Have you been using a face wash that's too harsh for your skin in an attempt to remove all that excess oil? Do you wish you had a face wash that could thoroughly clean your face and moisturize it in the process? Oily skin is a common concern among many and a skin type that can often lead to acne. If you have oily skin, it's important to wash your face daily to remove excess sebum and grime without placing too much stress on your skin, which may contribute to more oil production.
However, with so many manufacturers and brands, like Kanebo, Curél, Bioré, and Cow Brand, to name a few, all with varying cleansing abilities and ingredients, as well as in different formats, like foam, paste, powder, cream, and even bar soap, the options can be overwhelming.
To help you out, in this article, we gathered the 17 best-selling Japanese face washes for oily skin available on e-commerce sites popular in Japan, like Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, and @cosme SHOPPING, and tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
Then, based on our tests, we chose and ranked the 10 best Japanese face washes for oily skin in 2022. We also put together a buying guide based on what we learned, so keep reading to find out more.
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.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
Table of Contents
Genetics is a common cause, but there may also be other underlying causes, such as the ones listed below:
As with any aspect of health, it’s best to take a multi-faceted approach. Make sure you exercise, rest well, eat right, use the appropriate face wash for your skin, and moisturize properly to keep your skin healthy.
However, if you still find yourself struggling to see any improvements, it may be best to consult with a dermatologist.
Skin that produces high levels of sebum can be divided into two different types: oily skin, which has lots of moisture in the outermost layer of the skin, and inner dry skin, which is dehydrated and stiff.
Despite these skin types almost sounding like opposites, both of them are characterized by a large amount of sebum production, resulting in the surface of the skin appearing shiny.
When you realize your skin is oilier, you may feel inclined to use harsh methods to remove that oiliness; however, the best way to care for oily skin is to focus on cleansing the skin while keeping the skin's NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor) and ceramides.
Inner dry skin is often said to be caused by overwashing.
Using a cleanser with a weak cleansing ability can mean a longer wash time, and with this, NMF's and ceramides can also be stripped away from the skin. Therefore, for inner dry skin, a cleanser with a high cleansing ability that can quickly remove oil and grime is ideal.
Here are five points to look out for when choosing a face wash for oily skin.
Face washes with low cleansing abilities lead to a longer wash time, which is bad for oily skin. It's recommended that you use a soap-based product that's known to have high cleansing abilities and lead to shorter wash times.
In our tests, soap-based products showed high cleansing abilities; many of the soap-based products we tested proved this by leaving hardly any oil on the glass plates. If you have sensitive skin, using a carvone-based cleanser with a high cleansing ability but is still gentle to the skin is also recommended.
Even if the main cleansing ingredient is sulfate-based, combining the cleanser with betaines or amino acids can lower cleansing ability and, therefore, will be less irritating to the skin. This can make these products easier to use if you have sensitive skin!
Moisturizing ingredients are super important in face washes, regardless of the skin type it's made for. Since they cushion the blow that comes with cleansing your skin, it's a necessity for oily skin, too.
When looking at the ingredient list of your products, it's important to note that ingredients are listed in descending order of amount. Therefore, the earlier the moisturizing ingredients appear on your ingredient list, the better. Major ingredients to look for include glycerine, sugars (like sorbitols and maltitols), and sodium hyaluronate as moisturizing ingredients.
Among these ingredients, glycerine was the most important. We recommended looking for a product with high glycerine content as a result.
However, because face washes for oily skin tend to harshly remove sebum from the skin, dryness can become a problem. Thus, it's important to carefully and thoroughly moisturize after using these face washes.
I also recommend choosing a product that lathers well. The more a product foams, the more sebum is absorbed and the less moisturizing ingredients are lost during the wash.
Since oily skin is caused by excessive sebum production, other skin concerns like acne and clogged pores may arise. Be sure to look for products with ingredients that target your specific skin needs.
For those who want to prevent acne caused by excessive sebum production, look for medicated products that contain anti-inflammatory and bactericidal ingredients.
However, these products need to be used with caution, because regular use of products with bactericidal ingredients can upset the balance of natural, healthy bacteria on the skin, worsening the condition of the skin.
Even if not specifically a bactericidal product, soap-based products with high cleansing abilities can be considered to also have a certain level of bactericidal abilities. Therefore, limiting your use of bactericidal products to times when you are particularly concerned with your skin conditions is best.
One of the causes of clogged pores is the oxidation of sebum. Another cause is the combination of excess sebum and proteins.
Clay can absorb and remove excess sebum, which causes unwanted shine or greasy stickiness.
Look for ingredients like the following:
In addition, lipases can serve the purpose of breaking down fats and oils, helping to wash away excessively produced sebum and/or prevent darkening caused by oxidation.
Clay can minimize irritation caused by cleansing ingredients.
Lipases can be harsh if used daily, so stick to using these only once or twice a week.
The condition of your skin can become unbalanced due to a variety of factors, including external factors (like pollen or ultraviolet rays) and internal factors (like stress and hormonal imbalances). Even face washes that don't normally irritate your skin can cause redness or tingling as your skin condition changes.
In such cases, look for products that have passed safety tests, as described as patch tested, allergy tested, or stinging tested, for example.
When testing our products, we deducted points for products with large amounts of preservatives, propylene glycol, or PG (a moisturizing ingredient not suited for sensitive skin), and peppermint water (used as part of the fragrance). Avoid these ingredients when your skin conditions are not ideal!
Face washes are used daily, so practicality is also an important consideration.
Products in aerosol cans can be alluring due to their ability to easily create dense foams, but they can be harder to rinse off. Pastes and bar soaps can also create dense foams but are easier to wash, making them highly recommended.
The ability to open and use the product with one hand is also extremely helpful. Imagine trying to wash your face in a hurry on a busy morning, for example. For this reason, products that come in tubes can be a smooth and convenient option.
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Scrubbing Mud Wash
Best Well-Rounded and Refreshing Oily Skin Face Wash
Sebum Trouble Care Foaming Facial Wash
Best Gentle Fragrance-Free Face Wash for Sensitive Skin That Protects Ceramides
Suisai Beauty Clear Black Powder Wash
Dense Foam Cleanser With Charcoal and Enzymes for High Cleansing Abilities
Fine Today Shiseido
Sengan Senka Perfect White Clay Face Wash
Bouncy and Easy to Lather Foam Cleanser With Good Moisture Retention Abilities
Scrub Cleansing Foam
Face Wash With High Cleansing Power and Exfoliating Scrub Grains
Bioré The Face Oil Control Facial Wash
Moisture Retaining Face Wash With Refreshing Orange Scent
MUJI Mild Face Soap Scrub
Fragrance-Free Subtle Scrub With Convenient Transparent Packaging
Facial Cleansing Pasta Glacier Mud Cleanse
Soap and Clay-Based Face Wash With Good Cleansing Abilities for Oily but Not Sensitive Skin
Deep Clear Washing Powder
Finely Lathered Foam With Great Moisture Retention But Lower Cleansing Abilities
Gyunyu Sekken Kyoshinsha
Cow Brand Blue Box (Refreshing)
Simple, Mild, and Gentle Cleanser but Low Cleansing Ability
Kanebo Cosmetics' Kanebo Scrubbing Mud Wash is a face wash that absorbs excess sebum, removes dead skin, and unclogs pores.
This product's main ingredient is soap, but it also contains a large amount of Moroccan Lava Clay, which is said to absorb oils. It also contains a scrub that removed most sebum during our cleansing test. Skin moisture levels only decreased 24%, making it a good choice for moisture retention.
This product is meant to be lathered on the face, which can take a while to get used to. In addition, the product itself has a firmer texture, making it a little difficult to squeeze out. However, the lid opened and closed very easily. The floral scent isn't too overbearing and gives the product a nice, mild touch. Earning high marks in all our tests, this product is a well-rounded face wash for oily skin.
Kao's Curél Sebum Trouble Care Foaming Facial Wash is a product that claims to protect ceramides while cleansing the face. It is recommended for people with dry but sebum-ridden skin.
This amino acid-based formula is gentle on the skin. In our evaluations, around 80% of oils were removed from the skin, demonstrating high cleansing ability. With moisturizing ingredients like glycerine and sugars, this product only decreased skin moisture by around 16%, showing excellent moisture retention abilities as well.
The foam was very fine yet fluffy, and one of our testers noted that their skin felt noticeably moist upon using this product. In addition, the pump bottle was conveniently designed, allowing you to use the product with even one hand. It's also fragrance-free, which is great for those with sensitive skin. This product strikes a great balance of being both gentle and cleansing.
Kanebo Cosmetics' Suisai Beauty Clear Black Powder Wash is an enzyme facial cleansing powder that is said to unclog pores and absorb excess sebum from the skin.
The cleansing ability of this product is high thanks to the main amino-acid-based ingredient being combined with a sulfate-based one. The charcoal and enzymes in the product were also proven to increase cleansing abilities based on our evaluations, and its moisture retention abilities were also decent.
Our testers evaluated the dense foam highly, stating that it felt as if it was almost suctioned onto the skin. While the individual packages are not very environment friendly, being able to easily use this product, even with wet hands, was a notable convenience. The mild, charcoal-like scent was comforting and not too overbearing as well.
Fine Today Shiseido's Sengan Senka Perfect White Clay Face Wash removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores.
Although there isn't necessarily a large proportion of moisturizing ingredients in this product, only around 18% of skin moisture content was lost after using this product, making it a good choice for moisture retention. And yet, because it had a high proportion of ingredients with high cleansing abilities (even among soap-based products), around 70% of sebum was also removed. Although something a little bit stronger may be better suited for oily skin, this product still had decent cleansing abilities.
Our testers noted that it was easy to lather this product and that the foam was elastic and bouncy. However, the packaging of this product is slightly small and may be inconvenient. The floral scent was refreshing and highly evaluated by our testers.
Chifure Cosmetics' Scurb Cleansing Foam neatly removes sticky oils from the skin and leaves you feeling clean and smooth.
With soap-based ingredients, charcoal, and scrubbing ingredients, this product boasts high cleansing power; in our test, around 80% of sebum was removed. Moisturizing ingredients such as BG and glycerine are included in this product, allowing for good moisture retention, too.
One disappointing aspect of this product was its scrub which felt a bit harsh on the skin. One tester noted that grains were even a bit painful on the skin. However, with proper technique, you can form a dense foam, which our testers highly evaluated. The tube-shaped packaging was easy to open and close, adding to the convenience of this product. There was a slight charcoal scent, but it was gentle and not too overbearing.
Bioré The Face Oil Control Facial Wash is a good product for people who are concerned about shine caused by sebum.
The main ingredient is soap-based. Our tests showed that about 80% of sebum was removed, displaying a high cleansing ability suitable for oily skin. This product earned a high score in the moisture retention test, as skin moisture content remained nearly unchanged. However, it should be noted that this product contains the moisturizing ingredient propylene glycol (PG), which can be irritating to sensitive skin.
The foam made by this soap was fine and soft. Our reviewers described the experience of using this soap as comfortable and satisfying, with a refreshing post-wash feel. Although the pump is a little bit hard to push down, one push provides you with the perfect amount of soap, making it convenient to use. The orange soap scent was revitalizing and a highly evaluated feature by our testers.
Ryohin Keikaku's MUJI Mild Face Soap Scrub is a face wash that contains physical exfoliators claiming to unclog dirt and old keratin from pores.
Although the main ingredient is soap-based, the addition of amino-acid-based and betaine-based ingredients makes this cleanser mild. Despite this, around 70% of sebum was removed, showing it has a high cleansing ability. This product also boasted high moisture retention.
This face wash lathered up nicely, even with small amounts. The package was easy to open and close, and the transparent container made it easy to keep track of how much product was left. Since there's no fragrance added, it can also be an appealing choice for those with sensitive skin. Although it's advertised as a scrub, since the grains are subtle, this may not be a good choice for anyone looking for something more exfoliating.
Rosette's Facial Cleansing Pasta Glacial Mud Cleansing is a face wash that prevents sebum and shine on the skin.
This product combines a soap-based ingredient with clay to create a wash with high cleansing abilities. In our tests, most of the sebum was removed, even for oily skin, and moisture retention was also decent. However, some points were deducted as this product contains peppermint oil as part of its fragrance, which can potentially irritate sensitive skin.
The foam was fluffy and the product lathered up nicely even with minimal product. The packaging was practical and not too complex. The opinions on the "forest herb" fragrance were split, given that it isn't a very common scent for a face wash.
FANCL's Deep Clear Washing Powder is an enzyme facial cleansing powder that claims to unclog pores while maintaining skin moisture.
The main ingredient of this product is amino acid-based. Its relatively low cleansing ability makes it a mild face wash option. Much of the sebum on the glass plate remained during our evaluations, making it a bad choice for those with oily skin. However, the moisture retention was great, and it contains proteolytic enzyme protease, an important ingredient for those concerned with clogged pores.
Our reviewers noted that the product lathered up nicely and that the foam was very fine. It's fragrance-free, making it an easy-to-use product for anyone. However, some reviewers complained about the individual packaging, citing the excess waste produced and the difficulty to open the package with wet hands.
Gyunyu Sekken Kyoshinsha's Cow Brand Blue Box (Refreshing) is a long-selling product that claims to leave your skin refreshed and smooth after use.
The selling point of this product is how simple it is. Although not containing any moisturizing ingredients, moisture retention abilities were highly scored by our testers, and this product was best evaluated for its gentle ingredients. On the other hand, the cleansing abilities were low, with only around 30% of sebum being removed from the glass plate.
The foam is fluffy and gentle and easy to rinse off. The bar soap format makes it difficult to store, but the size of the product is just the right size, fitting perfectly in the palm and making it easy to lather up. The scent was a classic "soap" scent, making it a comforting product to use.
We gathered the 17 best-selling Japanese face washes for oily skin available on e-commerce sites popular in Japan, like Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, and @cosme SHOPPING, and tested them all before choosing our top 10 and ranking them accordingly.
We tested each product for the following:
The first feature we tested was cleansing ability.
We noted any differences we saw before and after applying the face wash.
Next, we looked at changes in skin moisture levels to see how well each face wash was able to retain the skin's moisture.
We first looked at the moisture content on the arms of three Japanese testers. Then, we had them used the face wash for 20 seconds on their arms, had them rinse it off. After waiting for 10 minutes, we checked the moisture content in their arms once again and compared moisture levels.
To check for gentleness, we consulted with our cosmetics expert Kaori, to analyze the ingredients in the respective product formulas.
We also asked Kaori about skin conditioning ingredients contained within the products.
Finally, since face wash is something used daily, we looked into whether or not the product can be used continuously.
We assigned five Japanese testers for every product, and had them incorporate the face washes into their routine to evaluate them in the following areas:
What our testers evaluated:
Face wash for dry skin is milder than face wash for oily skin, and doesn't remove too much sebum from the skin.
Face wash for oily skin have higher cleansing abilities, working to remove the sebum. The difference in formulas between face washes for dry skin and face washes for oily skin underscore the need to use a product specifically formulated for oily skin.
Controlling oily skin doesn't end with face wash - you can't forget about moisturizing your skin, too! Here are some useful links to help you complete your skincare routine.
No. 1: Kanebo | Scrubbing Mud Wash
No. 2: Curél | Sebum Trouble Care Foaming Facial Wash
No. 3: Kanebo Cosmetics | Suisai Beauty Clear Black Powder Wash
No. 4: Fine Today Shiseido | Sengan Senka Perfect White Clay Face Wash
No. 5: Chifure Cosmetics | Scrub Cleansing Foam
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