To figure out the best Japanese cleansing milk, we gathered the 31 best-selling products from e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as @cosme, Amazon, and Rakuten, and tested them all.
Kaori is the representative director of Japan's Scientific Beauty Institute. She also runs the Beauty Science Blog, which sends out beauty science information in a way that's easy to understand. She operates with the mission of "wanting people to enjoy the process of finding skincare that works for them by offering a scientific perspective". Kaori broadcasts her expert knowledge from working with skincare and cosmetics societies and academic journals on her blog, social media, and more. She also works with PR, product development, and corporate support teams for cosmetics.
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It’s milder than other cleansers and less dehydrating, making them particularly suited for those with dry or sensitive skin. In addition, many products contain water-soluble hydrating ingredients, which allows you to cleanse your skin while leaving it moist. Many products tend to be easy to rinse off because there is also little oil residue, making them also great for acne-prone skin.
However, some waterproof makeup products can be difficult to remove, so we recommend using an eye makeup remover for waterproof mascara and eyeliner in combination just to be sure. Additionally, you can also double-cleanse with a face wash, just remember to moisturize thoroughly afterward.
After testing the products, we determined four major points that you should keep in mind when looking for your perfect cleansing milk.
Some cleansing milks are rinsed off with water while others are wiped off with cotton pads or tissues. Choose which one you'd like to use based on your preference or skin type.
Cleansing milk that can be rinsed off can leave the skin feeling refreshed and free of stickiness. This is great for those who are prone to skin irritation, as dirt or grime left on the skin can easily cause skin concerns such as itching or clogged pores.
If you are concerned about dryness after rinsing, look for products formulated with glycerin and dipropylene glycol (DPG).
When wiping off cleansing milks, your skin can feel more hydrated than when you rinse it off. Since there's less risk of over-washing, those concerned about dryness or stickiness should choose products that can be wiped off.
Some friction may be applied when wiping off cleansers with a cotton pad, which may irritate sensitive skin, so we recommend gauging which option is right for you. In addition, if the cleanser isn't removed completely, it may cause skin problems and damage the skin. For these reasons, wipe-off cleansers may be best suited for those who don't have sensitive skin.
Those who want a little more cleansing power and hydration should choose a wipe-off type or a dual-use type.
Compared to other cleansers, cleansing milks contain fewer oils and surfactants and are considered gentler on the skin.
However, if your skin is on the delicate and sensitive side, check for artificial fragrances and preservatives as they may irritate delicate skin. Another option is to choose products labeled "patch tested" or "allergy-tested," as products labeled as such have been tested and proven to be gentler on the skin.
Although these skincare products are rinsed off, avoiding products containing multiple essential oils, plant extracts, and propylene glycol when you're concerned about sensitive skin is safer.
If you have dry skin, or don't like it when your skin feels tight after washing your face, check if your product contains hydrating ingredients that protect the skin's moisture.
Since cleansing milks contain water-soluble hydrating ingredients, many products have the advantage of providing a moist feeling after washing.
If you want to use cleansing products in the shower, choose products that can be used with wet hands. However, if you want to remove heavy amounts of makeup, it's best to use a cleansing milk when your hands are dry.
Many Japanese cleansers need to be followed by another wash with a different product, which is what's called “double-cleansing.” However, if you don't have the time or don't want to double-cleanse, get a stand-alone product that doesn't require double-cleansing.
In addition, cleansers that don't require double cleansing are best suited for those concerned about dryness caused by over-washing. Products that don't require a double cleanse can also help save time and be gentler on the skin since double-cleansing can put the skin under stress.
Double-cleansing can be rough on the skin, so I think it's best to use cleansing milk if you wear light makeup.
Also, some products can take a bit of time to blend with your makeup, making removal even more difficult, so it is important to be careful to not apply too much friction when lathering the cleansing milk.
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Softymo Lachesca Cleansing Milk
Cleansing Milk With Great Makeup Removing Abilities and Gentle Ingredients
Hydra Clarity Micro Essence Cleansing Emulsion
Cleansing Milk With Fresh Floral Scent And High Cleansing Power
Ayura Make Off Milk
Daily Cleansing Milk With Great Lathering Abilities
est Clarifying Cleansing Milk
Cleansing Milk With Moisturizing Ingredients but Weaker Heavy Makeup Removal Abilities
Muji Mild Cleansing Milk
Hydrating and Gentle Cleansing Milk for Removing Light Makeup
Thicker Hydrating Cleansing Milk With Honey and Royal Jelly Extract
Rosette Cleansing Milk
Gentle Cleansing Milk for Sensitive Skin and Light Makeup Removal
Reset Cleansing Emulsion
Cleansing Milk That Protects Delicate Skin but Not Suitable for Makeup Removal
Milky Cleanse Up
Thick Cleansing Milk Suitable for Sensitive Skin but Not for Heavy Makeup Removal
Nameraka Honpo Cleansing Milk
Simple Cleansing Milk With Gentle and Minimal Ingredients for Sensitive Skin
Softymo Lacheska Cleansing Milk, with its eye-catching polka dot design, is a cleanser that will leave your skin moist and soft after use.
In our test for makeup removal, it received a high score. Although some minor makeup remained, most of the makeup was removed. The product did not leave a sticky or oily residue after washing and left the skin feeling moist and refreshed.
Hydra Clarity Micro Essence Cleansing Emulsion is a product that removes dirt from pores and leaves skin clean and feeling.
In our makeup removal test, the product effectively cleaned off multiple layers of makeup. The ingredients give it high cleansing power, and if carefully lathered in, the product is strong enough to remove even heavy makeup.
It has a fresh floral fragrance and strong hydrating ingredients suitable for dry skin, such as Butylene Glycol and plant extracts. The product is gentle on the skin and we recommend it for those with sensitive skin. Its floral scent and ability to remove heavy makeup are what make this product unique.
Ayura Make-Off Milk is a clenasing milk that is designed to be gentle on the skin and produces rounded stiff peaks when lathered.
It scored highly on our makeup removal test; although mascara could not be removed within 20 seconds, other makeup was removed cleanly, making it sufficient for daily makeup removal use. As for the ingredients, the product is made with effective hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and rice bran oil.
Although the foam can tend to slip easily off of your hands, when lathered, it blends well with the skin and can be rinsed off with ease.
The texture is slightly thick and feels pleasant on the skin. In the feel test, many monitors who used the product reported that "It rinses off easily and doesn't leave a sticky residue," and the non-greasy feel of the product left a good impression on many of them. The ease of removing makeup was rated as moderate, and the product's cleansing power was a bit too low for speedy removal of heavy makeup.
MUJI Mild Milk Cleansing" has a great texture and works effectively at removing most makeup. In our makeup removal test, some heavy makeup residue remained. It was able to quickly remove light makeup, but it wasn't strong enough to remove multiple layers of applied makeup. On the other hand, the product received high marks for its refreshing citrus scent and for leaving skin moist and hydrated after use.
What received particularly high marks in our tests was its gentleness to the skin. The product is formulated to minimize damage or irritation on the skin, making it easy to use even when the skin is delicate. The product contains water-soluble hydrating ingredients, and the quality of these ingredients received favorable reviews.
HACCI's JAPAN's Cleansing Milk is a product that claims to be as rich in feel as cosmetic beauty essences. On top of many gentle ingredients, this product contains honey, royal jelly extract, and sodium hyaluronate as hydrating ingredients. The texture is heavy like cream and is as rich and refreshing to use as it claims to be.
Although it's thicker in consistency, it removes makeup quickly and rinses cleanly without leaving much of a sticky residue. While it quickly removes makeup foundation well, it doesn't work as well with multiple layers of makeup. In particular, mascara remained intact, making it unsuitable for those who want to quickly remove eye makeup.
Rosette Cleansing Milk is a cleanser characterized by its soft texture and its perfect balance of water-soluble ingredients and oils. Many of its ingredients prioritize gentleness, making it suitable to use even on delicate skin. The thick milk formula was ideal for skin feel, as it was easy to cleanse and remove makeup without leaving a residual greasy film.
That being said, the cleansing power did not meet our expectations. Foundation was thinned but not completely removed, and much heavy makeup remained. Since residual dirt, grime and leftover makeup on the skin can cause problems, we recommend using this product when you're not wearing much makeup, or have already removed the makeup with another product.
SUQQU Reset Cleansing Emulsion is a cleansing milk known for its smooth texture. This product received high scores in our tests for gentleness to the skin. It has a good balance of hydrating ingredients and is suitable for use on delicate skin. The texture is as smooth as advertised, and the product received high marks for its comfortable feel which was both refreshing and moisturizing.
The ease of removing makeup was not as good as we hoped. Foundation remained on the skin, while heavy layers of makeup didn't seem to budge much. This product is not suitable for those who are looking for a cleansing milk that works as an effective makeup remover.
ACSEINE's Milky Cleanse Up is a cleansing milk that claims to remove makeup and dead skin cells that cause skin problems.
The highly viscous texture doesn't drip off of the hands and leaves the skin feeling hydrated after cleansing. The ingredients include Butylen Glycol and pseudo-ceramide as hydrating ingredients with a formula specially designed to be gentle. This is a big advantage, as it's suitable to use even for people with sensitive or irritable skin.
However, in the test for removing makeup, the product failed to remove most heavy makeup. Since foundation sticks to the skin in a thick layer, it is better to avoid using this product when removing heavy makeup, since it may leave a residue.
Nameraka Honpo Cleansing Milk comes in a generously sized 300mL bottle and is a cleanser that claims to lead to plump and soft skin after each use.
Although the thick texture is pleasant on the skin, many users commented that they were bothered by the sticky feeling that remained even after rinsing. It also didn't remove makeup very well, so it's not suitable for those who wear heavy makeup on a daily basis. Both foundation and heavy makeup layers remained stuck, so it's best to use it for light makeup or after already removing makeup first.
We really liked that this product was composed with simplicity in mind, using a small number of gentle ingredients safe for highly sensitive skin. It also contains hydrating ingredients which will keep your skin moist. This product has great value especially when considering the volume of the bottle and we recommend it for people with sensitive skin.
We gathered the 31 best-selling Japanese cleansing milks on major Japanese e-commerce sites (Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo! Shopping) and tested them all.
We tested each cleansing milk for the following:
① Apply an appropriate amount of each item to the artificial skin
② Leave on for one hour
③ Lather cleansing milk for 20 seconds and wipe off with a wet cotton ball
Next, we asked our expert Kaori, a science-based beautician, to evaluate the moisturizing abilities of the ingredients.
Next, we asked Kaori to check whether the cleansing milk was irritating or damaging.
What Kaori checked for:
Finally, to determine feel, we examined how satisfactory each product was to use, a critical factor in whether or not users will continue to use the products comfortably.
To do this, we gathered five Japanese testers and had them evaluate each product on the following points:
Even if your cleansing milk has oil in it, when you first dispense the product, all that oil will be surrounded by water. By warming it up, you’re allowing the oil to permeate through the solution, making removing oil-based cosmetics easier.
You could allow the solution to warm up on your face, but that would take extra time. Instead, cup the cleansing milk in your hands first, then apply it to your face. It’ll not only leave you with less makeup residue but also shorten your skincare routine.
Collect a bit of water in the palm of your hands. Then bring it to your face and slowly massage it into your cleanser. You want to work in just a bit of water at a time until you see the milk change into a whitish mixture, which is what we call emulsification. That'll make it easier to rinse off not only the milk and oil-based products but also sebum.
Cleansing milks are, of course, not the only product you can get to take off makeup with. There are other items, like cleansing oils, that are more powerful. If you are looking for other effective products, take a look below.
No. 1: Kosé | Softymo Lachesca Cleansing Milk
No. 2: Kosé | Hydra Clarity Micro Essence Cleansing Emulsion
No. 3: Ayura | Ayura Make Off Milk
No. 4: Kao | est Clarifying Cleansing Milk
No. 5: Muji | Muji Mild Cleansing Milk
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