With skincare launches happening left and right, it's easy to miss out on beauty products that are true gems. Take the Japanese skincare lotion for example. Because of its often minimalistic bottle and straightforward description, it's often overshadowed by other skincare products with novelty packaging or those that promise multiple skin benefits. But the beauty lotion segment has recently been growing a low-key niche cult-following and making us do a double-take.
What is it for, what's in it and can it really help your skin be better? Your burning questions answered below.
Not a toner
A common misconception about skincare lotions is that they're a type of toner. But they're in an entirely different category. Think of this "lotion" as a moisturising essence. It's primarily used to bring back moisture and, as many claim, "balance" after doing a double-cleanse. Now that that's settled, let's take a closer look at the formulations.
A closer look at the formulation
While the signature watery texture is consistent in almost all Japanese skincare lotions, the formulation itself still varies greatly from brand to brand. We asked Dr. Francesca Sumilang Sy-Alvarado, a board-certified dermatologist under the Philippine Dermatological Society to examine two popular Japanese skincare lotions. The verdict? It's clear that there is a notable difference in the formulations. One "contains different kinds of moisturising ingredients including different forms of hyaluronic acid while having some surfactants to remove excess oil on the skin surface," she observed, noting that while hyaluronic acid is a good moisturising ingredient in humid climates, in colder weather it can draw water from the skin and should be used with a more occlusive moisturiser.
Meanwhile, another beauty lotion "incorporates different antioxidants, both with well-established effectiveness and safety data (like Vitamin E) and with limited data on effectiveness and safety (like dipotassium glycyrrhizate and extracts of Angelica acutiloba root, Adlai, witch hazel, Melothria heterophylla root)" which makes it great for those looking to boost their skin's antioxidant intake.
However, Dr. Francesca cautioned that some ingredients in the formulas have "comedogenic potential". Other ingredients may also cause sensitivity in certain individuals. This is why doing a patch test for a few days — where you apply the product on a small portion of your skin, preferably on the neck or chin — shouldn't be skipped; it will help you determine whether or not you're allergic to a product.