Japan Drugstore Guide: Korean Skincare

Japan Drugstore Guide: Korean Skincare

Keeping your skin happy this autumn in Tokyo


As we bid adieu to the summer, it’s time to pivot our skincare rituals for the impending autumn. Tokyo, known for its rapid transition from humid to dry, beckons a change in our skincare repertoire.

You might have heard of the coveted “glass skin” or spotted enticing Korean skincare brands in department stores. Whether you’re a K-beauty novice or a savvy enthusiast, with names like Sulwhasoo and Hera perched on the higher end of your budget, there’s room for a wallet-friendly skincare shift in Tokyo.

For Tokyo dwellers seeking effective yet economical skincare solutions tailored to their skin type, look no further. In the following pages, we unveil a selection of affordable options to help you embrace the new season while caring for your skin type.

Dry, sensitive skin: 

For those grappling with dry skin, maintaining that coveted moisture barrier can become a formidable challenge, especially in the face of dwindling humidity. But fret not, for a solution awaits at your neighborhood drugstores, such as Matsumoto Kiyoshi or Ainz Tulpe, where an array of skin-nourishing products lies in wait.

Discover these skincare lines specially crafted to quench your skin’s thirst and leave it feeling plump and rejuvenated.

VT Cosmetics: CICA x CARE

Cica, famed for its redness-reducing prowess, is the key ingredient in this cream. Derived from Centella asiatica, with its scientific name, cica boasts robust anti-inflammatory properties. Its origin story harks back to tigers, who used these healing plants to mend their wounds. Interestingly, the brand’s symbol is the majestic white tiger.

In Tokyo’s drugstores, Cica products are ubiquitous. For those with dry skin, this brand offers a range including moisturizers, toners, serums, and lotions worth exploring.


You might know a little more about its mother brand, MISSHA. A’pieu features a skincare line that contains Madecassoside, a soothing ingredient from Cica that targets redness. A’pieu is made in Korea targeting those who are affected by yellow dust pollution. If you’re feeling the effects of the seasons changing, you can certainly try this line out for more hydrated skin. 


MEDIHEAL, renowned for its remarkable sheet masks, graces the shelves of your nearby drugstores in abundance. But this brand offers more than just masks; their toner pads come in an enticing variety: collagen, tea tree, vitamide, madecassoside, and watermide.

If your skin yearns for a surge of hydration, especially during the transitional seasons, the watermide variant is your go-to choice. For a deeper, more indulgent treatment, consider leaving these toner pads on your skin for a few minutes to enhance absorption. MEDIHEAL promises a versatile range of skincare solutions, right at your fingertips.


For dry skin warriors, consider the “Dear Hydration” line, a savior in parched times. Powered by cacti, the masters of thriving in desert aridity, this line unveils nature’s secrets to enduring hydration. And don’t miss the Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm, a wallet-friendly gem that’s a boon for dry skin types.

From left to right: BANILA CO dear hydration mist, A’pieu Madecassoside Fluid, MEDIHEAL Watermide Toner Pad, CICA X CARE Cica Cream.

Oily, Combination and Acne-prone skin: 

For those with oily or combination skin, a selection of K-beauty products is here to help you maintain balanced oil levels. While you may not need to focus as much on moisturizing, it’s crucial to note that seasonal shifts can alter your skin’s oil production, particularly for those prone to acne. Paradoxically, stripping your skin of oil can trigger an excess oil response, even if you have naturally oily skin.


The Acne foam cleanser contains an ingredient that is a great defender against acne, and that is the plant Houttuynia Cordata. This mild cleanser works to provide balance to skin without stripping it of its moisture, so if you have oily skin that is sensitive and prone to acne, this cleanser might be the perfect start to your morning routine. 


A global skincare brand readily accessible in most drugstores, innisfree offers a game-changer: the Clarifying Toner with Bija Seed Oil. This gentle toner caters to acne-prone skin and proves highly effective for those with oily or combination skin. Straight from South Korea’s island gem, Jeju-do, comes the powerful acne-fighting Bija fruit. And the marvels of Cica don’t cease, as the Cica Balm boasts a blend of Cica and Bija seed oil. Truly, nature’s bounty in a bottle.


Meet the Miracle line, a salvation for acne-prone skin. Packed with AHA, BHA, and PHA – the trio of hydroxy acids – it’s your ultimate ally in the battle against oily skin. Infused with the goodness of tea tree and cica, this dynamic blend not only deep-cleanses pores but also soothes irritation, harnessing the calming powers of cica alongside the exfoliating prowess of hydroxy acids. It’s a skincare miracle in the making.


The Green Derma line is gentle on the skin, so if you struggle with troubled spots and acne-prone skin, this one’s for you. The cleanser is especially mild and perfect for those with oily skin, keeping your skin moisturized without stripping it too much of its natural oil levels. If you’re looking for line, you can check out the Super Aqua line, either the one made for combination skin (Turquoise) or oily skin (Blue).

From left to right: Abib Acne foam cleanser, innisfree Bija Cica Balm, Nature Republic Super Aqua cream and Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner.

For those of you who are new to skincare, the layering process might seem confusing at first. Here is the general order: cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, serum, eye cream, moisturizer and finally sunscreen for morning skincare routines. Some skincare lines might have less than these steps or more, and work accordingly to your type of skin.