If you’re frustrated with dark spots, acne scars, and uneven skin tone, there’s a solution. Many people fade freckles and hyperpigmentation with the best Japanese skin whitening products.
It’s not about bleaching the skin or making it white. Instead, Japanese skincare products for hyperpigmentation (bihaku) treat the problem at the source. They stop the overproduction of melanin that causes discoloration. Some J-beauty cosmetics exfoliate the darkened skin, too.
So, when you hear about Japanese skin whitening methods, it’s all about reducing excess melanin and rejuvenating the skin to leave it brighter, smoother, and more even-toned.
- 1 What’s in the best Japanese whitening products?
- 2 Best Japanese Skin Whitening Products in 2021
- 2.1 Original Kojie San Facial Beauty Soap
- 2.2 Pelican Hip Care Scrub Soap
- 2.3 Toyo – Cure Aqua Gel
- 2.4 Shiseido White Lucent Brightening and Illuminating Micro-Spot Serum
- 2.5 Kikumasamune Moisturizing Body Skin Lotion Toner
- 2.6 Kose Clear Turn White Vitamin C Facial Mask Sheets
- 2.7 Lululun Face Sheet Masks, Precious
- 2.8 Original Kojie San Face Cream
- 3 Conclusion
What’s in the best Japanese whitening products?
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare must approve any cosmetic or skincare product that purports to whiten the skin (1). There are several approved ingredients, including:
- Vitamin C
- Kojic acid
- Ellagic acid
- Placenta extract
- Linoleic acid
Take Vitamin C for example. It’s often listed on the label as ascorbic acid. This single nutrient not only inhibits melanin production, but it also stimulates the growth of collagen to firm the skin. As you might imagine, it’s an excellent anti-aging ingredient
Then, there’s Kojic acid, which is a byproduct of fermenting rice wine. It does double duty by preventing acne and fading discoloration.
You may have heard of arbutin which is similar to hydroquinone that lightens hyperpigmentation (also known as dyschromia). It comes from bearberries and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Next, 4MSK is the acronym for potassium 4-methoxy salicylate, a melanin-reducing compound patented by the Japanese brand Shiseido. Rucinol is a patented ingredient developed by a different brand.
The last three come from natural sources. EIlagic acid is derived from strawberries. It has the exact opposite effect of an indoor tanning lotion – instead of stimulating tyrosinase to give you a tan, it keeps the enzyme from producing melanin and darkening the skin.
Linoleic acid is found in plant oils and has a mild effect on hyperpigmentation.
Finally, placenta comes from mammals that give birth. It regenerates the skin and prevents it from becoming discolored.
Now that you’ve had a little background, here are the best Japanese products for whitening the skin. We started with cleansers and included serums, toner, moisturizers, and sheet masks.
|The best Japanese skin whitening products||Why we love them|
|Original Kojie San Facial Beauty Soap||
|Pelican Hip Care Scrub Soap||
|Toyo - Cure Aqua Gel||
|Shiseido White Lucent Brightening and Illuminating Micro-Spot Serum||
|Kikumasamune Moisturizing Body Skin Lotion Toner||
|Kose Clear Turn White Vitamin C Facial Mask Sheets||
|Lululun Face Sheet Masks, Precious||
|Original Kojie San Face Cream||
Best Japanese Skin Whitening Products in 2021
Original Kojie San Facial Beauty Soap
This face and body soap is so popular that the brand has to guarantee its authenticity with an app. We kid you not, you can scan the QR code on the box and verify that you got the real deal.
The orange bars come in three different sizes so you’re not obligated to lay down a lot of cash on something you’re not sure about. Of course, it will take a few days to a few weeks of daily washes to make a noticeable difference.
The citrus-scented soap features kojic acid that’s a derivative of fermenting sake, or rice wine. Hundreds of years ago, someone figured out that this stuff whitens skin. Not only does it brighten the complexion, but it actually makes acne scars, melasma, and age spots less noticeable. No, it’s not as good as a laser treatment or a chemical peel in the dermatologist’s office. But if you’re not in a hurry, and you’re willing to stick with it, Kojie San soap will lighten armpits and even skin tone.
What’s in it? The base is coconut oil, with Kojic acid, glycerin, seaweed, tea tree oil, an orange fragrance, and other necessary ingredients. The soap is not as drying as you might expect and should be safe for most people to use on the face and body. It’s not surprising that it’s the number one skin lightener throughout Asia.
By the way, kojic acid can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so please remember your sunscreen.
- The original skin lightener made with kojic acid
- Made for the face and body
- Available in three different sizes of bar
- Pleasant orange fragrance
- Soothes the skin with coconut oil, seaweed, and tea tree oil
- Might make the skin susceptible to sunburn – use sunscreen
Pelican Hip Care Scrub Soap
This is soap for your bum. Feel free to use it on your armpits and anywhere else on the body that you’d like to lighten. It smells like peaches, although the scent doesn’t linger.
Since it’s an exfoliating cleanser, it also treats bumpy skin and dry patches. Reviewers say they’ve seen more even skin tone in as little as two weeks. But since it’s a little drying, it’s a good idea to apply moisturizer after washing.
The active ingredients include konjac, fermented rose honey, fruit acids, aloe, kiwi, loquat, and peach scrub powder.
- Exfoliating soap that lightens discolored armpits and more
- Delicious peach aroma
- Made with konjac, fruit acids, and other natural extracts
- A bit drying
- Scent doesn’t linger – although that could be a bonus, not just a con
Toyo – Cure Aqua Gel
It’s hard to believe it the first time you use it because so much skin peels off. This exfoliating gel soap is surprisingly gentle and super effective. It’s safe for all skin colors because it doesn’t bleach anything. Instead, it removes dry, discolored skin to leave your face and body radiant.
Not only does it treat hyperpigmentation, but it also fades dark patches on knees and elbows and fixes keratosis pilaris.
The key ingredient is 91% activated hydrogen water. Then, it has a dash of aloe, rosemary, and ginkgo. There are no artificial fragrances or harsh chemicals to keep it safe for sensitive skin. Feel free to use it once or twice a week on delicate areas like the face.
Here’s how to wash with it: cleanse your skin and hands first and dry them. Take two or three pumps of the gel and massage it onto dry skin for up to sixty seconds. It will turn milky white. Rinse with lukewarm water and be prepared to be amazed.
- Fragrance-free gel exfoliator made for the face and body
- Safe for sensitive skin
- Formula is 91% activated hydrogen water with ginkgo, rosemary, and aloe
- Resurfaces the skin to fade discolored patches and smooth texture
- None, just don’t overuse it because it’s kind of addicting
Shiseido White Lucent Brightening and Illuminating Micro-Spot Serum
Once your skin is cleansed, it’s time for serum. This one is suitable for all skin types. It erases dark spots and undereye circles while it fixes uneven texture. It works well enough that 80% of the trial participants saw dark patches fade after a few weeks.
The formula features proprietary ingredients like 4MSK, the SAKURA-Bright System, and ReNeura Technology+. At the same time, it has white sand lily extract to keep the discoloration from returning. There are no parabens or phthalates in the pump top bottle, but it does have an artificial fragrance.
- Proprietary formula fades dark spots and undereye circles, smoothes uneven texture
- Prevents discoloration from reappearing
- Free of parabens and phthalates
- Pump top bottle prevents contamination, makes dispensing easy
- Takes a few weeks to work
Kikumasamune Moisturizing Body Skin Lotion Toner
The name is confusing because it’s referred to as both a lotion and a toner, which is accurate. It’s like an emulsion, so unless you have very oily skin, you’ll probably want to apply moisturizer on top.
The alcohol-free toner is made for all skin types and has a slightly acidic formula. Its purpose is to calm and brighten the skin. It also protects against premature aging caused by environmental pollution and UV exposure.
It features some of the best skin whitening ingredients like rice ferment filtrate (kojic acid), arbutin, and placenta extract. It also contains ceramides and amino acids to strengthen the skin against moisture loss. If there’s any downside is that it has an artificial fragrance and methylparaben as a preservative.
- Lightweight lotion/alcohol-free toner with a slightly acidic formula
- Features skin lighteners like arbutin, placenta extract, and rice ferment filtrate (kojic acid)
- Calms and brightens the skin, defends against premature aging
- Hydrates and reinforces the skin’s barrier against moisture loss
- Has parabens and an artificial fragrance
Kose Clear Turn White Vitamin C Facial Mask Sheets
This is a whitening mask – a sheet mask with ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation. It’s based on vitamin C, so it doesn’t just fade dark spots. It also stimulates collagen production to firm the skin.
The vitamin C immediately brightens the complexion, but it takes regular applications to gradually lighten discoloration. We recommend adding this to your routine but not depending on it as the only solution. It can boost the hard work done by your cleanser, serum, or moisturizer.
After washing your face and toning, leave the mask on for at least ten minutes. When you remove it, you don’t need to rinse. Massage the leftover essence into the skin. It’s safe to enjoy up to twice per week.
Sadly, however, it contains parabens.
- Boosts the effects of skin whitening cleansers, serums, and moisturizers
- Vitamin C immediately brightens the complexion and gradually fades discoloration
- Has parabens
Lululun Face Sheet Masks, Precious
We have to admit we’re slightly addicted to Lululun sheet masks. They are thick and saturated with essence so we always wear them for a half-hour instead of the bare minimum. The only problem is that they are cut for Asian faces and don’t fit as well on Caucasian faces.
Still, this gold-colored box of vitamin C sheet masks refreshes and soothes while it evens out skin tone. It has garden cress, passionfruit and a unique ingredient called L22 that balances sebum production to leave the skin looking like that of a twenty-two-year-old.
- Vitamin C, garden cress, and passionfruit even out skin tone
- L22 leaves the skin looking refreshed and younger
- The masks are not always a good fit on Caucasian faces
Original Kojie San Face Cream
Let’s wrap up with a kojic acid moisturizer. It’s a face cream, but we won’t tell anyone if you use it to treat dark spots on your hands or elsewhere. Pair it with the Kojie San soap for maximum benefits.
The non-greasy formula is fortified with collagen, vitamin E, and rosehip to smooth fine lines and wrinkles while it fixes hyperpigmentation. Feel free to use it morning and night, but please remember sunscreen during the day.
It contains no parabens, but has an artificial fragrance.
- Kojic acid moisturizer with collagen, vitamin E, and rosehip
- Fade cream that also firms the skin
- Please remember to wear sunscreen during the day
Japanese skin whiteners won’t bleach your skin. Instead, they make discoloration less noticeable and prevent it from reappearing.
We hope our reviews helped you find the best Japanese skincare products for your needs today. If so, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to leave us a comment below.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904932/ Ando, Hideya et al. “Quasi-drugs developed in Japan for the prevention or treatment of hyperpigmentary disorders”. International journal of molecular sciences vol. 11,6 2566-75. 18 Jun. 2010, doi:10.3390/ijms11062566