UPDATE: Japan 2017 Haul

I am back home from Japan! (*≧▽≦)ノシ)) It is the first ever solo trip for me and surprisingly I am quite well adjusted to being alone with my thoughts. The only time where I hated being alone was at Aoikigahara, where I was hiking in deafening silence for 2 hours. (O∆O)

First up, some shocks:

  • I didn’t manage to get any Chifure products ‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )‧º·˚ I had far less time than I thought for shopping, and Chifure isn’t popular enough to be found in every drugstore
  • Outside of the cities, drugstores aren’t so commonplace after all. At least, it is not easy to get to it with walking and public transport
  • Best part of the trip was getting in touch with my nose again, and trying out the the slightly more niche perfumes at Isetan Shinjuku as well as Ginza
  • Fell in love with the Comme des Garçons Incense series (Kyoto, in particular, is a masterpiece to my nose)
  • I stuck closely to my shopping list; I am proud of myself!!  Have a look below:

Old Faves

My original shopping list!

I bought all of them except the Chifures.

Japanese Toners

  • Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion – Found it in a limited edition bottle so I couldn’t resist getting one.
  • Hada Labo Premium Lotion – The supposed more hydrating and plumping version of the original SHA Lotion, I got it on the very last day when it is clear that I don’t have time to look around for my favourite version of hyaluronic acid – Chifure Essence (Review).
  • Kanebo Dew Lotion – The Dew Lotion was recommended by a Japanese colleague who has beautiful skin.
  • Kikumasamune Moist Lotion

Cleansers & Sunscreens

No surprises in this department at all, I have tried and loved all of them:

  • Refill for Kose Softymo Light Cleansing Oil
  • Refill for Perfect Watery Oil
  • Biore UV Nobi Nobi SPF50/PA+++
  • Biore Perfect Milk SPF50/PA+++

Serge Lutens

I was very intent on getting Sa Majesté la Rose or Chergui when I walked into the Shinjuku store, but I ended up falling in love with La fille de Berlin (“The Girl from Berlin”) upon the very first sniff. Amber, rose, musk and woods reminded me of Amouage Lyric, which is one of my ultimate favorite perfume, ever (I wrote about how much I loved it three years ago here). While Lyric is a lady, LFdB is half a wild beast and half a Shakespearean tragedy.

(On the other hand, the first hour of Féminité du Bois is a massive turnoff. It is in the same scrubber league as the first 30 minutes of A La Nuit. Both are mostly universally loved but I cannot stand them O.o)

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Brightening Skincare: Shiseido Haku Melanofocus 3D

Ladies and gents, I’ve realised that 2017 is the year of brightening skincare for me. I’m seriously going hard at all the sun spots. Today I’m going to review another product that I have given almost a year to test. (I popped it into the fridge immediately after getting it, and I forgot about it for a while フフフ)

Shiseido Haku Melanofocus 3D came to prominence around 10 years ago, and has gone through a number of reformulations. It claims to prevent the formation of melanin, improve uneven skin tone, fade freckles, acne marks and minimizes dark spots caused by sun exposure. It also claims to restore skin damage caused by UV, pollution or other environmental factors.

What is contains:

HAKU contains 2 active ingredients: 4MSK (potassium 4-methoxysalicylate) which is also used in other SHISEIDO brands. This includes SHISEIDO White Lucent range, Revital Whitening range and AUPRES range. It claims to work by diminishing the activity of enzyme tyrosinase to reduce melanin production. Another include Tranexamic acid is a well researched and effective skin brightening agent. (See the full ingredients list on CosDNA).

How I use it

I apply this day and night after cleansing and toning. It is a scentless, light cream gel which is thicker than most serums, but absorbs quickly into the skin. At night, I apply a second layer on my cheekbones where I have some sunspots and freckles.

It is a totally different breed from HABA White Lady (review) and SK-II GeneOptics Spot Essence (review), having different active ingredients, textures and all. But one thing is similar–you can barely notice any tingling or citrus smells commonly associated with brightening products. Also, the effect is barely noticeable in the short run, and most of the time they seem to do nothing at all. It is only with consistent use that one day, you wake up and notice glowing skin.

The one drawback that I notice is that it can get oily when used during the day, as the texture is thicker than most traditional serums. It has been relegated to only night time use.

Verdict

All in all, I am very pleased with the HAKU for overall brightening and to get glowing skin. But for spot fading, it has not done much at all (so far, nothing did. HAHA). At the hefty price tag of ~¥7,000 (US$70), I am not going to repurchase this anytime soon.

Japan 2017: Shopping List

I’m due to head to the land of sushi and amazing drugstores in a few hours! This is my fourth time in the country but I am still so excited 😀

I am intending to stay really focused on what I am buying this time, so no more of the massive haul like the last time in 2015. We’ll see if I stick to the plan in a few weeks.

Without further ado, this is what I am intending to haul this time:

Old Faves

  1. Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (Review)
  2. Refills for Chifure Essence (Review), Essence W, Essence VC (Reviews)
  3. Shiseido Fino Hair Mask (Review)
  4. Makeup products:
    • Yuagari Suppin Powder
    • Canmake Cream Cheek in Various Shades
    • Heroine Make Super Liner
    • Kate Lasting Eyebrows W BR-3 and Kanebo Media Brow DB, because I can’t leave the house without my brows done

New Tries

  1. Japanese lotions / toners: One of my favorite things to buy in Japan are their lotions, a slightly thicker toner that truly helps with my dehydration lines or lotions that perform specific function. Going for:
    • Labo Labo Super Keana Lotion
    • Chifure Skin Lotion – I’ve enjoyed almost everything that Chifure had to offer so far, so I’m happy to dig a little deeper and try other things that the brand has to offer
    • Chifure Deep Moisture Lotion
    • Hada Labo Gokujyun Oil-in-Lotion – The new variety of the Hada Labo lotions which contains squalene oil

Sunscreens and cleansing oils – These are truly products that I use every single day, even if at home. I live in a tropical climate where the sun is brutal for most of the year. If I’m gonna have my window shades open for the day, I will need sunscreens. Cleansing oils go hand in hand with sunscreens as they are the best way to remove the overall gunk from my face. Going for:

  • Kose Softymo Light Cleansing Oil, a light, scentless version that does the job well.
  • Perfect Watery Oil also another one that I have bought re-fills for, it is scented but for a change I do like the scent.

A Serge Lutens perfume – Ever since Serge Lutens has been completed by Shiseido, I guess it is much easier to access these perfumes in Asia. I have visited the Shiseido Serge Lutens store previously and found a good selection of their perfumes, but it was short of Féminité du Bois, so I bought nothing.

  • Going for: Chergui, Majestic Rose or Fleurs d’Oranger, but Féminité du Bois is so elusive that I’ve yet to scent it, and I want to try it so bad before settling on one

 

A Week of Repairing Skincare

When I just returned from my trip to Switzerland, MY HEART WAS FULL (´ ▽`).。o♡ but MY SKIN WAS TERRIBLE (⌣_⌣”).

Despite taking a small army of skincare items, plus protective gear like hats and sunglasses with me, I still suffered from redness (a combination of the cold, sunburns and windburns) and the feeling of skin dryness and tightening is almost constant. So when I returned, it was an uphill battle to get my skin back to the pink of health.

Here are a few things I did to get my skin to calm the F down.

The ceramidin mask is pretty awesom. It is also the most expensive mask that I have ever repurchased. 😦

1. Masking, masking, masking

A huge problem I had was the inability to retain moisture. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, there was an uncomfortable tautness in the skin. The answer to that, I found, was using a mask every single day. Be it regular glycerin-propylene glycol-hyaluronic acid type of mask or the high end ones that claims to do everything under the sun, it is the consistency that counts the most.

I have been enjoying the JAYJUN Baby Pure Shining MaskDr Morita Hyaluronic Acid Essence Face Mask, and my absolute fave by far DR. JART+ Ceramidin Mask (review), a mask full of watery and oily goodness.

As for the mornings, I have no time or patience for masks, but I was sure to use Chifure Essence (review) or any other hydrating essences.

Repairing Skincare 02

Some high end stuff in the mix!

2. Mositurise

Following the mask, I moisturise immediately. Without a layer of emollients as well as occlusives to keep the water in, I find that my skin returns to the previous state of uncomfortable tautness. In mere minutes I can feel my skin shriveling up like an old man, seriously.

I have been enjoying: HABA Squalane (review), which isn’t occlusive enough to replace a face cream, Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Intensive Care Cream (review) absolute fave, Hanyul Seo Ri Tae Skin Refining Cream (review) for the day time under sunscreen, and SK-II RNA Power Cream.

On the first few days, I’ve also worn the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (review) on top of the cream as yet another layer of occlusive.

I had to take a photo with these alliums (basically flowering onions, I think?) I love having fun with the styling of the photos on this blog XP

3. Careful with the AHAs

I packed a BHA along with me for the trip, because AHAs can lead to sun sensitivity and I don’t want it to be a problem, even though I touch up on skin screen almost religiously. But as I have normal to dry skin, AHAs always made a lot more difference to my skin than BHAs ever did, so I was happy to be back home and reunited with the Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power Liquid.

The thing is, AHAs have kinda stung for my entire life. Even after 5 years of regularly using AHAs, it hasn’t gotten any better and it is something that I’ve come to accept and anticipate with any AHA usage. With my skin in a highly sensitised state, I only applied the AHA once in the week, and left it at that. Gradually, it went back to 3 times a week, which is how I normally use it.

Really short routine, but this is exactly what I used for the first 2 nights when my skin was at my worst.

4. Bring out all the anti-oxidants

I think everybody has a favourite serum for, you know, general anti-aging. If not, I wish you loads of luck and you can click through my Serums and Skin Treatment reviews for ideas. For me, my one true love has to be Estée Lauder ANR, which is my oldest cosmetic love. I don’t exactly know what is working for me, maybe it is the Vitamin A, but I always have a 100ml on hand, even though most of the time I’m trying out other serums. But during this period, I have turned to those that have consistently worked well for me.

Serums that I’m using now: Estée Lauder ANR and Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (review). If you have dabbled in skincare for a while now you’d have your own faves too, just make sure you stick real close to those tried and tested formulas, rather than popping yet another serum that you’ve never tried open.

What I Used To Do

I’ve actually had loads of experience with dryness and sensitivity, and I’ve mostly stuck to the routine.

Back in 2014, I’ve tried a hell lot more, as seen in my post, A State of Emergency. Some things include:

  • Manuka honey mask – which I most commonly use when I have both sensitive skin and pimples, I cannot vouch for its efficacy, but it is a delicious mask 😉
  • Manuka honey + cinnamon mask – Again, delicious mask, does it do anything at all? ><
  • EPO, flaxseed oil, vitamin supplements – Nope, haven’t done any supplements in a while now, but I’m a lot healthier than I was back in 2014 (exercise & eating well. I’m still not getting enough sleep).

You can go to my old post and have a laugh (but seriously its not TOO bad) =.=

Another Winner: DR. JART+ Ceramidin Mask

I hardly do single sheet mask reviews, because most of the time sheet masks have the fairly standard formulas of propylene glycol, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and unless the packaging is exceptional, like these L’Herboflore masks from 2014, masks are products that I’m just plain lazy to review.

However, I’ve met a mask that I love so much that it deserves a separate post by itself.🙆🏻

DR. JART+ Ceramidin™ Skin-Friendly Nanoskin Sheet Mask (what a mouthful) is based on the ingredient ceramide, which I talked about in detail here, as part of my review of Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules.

Ingredients List

The key ingredient, ceramide 3 i.e. ceramide NP is quite far down in the ingredients list, but there is a healthy list of oils as well.

Water, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Methylpropanediol, Dipropylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trehalose, Betaine, Erythritol, Glyceryl Stearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Ceramide NP, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tocopherol, Bixa Orellana Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Algae Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Dextrin, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tromethamine, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Caramel, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol.

To summarise, the interesting ingredients are as follows:
  • Ceramide: Ceramide NP
  • Moisturisers: Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trehalose
  • Oils: Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Bixa Orellana Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil,
  • Other Emollients: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Palmitic Acid

You can obviously see why I like it, with normal to dehydrated skin type, I’m all about those comforting emollients in skincare. Prior to this mask, I was only able to get the oils from creams, facial oils and sleeping packs, but with the Ceramidin Mask, it is a whole new world 😀

How It Fared

The texture of the serum is like a creamy, thick coconut cream. Aside from the artificial scent, it looks like it belong in a soup or a laksa.

Maybe because the mask it heavy on oils, it lasted a long time, like 30 to 40 minutes. Even when I removed it, I squeezed out the remaining serum and rubbed it all over my arms. I hardly do that with other masks. Its so comforting.

So when you first remove the mask, there will be plenty of the white coconut cream still sticking to your face, and you may freak yourself out because you look like a ghost from the Asian horror films. But don’t worry, massage the rest of the serum it, or bring it down to your neck, whatever. When the serum is gone you will find your face to be GLOWING. Like a light bulb. And your face will feel SO SMOOTH like a baby’s butt. 😉

Tread Carefully If…

You don’t handle oils well. Seriously, just get 1 mask to try out, don’t buy a bloody box. Wear it when you’re prepared to stay at home for the next day or two, NEVER try a new product before your first date. With so much oils, I can see it ending badly.

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask

I actually wrote this post in April this year 0__0 But I conveniently forgot to post it in between work and exams (hurhur yes I had no life for the whole month of April / May this year).

But here we go!

My relationship with K beauty is weird. Sometimes I think they’re the best thing that happened (aside from newborn kittens). Other times I find that there too many weird shit going into skincare that shouldn’t really belong there.

cosrx-rice-mask-01

The COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask is, thankfully, free of ingredients like animal dairy, snake venom and gold flakes. In fact, its ingredients list is really short and efficient (apparently, all of its skincare items have efficient ingredients lists).

Ingredients

I will direct you to the trusty CosDNA database for the full list.

What it claims to do

The product claims to to brighten, nourish, and hydrate overnight. Personally, I don’t expect much brightening effect, because while rice has traditionally been used in various parts of Asia for brightening, it is not a well researched cosmetics ingredient, so I will stick to the various forms of vitamin C for that.

cosrx-rice-mask-02

The product does not come with a spatula, reuse the free spatula from your other products if you don’t like to dig your fingers into the product directly

cosrx-rice-mask-03

This is the Hanyul spatula ❤ So ergonomic and elegant!

How I incorporate in my routine

The mask comes in a light gel-cream and melts easily into the skin without heaviness. A simplified night routine looks like this:

Mizon AHA/BHA Toner (Exfoliant) > Rhoto Melano CC (Vitamin C) > Sheet Mask > COSRX Night Mask

It is one of the simplest routines that I’ve had in my adult life, but it works really well. By morning, the dehydration lines on my forehead will be gone and my skin feels nourished and plump. (But I never kid myself because the lines will return amidst the grind of daily life).

Most of the effect I attribute to Mizon and Rhoto Melano CC, which I declare to be potential HG products. But COSRX is a simple and uncomplicated mask that compliments these star products. It only has one job, and it does the job really well.

I also find myself appreciating it as a temporary, “in-between” moisturizer. Essentially, when I want to remove the sunscreen and make up, but there is still a few more hours before I am due to take a shower and go all out on the skincare routine, I generally do my full double cleansing and toning routine, and apply a layer of sleep mask. Many sleep packs are too heavy duty to be used during the day time (read: Hanyul Optimizing Mask), the COSRX is light-weight and perfect for a few hours of moisture.

Verdict

Overall, I find the COSRX very similar to the Laneige Water Sleeping Pack, with the added benefit of no fragrance as well as being much more affordable. It doesn’t come close to the revitalizing effect of the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (review), but then again, there are days where you just want to KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”).

Aug/Sep 2017 Empties and Repurchases

Ladies and gents (any out there)! I took a 2 week holiday in the Alps and now that I’m back, I’m paying for it by overtime everyday (๑′°︿°๑). Things have been crazy overwhelming this year with so much additional responsibilities and work load.

So this isn’t actually an update at all, more like a round up of what’s going on in terms of skincare for myself!


Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Intensive Care Cream (Review)

EMPTIED AND REPURCHASED! I cannot do without this buttery goodness. No matter how much I flirt around with the other ladies, imma still head home for my wifey BHG Cream.

Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream (Review)

EMPTIED. After my initial review, I’m still not impressed. Sometimes we (consumers) think that if something is not working for us, it is somehow our fault, like:

  • We didn’t use it consistently
  • We applied too much / too little
  • We only used one jar and didn’t give the product enough time to prove itself

Please, if its good it should prove itself with the first use. For me BoJ cream embodies the case of a decent ingredients list but mediocre performance. Bye! 🙂

SKIN&LAB Dr. Color Effect Red Serum

EMPTIED. I bought it as certain sites / youtubers claimed that it is a dupe for Estée Lauder ANR (review), which is my longest cosmetic love. Seriously, so much of my money went to Estée Lauder over the years I can probably buy a hundred Melano CC Serums.

I don’t know what I feel about this serum… it definitely isn’t a dupe for the ANR. It doesn’t contain any skincare triggers, but aside from hydration, it did little for my skin. It has a healthy mix of plant extracts which makes the serum smell great, but hasn’t proven themselves otherwise.

I will not be repurchasing this, I’ll save the money in the piggy bank for the real thing… Which is exactly what i did next (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و

Estee Lauder ANR (Review)

EMPTIED AND REPURCHASED. I couldn’t resist as I was passing through Duty Free on my way home so I had to do it. This is my fifth 100ml bottle.