9 Things I Would Tell My Make-up Newbie Self (because I couldn’t think of 10)

Ah to be young again (says the 22 year-old). Bright eyes, bushy tail – generally squirrely demeanour. Being a big fish in a small pond. The world, being my lobster. Other animal-related things.

Except it wasn’t really like that, was it? My younger self was hopelessly angsty – obsessing for weeks over whether that guy I liked had actually meant to hit me in the head with a rugby ball* (exact quote from my 14 year-old diary: “WHY DOES HE HATE ME?!” All caps.) – and hilariously clueless when it came to make-up and skin care. So I’ve thought of 10 bits of advice that I would have benefited from when I started out on make-up and skin care.

Garnier BB1. Very few things live up to the hype

When everyone’s talking about some great new product, it’s easy to get sucked in to the point where basically you think your life is incomplete until you get a konjac sponge/BB cream/Hakuhodo brush/Seahorse highlighting powder.


2. The things that do live up to the hype completely depend on your personality

It’s no secret that I love Hakuhodo, but I don’t expect everyone else to feel the same. The hyped products that did revolutionise my make-up were products that appealed to me on many levels (e.g. I love Hakuhodo brushes for – among other things – their performance, their craftsmanship, their aesthetic appeal, their connection to a really exciting time in my life) or products that offered solutions to problems I’d been having for ages (e.g. Bronzer being too orange – solved by Rouge Bunny Rouge).

In general, younger self, if you have to ask yourself ‘What’s the big fuss about?’ before you buy something, you’ll end up asking the same question afterwards. Just because everyone else loves it, doesn’t mean you will as well.


3. Always always always go out into natural light after trying a new product in store

I used to get kind of embarrassed about this. Either I was worried the sales assistant thought I was making excuses not to buy anything, or I was worried that people on the streets would see me peering into a mirror from every angle and think I was crazy.

BUT I really should have done because the 4th thing I’d say to myself is:

Foundation Stick4. What, what, what are you thinking?

So you’ve bought your first high-end foundation, but it’s Bobbi Brown’s foundation stick in the shade ‘Warm Ivory’. Just because it was the lightest shade available (at the time), it doesn’t mean it’s your shade. Try something 4 shades lighter and 10 times less yellow next time.

5. Those aren’t blackheads, they’re sebaceous filaments. Stop abusing them

You will get your first blackhead at 22 and it will really annoy you.

6. The warm vs. cool debate is kind of redundant

When I first got into make-up I devoted a lot of time to determining whether I was warm-toned or cool-toned, and now I realise that it’s crazily over-simplified. Even when broadening the spectrum (warm-neutral, cool-olive, muted, spring, high contrast, high visibility, mountain goat), it’s hugely difficult to find an exact formula to define one’s skin and colouring. When buying colour make-up nowadays I tend to stick with the colours that I know will suit me, or experiment with some inexpensive products to find new shades that work.

7. Step away from the epilator

Congratulations on your high pain threshold, younger self! However, your epilator use is going to wreck your legs, and they’re not going to recover for two and a half years. Yay! At one point, when you are crying over how painful and itchy they are, your boyfriend will resort to rubbing ice on them to make you feel better.

8. Stop using excessive amounts of alcohol on your skin

And most importantly…

9. People don’t pay nearly as much attention to you as you think they do

So stop worrying that everyone is going to obsess over your sub-par skin or your badly-placed eyeshadow.

*22 year-old conclusion: No he did not, it ricocheted off 3 walls before it met my head. He was not that talented a ball-thrower.

What make-up (or other) advice would you give your younger self? Were you savvy from the start, or in dire need of some make-up assistance?

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.


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 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)


Related Links

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Useful Links

Not such a pretty post today, but (hopefully) a helpful one!

These are a few links that I find indispensable. I think it’s important to know a little bit about the science (and I really do only know a little bit) of our products, and which ingredients in them are responsible for changes in your skin or hair. I feel like by knowing more, we can make better decisions about what we buy and hopefully save money and time by avoiding products that might give us a reaction or products that are pure marketing hype.

cosdna – an amazing ingredients search site where you can enter the entire ingredients list (instead of googling each separate ingredient) in a box and it will analyse each one. It also has loads of products’ ingredient lists already entered into the database so you can search by product name as well.

Ratzilla Cosme – English translations of Japanese cosmetics’ ingredients. I use this site just about every day, and it’s constantly updated so if a product gets re-formulated, the ingredients for the old formulation will be clearly labelled as such.

The Beauty Brains – a well-written site that gets to the science behind beauty rumours and hyped products, among other things. Short and to the point.

Smart Skin Care – in-depth info on how the skin works, and how the ingredients in our products affect it (or don’t affect it, as the case may be).

The Natural Haven – a site that focuses on hair science and ingredients. It also has nifty diagrams!

And not quite science-related, but a very useful link nonetheless:

The functions served by different brush hair types – part of the Hakuhodo site that explains each type of brush hair, and what purpose they’re best for. (N.B. The first group of hair types – Saikoho, Sokoho etc. – is Goat hair.)

Silk Naturals Order and How Much Time Do You Spend on Your Skin?

Happy Sunday! I ate chocolate for breakfast. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Silk Naturals

P1000867My first order from Silk Naturals arrived on Thursday! I’m really excited to try everything.

I got the Awesome Sauce Serum, 2 Samples of the Super Serum, and 1 Sample of the 8% AHA Toner. I also got two eyeshadow samples as extras. I’d like to say how amazed I was at the quick shipping. The company is based in the US, I placed my order late last Thursday and got it this Thursday morning. I don’t order from the US often, but I think this is pretty fast for standard shipping, I was really pleased.


Skin Care

As we’re on the subject of skin, I read a really interesting post yesterday over on RatzillaCosme that got me thinking. I do take care of my skin: finding the right products, wearing sunscreen etc. but I don’t really spend any time on it.

Wash face, apply stuff, done.

So I’m going to try to spend more time on my skin care. I’m not really looking for any skin care benefits by doing this, I just want to break away from my ‘hit-and-run’ skincare style.