Kose Sekkisei Lotion & Lotion Masks

Time to talk about a long time staple and one of the holy grail products in my skincare rotation. Kose Sekkosei Lotion is probably one of the most famous celebrity skincare products from Japan (along with SK-II facial essence and the Hada Labo Hyaluronic line) so I had to try it and see for myself.

From the website:

A mild, refreshing tonic that penetrates instantly to get rid of dullness and promotes an even, refined skin tone.

I was so enticed by all the hype so I picked it up with high hopes and used it for around a month. It has the consistency of water with really strong alcohol notes (although the floral scent is nice), and soaked in quickly. I applied it religiously per the instructions from Kose:

Use as a toner morning and evening after cleansing. Generously soak a cotton pad and pat gently over face.

Verdict: It did absolutely jack shit and I dismissed it as a huge waste of money~

Some months later, I came across “lotion masks” mentioned in a cotton pads review while browing Amazon, which led to some googling and pretty much a whole new world 🌎. A process created by Chizu Saeki, the Sparknotes version is that it’s essentially a DIY sheet mask you make by soaking cotton pads/masks in your choice of solution/toner/essence to amplify their effectiveness due to prolonged contact with the skin, rather than applying them to the face directly

So off I went to buy the first compressed facial masks I saw and tested it out for myself (don’t buy these, I go into why below). It ended up completely transforming the way I used Sekkosei and cemented it as a quintessential part of my routine, which is why the post is titled Kose and lotion mask, there’s synergy when used together

Some background: I lucked out and have very stable skin (I get one red bump maybe once every two months, if that), normal, sensitive skin with a touch of combination*. Overall I’m very satisfied with my skin and mostly just looking to maintain it, with main concerns being large/clogged pores.

This means I also tend to be harsher on skincare products, because most of them aren’t going to have noticeable effects on skin that’s already pretty trouble free. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t work, just that they don’t make enough of a noticeable difference to justify their price.

* California’s temperate weather makes my skin closer to normal, whereas in places like New York/Toronto with actual seasons, the combination areas are exaggerated a lot more (e.g. drier cheeks and oilier T-zone)

Making Lotion Masks

The aforementioned compacted masks aren’t great; they’ll do the job, but I never bought these again once I started using cotton pads: the absorbency, softness and flexibility to contour to the face is incomparable and makes for a completely different experience. Kose sells their own line of compressed masks for exactly this purpose but any one will do as long as 1. they’re 100% cotton and 2. can be separated into thinner layers

The number of layers don’t really matter (2 layers are fine aka the Muji ones), it’s just that as illustrated in the diagram on the box, 5 covers the face perfectly. I’ve been using Selena Multi Layer Cotton Puffs (available from Amazon or Sasa) for the longest time and probably won’t be switching anytime soon.

So you wanna

  1. Wet the mask/cotton pads with water to expand it and reduce wasting product (I’ve tried it with 100% product. no noticeable difference), you can squeeze it lightly to ensure it’s moist but not fully saturated
  2. Add to mask 2 pumps if you’re using the 500 ml pump bottle or half a bottle cap for the 360ml bottle, or whatever amount so the mask feels comfortable for you
    • I usually let it soak, squeeze and soak up again to ensure maximum, even saturation
  3. Leave it on for 10 min to begin, then gradually work up to 20-30 min (I’ve left it on for as few as 5 and as long as 60, half an hour is the sweet spot, any shorter and the effect is reduced, any longer and there’s no additional effect, also probably not great for your skin given the alcohol content)

It can be a bit drying if you don’t have oily skin, so you’ll want to moisturize right after or mix in something when you’re making the mask (I’ve added everything from Erborian Yuza Double Lotion to a couple drops of Jojoba oil with great results)

I highly, highly recommend combining this (or any sheet mask) with the Daiso Mask holder. Much better results and a way more pleasant experience. I hated face masks before getting this, I never found them relaxing with the limited facial movements. With this, you can drink, eat, talk without the mask falling off and it stays in position. It also force the mask to fully contact the skin (especially around the nose), keeps it from evaporating, and traps the heat from the skin (and thus opening up pore to increase absorption? I could be talking out my ass ¯_(ツ)_/¯) Available at your local Daiso for 2$ and some change so don’t buy from eBay/Amazon unless you have to.


The most noticeable thing when you first take it off is the tone and brightness of the skin, which will fade after a few minutes (probably due to the temporary effect of osmosis). You still end up with an overall 35% improvement in the translucency, evenness and glow of the skin (that lasts for the day). Where it really excels is clearing and surfacing sebum plugs/blackheads; while it doesn’t remove them entirely, this dissolves the darkened, oxidized head of the plug, essentially rendering them invisible which gives the illusion of smaller, shrunken pores (good enough for me).

Pulling these sebum plugs up to the surface means it’s much easier to remove them and prime time to follow up with cleaning (again, moisturize afterwards)

I usually do

  • Mandalic acid (usually 10-30% concentration for chemical exfoliation, this also will surface blackheads/sebum plugs
  • Kose Sekkisei lotion mask
  • By this point most of the plugs are basically sticking out of the pores and easily removable, you can then do one or more combination of
    • Oil Cleansing Method
    • Manual extraction: I usually do this after everything as a last resort for the stubborn ones, you can also do it right after the Kose mask for the best extraction experience. They slide right out and it’s incredibly satisfying, although you’ll want to apply oil beforehand and only exert the smallest pressure to minimize damage
    • Clay mask
    • Scrub
  • Follow up with Foreo Luna Mini
  • Rest of normal post-cleaning skincare routine

All of these steps combined will get rid of 70% of large pores, I’ll also do the lotion mask as a finishing mask before makeup for special occasions (in which case you’ll want to do the deep cleaning before the lotion mask), it’s definitely my emergency treatment of choice for immediate, visible result.


  • I’ve never veered from this product since it’s effective and cheap enough that I’m not interested in experimenting. With that being said I’m sure similar results can be achieved with toners containing alcohol or ingredients with astringent properties, so there’s probably some cheaper dupes floating around
  • I usually do it once every 2/3 days, I somehow managed to make the effort to do it every day for two weeks once and my skin was ~glooowing~✨, so adjust depending on your skin and/or laziness. There have been anecdotes from other people where regular usage made the epidermis thinner and more sensitive, I didn’t experience this but be cautious

I’ve since bought a Kose Sekkesei Sakura Limited Edition in a 500ml pump bottle, way faster and easier to use (and of course prettier countertop🌸). I dragged out my poor orchids for these photos since I had no other flower in the house

They also have multiple limited edition ones including an annual (I think) save the ocean and sakura edition:

Ones from past years


Some Burrow goodies thanks to work friends, pretty good and I’ll be hitting them up on next time I’m in New York

Other random crap that’s been in my stomach: mussels, juice, pastries, soup bowls, churros, funnel cake and a strawberry tart, this post brought to you by peptol-bismol

Safeway sandwich (not half bad) and some Junji Ito for a weekend afternoon

I live for these low effort games, the frog boi mostly travels with his main boo, the butterfly

Or with the crab and mouse, gang gang

And occasionally chilling by himself

??? I wanna get in on this exchange rate

Consequences of filling out your tax forms wrong, I almost had a stroke

Not much demand for white chocolate candy ass