Things to Buy in Japan #1: Bath Salts–a.k.a. An Ode to Kikiyu

I’ve started a new series! It is called, cryptically, ‘Things to Buy in Japan’. It is about things that you should buy in Japan. Not so cryptic. Anyway of course it will be by no means a full list, but it might be a useful guide for those going to Japan for the first time and who are, understandably, overwhelmed by all the lovely things to buy.

I freaking love baths. They are basically like being in bed, but the bed is filled with warm water and there’s no pillow and it’s really difficult to pick up soap in it.

Apart from that, pretty much exactly the same. Usually I’m pretty content to just sit in a bath and day dream for an hour, but my bathroom in Japan was a really horrible beige caramel colour (and it was super tiny but still made room for a cute little half bath) so I would close my eyes and listen to audiobooks. I finished Gone with the Wind in 5 weeks.

Anyway, that bit was there to bring to me to my main point (but I think I got lost on the way):

I like Bath Salts.

AND

Bath Salts are big in Japan.

(popularity-wise…not size)

Most of the drugstores I went to devoted at least half an aisle to various brands of bath salts, with German brands like Kneipp featuring pretty prominently along with a lot of home-grown Japanese brands. There are a number of bath salt varieties available in Japan, and on your travels you’ll mostly likely find bath salts:

  • Bloodtype Bath - doesn't sound creepy at allfor your blood-type
  • that make you slimmer
  • that smell like your favourite cocktail
  • that turn your bath bright pink and basically make it amazing.
  • to help clear your pores
  • to make you sweat
  • to whiten your skin
  • to ease muscle pain
  • to (the most outlandish) hydrate your skin

Most Bath Salts in Japan come in little sachets (enough for one bath) that cost from 100 yen (about $1.20/£0.80) to 300 yen. This means they make great little souvenirs as they’re not very expensive and they don’t take up much space. It also means – if you’re not the souvenir type – you can try out a whole bunch of them yourself without taking a huge financial hit.

My Pick

The bath salts I love the most are these:

Kikiyu

Kikiyu Clay Bath Salts for Dry skin and Eczema.

Kikiyu Big and SmallThese bath salts come in single-use sachets and big boxes, and I know that I’m going to buy as many of those boxes as I can when I next go to Japan. This variety of Kikiyu Bath Salts (there are many – this type is always in a pinky box/sachet) is really my absolute favourite – it soothes irritated skin, it moisturises it, it softens it and it smells lovely. It’s not one of the exciting, novel ones but if you’re after something that really pampers you without the fear of it irritating your skin, I’d strongly recommend you get it. (and buy some for me while you’re at it!)

How to Buy

Kneipp Bath SaltsEvery drug store I went to in Japan stocked bath salts, and you can also find a few in convenience stores sometimes. They’re not necessarily always with other bath-related goods so be sure to look around, tell-tale signs are obviously small packets of stuff and you’ll most likely see quite a bit of Kneipp products like the one on the right as well.

Check out these two amazing posts (the first one actually introduced me to the Kikiyu salts I mentioned above) that have more reviews and pictures of bath salts, so you have more of an idea what to look for.

My Great Japanese Bath Experiment (Beauty Box)

Bathing, Japanese Bath Salts and ASOS Sales Picks! (Bang Bang She Shoots)

PoresSome vocab you may see:

  • Pores – 毛穴 (ke-ana)
  • White – 白 (shi-ro)
  • Sweat – 汗 (a-se)
  • Moisture (as in moisturising) – うるおい (uru-oi)

Here is the cosme.net link to their top ranking bath salts, it’s in Japanese but the images give you an idea of what popular bath salts look like.

Also, there is a plug-in available for firefox (and I’m sure chrome etc. users could find an equivalent plug-in with a quick search) called rikai chan, which, when activated, will basically give you the definitions of any Japanese word on a page, so even if you can’t read Japanese you can hover over the text and get a general gist of the important points.

images for this post from here, here, here, here, and here 


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5 Ways to Combat Winter/Dehydrated Skin

I guess I should preface this by saying that I am not a skin care expert, all this is based on my (all too numerous) experiences with dehydrated skin.

What is dehydrated skin?

There seems to be some confusion as to what dehydrated skin actually is. Basically it seems that skin needs two things to stay soft, supple and smooth: hydration and oil. Hydration is there to do most of the work, and the oil is there to seal it all in so it doesn’t just leech out of the skin.

So if you have oily skin but it’s often flakey, has ‘dry’ patches, redness around the patches, or it feels tight, it might be dehydration. Basically you have the oil to seal stuff in, but you don’t have much hydration to be sealed.

It’s kind of like installing double-glazing on an igloo. If there isn’t any heat (hydration) inside in the first place, the double-glazing (oil) isn’t really going to make it much warmer. (sssh this is a very good analogy)

This is your skinIn winter, drier air and central heating can exacerbate dehydration issues which is why people advise adding more hydrating products to your skin routine in wintery months. It’s not just winter that can make your skin dehydrated though, if you start spending a lot of time in a place with drier air – e.g. if you move to another country, or even if you start work at an office building with mega air-con – that can be a factor as well.

1. Go teetotal

Regular readers might know I have a *bit* of an aversion to products containing high levels of alcohol. This is a personal thing because my skin is particularly sensitive to it, but for other people who don’t seem to have a reaction to alcohol then I say go for it.

However, if you notice your skin getting dehydrated or flakey, you may want to alter your routine to cut out the alcohol-products for a few months. A lot of foundations contain it, perhaps you could use a different one for now?

(not all alcohols are bad; don’t worry if you see cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol in your products)

2. Use a hydrating serum

This is probably the most important tip for dehydrated skin – if you had to follow just one of these tips, this is the one.

So personally, I find using an extra regular all-rounder moisturiser doesn’t really help when my skin gets dehydrated. It’s just too general use; I need something specific like a serum.

Personally I like:

Mandom Barrier RepairMy favourite is the Mandom Barrier Repair.

In terms of performance it’s actually about the same as the Juju Aquamoist (I put one on each side of my face for about two weeks and noticed no difference between them), but the Juju Aquamoist is a tad more expensive and it runs out really fast.

Using two pumps of the Juju Aquamoist every night gave me about 3 or 4 weeks before I started having to scrape the tiny amount of remaining product out of the bottle. Using the Barrier Repair in the same way gives me about 4 months.

As you can see from the ingredients, the Barrier Repair has more fillers so it’s more spreadable, but like I said it’s just as effective as the Juju Aquamoist. I would only recommend the Juju Aquamoist if you have a known sensitivity to an ingredient in the Barrier Repair.

3. Use an Oil

Now I know I said that dehydration is not necessarily a lack of oil, but:

  • Often in drier air your regular oil production isn’t enough to keep in hydration, so you need to top up
  • I find putting oil over my hydrating serum makes it more effective, probably because it seals it all in so it doesn’t just dry off your face.

This is my way of telling the world that my coconut oil was cheap!Oils are difficult to recommend because they’re very personal. Here are a few that people often use for skin care:

Personally I like to use Rosehip Oil on my face at night (after I’ve put on my other products). I like Rosehip Oil because it softens my skin and it contains little doses of vitamin C and vitamin A. Jojoba Oil is apparently the oil that is most similar to the skin’s natural sebum.

When buying these oils, check your local independent health shop before you go to big chains because often they do better deals. I got my Rosehip Oil BOGOF (so, two 25ml bottles for £16~) at a health shop near where I live. If you can’t find them there (mostly info for UKers):

4. Humidify

I’d say this is more of a last resort if the others haven’t worked for you. Get a humidifier to restore some moisture to the air around you. Even if your dehydration issues are caused by the air-con in the office, having a humidifier in your bedroom that you can turn on while you sleep could counter-act the effects from the office that day.

(Although Japan has a wide range of portable humidifiers to solve all your away from home dry-air issues!)

Some of them plug into your computer…

A nifty humidifier in disguise

This one was sent to earth to DESTROY you

5. Drink Water

Ok, truth is I don’t really have a number 5 – but I thought ‘5 ways’ sounded so much better than ‘4 ways’ – so I’m going with ‘drink water’, which is pretty sound advice for any ailment.

I will say:

Drinking water is not going to solve your dehydrated skin issues

It’s just not.

But – drinking water does improve your skin overall. I’m terrible at being vigilant with water-drinking, but when I do get it right I notice lots of (good) differences in my skin. So drink water.

(images for this post from here, here and here)

 


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Top 10 of 2011

Oops, I completely missed the ‘11 of 11’ idea; I am not on the ball! I mean…uh, I totally knew about it I’m just eschewing convention…

Anyway these are my favourite things from 2011. It was difficult to narrow everything down, but these are products that have transformed my beauty routine completely, and products that I would buy over and over. Every time I use these (especially the make-up products), I fall in love with them all over again. It’s clichéd but true, and that’s why these are my favourites.

If I’ve reviewed a product, the product’s name will link to the review.

My 5 favourite make-up products of the year

Suqqu, Shu Uemura x 3, Beaute

Shu Uemura Stage Perfomer – I’m pretty sure that this is the closest we’ll ever get to airbrush in a bottle (or tube, in this case).

I’m going to write a full review of this soon, but basically it’s a product that moisturises a bit, smoothes out pores, makes skin glow, and has a very faint tint that evens out skin tone and covers a few imperfections. I hesitate to call it a primer because: it has a tint, it’s technically meant to go under your sunscreen (ie. not the final step before foundation – but most people I know use it after sunscreen), and most of the time it negates the need for foundation. Anyway, this product has completely revolutionised my make-up, I hardly ever wear foundation over it – only when I really want to look flawless. It makes me look healthy because of the glow, and it gets rid of most of my red areas.

Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick – I’ve said just about everything in my review/love letter. It is still my go-to foundation, and I love it to pieces.

M Soft Mauve 225Shu Uemura Glow On – M Soft Mauve 225 – On first look, this blush looks scary. I mean, that is one mauve blush. On the skin, it looks amazing. Not editorial, edgy amazing, but natural amazing. The blush wears like an angelic pink, and the purple tone in it brightens up my entire face. Never has a blush given me such a glow.

Beaute Liqui-gel Stain – Fever – I have tried a lot of stains this year, I still find that this one is better than any other. It never leaves my bag, even if I’m wearing another blush or lipstick that day, I’ll have this on hand for touch-ups because it’s so easy to use. Its handiness is just a perk of the product, even when I’m at home and I have free reign over my whole make-up collection, I reach for this one the most.

Suqqu Ginbudou 06

Suqqu Blend Colour Eyeshadow – 06 Ginbudou – I have such a soft spot for this palette. Like I said in my review for Keshizumi, I know that Keshizumi suits me better, but I love the opulence of Ginbudou. Also, it was with this palette that I realised purples suit me – and that my eyes were more green than blue!

My top 5 skin care products of the year

IMG_6322

Coconut Oil – My love for this is still going strong; Coconut oil is doing wonders for my hair, I use it before every wash and on the ends afterwards. Recently I’ve been using tiny amounts to calm frizz. It’s still my sole body moisturiser, I like to use it a day or two after shaving to restore my skin. My only issue is that in this cold winter I have to microwave it for 30 seconds, otherwise it’s rock solid!

Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Liquid – I’ve been using this since around March and it has really helped my skin. My blemishes weren’t horrible beforehand, but they were pretty bad. My skin has cleared up a lot since I started using this every night, and my sebaceous filaments appear smaller. Now I’ve switched to every other night and I use it to spot treat as well.

Mandom Barrier Repair Concentrate – this serum saved my skin when I was in Japan, and I’ve been recommending it to people with dehydrated skin ever since. I know a lot of people who use it and love it, and it’s especially useful in these winter months to combat all the dry air from central heating etc. I mix it with my usual antioxidant serum every other night to ward off winter skin. If my skin’s a little dry or angry, I’ll just put this on the area and it rights itself. This is really amazing stuff.

Silk Naturals Super Serum (the tiny bottle) – I’ve only just finished my second sample bottle of this – they lasted me 2 months! This serum is so effective – it has lightened my freckles and it’s got rid of almost all the tiny bumps that were around my chin. It also brightens my skin. I have to dilute this serum (with hada labo gokujyun hyaluronic acid lotion) when I apply it every morning because it’s very strong, but even using just 2 or 3 drops gets results.

Rosehip Oil – I can’t be without rosehip oil; it’s the last thing I apply at night before I go to bed and I wake up with such soft skin. I feel like this oil is so nourishing for my skin, especially because as well as sealing in moisture, rosehip oil also contains a little bit of vitamin c and retinol.

Review: Kracie Hadabisei Super Moisture Mask

You have no idea how excited I was to try my first Japanese mask. Very. I wasn’t just excited by the idea that Japanese face masks can double up as a halloween costume in a pinch, but also the luxury and indulgence I associate with both face masks and Japanese skin care.

I had major issues choosing which one though: my Japanese is mediocre at best and despite learning new skin care vocab every day it still seems like it’s never enough! I asked a sales assistant for a gentle mask for dehydrated skin that was blemish-prone. She recommended this one as it’s very gentle and moisturising.

subhead1

Instructions

  • Cleanse like you usually would
  • Get the mask and first align the eye holes with your eyes. Then press the rest of the mask into place.
  • Leave the mask on for 5-15 minutes
  • When you take it off, massage any remaining essence into your skin

In Action

The mask is your typical face-cloth-with-eye-nose-and-mouth-hole-cut-out shebang, and I kind of had to customize it to fit my face.

My freakishly tiny forehead was too small to accommodate all of the forehead material, but luckily my long nose was hardly covered by its allocated amount. So I cut some bits off the forehead and pasted them onto my nose area. Ghetto style. It was fun though, made me feel like a kid again: making a pinata by pasting soggy papier-mache newspaper onto them. But this time. My face was the pinata. And instead of being beaten it was going to be soothed and hydrated. Hopefully.

My face.

So I left the mask on for a while, I think a little bit longer than I was meant to but my skin didn’t notice. In fact I think I could have left it on the whole night and it would have been ok. It was really gentle and there was no stinging or irritation.

When you take the mask off you leave all the goo from the mask on your face so it soaks in some more. I like that because each mask is soaked in 25ml of the formula and I want to get as much of that as possible on my face, so if I had to wash it off it would have been wasteful.

results

After the mask had come off and the leftovers had soaked in, my skin felt really really soft. I also got a result I didn’t expect: my skin looked clearer somehow. No, the mask didn’t clear up blemishes, but the tiny bits of redness I hardly notice usually were totally gone and it made a huge difference. My skin looked…clarified and really healthy.

I was really pleased with the mask but the result seems very short-term. I’ve used it twice this week and while I had great-looking skin for about 12 hours, it went back to being dehydrated very quickly.

I will still use this mask as it feels really good but if you have any actual dryness issues that you want this mask to sort out then it might not be for you.

subhead3

While this mask does have a subtle, clean, scent to it, I can’t find perfume as an ingredient on the back of the box so I guess the scent comes naturally. Down low on the list is alcohol (twice) which I find kind of strange. My skin can tolerate tiny doses of alcohol so it couldn’t detect such a small amount of alcohol in this mask, but it still strikes me as odd that a ‘super moisture’ mask had such a drying ingredient in it.

Ingredients: Water, Dypropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Potassium Carbomer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysorbate 20, Xanthum Gum, Sodium Polyacrylate, Citric Acid, Alcohol, Royal Jelly Extract, Lemon Extract, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben

subheadconc

So I’m debuting the Glossed In Translation Rating System for this post, as I realise with my wordy reviews sometimes it’s nice to scan down and just get a categorical answer.

Staying Power: This mask stuck to my face well – I’ve heard many slide off – I could carry on internet surfing without worrying about it falling into my lap. It did have a little bit of slide but nothing to worry about. So 18 out of 20 for that.

Ease of Use: Yeah I had to cut some bits up but a mask can’t fit everyone’s face, right? The steps were very simple and it seems it would be difficult to go wrong with this mask. 17 out of 20 for that (3 off for facial adjustment, but that’s purely personal).

Results: Great at first, but after a while it seemed that I hadn’t put the mask on at all. Nothing negative though: it was very gentle, no irritation, no stinging, drying effect or blemishes. So I guess 12 for results (10 as totally neutral, +2 for the short-term effects).

This all averages out to 16/20