Project Letdown: Japanese Haircare Products That Are Meh

Let me preface by saying, of course I have not tried all, most, or even half (not even close) of the haircare products available in Japanese drugstores. That being said, a lot of what I have tried has been great. A few have been just meh. So project letdown, or stuff that hasn’t been exactly a miracle starts today with haircare stuffs, three of them to be exact.

Second preface, so you can consider these products fairly: my hair is thick, naturally coarse and curly but straight permed (so chemically damaged) and medium length. It tends to be dry and doesn’t get greasy too easily.

And finally, all of these were under $10 USD (in Japan).

Project letdown #1: Shiseido Tsubaki Damage Care
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Lots of shops carry two-packs (or even three packs sometimes with a hair water) for a good price, meant for tourists I think as this is a much-touted product. You can buy the (amazing) refill pouches for this product as well, if you end up liking it and wanting more at the end of the bottle.

Well, let’s start off with a bang, shall we? This haircare line is a classic and well-loved one from here. It is almost always on different ‘Best of’ lists, even topping some like this one. I have used the leave in spray from the regular, red bottle line but not the shampoo/conditioner; this review is for the white bottle, damaged hair line.

It’s not a bad shampoo/conditioner/leave in. It just wasn’t really moisturizing for me (see my hair type above). My biggest beef though, and this is true of the leave in spray from the regular line, is the heavy perfume in it. It’s shockingly strong for Japan IMO … it’s just too strong for me. It doesn’t just hint at fragrance while you’re using it, either. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. This may actually be a plus for you, especially if you really love the scent. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Project letdown #2: Kracie Ichikami Hair Cologne Spray
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L-R: deep conditioner, Shiseido Tsubaki hair water (leave in conditioner/scent) in an old LE packaging and Kracie hair perfume

If you haven’t been to Japan, or you aren’t familiar with the offerings at the drugstores here … hair perfume is a thing. I would guess the numbers to be somewhere in the 10:1 range of how many hair scent sprays I have seen in comparison to regular perfumes or body scent sprays. This is the first one I tried, and it says it has the scent of apricot and cherry blossoms. I read that and was sure it was going to be for me.

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Again, this is a personal preference as scent is really highly personal, isn’t it? This just has more of an artificial, not cute scent to me. It’s an aerosol, which is great for finely dispersing the scent, but it also finely disperses it in the air so again, another gift that keeps on giving.

I will say, the scent stays fairly well, and it doesn’t leave greasy patches or seem to be drying. If you’re into the idea of hair scent, a lot of drugstores have testers out here so you can try before you buy.

Project letdown #3: Hacica 2.5 Deep Repair “Rich Honey” Hair Mask

The last haircare product that was a letdown to me is the Hacica 2.5 Deep Repair hair mask I bought not super long ago from one of my favorite drugstores. I love hair masks and tend to use deep conditioners more often than regular ones because of both my hair type and my relatively infrequent washing.

This hair mask had me at honey when I was looking for a new one … and it’s not terrible, it’s just not as conditioning as others I have tried. I have used it in my son’s hair, who has mixed race hair texture, and it was pretty meh for his hair type as well. This product has a floral scent which is pleasant (if you like them) and not overpowering. It doesn’t linger strongly in your hair, and it doesn’t seem to leave buildup or make me a greaseball. It rinses out well.

That’s it. I’ve covered a couple of haircare favorites (here, here and here) if you’re looking for products that I really like. But for these three … unfortunately, I won’t be buying them again. Which is OK; there’s a whole drugstore out there, with new stuff being rolled out all the time, to try!

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