Haba Squalane Oil: I bought it for my son’s eczema, and found a real winner for my skincare regimen, too

My youngest has eczema in a bad way, and it’s especially attacking his chubby little cheeks. We have tried a kitchen sink worth of remedies and nothing has reduced it, at all. His doctor always calls it “dry skin” (is something getting lost in translation here?) and recommends moisturizer. Gee, thanks. I got a good product recommend from the skincare community on Instagram though, which got me researching squalane oil, something I hadn’t tried prior. I read some good reviews on (Japanese department store skincare brand) Haba Squalane oil, so we schlepped down to San-A (not available at Aeon, FYI) to grab a bottle. We’d tried everything else so what did we have to lose?

Haba Squalane Oil
The kitchen sink … some of it, anyway.

I’ve been putting it directly on his skin for about three days now, give or take, about three times a day. We follow up with a “sealing” product, either cortisone ointment or Aquaphor depending on how it looks at the time. So far … no change.

BUT … being the vain and curious beauty junkie, I have also been experimenting with it on my own face. I have used beauty oils in the past and liked them, but my current rotation is lacking one.

What is Squalane oil?

Indie Lee, which sells a competing oil, touts squalane oil as ‘promoting skin elasticity, diminishes age spots and hyper pigmentation, and boosts cell regeneration and oxygenation. Improves texture and tone.’ It’s also non-comedogenic, so acne-prone peeps can use it too. In fact, it’s supposed to help inhibit excess oil production and be antibacterial. Whew. Sounds amazing, right?

The oil I purchased is made from shark liver; however, squalane oil is also naturally produced by your skin (and like all good things in your skin, this diminishes with age. Boo). Hada Japan sells a vegetable based Squalane oil as well, Squalane II, made from olive oil (the US site only sells the original). The Indie Lee product is also made from olives.

How did Haba Squalane oil feel on my skin?

Short answer: awesome. I’ve only tried a handful of oils on my face: coconut (not my favorite), argan (blech, sits on my skin and never sinks in or hydrates shit), Fresh Seaberry ($52/50 ml, consists of a variety of oils, and I liked it ok but not enough to repurchase), and Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster ($36/.67 oz, and another blend of oils, and yes yes yes, so much yes, this stuff is so amazing under the eye, everything is perfectly plumped and moisturized and, just yes).

Haba Squalane oil is my new favorite. It sinks in quickly, is moisturizing without being heavy, and my skin hasn’t freaked out anywhere. I haven’t used it long enough yet for long term results, but as a beauty oil, I think it’s up there as one of the best.

Japanese squalane oil shark liver derived
Haba Squalane Oil, 30 ml

Price (in Japan):

15ml 1500 yen

30 ml (1 oz) 2700 yen ($24-25 USD)

60 ml 5000 yen

… and the big boy, 90 ml 9200 yen

This oil is 100% squalane oil. The vegetable-based version is the same price.

Competitors

Haba is of course not the only company in this 100% squalane oil market:

Indie Lee: olive oil based, 1 oz for $32 USD.

Peter Thomas Roth: sugar cane based, 1 oz currently on sale for $28.50 USD.

Deciem’s The Ordinary: plant based (specific plant(s) not specified), 30 ml for $12.90.

Haba Squalane Oil Conclusion

Is Haba Squalane oil a magic bullet ingredient for eczema? It hasn’t been an overnight cure, not for us. Eczema is a tricky fish though, and it could work for others.

Is it a cosmetically elegant facial oil? For sure, yes. All of the yes. Will I be buying it again? Most likely, and probably I’ll go for the larger size next time. Haba’s Japanese website says it’s also good for hair and safe for babies and children so if it’s in your budget, it’s a nice thing to have around for sure.

**This post may contain affiliate codes (the ones below), which don’t cost you anything extra, but could benefit yours truly.**

I Did The Thing: Ultra Premium Korean Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream, On The Cheap

If you’ve ever looked into Korean skincare, also known as k beauty, you have for sure heard of Amore Pacific’s ultra premium brand, Sulwhasoo. Sulwhasoo is the shit. Their ingredient decks are impeccable and amazing, the Ivy league of ingredient decks. Their products are also amazingly priced. And by amazingly, I mean ridiculously. This beautiful, magical beast here, the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewal Cream, costs a mere $220 on Sulwhasoo’s U.S. website. For 60 ml (about 2 oz.).

To quote a random Frenchman in Siem Reap, “ooh la la!”

I’m vain AF but, frankly, NO. I can’t justify that price tag personally,  no matter how much unicorn blood it contains. To be totally fair (and balanced!), if you can/do spend these kind of sums, more power to you. Seriously. I am not judging, but merely mentioning that $220 for one jar of goo is not in my own particular budget.

What’s a vain, product junkie to do when faced with this gold-plated, ginseng infused carrot dangled in front of their nose? Instagram knows — you buy a shit ton of samples on eBay and squirt them into your own container.

Ghetto? Probably. Cost effective? For sure.

My Sulwhasoo samples purchased from eBay, about to head to their new home.

Having never tried this cream, I didn’t really want to buy a full 60 ml in case it was a hot mess for me, so I ordered 20-1 ml packets from a Korean eBayer, for about $12 including shipping. I used my Japanese mailing address and had the packets in about a week, give or take.

The Math on decanting the Sulwhasoo ginseng cream

In case math isn’t your jam, I’ll break down why I decided to try this somewhat ghetto operation: Regular Sulwhasoo.com price from the states (this is not available locally to me in Japan): $3.67 per ml, or $73 for the 20 ml I ordered. I paid .60 per ml, saving me $61.

One down, just 19 more to go

I used an empty skin cream jar that I ran through the dishwasher prior to re-using. And yes, you will lose a small amount by nature of moving the product from the packet to the jar. For me, it ended up being my patch test, as I used the tiny bit that stuck to the packet opening on my neck and back of hands. Needless to say, my neck and the back of my hands were gloriously moisturized that day.

Results

Did I feel like a major weirdo? Honestly, yes. For me, it was worth it as a. I wanted to try this super amazing sounding product and b. $61. Also, I had been itching (not literally) to try ginseng as an active ingredient as I had read it was helpful for both acne and dark circles (yes I have both, and no, I’m not bitter. At all).

“Help me, I’m poor.”

So … the discerning reader may be wondering … WHY? Why would a cream cost $220? Why would this crazy-ass lady squeeze all these tiny-ass packets into a jar?

Beyond the reviews (because let’s be honest, people buying luxury products often get some placebo affect from the luxury pricepoint and packaging alone), the ingredient list of this Sulwhasoo cream is super intoxicatingly intriguing: three different forms of ginseng (five year old ginseng!) which is purported to be anti-aging and skin brightening, squalane (not only moisturizing, it also can help treat eczema and a host of other skin conditions), and a shit ton of other high quality anti-aging ingredients. It’s a real kitchen sink product, which has it’s up and downsides.

First Impressions on Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream

This is not a moisturizer for a very oily skin, at least at my first use and impression. I also, having combo skin, would not use this during the day, mostly for time constraints. It did fully absorb, but it took around a half hour before I didn’t feel greasy.

The scent smells exactly like ginseng, which if you aren’t familiar with the scent of ginseng, smells exactly like what putting raw burdock into your vitamix smells like. No? OK–It’s similar to fresh ginger root, but a bit mustier.

What’s amazing is, like many Asian food and beauty products, the shnozzberries taste like shnozzberries. What I mean is, even at a humble McDonald’s in Japan, a strawberry milkshake tastes like real, fresh strawberries (versus in the U.S. where it tastes like “artificial strawberry flavoring” and “Red 30” or whatever). So of course, when you ratchet up the price point from McD’s to a $220 face cream from Sulwhasoo, it’s definitely going to smell exactly like what is in it. Which shouldn’t be impressive, but being from the land of Red 30, it is.

And on my skin: so far, excellent hydration and short-term brightening effects, no breakouts or skin irritations (my skin runs a bit sensitive and very acne-prone). Definitely worth $12 and ten minutes so far. I’ll update as I use the product more.

FREE Shipping from e.l.f. Cosmetics!

e.l.f. Cosmetics are kind of hit and miss for me … I LOVE their brushes, and other things I have bought from the cosmetics line have been either great, meh, or in rare occasions the worst. Luckily, the prices pretty much negate being sad on the occasional dud I’ve ordered. And they have free shipping (usually with minimum order).

My favorite (and well used) e.l.f. kabuki brush

Please note this post contains affiliate links.

The downside to e.l.f. when you’re ordering is, well, their low, low prices. I can’t believe I’m even writing that, but stay with me. At least if you’re cheap like me and don’t like to pay shipping, it takes a shit ton of e.l.f. Cosmetics to reach the typical $50 minimum for free shipping. *The other downside, if you’re shipping to an APO/FPO address, is e.l.f. Cosmetics ships via slow boat. So you’ll see your order in about two months, give or take.*

If you’re willing to wait though, right now e.l.f. is offering free shipping on ANY order. Just need one brush? Still ships free!

This is a pretty rad deal if you had something in mind (but not $50 of something in mind).

What do you think about e.l.f. Cosmetics? Anything amazing that I should add to my cart?

Today only all orders ship free! Combinable with code: BOLDLIP. Valid 3/2 only.

My (Perhaps Completely Ridiculous) Joy Over Finding Crazy-Low Priced Kose Eye Masks at My Local Grocery Store (From My Most Favorite Sheet Mask Brand, No Less!)

I was at my local grocery store, a newish Kanehide (these are the green grocery stores with the two-bird logo, if you are just arriving to Japan) to pick up a couple things when what did my eyes see but BULK packs of Kose eye masks. Like, 32 serves (64 masks) per packet bulk. For less than 800 yen ($7 USD give or take). OMG. I tried to resist, I really did. But my cheapness had always bested my vanity over eye crinkles in the past on eye masks (why TF are they so damn expensive? They’re tiny!). Today was going to be different.

kose eye mask
OMG, why am I so excited?!

*please note there are affiliate links in this post*

My love for Kose sheet masks runs deep. I first tried them from a local pharmacy when I spotted the Cosme rating on the package (they’ve been ranked #1 in Japan for ten years according to the company), and the rating, price, and promise of hyaluronic acid goodness was too much to resist. They really are terrific, particularly for the price.

kose eye mask
Look at that glossy package … how could I leave it behind?!

So the Kose eye masks. It’s a bulk packet once you open the box, with a resealable sticker on top similar to makeup removing wipe packages. Inside, the set of eye masks come kind of folded together in sets of two. I’ll admit I was a bit of a butterfinger trying to get them peeled apart. They are a “skin” color (as much as bandaids are skin colored) and are very thin and pretty undetectable on the face.

kose eye mask
The resealable packet

The Fit

The fit for my particular eye shape was really excellent. The Kose eye mask fit right up alongside the bottom of my eyes with no gaps, and extended fully into my eye bag region as well as the crows feet part of the face.

The masks dried remarkably fast. I’ve never had a sheet mask dry anywhere close to that quick; I’d guesstimate about ten minutes and I took them off.

Results

The masks have retinol and other skin-friendly ingredients that take time to see long-term benefits. I can’t attest to the long term as I have used these for a whopping one day, but I will say that the short term, temporary effect is terrific. My fine lines right under the eye that have been in residence since I was 14 were almost completely softened.

If nothing else, these would be great before an event or other big thing. I’m hoping that long term, these will reap a longer-lasting result. I’ll report back later on whether my hopes and dreams have come true (or have been brutally crushed).

Active Ingredients

The Kose website states these contain a retinol derivative (stabilizer) — my assumption, particularly with their intended use next to the eye, is that it’s a retinoid (vs retinol), which would reduce the negative side effects that can come with retinol use (peeling, dryness, redness, etc.). I apologize, but my Japanese is nowhere near the level needed to be able to decipher further. If I find more, I will be sure to update.

The Kose eye masks also utilize CoQ10, collagen (five times the amount! Five times what, I have no idea), elastine, hyaluronic acid, NMF and glycerine.

Final Thoughts on Kose Eye Masks

Would I recommend? Hell yeah I would. You can’t beat the price of these Kose eye masks, and the short term effect alone is worth more than the sell price. If they deliver long term effects (with the ingredient deck, they should), they are a must-buy. So … we will see, but for now, I have zero regrets on this purchase.

 

 

DIY Turmeric Mask: I Risk Turning My Face Simpsons Yellow In Search Of Reduced Inflammation and Because Vain

Last night I risked having to public today with a complexion akin Marge Simpson using a DIY turmeric mask I read about on Instagram. Sounds smart, right?

Before you label me a vain fool (not that I claim otherwise), the recipe for the mask came from an Instagrammer I follow who has impeccable taste and beautiful skin (and happens to create some of the most beautiful flat lays in all of Instagramdom). She had glowing reviews (literally, her skin was glowing), as did her sister whom she got the recipe from.

So now that’s squared away, you may be wondering what the recipe is. You can check her IG for the OG recipe, but here’s what I did. I did essentially the same recipe, except I reduced the quantity in case, well, I stained everything yellow and didn’t want a lot of evidence left over.

DIY Turmeric Mask

3 teaspoons milk (I used whole)

2 teaspoons flour

1/2 teaspoon (ish) turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon (ish) raw honey

Whisk together, and apply in a thin layer using a brush (remember that turmeric stains like a bitch! Wear dark clothing, and be careful not to slop it around). If you apply too thick a layer, it could potentially stain your face (!!).

Voila! The finished concoction.

Here’s my little bowl o’ mask. Now came the time to apply. I applied a thin layer, per the instructions. It smells like, wait for it, turmeric. Which triggers some bittersweet memories for me, but I digress.

The original recipe says to let the mask sit for 20 minutes. Which was my full intent. Until I rinsed my little glam glow mask brush out and saw this:

OMG! Is it an omen?

My brush was stained Simpsons yellow! My brain wheels started turning and I started to sweat a bit, regretting my DIY decision almost immediately. “I regret everything!”

I decided to stop short of the twenty minute mark, instead washing off the mask once it had dried completely. Thanks I’m guessing to the flour, it dried very hard and required a washcloth to remove (built-in exfoliation, so much value!).

I am so fucking adorable.

When I got it washed off, I inspected my skin. I had some rogue evil cystic acne spots that had sprouted right in the middle of my cheek on one side, and they were quite red (likely from the washcloth). The rest of my skin did seem very bright and, thankfully, NOT yellow.

I did my first toner swipe with a cotton, like always after a wash off mask (usually I use just my fingers to pat them in but after a wash off mask I like to make sure all of the bits are indeed washed away).

I was a little alarmed … my face was not yellow BUT …

!! WTF !!

It took four rounds with different toners and cotton before I was satisfied I was not going to morph into an Oompa Loompa overnight because of residual turmeric on my face. In hindsight, I think I should have either swiped with micellar water or a done a real cleanse afterwards to make sure I had gotten everything cleaned up.

Results

I did the rest of my skincare routine after the mask. My face looked a bit glowier perhaps, and my active acne spots were, as previously mentioned, quite angry looking.

Today, my skin looked, apart from the acne spots … dare I say, good. It really was brighter. And the acne spots had calmed their asses down and were easily coverable by concealer (not the case the morning prior, when they were in full-on rage mode). AND most important: I was NOT yellow!

Will I do it again? Yes. Probably tonight. Even cutting the original recipe down I still have a good bit left in the bowl (which I covered and refrigerated because milk). I’m excited to see if my skin condition improves more with another treatment.

Why Turmeric?

So … what’s the point of this DIY turmeric mask? Well, to briefly cover each of the ingredients:

Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties, and an anti-oxidant. AKA excellent for acne prone people like me.

Honey: OMG what can’t honey do? Anti-bacterial, moisturizing, anti-oxidant, soothing and clarifying.

Milk: exfoliating (hello, lactic acid), soothing, and moisturizing.

So, what do you think? Would you try a DIY turmeric mask? If you’ve tried this or another DIY mask, let me know in the comments!