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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Skin Rescue: Top 3 Products for Reactive Skin

So my skin is kind of crazy. On its dating profile it would probably describe itself as ‘quirky’ but we all know that just means psychopath. You wouldn’t want to date my skin (let’s disregard the creepiness that would entail): one day it’s all happy and understanding but the next it goes insane because you looked at it the wrong way. Peh. Anyway so I’ve had to deal with this for a while, and in the process I’ve whittled down my skin-soothing arsenal to 3 products:

Calamine Lotion, Avene Skin Recovery Cream, and Avene Soothing Moisture Mask.

These 3 products are my all-rounders, ready for most skin issues (apart from like…the plague. You should probably see someone about that.).

Calamine Lotion

Calamine Lotion

Calamine Lotion is awesome stuff. It is really cheap and has a multitude of uses:

  • Itches: Calamine lotion is really effective when it comes to relieving itches. During my first week in Japan I was bitten loads of times by mosquitoes – and Japanese mosquitoes leave impressive marks (about the size of a 10p coin)! Calamine lotion soothed the bites instantly and effectively. Calamine also works well on itchy rashes. Incidentally, Calamine lotion doesn’t treat the rashes – so while your rash may have stopped itching, it doesn’t mean it will go away.
  • Blemishes: Calamine lotion contains Zinc Oxide and therefore can make an effective on-the-spot blemish treatment. Many people use it as a mask to absorb oil but this should only really be done by those with super-oily skin; Calamine lotion can be very drying.
  • Sunburn: While I can attest to the effectiveness of Calamine lotion for blemishes and itches, I haven’t been sunburned in years and so I can’t vouch for its sunburn-soothing properties. I have heard, however, of many cases where Calamine lotion has been helpful in soothing sunburn, and hey, if you have it in the house you might as well try it.

The one issue I have with Calamine lotion is its consistency: it is very watery so if you apply a lot of it to an area you need to lie still and wait for it to dry before you do anything. Otherwise it will just run off the area. I think you can get it in cream form though so perhaps when I restock I’ll buy that instead.

Avene Skin Recovery Cream and Soothing Moisture Mask

Avene Skin Recovery Cream

  • Rashes: While Calamine Lotion is effective in soothing itchy rashes, Avene Skin Recovery Cream covers the other types of rash. Sometimes I get rashes from shaving that burn and this recovery cream is really good at treating and soothing them. I also use it on any rashes where there is broken skin – I’m not sure if this is recommended but I have had nothing but good results so far.
  • Moisturiser for sensitive skin: This cream is meant to restore the skin’s ‘natural balance’ so if my skin is a little more dehydrated than usual I often use this instead of my usual moisturiser. Also if my skin is being a little temperamental I prefer to use this to moisturise to minimise the risk of my skin going insane. My skin has been really dry recently but sadly this cream hasn’t been too effective in helping with that. I think that this cream is more useful when your skin is behaving in a different way from usual. Right now my skin is naturally very dry, so this cream doesn’t do much – but when my skin is just having a bad day and acting strangely this cream is the first thing I reach for.

Avene Soothing Moisture Mask

  • Reactive Skin: So my skin had a tantrum a few months ago. It got to the point where some parts of my skin started reacting to water. This reactiveness had some link to how dehydrated my skin was even though my skin didn’t look dehydrated – no flakiness etc.. Either way, using this moisture mask seemed to restore my skin to its normal state and with frequent use its usual defences returned.
  • Dry Patches at the Corners of your Mouth: Sometimes I don’t really use this as a mask, instead I keep it on and use it as a moisturiser. This is especially the case when the corners of my mouth get really dry and cracked. I’m not really sure why this happens – some people say a vitamin B deficiency, some people say toothpaste (?) – but it’s annoying and sometimes kind of painful if you open your mouth too wide. Anyway when I notice the corners of my mouth getting a bit tender I put this on every night just on those areas and I leave it on until morning. It works pretty well as a preventative measure. It’s so-so as a treatment: I find that once those cracks are there they’re very very difficult to get rid of.

Incidentally, this product is not specifically designed for sensitive skin. All Avene products are carefully formulated to some extent to minimise the chance of adverse reactions, but there are a few which are targeted more specifically to sensitive skin (like the Skin Recovery Cream). This mask has fragrance in it so for those who are super-sensitive, you may want to steer clear.

Sudocrem almost made it on this list – I do find it useful as an all-round treatment but I don’t find it as effective as any of the products listed above. Many people swear by Aloe Vera gel (buy the purest version possible) but for me I find it largely ineffective.

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.

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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