Shopping List! Your Guide to Buying Collagen Supplements (Collagen Week Part 2)

Welcome back to collagen week … the week that’s like Shark Week … except no shark attacks, or big budget (or any budget). Earlier in the week we talked about the sources of collagen, types of it, and how much you should be aiming for in a day. Today is way more exciting though. We are going to be comparing the actual products on the shelves in Japan (pictures included!) so you know what you’re looking at when you’re shopping and can make an informed decision on which product is right for your needs.

First, before you set off shopping, let’s briefly talk about what all you might find in a can of collagen (besides, well, collagen).

  • Hyaluronic Acid: This is a humectant (it is very useful and ubiquitous in topical skincare) and is naturally present in the body as a joint cushion and lubricant. While it works well topically, I haven’t seen solid proof (yet) that as a supplement it helps either arthritis or skin. Side note, hyaluronic acid produced for medicine generally comes from rooster combs, i.e. it is not a vegan product (though if you’re shopping for collagen, you aren’t shopping vegan anyway, are you?). It can also be made by bacteria in a lab.
  • Placenta: You know what a placenta is (right?!), and this extract is generally sourced from pigs for collagen products (in the guide, you may see products where the collagen is sourced from fish, but has a placenta extract as well; that comes from pigs). Placentas are nutrient dense and include stem cells, estrogen, iron, B6 and are, in crunchier circles at least, thought to help treat and/or prevent post partum depression in women. You may have some ick factor from the thought of using this ingredient, but there is some evidence now showing reduction of transdermal water loss and UVB-induced wrinkle formation, lowered levels of the collagen degrading mRNA, and improved wound healing.
  • Ceramides: these are a natural lipid found in the body, and they help keep the skin hydrated. Like collagen, your body produces less and less as you age. This is a good ingredient to find in your topical skincare products, but I haven’t (yet) seen substantial evidence that oral supplementation is beneficial.
  • Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10: at risk of sounding like a broken record, CoQ10 is an antioxidant found naturally in your body, and one your body produces less and less of as you age. Primarily it’s in the outer layers of your skin and helps protect deeper layers of your skin from UVA. This ingredient is also widely found in topical skincare products (and has been heavily researched in this application). Evidence for supplementation with CoQ10 is promising, showing results of both increased levels of CoQ10 within the skin than topical applications alone (and perhaps even better than topical applications), and reduction of wrinkles that are already present.

You will see when looking through the shopping guide that different products will offer many more “bonus” actives than what I’ve mentioned here. Everything from glucosamine to probiotics to amino acids to antioxidants may be found in a collagen supplement. I’ve tried to line out what I can so you can pick and choose to find the best fit for you.

Additionally, you may see the words “low molecular weight” (or LMW) noted for both collagen and hyaluronic acid. This means the molecules are smaller, so potentially more readily absorbed (and used) by the body. You will see this mentioned in topical skincare particularly, as it’s thought that molecules that are too large will not be absorbed by the skin (Hada Labo’s premium line of hyaluronic acid lotion is a good example: it promises five different molecular weights of HA, in the hopes that it will be absorbed better than one).

So anyway … on to the shopping list! You should be able to find these at most any drugstore (Drugstore Mori, Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Drugstore 11, Don Quixote and even grocery and convenience stores), though you will likely not find every brand here at every store. Amazon.jp is another good source for collagen. Prices are what I personally found at a variety of sources, but keep in mind that they will vary slightly between stores, depending on the shop and any sale prices they may be offering.

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So that’s it! I hope this helps you select a collagen or two to try out. If you already use a collagen supplement, which one do you use?

If you’re stateside, I was able to find most of the collagen supplements listed above on amazon. You will notice that some of the prices are very close to what you would pay in Japan (like Shiseido’s The Collagen) and others will be noticeably higher. If you shop through these links, be aware they are affiliate links (you won’t pay extra, but I’ll earn a small commission).

Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen

This isn’t this blog’s first foray into collagen: I’ve written before about the wonders of this … ingredient? Superfood? Meat By-Product? Molecular structure? I don’t know what to call it, but if you aren’t supplementing with it yet, one way or the other, you might want to consider it. It’s thought to increase skin’s moisture level and even relax wrinkles (and promising studies have been published showing it boosts your body’s collagen-making ability, which decreases with age).  Continue reading “Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen”

Fall Picks: Best of Nordstrom Women’s Fashion ’17 (if you’re uber casual/lazy AF)

Perfect for Fall: Zella Hatha Cardigan, $69.

If you don’t have something similar to this yet, why not? That’s what I’m asking myself too. Super versatile; you can wear it almost anywhere. Lightweight enough for hot climates in the fall or layering in colder ones.


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Perfect for Fall: BP Moto leggings, $39.

Are these more esspensive than your regular pair of plain leggings? Probably, unless you’re shopping from a fancy athleisure shop like Athleta or Lululemon. But your run-of-the-mill LuLaRoe definitely doesn’t have these rad details. These come in black, too.

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Continue reading “Fall Picks: Best of Nordstrom Women’s Fashion ’17 (if you’re uber casual/lazy AF)”

Water Blend Foundation Showdown: Comparing Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude to the Rest of the Market

Recently, my local exchange had Estee Lauder’s latest addition to their extensive Double Wear foundation line on sale … a crazy sale, so good it seemed too good to be true (it was, sort of; it was a misprint I hear, but they honored it). It’s a new water blend foundation: the ridiculously long named Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup SPF 30. I had been wanting to try it after the rave reviews I had been seeing, and the price meant I couldn’t say no (I tried, lovely husband, I really did … I waited until the last day of the sale to pick it up. Almost made it).

Note: some links are affiliate links, which means I could earn a small commission if you purchase through them … but you will not pay anything extra.

It’s an interesting market, water blend foundations … and an interesting addition to the Double Wear stable, as the OG Double Wear is known for it’s matte finish, full coverage, last all day through Okinawan heat and humidity-ness. While this foundation is super popular, I personally do not like OG Double Wear at all; it looks like thick, chalky cake face at it’s worst on me. Not cute. But water blend foundations are a different animal entirely. Literally formulated with more water than anything, they offer a light, totally skin like finish … they aren’t going to hide cystic acne or raccoon eyes after an all-nighter, but they will even out your skin tone, balance redness, and make you look like you. But better. That’s the claim anyway, I think you look amazing without it (do I sound like your mom?).

The OG to this market is the cult classic MAC Face and Body. With 13 shades (and a white mixer shade available in the large size to pros), it is also the most economical choice at $29 for 50 ml or a honkin’ 120 ml bottle for $38. The coverage is extremely light, but it is also very buildable, with some people using several layers when they are looking for a more medium plus level of coverage. The shade range is a little bit of a bummer if you are fair or deep in complexion as you will likely be excluded from the Face and Body party (without mixing in something else anyway).

Make Up For Ever used to sell a foundation also called (not-so-creatively) Face and Body, but recently replaced it with Water Blend. This new foundation has been blasted by a few well-known You Tubers recently for being … well … not much more than water (the company markets it as a waterproof formula that is made of 80% water). $43 will get you 50 ml, and it comes in 20 shades (MUFE has long been very inclusive for all skin tones). I personally LOVE this foundation (I don’t like makeup-ey looking skin too much for myself), but yes, it is very, very sheer. I call it my “why bother” foundation.

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Make Up For Ever Water Blend, or my affectionately-dubbed “why bother” foundation

Even more sheer than MAC Face and Body, it feels nearly undetectable on the skin, looks undetectable, and just evens out redness for me very well. It’s buildable too, if you have areas that have a little more pigmentation you would like to not hang out. I get a lot more coverage using it over my Shiseido Ibuki holy grail primer, so if you want a little more oomph, that’s a good option. Buyer beware though … this is a true watery foundation, and it will not play nice with super siliconey primers like NYX Angel Veil, Smashbox, etc. AT ALL. Don’t do it.

So enter Estee Lauder’s new kid on the block, the Nude Water Fresh blah-blah-blah (I hope you read that in Adam Sandler’s Dracula voice like I said it in my head when I typed it).

What this foundation has in common with its water blend sisters: it’s practically undetectable on the skin, and feels very lightweight. What it doesn’t share: it offers significantly more coverage than MAC and MUFE. All three, for me, have a demi matte, also very skin-like finish to them (not too dewy, not too matte … juuuuuuuust right). It comes in just 12 shades, but the top and bottom end of the spectrum go a good bit farther than MAC’s Face and Body do (and the upside to a very sheer formulation means you can get away with less of an exact color match … though Estee Lauder in my opinion could do a lot better). $42 will get you 30 ml (that’s the standard size for a foundation, but here in water blend land, this one is by far the most expensive per ml of the bunch). It also comes in Estee Lauder’s stupid, cheap-ass (but pretty) frosted glass bottle without a pump. Gross. Seriously, at this price point (at any really, can we be hygienic here, people), this shit should have a pump.

So, which do I like best? Hmmmm. Well, I’m cheap, so if I could wear MAC Face and Body that might be my choice … but they don’t go light enough for me so pfbbbbb to you, MAC. Out of MUFE and EL … I think more people will like the EL foundation. It really is fantastic, and offers a lot of coverage without looking or feeling like makeup. If you have an event, I definitely would go with this over the MUFE one. But … I might be in the minority, but I really love the Make Up For Ever Water Blend. It perfectly matches my skintone (my actual skintone, MUFE is very good at looking at real undertones that people have … with most lines, I have to just buy the lightest and hope for the best … this was not the lightest in the range even, and I had a couple different (realistic) undertones to pick from, not just pepto bismol mixed with white out or mustard mixed with white out options).

I hope this was helpful and you can narrow down the field to a water blend foundation that will work well for you and your skin type and tone. If you’ve tried any foundations from this segment, what did you think?

Oil Cleanser Showdown: $4 Softymo vs. $10 DHC

When I started using an oil cleanser (and double cleansing), I nosed in gently with a very budget friendly choice, Softymo DEEP. At about 400 yen for 230 ml and readily accessible here in Japan (pretty much every konbini, supermarket and drugstore carries it), it seemed like a safe bet. It worked amazingly. So amazingly, that I never branched out into the middle or luxury sections of the oil cleanser market.

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If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Continue reading “Oil Cleanser Showdown: $4 Softymo vs. $10 DHC”