Japanese skincare products are known for being full of nourishing ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C, to even more traditional ingredients like yuzu and matcha green tea. All of these ingredients are said to keep the skin hydrated, soft, and youthful. But did you know that sake is also a popular ingredient for Japanese skincare too?
You may be thinking, why sake? While sake is a popular alcoholic beverage option that is especially delicious when paired with sushi, it is also actually an ancient J-beauty skincare secret that is relatively unknown to the West.
Why Is Sake A Popular Skincare Ingredient?
Sake is a fermented rice-based alcoholic beverage that has been made and consumed in Japan for thousands of years. This is largely due to the fact of the abundance of rice and rice fields in the country. Naturally, as brewing sake is one of the major ways that Japanese use and consume rice, they have also found different ways to incorporate it into their daily lives in other ways than drinking or cooking with it.
One of the main reasons that sake came to be as a skincare staple is due to the fact that back in the day, sake brewers mysteriously had such soft and youthful-looking hands, even into the later years of their lives. Why did they have such youthful-looking hands? Because they were submerging their hands in sake for most of their days!
This became such an interesting yet well-known phenomenon in Japan that Geishas started incorporating sake into their daily skincare routines for its youthful effects. They would apply milky sake as lotion on their faces in hopes to stay looking youthful. It is said that many Geishas even bathed in sake to keep their skin soft and supple.
Sake Skincare Benefits
Maybe the idea of putting sake (well, not straight-up sake but sake-containing skincare products) on your face sounds a bit strange, but just hear us out. Sake can benefit the skin in so many ways. Here are some reasons why:
- Moisturizing – sake is packed full of amino acids that hydrate and help the skin retain its own natural moisture content. This is especially important for those with dry skin. You’ll find that many Japanese sake-containing skincare products tend to highlight the natural moisturizing capabilities of sake.
- Skin Brightening – this may be surprising to some people, but sake naturally contains an ingredient called kojic acid which blocks melanin production in the skin, which in turn provides a brightening effect. Those who have dark spots on their skin, or those who wish to brighten their complexion will definitely benefit from including sake-based skincare products in their routine.
- Anti-aging – maybe one of the more popular reasons for sake skincare’s rise in Japan is its anti-aging effects. This is also due to the many amino acids as well as antioxidants – particularly ferulic acid – found in sake. Ferulic acid is said to reduce the development of fine lines, spots, and wrinkles on the skin. If you are particularly in the market for anti-aging products, then sake might become your new favorite skincare ingredient.
- Acne Prevention – acne is a common skincare problem that most people experience at least once in their lives. In many cases, acne comes from clogged pores. Sake is extremely useful in treating this because it works as a natural exfoliant to unclog and tighten your pores as well as control sebum production.
Now that you know some of the wonderful benefits that sake offers the skin, maybe you’re curious about the best skincare products that contain sake. Whether you’re interested in purchasing a product or two, or want to create a new skincare routine based around sake, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll cover 23 of the best Japanese skincare products from makeup removers, to face creams, to facial masks, and more that contain sake.
We’ll look at products that contain both sake and sake lees, a derivate of sake production. We’ll also cover Japanese skincare products from brands that are budget-friendly to luxury in hopes that everyone can find the perfect skincare products in their price range. Now, without further ado, here are our recommendations.
While cleansing oil may be one of the more common makeup-removing options in Japan, it may not be for everyone. For those who are looking for a makeup remover option that is gentle and more eco-friendly than makeup removers that require using wipes or pads, check out this Cleansing Gel Makeup Remover from Japanese sake and skincare brand Kikumasamune.
This gentle cleansing makeup remover is especially ideal for those with sensitive or dry skin because it has a gel-like texture that spreads across the skin easily and does not dry it out. Besides real sake, this cleansing gel also contains squalane and placenta extract to keep the skin feeling soft. Most importantly, besides it being an effective cleanser, it is not irritating to the skin whatsoever.
Kikumasamune is a Japanese sake company that also makes sake-based skincare products. That’s right, they not only make delicious sake for drinking, but they also have a plethora of sake-containing skincare products.
Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Cleansing Gel Makeup Remover 200g
If you are someone who is particularly worried about skincare products clogging up your pores, then we recommend this sake-containing Sakura Refreshing Cleansing Oil from luxury beauty brand Shu Uemura.
This effective cleansing oil will truly remove all of your makeup and shrink your pores at the same time. The inclusion of unique sakura-sake essence promotes new cell regeneration and rapid skin turnover, while simultaneously helping to alleviate pore troubles.
This particular cleansing oil has been found to be highly effective at shrinking pores, even within the first few weeks of use. In fact, the manufacturer's pilot test revealed that 50% of participants who used this product consistently saw results of unclogged and shrunken pores within the first four weeks of use.
Another great point about this cleansing oil is that you do not need to follow up with a face wash after use. Simply rinse the remaining oil from your face and continue on to the toning step of your routine.
Shu Uemura Porefinist2 Sakura Refreshing Cleansing Oil 450ml
For those who do not want to have a skincare routine consisting of multiple products, we suggest going for this Japanese Sake Cleansing Lotion from Kikumasamune. This is another makeup-removing option from the sake and skincare brand, but this is a multi-functional makeup remover because it removes makeup, cleanses, and tones the face all at the same time!
The cleansing lotion works to first and foremost remove makeup, oil, and dead skin cells from your face. Then, with the help of specially derived sake-based essence, ceramides, and amino acids, it moisturizes your skin.
We love the fact that this is a multi-use product because it saves time for many people who do not have time to have a multi-step skincare routine. We also love that the formula of this cleansing lotion is 100% plant-based and that it is free of oils, alcohol, parabens, aromatics, and colorants. If you have particularly sensitive skin, this may be a cleansing option that you won’t want to pass up.
Kikumasamune Rice Made+ Japanese Sake Cleansing Lotion 500ml
Here is another makeup-removing cleansing oil option from world-renowned Japanese skincare brand SK-II. In case you’re not familiar with SK-II, they have become so famous among skincare enthusiasts around the world for their use of Pitera™, an exclusive SK-II specially developed and patented ingredient. It is derived from rice fermentation that takes place during sake production.
This cleansing oil works to remove everything from makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and even stubbornly sticking mascara from the face. The added Pitera in this cleansing oil helps to keep the skin elastic while giving it a radiant and translucent appearance.
SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil Pitera Essence Makeup Cleanser 250ml
This super-foaming Japanese cleanser is packed with real Japanese sake and sake lees to cleanse and wash away all the impurities from your face without drying your skin out. Sake has been found to be rich in vitamins and amino acids which help the skin to retain moisture. Besides sake, this Japanese facial cleanser contains sea silt mud which is a natural cleanser known for washing away sebum and dirt from the pores.
When the face wash is activated with warm water, it forms a dense foam that glides across the skin to effectively cleanse every inch of the face. Due to the natural moisturizing properties of sake, though this is a foaming face wash, it does not leave the skin feeling dry or stripped of its natural oils.
Hakutsuru is another Japanese sake brewing company, with more than 300 years of history based in Kobe, Japan. They not only make tasty sake beverages, but they’ve also found that when fermenting sake rice and sake koji together, many ingredients that are friendly to the skin are produced, so they decided to create sake-based skincare products.
Hakutsuru Moisturizing Japanese Sake Lees & Mud Face Wash 100g
Another moisture-packed Japanese face wash, but this time from Japanese sake and skincare company Kikumasamune. This particular face wash has gained tons of recognition in Japan for its gentle yet effective formula. Its ultra-lathering formula is also fun to watch and apply on the skin too! Its super-rich lather works to thoroughly cleanse the skin, remove dead skin cells and dirt from the pores, and give the skin an overall brighter complexion.
What we love about this particular sake-based facial wash is that it is packed with not only sake, but also skin-nourishing amino acids, placenta extract, and arbutin to cleanse the skin without stripping it. This is also a great budget-friendly sake cleanser option! For best results, we recommend following the Kikumasamune Sake Skin Care Cleansing Gel Makeup Remover with this cleanser.
Kikumasamune Japanese Sake Face Wash 200g
If you’ve found that even gentle cleansers cause irritation to your skin and are about to give up hope, don’t give up quite yet. At least give this SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser a try first!
This is a super gentle cleanser that contains Pitera, SK-II’s sake-derived skincare secret ingredient, which aids in anti-aging and helps to give the skin a radiant complexion. It will leave your skin feeling soft and looking clear, and it will not irritate your skin.
SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser Pitera Essence Facial Wash 120g
Toners & Lotions
Sake is well known for having highly moisturizing effects in skincare, but did you know that it also has anti-aging effects too? If you’re looking for Japanese anti-aging skincare, then you should highly consider including this Japanese anti-aging lotion in your routine.
This anti-aging lotion has remained a popular product in Japan ever since its release over ten years ago. Not only does the sake included in this lotion give it super-moisturizing properties, but the fermentation of rice for sake has been found to be packed full of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are all beneficial for the skin. In particular, two types of ceramides and niacinamide have been added to the lotion’s formula to give it an anti-aging effect.
The combination of the highly moisturizing ingredients from the sake mixed with natural ingredients that aid in anti-aging will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth, and looking youthful. A bonus is that this lotion can be applied to the neck, arms, legs, or any other dry areas on the skin.
Kikumasamune Anti-aging Japanese Sake Lotion 500ml
For those who have particularly sensitive skin, consider trying this Sake Moisturizing Skincare Lotion from Sake maker Hakutsuru. It is a highly-hydrating lotion that will leave your skin feeling moisturized and healthy.
This sake-packed lotion also contains 8 kinds of natural plant-derived extracts including licorice root extract and tea leaf extract to keep the skin’s complexion looking and feeling healthy. As it is formulated with only natural ingredients, we highly recommend this lotion to people with especially sensitive skin.
You can use this light-weight lotion on your face and body and it will not leave behind any sticky or greasy feeling.
Hakutsuru Japanese Sake Moisturizing Skincare Lotion 500ml
This is probably the most well-known Kikumasamune product among the J-beauty community. It also happens to be the most-reviewed Kikumasamune product on Japanese Taste. It is a sake-based lotion that effectively moisturizes, soothes, and tones the skin.
The unique formula of sake mixed with ceramide and placenta works to hydrate dry or rough skin while also leaving a brightening effect. High-quality Junmai Ginjo Sake from the Kikumasamune brewery is used as the main ingredient of this lotion, meaning that you know that its formula will work wonders for the skin.
Like other Kikumasamune lotions, you can apply this product to other areas of your body such as your neck, arms, and legs. Feel free to apply it on any area of your skin that feels dry. For best results, we recommend using this lotion right after you get out of the shower.
Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion Sake Skin Care Lotion 500ml
Sometimes facial cleansers are not 100% effective in removing all of the dirt or leftover makeup from our skin. This is why including a lotion or toner in your routine is so important. When you include SK-II’s Facial Treatment Clear Lotion in your routine, you are not only ensuring that your skin will be thoroughly cleansed (regardless of the cleanser used), but you are also thoroughly prepping it for the remainder of your skincare routine.
Like other SK-II products, this lotion has been formulated with Pitera, an ingredient derived from the fermentation of sake. This Pitera-containing toner helps to improve the texture of the skin by shrinking pores and removing any impurities. Its lightweight texture penetrates deeply into the skin, to improve and brighten its complexion from the inside out.
Moreover, this toner helps prep the skin for the remainder of your skincare routine. Once you apply this toner to your skin, you will ensure that your skin is thoroughly cleansed, hydrated, and ready to move on to the next step in your routine.
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion 230ml
This lotion-like toner can be described as a super-sake Japanese skincare product. “Why?” Might you ask? Because it is packed full of real, pure Japanese sake and rice malt. It also contains 14 other natural ingredients, which all have highly moisturizing effects on the skin.
Texture-wise, this Japanese sake toner has a moist yet watery texture but it is not sticky. You will instantly feel a moisturizing effect when you apply it to your skin. In fact, this toner is so effective that one Japanese Taste customer noted that they saw a noticeable difference in only four days of use.
Since this lotion comes in a giant bottle, feel free to apply it not only to your face, but also to your neck, arms, legs, or any dry area/area of concern on your body.
Nihonsakari Japanese Sake Moisturising Lotion 500ml
For those who are specifically looking to brighten their complexion, then we recommend this Brightening Lotion from Kikumasamune. It has all of the hydrating effects thanks to sake, but this formula in particular has been made to brighten the skin’s complexion. This is an especially useful lotion if you have any dark spots on your skin that you wish to lighten.
It comes in a big bottle, so you can apply this lotion on your face, neck, arms, or any other dry area on the skin.
Kikumasamune Japanese Sake Skin Brightening Lotion 500ml
Essences & Serums
Surely, a list of the best Japanese sake-containing skincare products can’t not include SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence. If you’re unfamiliar with this facial essence, this is without a doubt SK-II’s best-selling product. If you’ve been thinking about splurging on an SK-II product but don’t know which to choose, get this one!
Essentially, this product is made up of more than 90% Pitera (SK-II’s holy-grail ingredient). As mentioned previously, Pitera is SK-II’s patented ingredient which was discovered during the fermentation process of sake. Pitera is said to renew skin texture, combat signs of aging, and boost moisture production in the skin.
This facial treatment essence has become a best-seller both in and out of Japan, and many people have come to recognize SK-II because of this product. Many people swear by this product as their anti-aging holy grail, saying that it has reduced or erased visible signs of aging.
What’s great about the formula of this facial essence is that it is lightweight and absorbs into the skin easily. A little also goes a long way with this one, so despite its high price tag, you can expect to use it for months to come even with daily use.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 230ml
If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a facial essence, then this Kikumasamune Japanese Hydrating Sake Essence is also a fine choice. This hydrating essence is formulated with real Japanese sake from the Kikumasamune brewery, as well as 12 types of amino acids, ceramide, vitamin C, arbutin, and placenta extract.
The combination of all of these ingredients creates a serum that is highly moisturizing, but soothes and brightens the skin at the same time. It is a perfect option for those who are worried about dark spots.
The serum itself is not too thick and does not leave a greasy feeling on the skin. It also comes in a bottle with an easy-to-use pump. You won’t have to worry about wasting any product because you can control the amount that comes out of the pump.
Kikumasamune Japanese Sake Hydrating Skin Care Essence 150ml
Looking for a moisturizing and anti-aging face cream to follow up your facial essence with? Then the SK-II Skin Power Cream is for you! In the Japanese skincare routine, the moisturizing step is accomplished with lotion and/or essence, so the next step in the routine is face cream. (If you didn’t know, now you know.)
This Power Cream from SK-II will pack your skin with moisture and prevent it from getting dry throughout the day or night. Packed with nourishing ingredients like SK-II’s originally formulated sake-based Pitera, amino acids, minerals, and more, this cream will leave your skin feeling soft and will reduce signs of aging.
What’s great about this cream is that it can be used as both a day and night cream. It is not too heavy and will not clog your pores. If you’re not looking for a full on face cream, then SK-II also has an eye cream packed full of the same ingredients that will work perfectly around the undereye area.
SK-II Skin Power Cream 80g
Continuing on with the Kikumasamune series is their Sake Skin Care Cream. This moisturizing face cream, similar to other Kikumasamune products, contains real sake, but it also contains three types of ceramides and four types of amino acids. The combination of these ingredients will hydrate, soothe, smooth, and brighten your skin.
Some other notable ingredients included in this sake cream are jojoba seed oil and squalane, which are both known for their highly moisturizing properties. You won’t have to worry about dry skin anymore with this cream! Feel free to apply this cream on your face or body.
Kikumasamune Japanese Sake Skin Care Cream 150g
Another great Japanese Sake cream option from Japanese Sake Brewery Hakutsuru, but what makes this cream differ from other creams is the fact that it is an all-in-one product. This cream functions as a toner, serum, emulsion, and cream, meaning that you can apply it after cleansing your face and you’re good to go. This is an especially useful cream for those who do not want to bother with a multi-step skincare routine.
Daiginjo is one of, if not the most premium version of sake using the highest quality polished sake rice. You can feel confident knowing that this cream is formulated using premium-grade sake from Hakutsuru. Other beneficial ingredients included in this cream are job's tears, hyaluronic acid, and rice ceramide so you can rest assured that you will be giving your skin the most moisture and be able to keep your complexion clear.
This sake moisturizing cream is one of the more well-known Hakutsuru skincare products in the J-beauty community, and some Japanese Taste customers commented that this product worked wonders for their skin. Japanese Taste customers specifically recommend this product to those with dry or sensitive skin.
Hakutsuru Daiginjo Sake Moisturizing Skincare Cream All-in-One 90g
Facial Masks & Packs
Facial Masks are a great way to get a little extra sake into your skincare routine. Your skin will be able to absorb plenty of moisture from the plentiful amount of sake included in this mask’s facial serum. Real Japanese hot spring water is formulated into the mask's serum as well, so you can feel like you’re actually experiencing a Japanese hot spring, without traveling to Japan with this mask! (Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch.) Nonetheless, you’ll still have a relaxing experience and you’ll be taking care of your skin with this facial sheet mask.
Kose Clear Turn Bihada Syokunin Japanese Sake Moisturizing Mask 7 Sheets
If you’re looking for a more luxurious facial mask option, then we recommend these Komekoji Cherry Blossom Sake Facial Sheet Masks from Hirosophy. Its unique formula includes cherry blossom extract and Japanese sake komekoji (malted rice) to moisturize the skin and provide a moisturizing effect.
While this facial sheet mask is a great option for those with dry skin, it is also recommended for those with acne-prone or dull skin because it contains other skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and collagen. Be sure to use the remaining serum from the mask and apply it to your face and neck!
Hirosophy Sakura Komekoji Cherry Blossom Sake Mask 10 Sheets
Another self-care product similar to facial sheet masks are face packs in Japan. All you have to do with a face pack is apply it all over your face as you would with a facial sheet mask, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then rinse your face with warm water and pat dry with a towel.
Anyways, this particular face pack uses sake lees, which is a leftover yeast byproduct of sake production. Sake lees is very nourishing for the skin because it can provide optimal hydration as well as brightening effects. Other skin moisturizing components like cucumber extract, yuzu citrus extract, and rice bran extract have been added to the pack’s formula to give a more hydrating and relaxing effect to the skin. Aka, if you’re looking to have an at home spa moment, then this is the perfect facial mask option for you.
If you are not into face packs and would rather have a sheet option, then we’ve got you covered! Thankfully, pdc carries the same mask in a facial mask format.
pdc Wafood Made Sake Lees Face Pack 170g
These facial masks from Lululun are one of the most popular face mask options in Japan, and they are also a fan favorite among Japanese Taste customers. They are particularly well-known for their anti-aging effects, and this is largely due to the addition of the mask’s fermented rice-derived formula. If you’ve been looking for a new anti-aging product but do not want to splurge on an expensive toner or face cream, then this face mask option from Lululun is a good starting point.
Lululun Precious Red Moisturizing Face Mask 7 Sheets
Last, but certainly not least is this Rice Pack from Ishizawa Lab. This is another facial pack option, meaning that you can spread the product directly on your face. This rice pack is especially recommended for those with rough skin texture or clogged pores, as the rice-derived formula of the mask works to moisturize and smooth the skin’s texture. For those who prefer facial sheet masks, then don’t fret because there is also a rice sheet mask option as well.
Ishizawa Lab Keana Rice Pack 170g
Have you tried any of these sake-containing products? What did you think? If not, which one would you like to try? Let us know in the comments below!