Like many, I first started suffering from acne when I was a teenager, and my friends and family assured me that it was just a phase I was going through.
As the acne progressively got worse through middle school and high school, everyone started offering suggestions for how to get rid of it faster.
“Wash your face this way.”
“Use this cleanser.”
“Dry up your pimples with this.”
“Did you even wash your face??”
My skin became so damaged and irritated from all of the harsh chemicals I was putting on it that my acne actually became worse.
Despite washing my face first thing in the morning, it would look like an oil field again only minutes later.
My skin was going into overdrive trying to replace the oils that I had scrubbed and burned away.
I used so many “extra strength” astringents that I had actually burned the outermost layer of my skin off.
And it stung too badly to touch.
By college I ditched most of the harsh products, and started treating my skin with ones designed for sensitive skin.
Most weren’t targeted specifically for acne, but I noticed an improvement just by being gentler with it, and changing part of my diet.
I still occasionally got breakouts in the creases of my nose, and along my upper lip. The acne on my forehead, however, just would not go away.
It wasn’t as sore and painful as my high school or middle school days, but it was still enough to make me feel self-conscious and want to do something about it.
I tried using benzoyl peroxide after some reviews and suggestions I read online, and guess what happened? I ended up burning my skin off again even with an extremely low concentration percent (around 1-2%).
I stuck with the benzoyl peroxide gel for about a year, and did see the acne around my nose and upper lip disappear, but it didn’t really do anything for the outbreaks I was experiencing on my forehead.
To make it all worse, it made my skin so dry that I would see bits of it flake off in the middle lectures. Gross.
I stopped using benzoyl peroxide after coming to Japan, mainly because I couldn’t find it along with all of the other products I had been using at the time. Although I could’ve had them imported or sent to me by family, they just weren’t worth the costs or hassle.
So, I decided to give Japanese products a try.
And, I’m so glad I did.
Japanese drugstores carry a pretty good variety of products for acne. Usually on the front of the label you’ll see the word ニキビ (acne) and a phrase like ニキビを防ぐ (to prevent acne).
This Amazing Japanese Face Mask Got Rid of Most of My Acne
The first (and best) Japanese acne product that I’d recommend trying is this Acne Fighting Beauty Mask by Kracie (Amazon affiliate link).
This brand actually has two kinds of masks for acne, but the one that I found works best for me is this one:
It contains the following acne fighting ingredients:
|緑茶エキス||Green tea extract|
The difference this face mask made was life changing. After a couple weeks of use, people began complimenting me again for my skin for the first time since preadolescence.
I almost didn’t believe them when they said my skin looked really smooth and was starting to glow.
I was so used to having bumpy, uneven, and irritated skin that I didn’t think it would ever go back to being normal again. Acne-prone skin had become my norm.
- Prevents acne
- Reduces redness of existing acne
- Minimizes pores
- Brightens skin
- Only a few masks in each box
- Has a bit of a slimy texture before drying
After about a month of using these masks twice a week, the acne on my forehead became barely noticeable except up close.
All of the large, painful cystic acne had pretty much stopped.
And the vitamin C helped to take the redness out of it. Research shows that it can promote wound healing and prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
I was still left with a few tiny pinhead sized bumps that weren’t acne, but I eventually got rid of them as well (hint: they were caused by yeast).
For some dumb reason I stopped buying the masks once my acne cleared up, and although the breakouts didn’t return, I stopped benefiting from the nice dewy skin that the masks gave.
Eventually I switched to the non-acne version, and my complexion is once again even, and I couldn’t be happier!
The Best Japanese Foaming Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin
For cleansing, I decided to settle on the Biore Marshmallow Whip Foaming Cleanser (Amazon affiliate link).
After a lot of trial and error, I found this one to be the most gentle with my skin and not overly drying.
One pump is enough to cleanse your face, and it’s so lightweight and smooth that it feels like silk in your hands.
This is the only foaming cleanser that I’ve found that doesn’t leave my skin feeling like it’s ready to peel and crack a few minutes later.
There is also a cream version of this cleanser, but it felt too thick and heavy for my combination skin. My T zone didn’t feel as clean after using it.
If you have really dry skin, the Biore Skincare Cream Cleanser (Amazon affiliate link) might be better suited for you.
- Light fragrance
- Safe for sensitive skin
- Rinses cleanly
- Not over drying
- Lasts about 1 month
A Japanese Skin Serum That Fights Acne While Minimizing Pores
The last product that made a huge different with my acne was the Ettusais Pore Care C Serum (Amazon affiliate link).
I discovered it last winter while browsing the skincare section at Loft. They had a tester available to sample, so I tried a bit on the back of my hand.
It didn’t seem that impressive when I first rubbed it into my skin. It just felt like a very light hydrating lotion.
I didn’t think it would make much of a difference on my face, so I continued walking around the store.
While shopping, I randomly rubbed the back of my hand again, and thought, “Damn, that’s smooth!”
The serum had dried into a really nice matte finish, but left my skin feeling supple.
I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I wanted something I could use on the nights between the acne face masks, and the Ettusais Pore Care C Serum (Amazon affiliate link) has ingredients very similar to them.
- Minimizes pores
- Reduces Redness
- Brightens skin
- Dries smoothly
- Doesn’t wear well under makeup
In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains Dipotassium glycyrrhizate (also known as licorice extract). It has anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties that help your skin recover from acne.
This serum and the cleanser have been enough to prevent my acne from returning for almost a year now.
On the rare occasions that I do get another breakout, it’s always because I either went to sleep with makeup on, or haven’t been changing my pillow cases properly.
I hope these products will help you out as much as they did me! If you tried any other Japanese drugstore acne products, please share your experience with them by leaving a comment!
Great post. Wow, those results are impressive.
Thank you! It feels great to finally have clear skin. Now my only struggle is finding the right shade of foundation to wear 🙂
I have to mix foundations because I’m always in between shades. The only foundation that I ever found my shade was “Born this way” by Too Faced
Lovely! I love using face masks 😊
Me, too! I love how cool they feel when first putting them on in summer.
After reading this post I suddenly decided to try one of the face masks my friend gave me. Your skin is looking great ~
They really make a difference if you use them consistently. I made the mistake of using some for just a couple weeks and stopping or changing them. It takes a few months to see the full benefits.
Which one did your friend give you? I’m curious what your first impression is like 🙂
They are Korean ones so I’m not sure how to read the names. I think they also use vitamin C and… placenta?
Hmm can’t say that I’ve tried placenta. Is it good for the skin?
It seems so. I’ll have to try it a few more times to see the results.
You just convince me to get all the products from the drug store. Going to a drug store is like a battle against my will as too many products tempting me to buy them lol.
I know that feeling! I went to HAC today and was tempted to buy several boxes of those small eye sheets just because they were half off!
Thanks! I know what I will try! I’ve seen those masks but thought they were a bit funny so I haven’t tried them. Well now I think I will!
They feel really nice after a long day at work, and your skin becomes so smooth afterwards 😀
Thank you for trying out and recommending these products! This is what I need…
I moved to Japan this year and since moving here my acne has gotten so much worse.
What other facial products do you use? Moisturizer, toner etc?
I actually haven’t found a Japanese moisturizer that isn’t either too heavy or too light for my skin. Many Japanese products are intended to be layered on top of one another like Korean skincare routines, but I just don’t trust using that many now that I have a good balance and my face is clear.
On the days I use a mask I usually don’t need any additional moisturizer. On the other days I like to use Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Gel:
They ship to Japan, but it can be a bit pricy, so I usually buy enough to last a while.
There is an Acne Care (ニキビケア) set that you can pick up from most drug stores. The instructions say to give it a full 3 months of consistent use to start seeing results. If your skin can handle cream moisturizers, then it might be worthwhile. It looks like this:
When my acne was REALLY bad I tried using Seabreeze. It’s a good antiseptic that also tones. I could only use it once a week though, or else the skin around the corners of my mouth and nose would get dry and start flaking. I think you can also pick Seabreeze up at most of the drugstores. Especially HAC or Matsumoto.
Thanks for this post. Helped me a lot.
At the moment I’m trying the Kracie mask and the ettusais Vitamin C Serum.
What do you do with the rest of the sticky fluid in your face when removing the mask? Do you leave it on or cleanse it away? And how long do you leave the mask on your face?
Would be nice to know.
When I take the mask off I usually massage the rest of the fluid on my face and down my neck until it starts to dry. I also like to rub the excess on my hands. It’s very hydrating!
I usually leave it on for about 15 minutes, but it really depends on the temperature and environment you’re in. A good rule of thumb is to peek the mask off just before it starts to dry. You want to leave as much fluid on your skin as possible so it has a chance to be absorbed.
Never cleanse it away. Just follow up with a light moisturizer once the stickiness is gone 🙂
Hello, great post! Apart from the serum you bought in Loft did you buy any of the others in store? If you did please let me know I would really appreciate it 🙂
Hello Tay, I bought the other two products from HAC drugstore. You can probably find them at any major drugstore chain though.
Hello, great post..! Really help me that nowadays fight for acnes. I moved to Japan last year and my normal skin became irritated and nevel heals until now.. and reading your post is just like a fresh air for me.. may I know the step of your daily routine? After clean your face with facial wash, and put on the mask, do you use toner after that? Before serum or moisturizer?