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My favourite Japanese shampoo

August 25, 2008 by yuming

Part of feeling comfortable in your adopted country is knowing what you are buying.

When I first arrived, everything in the kusuriya (pharmacy) looked foreign and I gravitated towards international brands. But they smelled and worked differently even in Japan. I doubt Dove here follows their soap-free mantra because I itched terribly after showering.

But to stick to the familiar is such cowardice and is a pity because it seems you are at this new buffet but you only have one dish that you know and like.

It was only after I had a peek at other people’s bathrooms that I deciphered what was good or safe to try.

I won’t tell you whose bathroom I got inspiration from but let’s just say the owner has long glossy locks.

Supermild shampoo and conditioner is great for “combination” hair like mine — oily scalp with normal ends.


They are 310JPY each from Lawson.

I don’t like Asience because it is too moisturizing but it smells lovely. Sheisedo’s Tsubaki leaves a lot of residue so it may be refreshing to use at first, but halfway through the bottle, I feel like chucking it out. The conditioner is fine, though.

One unique quirk of Japanese shampoos is they don’t have different variations for oily, dry, sensitive (hair that breaks easily), dandruff-prone, fine, or curly. It is just one shampoo per range — I say that because Shiseido has different lines under their name.

I have a makeup artist friend who once told me that the formulation of Pantene is exactly the same no matter what “type” is stated on the bottle. I wonder if other companies do the same?

Could the Japanese be onto something? Or is there an assumption that everyone has the same hair type in Japan?

If anyone has any insight, please feel free to share.

*Due to popular demand, I wrote a follow-up piece in my other blog, Beauty Box, A deconstruction of Japanese shampoos Part I & II.


  1. frou says:

    What a coincidence, I’m currently using the exact Super Mild shampoo! (Let’s just say I was suckered in by the ah lian salegirls at Sasa). I find it good because unlike most other Jap shampoos, this one is not as rich and heavy.

    The Japs probably only have one “type” of shampoo because the local folks only need one. With their fashionable and fancy colouring, styling, rebonding and perming etc. surely they all have one type of hair condition – Dry / Damaged!

  2. yuming says:

    Super Mild smells lovely, too! I guess the ah lian salesgirls at Sasa know a thing or two.

    I never thought of that but I think it’s quite true — the weather here is drier also, plus all that colouring and perming, women here need more moisturising shampoo….. hmmmmm…..

    Their face stuff here is divided into “Light” (for normal/oily) and “Moisturising”. At least there is a choice in this category!

  3. Stardust says:

    Hi! I happened to stumble into your blog.

    Shiseido… I don’t think I’ve seen it before, but I’ll keep a lookout.

    Finding a good shampoo took me years. Asience sucks, haven’t tried Tsubaki before and I’m all hooked when I’ve tried Segreta.

  4. yuming says:

    I’ve never heard of Segreta but I’ll keep a lookout since you’ve piqued my curiosity!

  5. jane says:

    Glad I came across this site! I’ve been in Asia five years and was always just using whatever cheap shampoo I could find … until I went back to the States and wondered why my hair was suddenly softer. When I headed back to China I figured the cheapo stuff was probably not a good idea so went upscale, to the Japanese brands (yes, even the cheapest drugstore Japanese brands are luxury products here). Started with Free & Free Damage Aid in the red bottles which is very nice but hard to find and moved onto Asience, which is all right but not as good as F&F. After reading this post and many other rave reviews of Shiseido Super Mild decided to give it a try, so I marched down to the local Watson’s … and when I took a shower realized I’d picked up a bottle of conditioner, not shampoo (there was nothing but Japanese on the front of the bottle, so I’d just chosen the bottle according to the label in Chinese on the shelf. Obviously the bottle was not in the right place. Sigh.)

  6. yuming says:

    I find Free & Free Damage Aid serum is pretty good. Thanks for stopping by and do head over to my other blog, if you want more info on Japanese products. :)

    Another shampoo I would recommend is Shiseido’s Tsubaki. Smells lovely and makes your hair smooth.

  7. Jun says:

    SEGRETA is the best Japanese shampoo, conditioner, gloss etc. You should try that

  8. Masaki says:

    I think they don’t label the types like, “dry, damaged” etc because of the Japanese tendency towards hyper image consciousness. People might be embarrassed about having a shampoo that declares its owner’s hair to be sub-par.

    I used Tsubaki when I was in Japan, but I don’t know how to choose a shampoo. ”本日の女性は美しい!”

  9. yuming says:

    Ah, that’s an interesting perspective. The Japanese wrap up sanitary pads to hide the fact that you’ve bought some, so I guess I could understand that.

  10. Meiyin says:

    So my hair is flat on top and puffy in the bottom like a triangle. It is very hard for me to find conditioner that can fix both problem at once. Recently I bought the Kao Essential Conditioner Regular Rich Premier from This product tames my frizzy end without flatten the top. I totally love it!

  11. kinki says:

    I know this is an old post. hope you will see my comment. i used super mild shampoo first time when i went to Japan in 2005. but cuz i didnt know the difference between green and pink i got teh green one. and it worked really fine!! i really wanna know the difference between the pink and green…..

  12. kusumi says:

    can Japanese shampoo be used on any hair type?

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