If I never found a life partner like I do today, I might follow in my brother’s footsteps to live in Japan for good. I met him after 3+ years, and he seems the happiest he’s ever been with his life there.
I mean, just look at the beauty and wellness products they have everywhere. They have onsen 温泉, brain yoga, delicious veggies, pickled goods, grab-and-go teas, so many bookstores, and very, very, very juicy peaches もも throughout the country. I could very well master my Japanese within the next 3 months and migrate my whole life there, then live happily ever after … only, I’m getting married soon.
So a little heads up: I’m going to ramble here, but you can skip this paragraph and dive in to the products right away. Otherwise, here’s a little something you might not know: I’ve always been crazy about the Japanese culture ever since I was in 5th grade. Every time my guardian in Singapore asks me to take out my Mandarin Chinese assessment books, she’d see me practice writing hiragana and katakana letters instead. I even bought Japanese-printed comics just to practice my vocab. I was obsessed. Not because I grew up an otaku おたく, but because I just love everything, and I mean everything about the culture. The neatness of a bento box, their zen philosophy, the art of crafting sushi, their signature clean and simple design, the world-class tea culture, the kawaiiiiiiiii characters born there, my childhood boybands (w-inds., FLAME, Lead), my childhood idols (Utada Hikaru, Eikura Nana, Ebihara Yuri), Haruki Murakami books (my first one was South of the Border, West of the Sun), how nice and polite and respectful the people are, how well they dress (especially love the classic and graceful look of middle-aged Japanese women with minimal accessories), and many, many more. My childhood best friend and I were dubbed K-addict and J-freak respectively (Yes, she was a K-freak way before K-pop was cool). And because I so loved Japan, my family took us all on a tour from the southern coasts all the way up to Tokyo when I was 14. The experience made me love Japan even more, and not just for me, but for my elder brothers as well. They play a lot of Japanese-designed games and watch Japanese movies and anime and read manga half of the time, so it’s easy to see that the trip has opened their eyes to so much more beyond Japanese media. It’s not until my 2nd brother hit junior year in college when we all began to see that it’s him, not my eldest brother and not me, who’s serious about J-freaking full-time. He’s minored in Japanese (majoring in linguistics), and has been teaching Japanese people the English language ever since. Right now, I’m just thankful that my fiance isn’t as old as others my senior who still resents the horrible things the Japanese did during the WWII, and with a sibling living in Japan, I can always find an
excuse reason to go there.
To me, this is a haul. I know, it looks like a casual shopping spree by the standard of prominent beauty bloggers, but I don’t spend a lot of money on beauty products like I used to, especially since I’ve gone 100% all-natural with my nighttime regimen.
So without further ado, let’s get on with the products.
1. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil + Salicylic Acne Toner
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (70ml)
INGREDIENTS: Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil
Remember this wish list? Well – now I finally got my hands on DHC Deep Cleansing Oil … although I had far better and cheaper alternative (the self-made EVOO + avocado oil cleanser). You normally see the 200ml bottle on shelves, but 70ml (JPY 1,188) and 30ml bottles are also available.
As you can see, I’ve used up a bit more than half of the bottle by now. I was actually forced to buy this at the drugstore and not because I want to, because the Japanese hotel cleaning service are so kind to “clean” my tin of EVOO + avocado oil cleanser, thinking that it’s dirt or some expired product leftover xD So yeah … I’ve got to get a legit olive oil-based beauty product to cleanse my face. So far, I’m still liking my own DIY oil cleanser more (far more moisturizing and cleanses more thoroughly).
DHC Salicylic Acid Toner (160ml)
INGREDIENTS: Active: Salicylic Acid (2%) Other: Water, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract
Another beauty stumble during my travel was that I forgot to bring the most important thing on my regimen – my ACV toner! It’s my holy grail for maintaining moisture balance plus preventing breakouts, and my fiance was like all woohoo! about it ‘cuz he ain’t have to smell the acidity while kissing my face. So yes, by the end of the trip I was breaking out like mad. I was desperate. And so … I grabbed this toner.
It turned out to be my new holy grail … after ACV of course. Now that I’m back in town, I haven’t touched a drop of this bottle. But during the trip, it dried out new breakouts overnight and reduces the likelihood of newer breakouts the next day. I still remember the immediate results the couple of days after I bought this (at JPY 1,409). Your best bet for busting breakouts? Still is a salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide combo (after I tone with this, I moisturize with Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing Treatment).
The salesclerk of the DHC store at Shinsaibashi-suji 心斎橋筋 (where I bought these) was so kind to have offered a clueless gaijin 外人 like me 2 sample products:
- DHC Rich Torafugu Collagen Lotion This product comes in a 120ml bottle for JPY 2,400. Apparently, the collagen in the whole anti-aging Torafugu Collagen collection comes from a tiger blowfish. You can imagine all the fats that are going to seep through your skin and plump it up.
- DHC Mild Lotion (Natural) Also a lotion, it comes at a 180ml bottle for JPY 3,334. Why so expensive, you say? I’m guessing it’s the placental protein in it, combined with cucumber extracts that’s perfect for calming sensitive skins. Can’t wait to try.
2. Makanai Beauty Oil
INGREDIENTS: Base Oils: Pure Horse Oil, Jojoba Oil, Blended Vegetable Beauty Oil. Essential oils: Citron Peel Oil, Sesame, Jojoba Alcohol, Camellia Sasanqua Oil, Rosemary Extract, Tocopherol, Soy, Grapeseed Oil, Gold Leaf
Oh I so can’t wait to try this. What first caught my eye about Makanai was the “Japanese Beauty Secrets” storefront tag down on Shinjuku’s Mosaic Street (lol). They have loads of natural-based products I would so wanna try, but then I’ll be broke, so I picked this beauty oil.
Yes, the oils are all the rage in the beauty industry these days, and manufacturers simply put together a couple of easy-to-find oils and blend them into profits, whereas brands trademark the combination of them for even more profit. I don’t buy any of them because these ingredients are so affordable – you can just mix them at home, and then use the different oils for eating/cooking/cleaning separetely. But this product has something that none of the oil products out there have: GOLD. Normally, gold facials in Jakarta costs as much as quality leather goods, but hey, here’s a few carats in a bottle tagged at JPY 3,888. I’m watching Makanai for a while starting now, as they offer gold-containing products other than this one (24-carat gold sheet masks, anyone?).
3. Ettusais Pore Care Clay
INGREDIENTS: Kaolin, Water, Sorbitol, BG, Glycerin, Silica, Crystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Chamomile Extract, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Citrate, Talc, EDTA 2Na, Citric Acid, Rosemary Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance
Now this is what I call a multifunctional product: a scrub, cleanser and peel/mask, all at a compact 100g packaging for JPY 1,000. And apparently, this product is available in Singapore too for SGD 25.00 – silly me. I’ve emptied my Supermud mask for a few months now. It’s the longest period of time I’ve gone through without kaolin. Been wanting to try the Powermud and the new Flashmud, but never got the chance to go get them. It became the reason I grabbed this while I was browsing a beauty shop while exploring the HUGE Kyoto Station. So I guess this will do for now as my main strategy for exfoliation and pore control.
4. Koto Labo Solid Perfumes in Lotus Flower + Cherry Blossoms
These 2 I got while browsing a souvenir shop in Arashimaya 嵐山. It’s not a branded product per se, but in the fragrance section of the beauty department, I’m a complete Neanderthal: This is the first time I came across solid perfumes. I don’t usually wear perfumes because I neither like alcohol on my skin (see why) nor in my liver, but this one simply smells good, and very easy to use. It’s like a balm and has a mild texture, so you’re essentially applying scented balm throughout your neck, shoulders, and wrists (these are the body parts people tend to spray perfumes on, right?). I got the delicate Lotus Flower one for a friend, and the refreshing Cherry Blossoms one for myself (so Google just told me L’Occitane also carries a similar product …). You can get it at Rakuten for USD 8.72.
4. Kiss Me by Isehan heroine make Long Curl Super Waterproof Mascara in 01 Black
I normally opt out waterproof mascaras, but anything Japanese is always an exception (see my ramble at the beginning of this post). What grabbed my eye instantly was the award sign on the bottom left – it won Cosme’s Best Cosmetics Award as the best mascara last year. Cosme is the leading beauty portal in Japan (read: it’s a big deal) – they cover wide-ranging products from exclusives to drugstore products, including Miranda Kerr’s KORA Organics (speaking of which, she’s a big deal in Japan). With that in mind, I didn’t hesitate to get it. It’s only JPY 1,080!
5. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
INGREDIENTS: Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid
Last but not least, how could any woman go to Japan without getting her dose of Pitera? There’s an official 30% discount SK-II counter at a little beauty shop in Shibuya. I normally get the 150ml bottles (it’ll last me for about 3 months), but because it’s 30% off AND duty free, I got the 215ml one. They ran out of the 330ml ones during my visit, but still … it’s still worth all the extra rupiahs they charge for the shipping and taxes and *groans* customs here. Still don’t know what to do with my emptied SK-II bottles … but in the meantime, they’re safe in my cabinet.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these products are you looking to try, or have tried before? Fill me in on the comments section below. Let me know what Japanese beauty product you’ve used/are using right now that you think is the ultimate must-have. じゃ、またね〜！