Outside of Japan, particularly in the paleo and clean eating crowds, people have started going crazy over collagen. Moving beyond the uber-hipster bone broth, people are getting serious about their collagen supplementation, stirring collagen powder into their coffee, smoothies, and pretty much anything edible. Japan though, being the ultimate hipster, supplemented with collagen long before it was cool to supplement with collagen. Women here have known for years the kindness that collagen can show your skin, and a zillion and one forms of it are available pretty much everywhere.
Ahhhhh, acne. My faithful companion through adulthood, we met sometime early on in college. I had been blissfully free of acne throughout junior high and high school, but thanks to hormones, stress, and just plain adulting, my face has been somewhat of a war zone since then. My mom has always been in the “you need to pop that thing” camp (vs. the “never touch your acne, it will scar” camp across the lake), to the point she would about chase a person down to pop their pimple herself. So, rather than being chased down, I began to do the dirty work myself. Which yes, always led to a long-lasting red spot on my face that no amount of vitamin C or glycolic acid ever seemed to tone down. Now though, enter the pimple patch. What’s a pimple patch, you say? Well, on its surface it’s just a hydrocolloid bandaid that’s been manufactured in pimple size. But for anybody with an angry red volcano brewing on their face, the pimple patch is about the most amazing advancement in treating active acne, ever.
Korean skincare products are HUGE right now (and for good reason), but don’t let that buzz distract from the amazing stuff coming out of Korea’s neighbor, Japan right now. Japan may not be quite as flashy or in-your-face, but dang girl, have they got just as much amazingness going on over in the land of the rising sun (this cracks me up a bit, as I moved from the “land of the midnight sun” to the “land of the rising sun” … why so many suns?!). If you’re stateside, there are lots of re-sellers that can get you almost any goodie your heart desires … even the oh-so-convenient Amazon.com. Keep reading for my personal favorite Japanese skincare products (so far) that are readily available on Amazon.
I picked this mondo (500 ml) NID Placenta and Coenzyme Q10 bottle of lotion at a local Drugstore Mori recently, made in Japan by SOC (Shibuya Oil Company). It cost about 600 yen, or $5 USD, and came in three varieties: Placenta, Hyaluronic Acid, and Collagen. All also include Coenzyme Q10. I was immediately drawn to the hyaluronic acid flavor, which was visibly depleted on the shelf, but on a whim decided on the (somewhat icky sounding) placenta variety.
First: the elephant in the room. The placenta extract is from animal sources, but … why? Purported benefits are increased moisturization, collagen synthesis, and brightening/skin tone evening (“whitening” in Asian cosmetics). In fact, I drink a tonic each night (not gin and tonic, unfortunately) from my kampo (Chinese medicine) pharmacist that has, among other things, collagen and placenta extract in it to support the skin.
Is it effective? Well, like a lot of stuff we smear on our face and stuff in our bodies, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of science-based evidence proving it works. And, like many Japanese products (well, beauty products in general, to be fair), even if it does, there’s no indicator of how much of this giant bottle of lotion is actual placenta extract. So, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. Though just a $5 crapshoot.
Placenta and CoQ10 Lotion: Feel and Results
This has a similar viscosity to Hada Labo’s hyaluronic acid power house lotion. Thick, transparent, and leaves a slightly tacky/sticky feeling on the face. I don’t notice any scent to it.
It sinks in pretty well, and pretty quickly. I didn’t notice any huge gains in anything; no brightening or crazy hydration increases. It just, was. Not bad; I could apply makeup and it never has reacted weird or balled up on me.
Would I re-buy? Mmmm. Probably not. This is a good option if you’re on a very tight budget (on one of the Japanese review sites, a reviewer said she had switched to this from another product while saving for her wedding and said it was good for the price). I would personally just buy the $10ish dollar Hada Labo lotion and bite the bullet for a face moisturizing lotion.
BUT–this isn’t a bad product. You can use it with the dry sheet masks you can buy at Daiso to make your own DIY sheet masks (for pennies), a good option for those on a budget or somebody throwing a slumber or spa party. This lotion is fine for me when I apply it to my face normally, but stung like some snail mucin sheet masks I bought in Taipei a while back when I used it in a sheet mask. FYI, Daiso sells a lot of different dry sheet masks. Don’t buy the ones in the picture. They’re just awful.
For me, what this product is the bomb.com for to use in lieu of water for powdered face washes and masks–by using a lotion like this, you are just increasing the nutrient density of these products, versus diluting them if you were to use plain tap water. Did you ever watch the Rachel Ray 30 minute meals cooking show? No? Well, she always said to add flavor at every possible opportunity, so instead of water into a savory dish she would always use stock. This is the same concept, except you don’t get to eat it after. I use it in my Amore Pacific enzyme peel and it works pretty damn awesome.
The Japanese language Cosme beauty reviewing website had just a few reviews on this, and most were good, praising the product’s solid performance for price and you can use it freely without worrying about wasting something more precious. The hyaluronic acid variety had many more reviews and 5/6 stars, so it may be the one to buy if you want to try this out. You should be able to find this product at most larger drugstores or Don Quixote in Japan; I haven’t seen it at my local grocery store or convenience store.
One of the (full size!) goodies from my Klog Box from Soko Glam this month was a tube of Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam. Made in Korea, this tube retails on that site for $30 USD, which seems to be an average going price in the US (like many things, with K-beauty outside of Korea it pays to shop around). Like many products SG sells, this one is currently on trend in Korea, even being featured in Vogue. So, without further adieu, and since I couldn’t find a Klavuu review when searching, my Klavuu review on the Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam.
Scent: It’s lightly scented (fragrance is listed in the ingredients), and I personally really enjoy the scent. It’s a lovely (not artificial-smelling) sweet honey-like scent mixed with a powdery freshness. I don’t know, I’ve never smelled anything like it, but I enjoy it.
Appearance: It comes out of the tube very thick and creamy looking, with a beautiful pearlescent sheen to it when you look closely (it has pearl as one of its active ingredients, hence the (crazy-long) name of the product. A little goes a long way, it has good slip and spreads easily and creamy over the face. As you work it with your fingers (and especially if you use a tool like a foreo or clarisonic or the like), it creates a dense foam. If you like foaming cleansers, I think you will enjoy this.
Claims: This creamy cleansing foam features over 30 natural plant extracts to help remove all remaining traces of makeup and dissolve impurities your oil cleanser may have missed. Pearl extract brightens and provides anti-aging benefits while seaweed and algae extract boosts hydration. A delightfully light and soft lather for a luxurious cleansing experience. (from the Soko Glam website)
My Klavuu review:
First, I will be straight up with you: I don’t typically like to spend much on cleansers because, well, they aren’t on my face very long. I don’t think it’s a good place to plunk down the bulk of your beauty budget, whatever it may be. Though I do agree with many people, particularly in the Asian beauty community, that proper and thorough cleansing can solve many of your skincare dilemmas.
The pH of this cleanser is 7. This sounds perfect, right? Well, for some lucky and perfect skinned people, their skin can tolerate damn near anything. But, there’s a good bit of research out there now that an acidic cleanser maintains the skin’s acid mantle (the skin naturally sits a little acidic), so it’s less likely to “strip” your skin and leave it feeling tight after washing. Also, acne doesn’t grow as well at acidic pH. If you’re curious about pH, Goals to Get Glowing is a bit of a genius on skincare pH.
This cleanser is plush as hell; I don’t usually use a foaming cleanser, and this one’s foam is dense and luxe. You could sit and wash all day and never run out of bubbles (or so I would imagine). My own face feels ever-so-slightly tight after using it. If I wash and move straight to a toner, I don’t notice it, but if my skin gets a good dry down (if you use retinol, this is often recommended to reduce irritation), things start feeling a bit too small.
Klavuu Review: My thoughts
This cleanser is totally different from anything I usually purchase, or would have picked on my own. I love the smell. I love seeing the pearlescent color of the cream as I work it in my hands. If you perused the ingredient list, you saw that there’s a laundry list of skin-soothing botanicals at the ready to make your face glow.
Would I repurchase? Probably no. I will enjoy this bottle, and I expect it will last a very long time, as a little really does go a long way. But, for the tightness I get afterwards (likely from the pH), and the price point, at this point I just personally don’t think I will reap the rewards it may offer another user. The reviewer on the Klog, where I bought this from, mentioned the pH and said for her, it wasn’t an issue at all, so like with everything, mileage will vary.
Overall, I think this is a lovely sensory experience and an effective cleanser (I use it after oil cleansing to be totally up front). For me, I get a bit of skin tightness after which doesn’t make me want to spend $30 USD for another bottle when it’s done, BUT it’s not a deal breaker that will keep me from enjoying the bottle.
Have you tried this cleanser? Or anything else from Klavuu? It’s hard to find many English language Klavuu reviews online. I’m curious to hear more reviews on the brand, as this is the first thing I’ve tried from them.