Cotte Face Gel, Face Mask, and Hand Cream Review

Of all the items Ippin was kind enough to send me to try, these three from Cotte were the ones I was super excited about. I love sake based skincare – my skin has a history of responding well to rice based products – and Cotte is the skincare line of 95 year old Hakkaisan Brewery in Niigata Prefecture, which if the packaging and illustration on these products is at all representative, is a frigid winter wonderland teeming with flowing rivers and lush green forests. Some say the paleo diet owes its popularity to anti-modernistic and nostalgic assumptions of a simpler, purer times. I personally don’t have any romantic notions of caveman-era food but the promise of beauty products by way of pure, untouched nature? Get on my face.

I’ve been using the face gel and hand cream for a little over two months now in addition to having tried one of their face masks. Read on to see how they check out:


Product Name
Hand Cream

The Claim
The secret of the beauty comes from Japanese sake brewed in Uonuma’s rich nature

Where does it fit in your routine?
This is a hand cream. Apply to your hands when they feel dry.

Size and Price
Each tub contains 10ml of product and costs ¥540 ($4.36) from Ippin, who was kind enough to send me 4 tubs to me for review purposes. Cotte also has this hand cream available in a 50ml tube for ¥1,296.

This hand cream comes in a small 10ml white, plastic jar with an illustration of a mountain and stream on it.

This hand cream actually has very little fragrance and mostly smells like shea butter. When I rub it on my hands I catch of whiff of sake but it disappears almost immediately.

Color and texture
This hand cream is creamy but very dense. A little bit goes a loooong way.


Ingredients (Thank you to 2CatsinJapan for the ingredient corrections!)

水, コメ発酵液 (10%), ミネラルオイル, 水添パーム油, シア脂, ステアリン酸グリセリル(SE), セタノール, パルミチン酸セチル, BG, ダマスクバラ胎座培養エキス, 水溶性コラーゲン, プラセンタエキス, マグワ根皮エキス, 尿素, アロエベラ葉エキス, ヒアルロン酸Na, カミツレエキス, アルテアエキス, オノニスエキス, オウゴンエキス, フキタンポポエキス, メリッサエキス, タチジャコウソウエキス, セージ葉エキス, スギナエキス, セイヨウノコギリソウエキス, セロリエキス, グリセリン, キサンタンガム, 酢酸トコフェロール, ステアリン酸ソルビタン, ペンチレングリコール, クエン酸Na, クエン酸, エタノール, フェノキシエタノール, メチルパラベン, エチルパラベン, プロピルパラベン
Water, sake (10%), mineral oil, hydrogenated palm oil, shea butter, glyceryl stearate (SE), cetanol, cetyl palmitate, butylene glycol, damask rose placenta culture extract, water soluble collagen, placenta extract, magwort root extract , urea, aloe vera leaf extract, sodium hyaluronic acid, chamomile extract, Altea extract Altair extract, Ononis spinosa extract Ononisu extract, scutellaria root extract, Tussilago Farfara Extract (Coltsfoot Extract) Fukutanpopo extractMelissa Officinalis Extract Melissa extractThymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract Tachiyaki so extract, sage leaf extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract horsetail extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract Sea cucumber extract, Apium Graveolens (Celery) Extract celery extract, glycerin, xanthan gum, tocopherol acetate, sorbitan stearate, pentylene glycol, sodium citrate, citric acid, ethanol, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben


Despite the water and sake content, the shea butter definitely feels like the dominant ingredient. I’ve mentioned before that I have mixed feelings about shea butter. It has great anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to the triterpene acetates and triterpene cinnamates it contains but I don’t find it to be very moisturizing (neither does science – there is little clinical research validating its moisturizing or skin softening effects) yet it is frequently used in products meant to moisturize.

I like the density of this cream and find the shea butter content to work well as an occlusive. If I plan to spendthe day outside when it’s cold I reach for this hand cream because I know it will shield my skin from the wind and dryness. However, if my hands are dehydrated or at all dried out, I need to hydrate them with something else before using this hand cream, or else it will just sit on my skin.

Also worth mentioning is an unexpected effect of using this hand cream is the skin on backs of my hands seem to be brighter than usual. I spend very little time thinking about the way my hands look but I can’t say I’m unhappy about this effect!

Product Name
Face Mask

The Claim (this is the same for all 3 products)
The secret of the beauty comes from Japanese sake brewed in Uonuma’s rich nature

Where does it fit in your routine?
I like to use sheet masks after essences and serums but before emulsions and creams.

Size and Price
This is a single sheet mask and retails for $4.36 on Ippin, who sent this to me for review purposes.

The mask is packaged in a paper envelope with nature photography of a forest. On the back of the package, there is a tear strip! How brilliant is that? All sheet masks with beautiful packaging should have tear strips! Inside the paper envelope, there is a foil package that you tear open to find the mask.

Light sake scent with just a hint of sweetness. It’s a very clean scent to begin with and fades quickly. I actually wish it had a stronger scent because sake is one of the few scents I can’t get enough of, but I do appreciate companies that veer more towards low/no scent than heavy scent.

Mask Material
The material is papery, similar to how some Naruko and L’Herboflore masks are a little papery. It’s a bit stiff but fits my face remarkably well (it’s the perfect width for my wide-ass face!) and adheres to my skin.


This mask contains 10% sake extract. Sake is a really great brightening ingredient. It contains bioactive components ethyl alpha-D-glucoside (alpha-EG) and alpha-D-glucosylglycerol (GG) which inhibits melanin productionsuppresses epidermal barrier disruption by UVB irradiation, improves the functions of the stratum corneumdecreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and increases facial skin elasticity. It also contains kojic acid, which has been shown to significantly reverse enhanced pigmentation of skin explants exposed to UV light (tanning), reduce hyperpigmentation from melasma, and even prevent wrinkling when applied to skin prior to UV irradiation.

Acne Triggers & Irritants
Cosdna identifies butylene glycol (1) as an acne trigger and carbomer (1) as a potential irritant.

Full Ingredients:
水, コメ発酵液 (10%), BG, グリセリン, DPG, ペンチレングリコール, ヒアルロン酸Na, グリコシルトレハロース, 加水分解水添デンプン, ヒドロキシエチルウレア, 酒粕エキス, プルラン, ポルフィリジウムクルエンタムエキス, イノシトール, ジ酢酸ジペプチドジアミノブチロイルベンジルアミド, キサンタンガムクロスポリマー, プラセンタエキス, アーモンドエキス, カラスムギ穀粒エキス, シロキクラゲ多糖体, オウゴン根エキス, マグワ根皮エキス, リンゴ果実培養細胞エキス, コメヌカエキス, アロエベラ葉エキス, 水溶性コラーゲン, カミツレ花エキス, セロリエキス, アルテア根エキス, オノニスエキス, スギナエキス, セージ葉エキス, タチジャコウソウ花/葉/茎エキス, フキタンポポ花エキス, セイヨウノコギリソウ花/葉/茎エキス, メリッサ葉エキス, リンゴ酸, 乳酸, シクロヘキサン-1,4-ジカルボン酸ビスエトキシジグリコール, ヒドロキシプロピルメチルセルロース, カプリリルグリコール, レシチン, 尿素, キサンタンガム, カルボマー, アルギニン, クエン酸Na, クエン酸, 炭酸水素Na, ヒドロキシエチルセルロース, エチルヘキシルグリセリン, フェノキシエタノール, ブチルカルバミン酸ヨウ化プロピニル
Water, Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake) (10%), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lees Extract, P
ullulan,Porphyridium Cruentum Extract, Inositol,Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Xanthan Gum Crosspolymer, Placenta Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Tremella Fuciformis Polysaccharide, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Morus Alba Root Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Soluble Collagen, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Apium Graveolens (Celery) Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Ononis Spinosa Root Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower / Leaf / Stem Extract, Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Flower Extract, Hypericum Perforatum Flower / Leaf / Stem Extract, Melissa Leaf Extract, Malic Acid, Lactic Acid, Bis-Ethoxydiglycol Cyclohexane 1,4-Dicarboxylate, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Urea, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Arginine, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate


Between the beautiful packaging and the clean sake scent, this mask makes me feel much fancier and more sophisticated than I am IRL putting it on. This is not the wettest mask, not because the essence isn’t there (there was a fair amount of left over essence in the pouch after I removed the mask, which I applied to my face, neck, and decollette area) but because the mask material doesn’t seem to grip onto the essence super well. I got 30 minutes of wear from this mask in a dry, heated room before the mask dried up. There was no stinging, no burning, and no dripping, which I appreciated. After I removed the mask, my skin looked calmer and more luminous, but not as thoroughly hydrated or moisturized as I had hoped. In retrospect, I probably should’ve saved this mask for AM usage on a less cold and dry day so I could have taken better advantage of the brightening effects.


Product Name
Face Gel

The Claim 
The secret of the beauty comes from Japanese sake brewed in Uonuma’s rich nature

Where does it fit in your routine?
This will likely depend on your skintype. I have dry skin. Gel creams like these don’t work as moisturizers for me so I use them in the emulsion step, which is after cleansing, essences, toners, and serums but before a proper moisturizer. If you have combo or oily skin, you might be able to get away with using this as the moisturizer step.

Size and Price
This tub of product contains 80g of product and costs $20.04USD from Ippin, who sent it to me at no cost for review purposes.

Sky blue plastic jar with a white lid that has the same mountain & river illustration as the hand cream and mask.

Light, fresh sake scent. I’m obsessed with it but wish it smelled more.

Color and texture
The gel is a translucent white color and has a soft, slippery, and airy feel. It’s one of the nicer feeling gels I’ve used and isn’t sticky at all, which is a big plus for me.

What’s In It?

Like the hand cream and the face mask, this gel contains 10% sake. Sake contains bioactive components ethyl alpha-D-glucoside (alpha-EG) and alpha-D-glucosylglycerol (GG) which inhibits melanin productionsuppresses epidermal barrier disruption by UVB irradiation, improves the functions of the stratum corneumdecreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and increases facial skin elasticity. It also contains kojic acid, which has been shown to significantly reverse enhanced pigmentation of skin explants exposed to UV light (tanning), reduce hyperpigmentation from melasma, and even prevent wrinkling when applied to skin prior to UV irradiation.

Acne Triggers & Irritants
Cosdna identifies squalane (1) and butylene glycol (1) as an acne triggers.

Full Ingredients:
コメ発酵液 (10%), DPG, トレハロース, マカデミア種子油, グリセリン, (アクリル酸ヒドロキシエチル/アクリロイルジメチルタウリンNa)コポリマー, ラウロイルリシン, スクワラン, 酒粕エキス, イノシトール, ヒアルロン酸Na, プラセンタエキス, オウゴン根エキス, 水溶性コラーゲン, アロエベラ葉エキス, マグワ根皮エキス, メントキシプロパンジオール, BG, ポリソルベート60, ペンチレングリコール, クエン酸Na, クエン酸, フェノキシエタノール, ブチルカルバミン酸ヨウ化プロピニル
Water, Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake) (10%), Dipropylene Glycol, Trehalose, Macadamian Seed Oil, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Lauroyl Lysine, Squalane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lees Extract, Inositol, Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Placenta Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Morus Alba Root Extract, Menthoxypropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate-60, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate



The things I like about this face gel are it seems to have decent brightening effects (it makes my skin look more translucent, if that makes any sense) and that I find it easier to integrate into my routine compared to some other gels I’ve tried. That said, as much as I wanted to love this (the jar looks SO GOOD on my bathroom counter) I just don’t like gels. I have dry skin. I like moisturizers that are dense and creamy with substantial oil content, and I just don’t know what gels are supposed to do for my skin. If you like gels, you will probably like this – tt’s light, refreshing, smells amazing, and does not leave my face sticky like some other gels do – but I just don’t.

The Takeaway

  • Hand Cream – Dense, subtlely scented hand cream that is more occlusive than moisturizing. Rating: 3.2/5
  • Face Mask – Lightly sake scented, glow boosting mask. I appreciate how well the mask fits my face but wish it stayed moist for longer. Rating: 3/5
  • Face Gel – If you like gels, you will probably like the light, soft, and airy feel of this one. Unfortunately, I just don’t like gels all that much. Rating: 3.6/5

I’m not wild about any of these products, as you can probably tell, but I love Cotte’s branding and plan to give a few more of their items a try in the future. The face wash, in particular, is low pH and sounds really promising.

Do you guys have any favorite sake or brewery-made products? I’d love to know!

Disclaimer: The products featured in this post were provided to me at no cost for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. This post does not contain affiliate links but it does contains tracking links. 

8 thoughts on “Cotte Face Gel, Face Mask, and Hand Cream Review

  1. 2catsinjapan says:

    Girl, you know I love you, but…

    オノニスエキス = Ononis Spinosa Root Extract (Restharrow Root Extract) (your translation: Ononisu Extract)
    フキタンポポエキス = Tussilago Farfara Extract (Coltsfoot Extract) (your translation: Fukutanpopo extract)
    タチジャコウソウエキス = Thyme Extract (your translation: Tachiyaki so extract)
    セイヨウノコギリソウエキス = Achillea Millefolium Extract (Yarrow Extract) (your translation: sea cucumber extract)
    マグワ根皮エキス = Morus Alba Root Extract (White Mulberry Root Extract) (your translation: magwort root extract)
    アルテアエキス = Althea Officinalis Extract (your translation: Altair extract)

    in the second product:
    オウゴン根エキス = Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract (your translation: Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract), however, in the first product you translated this one correctly

    These are just some of the mistakes I found in the first two translations. I gave up after that.
    Please be careful when translating ingredients from languages you do not know 😦
    Be very careful when copying google search results, always compare the katakana to make sure you are copying the correct English equivalent. If not sure, do a reverse google search and doublecheck using image search as well, if you can’t read Japanese.
    Providing wrong ingredient lists completely misses the point of ingredient lists in the first place.


    • V. Rex says:

      Thanks for the call outs! I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to copy X paste the hand cream ingredient list without checking, but lesson definitely learned. I’ll double check the lists again tonight to make sure there aren’t any other mistranslations.


  2. meaghanrae says:

    That’s interesting about the (non) moisturizing properties of shea butter; I thought I was a weirdo when I greased up my hands and elbows with even pure shea butter and they didn’t feel any better than before (except greasy. There was lots of greasy).

    Also, I didn’t know squalane was considered a potential acne trigger; I’ve seen lots of write-ups on it saying it’s a good oil for oily and acne-prone skin. Though, like anything, different things work for different people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      YES that was exactly my experience with shea butter when I first started using it! I had read all these amazing things about it on the internet and was so confused why it didn’t work.

      Squalane is supposedly similar to human sebum, which is why it’s often said to be good for oily skin. It sinks in very easily on my (dry skin), fwiw. Cosdna triggers aren’t a sure thing. Personally, the ingredients that cause breakouts to me correlate very poorly with cosdna scores.


  3. Kelley says:

    Oh my sake sweetheart I have been away from your blog for too long!! The gel and sheet mask scents sound very intriguing 👃🏼. I am working my way through some Japanese brands I see frequently in the vain hope that I will find something close to SK-I’I’s yeast/fermented rice/sake (whatever pitera is) scent. Love your reviews and always know I can trust your nose since it loves sake as much as mine:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • V. Rex says:

      You know, I’ve never actually used SKII. If I had known it has a sake scent, I would’ve sought it out a lot sooner! Time to head to Sephora and sniff it out! Btw, I just picked up a tube of the Kuramoto Bijin sake hand cream and am in LOVE. If you like sake, you’d probably like it. It’s a very good hand cream too!.


  4. Sen says:

    Thank you for posting this review! I’m actually trying out the face gel now and was unsure of how to use it. But you explained after face wash and before mositurizer which makes sense as I have dry skin as well. And the acne triggers section is a great tip! I do have one question, though. Do you wash it off after massaging it on your face for 10 mins as suggested on the container? Thanks!


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