, and it’s still a cult buy over 50 years later. SK-II is renowned for its luxurious skincare. DHC and RMK both still see beauty editors clamouring for their products. And with the UK launch of Decorté at the start of this year, it’s safe to say that Japan is firmly established at the forefront of the beauty zeitgeist.

J-Beauty
Getty/Oppenheim Bernhard

These brands have long been beauty writer favourites, so why is there so much renewed excitement around J-Beauty now? Decorté’s UK launch, fronted by Kate Moss, has undoubtedly contributed to the hype – but that’s not all. SK-II has announced Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo as the face of their brand, while cult brand Shiro arrived in the UK at the end of 2017, to raptuous applause from experts and shoppers alike.

Shiseido, meanwhile, updated its image with interactive beauty tutorials (in addition to teaming up with the gorgeous Poppy Delevingne) and also announced the launch of ‘little sister’ brand WASO, aimed at millennials. Social media has also played a key part in the boom – the glowing reviews speak for themselves.

So where should you begin? As Decorté’s managing director Masanori Kobayashi notes: ‘instead of seeing dramatic difference overnight, we want to maintain the skin condition forever’. Essentially, we need to think less about a 10- or 20-step skincare routine and more along the lines of gentle yet effective products that can entirely transform our skin long-term.

Here’s our pick of the best J-Beauty products to invest in now – with these on your shelves, it won’t be too long before mochi hada (or ‘rice cake skin’ – meaning soft, smooth and translucent) is what you see each morning in the mirror…

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

A truly cult product, this oil is unmatched for double cleansing, enriching your skin with vitamin E and olive oil.
Deep Cleansing Oil, £24, DHC

DHC Face Wash Powder

Another DHC product (we told you it was good), this powder cleanser transforms into a luxurious foam with just a few drops of water – and is very travel-friendly.
Face Wash Powder, £10.50, DHC

Shiseido WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion

When this essence comes into contact with skin, Shiseido’s iconic product transforms from an addictive gel texture to a water lotion that infuses your skin with moisture.
WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion, £24, John Lewis

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence


Also known as ‘miracle water’, there’s a reason so many make-up artists claim this as a must-have kit bag item…
Facial Treatment Essence, £74.81, Nordstrom

Yu-Be Moisturising Skin Cream

This all-purpose balm is famous for its miracle results when used on dry patches, cuticles and lips – even adding a sheen to cheekbones and lids.
Skin moisturising cream, £13.50, Amazon

SUQQU Face Designing Concealer Compact

Choose three different refills for perfect touch-ups – we like to mix three different concealers to achieve the perfect shade, but highlighters are available too.
Face Designing Concealer Compact, £12, Harrods

Decorté Dip In Glow

Touted as working like a combination of oil and serum, this highlighter can be patted onto any area of the face for a dewy effect without disturbing your foundation.
Dip In Glow, £32, Selfridges

Feature by Alice Robertson