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). Continue reading “Project Letdown: Japanese Haircare Products That Are Meh”

Japanese Shampoo & Conditioner: Better Together

Like with my skincare, I’ve never been brand loyal for my whole routine with my hair. My hair has been, um, difficult most of my life and so while I don’t really do anything or style my hair, I am pretty serious about conditioning it to keep it from being totally busted. I’ve found different products from different lines that really make a difference and tend to stick with them. However, I have found as I have sampled and branched out into Japanese haircare lines, that Japanese shampoo and conditioner are something that are indeed better together.

Japanese shampoo and conditioner
It’s so cute I could die

One thing I love about Japanese shampoo and conditioner, at least with what’s available at the drugstore, is that you can buy duo sample packets of many of the brands. This gives you the opportunity to sample a bunch of options, for around $1 USD a pop, without having to buy a whole bottle or set that you may or may not love.

dr. brandt skin-changing science – shop now 

This is exactly what I did finding my first hot find … I went to a drugstore (if I remember correctly it was a Drugstore Mori) and looked through the offerings, trying to narrow down my choices to the ones I hoped would do what I was looking for–deep hydration and conditioning (I don’t color my hair but do straight perm it, so I don’t shop for color care or smoothing products). I bought maybe four different duos to bring home, and I’m glad I did. They were all ok, but one of them was a slam dunk home run for me. Continue reading “Japanese Shampoo & Conditioner: Better Together”

Sea Breeze Body Shampoo Cool & Deodorant: a Mini Review

Sorry for the massive gap in posts, the struggle to get wordpress to upload photos or any other graphics has been real, let me tell you. WHYYYYYYY wordpress, why? Anyway, on to the Sea Breeze …

Anyway, I’ve had this ginormous vat of body wash for a while, and now that I’m about halfway through the bottle, I feel very comfortable offering my thoughts on Sea Breeze body shampoo.

Sea Breeze

I have seen this product for a while, and have gone through several bottles of the Sea Breeze body splash deodorants (including my bottles being used by friends as a sort of joke on other girls, as the cooling factor in them is quite, errr, refreshing). But I’m lazy, and bar soap is my usual go-to for home cleansing. I know bar soaps can be drying for some, but I don’t usually have an issue with them.

But … what I do have an issue with, is being stinky. I typically work out a good bit, and I live in a very hot and humid environment that I am totally not acclimated to, even now (I moved from Alaska to Okinawa, y’all). To add insult to injury, my skin doesn’t tolerate anti-perspirants AT ALL. They send me  into a giant itch fest, manically clawing at my armpits in public. AKA, way more embarrassing than sweating.

So, I found after moving here almost five years ago, that my old deodorants didn’t cut the mustard (like, at all). Also, less-than-daily showering didn’t cut it, either. I found a deodorant that works for me better than anything on the planet (Soft Stone btw) but still, I was generating more stink quicker than I (anyone) preferred.

Enter the Sea Breeze deodorant body shampoo. To cut to the chase, yes, this is a win and yes, you should buy it. Why? First, it’s a giant vat of product (with a pump!) for a low price. Second, despite advertising being cooling and deodorizing, it doesn’t dry my skin out at all. What it does do, and do well, is cleanse my skin thoroughly (without stripping it) and keep me stink-free longer than not using it.

Scent: in line with most Japanese products, there is a very slight minty scent  while using it, but it does  not cling or linger on your skin after using it. Feel: not heavily moisturizing, but not stripping at all. Has a short-term, low-key minty tingle for your skin. After effect: lives up to its deodorant claim and staves off BO longer than any other body wash or soap I’ve used, to include American products marketed for men (manly men!).

Because Japan, you can buy little refill pouches too, making it even more economical if you decide to repurchase.


Will I repurchase? YES. Who would I recommend it for? Anybody but the most sensitive-skinned, and particularly for active people, this should work well for the whole family.

Mini Review: Loreal Elseve Extraordinary Oil Cleansing Cream

Now that I’ve finished at least 80% of this giant bottle, I feel confident letting you know my thoughts and experience using this product. First: what it is. Loreal Elseve Cleansing Cream is meant to be a co-wash product, aka a conditioner you use in between full wash-and-condition sessions. I say that deliberately; I personally think everyone’s scalp can do with a good cleansing now and again (vs. never, ever cleansing like you have probably seen all over social media and the inter webs), though I don’t personally wash my hair daily. Second: despite being a product from a French company marketed in Japan, this product is made in China; this may or may not bother you. Third: I purchased mine at Don Quixote and I don’t remember the price, somewhere around $12 USD perhaps for a 440 ml bottle … it’s a giant bottle, with a pump top.

So starting there, it’s good that the bottle is large because I found myself using a good bit of product with each use. To be fair, I have long, super thick hair that naturally is coarse and dryish, and is straight permed (aka chemically damaged). I never use a small amount of product. Just know that you will need more of the Loreal Elseve cleansing cream than you would use with other products.

That being said, I disagree with the product’s slightly underwhelming (but not bad) 4.9/6 star rating on cosme (a Japanese cosmetic rating/review site) … I really enjoyed this product, and will purchase again. Here’s why:

Continue reading “Mini Review: Loreal Elseve Extraordinary Oil Cleansing Cream”

Best of the Best: My Favorite Crap From 2017

How the hell is it January already?!? 2017 was a crazy-fast year for me, and it seems that I packed about three years of stuff into it. In fact, when I was thinking back over the year, brainstorming for this post, there were a handful of items that I feel like I’ve been using forever, but nope. So, I decided to edit the list of ‘my favorites’ down to my favorite new (to me) products of the year. So … without further ado, I present my best gals of 2017.

Best of Skincare 2017

I just recently finished up my first bottle of Sekkisei medicated lotion … that I’ve used religiously, twice a day, since just after New Years this year. That was one long lasting bottle! I have a new bottle already in the rotation because this has quickly become a ride-or-die product for me. This is considered a quasi-drug in Japan: more effective/powerful than regular drugstore products, but not enough to require a prescription.

japanese skincare
My one true love, Kose’s Sekkisei medicated lotion

This specific product is meant to “offer clear, snow-white, fine-grained skin that is both moist and translucent.” Fancy. What it does for me is fade my acne scars and even my skin tone. Literally nothing has ever made a dent in my post-acne pigmentation issues before this … it would be six months for redness from one pimple to finally fade. That’s a long time, especially when your acne flares up like mine did.

This retails for 5,000 yen for a 200 ml bottle in Japan, but it’s literally ALWAYS on sale. Keep an eye out right after the first of the year for super nice fukubukuro, or lucky bags, from Sekkisei in the department stores. Generally they will have clear ones … where you know exactly what you’re getting, and they will package a full-size and lots of other goodies together for the price of just the full sized product. And be careful; you want the bottle labeled “medicated,” which means it’s been proven to show results.

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
Super brightening, pretty affordable, non-drying. WIN.

Chronologically, the next big find for me is this clay mask from Korean skincare brand innisfree. This doesn’t make my skin feel super tight and dry like many clay masks. I don’t use it for miraculous pore suctioning, because it’s not a miracle worker there (what is? If you know one, let me know!). What it does do is brighten and even out my skin amazingly. In one use. If my pores are especially gross (when are they not), I will use a BHA toner like Stridex maximum strength pads or the one from COSRX before putting this on. After using it, my skin is already brighter. I then do whatever skincare steps like normal, and go to bed, and in the morning … poof … good skin day. I bought mine direct from innisfree, but Amazon also sells it (and a ton of other k-beauty goodies).

This time last year, I had never heard of P50. For the uninitiated, P50 is an acid toner from French company Biologique Recherche. It’s a true cult classic, referred to by its fans sometimes as “Jesus in a Bottle” or “Trash Face.” The latter is due to the scent which is potent (mostly vinegar and it goes away). It’s expensive … real expensive … at $65 for a bottle, but like Sekkisei, it lasts for a super long time. So, why would anybody spend that for a bottle of stank ass toner? Because it really is a facial in a bottle. Use it at night, and wake up looking like a damn miracle. I promise.

 It comes in a variety of formulas, depending on your skin’s experience and tolerance of acid toners. I’ve used the two strongest, P50 and P50 1970 (the OG version which contains phenol and burns so good). I’m not sure which I prefer of the two at this point. I really do like the burn of the 1970 version, but I wonder if the slightly gentler regular P50 isn’t actually a tiny bit more effective. I don’t know, jury is still out for me (skincare fanatics generally say 1970 is the best of the best). It’s not so easy to buy. To purchase, you will need to go to a Biologique Recherche shop/spa, or an authorized seller of it on the interwebz. A friend mailed me my first (fun size) bottle, and I bought the second (full size) from Paul Labrecque in New York (they shipped quickly and free to my APO address, and included lots of samples).
I bought a box or two of these Naruko sheet masks in Taipei over Memorial weekend. Actually, I bought about seventy boxes of sheet masks in Taipei, but that’s neither here nor there. Mostly with sheet masks I get instant hydration and plumping, but I haven’t seen massive differences between too many of the different ones (I do have some favorites, though). This mask is a miracle though. Like the innisfree clay mask, this mask reduces my redness and clears/brightens my skin immediately, and my skin looks even better in the morning.  Psssst … it appears they’re having a big sale right now … run don’t walk!
This is the only mask I’ve tried that has the ear holes and double chin strap on it … weird, but thankfully it doesn’t make any hair it touches look greasy. I haven’t tried anything from Naruko that I dislike, but these are amazing and I highly recommend them. If you don’t have a Watsons stop or Taiwan trip in your near future, you can order from the Naruko US website (they run sales periodically as well).
My final skincare pick is another cult classic among skincare nerds, Stratia’s liquid gold. This is very fairly priced at $24 for 60 mL. It contains a host of amazing ingredients to gently repair your skin’s barrier. It’s perfect anytime of year, but is an especially great layer to put on in the winter. It mixes beautifully with oils as well. You have to order, but Stratia has fast shipping and free shipping above a certain threshold. Excellent customer service (and I hear great things about the rest of their line, though I can’t personally vouch for anything but this one).
Best of Makeup of 2017

Again, these are the best products that I’ve discovered this year. There are tons of others out there that I can sing a thousand praises for but these are the best of 2017.

In order of application, the Shiseido Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother is still a huge winner for me. I was skeptical of how tiny this bottle was in my original review but I’m just now almost finishing it so … it’s tiny but mighty I guess. This is great at blurring the skin without leaving a thick, silicone layer like a lot of pore smoothers do (this means it plays nice with more foundations than a regular silicone primer does). It also absorbs excess oil without drying your skin out. You can apply it later in the day over makeup as well to blot oils.

Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup (why is this name so looooooong?) is another big win for me this year. I HATED the  OG Double Wear. It looks like a matte mask on pale people. This is the complete opposite. It evens out redness and discoloration and looks like your skin. It’s comfortable to wear, doesn’t cling to dry spots or accentuate pores. Not too matte or too shiny. It’s just terrific. Downside: despite being an expensive foundation at $, it doesn’t come with a pump. Can we please peer pressure the cheapos at Estee Lauder to quit with not including a hygienic pump with their foundations? Dude, even drugstore foundations are including them now.

The friend that mailed me my gateway into P50 also sent this highlighter: the essence pure nude highlighter. This is a beauty blogger and influencer favorite for a reason. It’s less than $5 from Fred Meyer or Ulta and it is hands-down my favorite highlighter (including my expensive ones from Sephora). There is no glitter or metallic element to it at all, it just makes your skin glow like a young person’s. You can use it just on your cheekbones, on all the high points, or even all over your face. I’m very excited to pick up a backup while I’m in the states since we can’t buy it in Okinawa. ** edit: you may have to order; I’ve been to four stores in two states and can’t find it in stock anywhere!

Finally, you probably know my undying love for Heroine Make mascara, the mascara that will never let you down. Seriously; my friend messaged me recently telling me that she had worn it during her 34ish hour labor and delivery of her twins last month, and at the end of it all, her lashes were still in full effect.

But this is a favorites of 2017, and 2017 is the year of Loreal Lash Paradise. Clocking in at about $8, it’s a really pretty mascara. It holds a curl pretty well, and thickens and lengthens without looking clumpy or spidery. My mom asked me if I had gotten lash extensions when she face timed me while I was wearing it (of course, face time resolution probably helped my lashes out in this case). I have the waterproof one and it’s still not 100% transfer-proof (it is also difficult to remove, but Heroine Make’s mascara remover destroys it because … Heroine Make, man). It’s not going to take Heroine Make’s spot in my summer mascara spot, but it’s perfect for the winter. I love it.

That’s a wrap for the best of the best this year. Have you tried any of these? What would you add to the list?