Lately, I’ve been really, really into sake products and after many late nights browsing google-translated Japanese shopping sites pondering where this obsession comes from, finally concluded I have a weird nostalgic attachment to how sake smells.
More so than any other month, Autumn is the season for nostalgia and so it feels like an appropriate time to talk about my candidate for the ultimate sake based product along with a sister project from the same brand!
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Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Milk // 蔵元美人白米発酵乳液 and Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Lotion // 蔵元美人白米発酵とろみ化粧水
Country of Origin
Japan. Kuramoto Bijin is the skincare line produced by the sake brewery, Tonoike Shuzouten!
Where does it fit in your routine?
The milk is billed as an all-in-one product but on my dry skin, it’s insufficient as a standalone moisturizer. I apply after my serum step but before my final moisturizer step. The lotion I use earlier in my routine as a toner. After cleansing and applying first essences and lighter toners but before serums.
Size and Price
The milk is available on Amazon and Ebay. If you feel comfortable using a forwarding or shopping service (I use Blackship. They are super easy to use and have terrific customer service) it is also available on Amazon JP or straight from Kuramoto Bijin’s website. The only place I have seen the lotion available is on Kuramoto Bijin’s site.
Both the lotion and milk come in hefty, frosted glass bottles. The lotion comes in a cylindrical bottle that tapers towards the top. The milk comes in a sake shaped bottle. Both the lotion and milk are dispensed through a hole on the top of the bottle. I find myself dispensing the product by shaking at an angle, the same way I dispense ketchup from glass bottles that aren’t squeezable.
Mild, sweet sake scent. As a kid, my mom used to make rice wine that would fill our kitchen with the scent of sake so for me, the fragrance of sake is akin to that of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Color and texture
This is where the lotion and milk start to differ. While the milk is milky, the lotion is more transparent. Also, although the milk is slightly more rich than the lotion, it’s actually more fluid. The lotion has more of a gel-like texture. Texturally, I strongly prefer the texture of the milk. Gels just never really absorb properly into my skin and this lotion leaves a teensy, tiny amount of tackiness to my skin.
- RICE FERMENT FILTRATE (SAKE)
Sake is a really great brightening ingredient. It contains bioactive components ethyl alpha-D-glucoside(alpha-EG) and alpha-D-glucosylglycerol (GG) which inhibits melanin production, suppresses epidermal barrier disruption by UVB irradiation, improves the functions of the stratum corneum, decreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and increases facial skin elasticity. It also contains kojic acid, which has been shown to significantly reverse enhanced pigmentation of skin explants exposed to UV light (tanning), reduce hyperpigmentation from melasma, and even prevent wrinkling when applied to skin prior to UV irradiation.
- Rice Bran Ingredients: EXTRACT, ORYZANOL, SPHINGOGLYCOLIPID, & OIL
Bran is the brown, outer, nutritious layer of rice. It is high in phytochemicals and formulations containing semi-purified rice bran extract has been shown to enhance hydration, lighten skin, improve skin thickness and elasticity. In addition, various phenyl compounds found in the roots of rice, trans-p-coumaric acid methyl ester and N-(trans-cinnamoyl)tryptamine, have been shown to have melanin inhibiting abilities and soaking skin in rice starch has been demonstrated to improve the healing capacity of damaged skin. Rice bran oil contains several bioactive compounds including ferulic acid, y-oryzanol, and phytic acid, which have potent antioxidant properties.
-Other Noteworthy Ingredients————-
- Humectants: The milk contains glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and glycosyl trehalose. The lotion utilizes glycerin as well but also contains maltitol and sorbitol as humectants
- Botanical extracts: The milk contains extracts from various flowers (Geranium Robertianum, Saxifraga Sarmentosa, Geranium Thunbergii) that are likely in smaller concentrations but may provide general antioxidant benefits. The lotion contains extracts from rice, job’s tears, perilla ocymoides leaf, and artemisia capillaris flower.
- Squalane (milk only)
- Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (lotion only)
Hakumai Ferment Milk
水、BG、グリセリン、コメ発酵液、ベンチレングリコール、酒粕エキス、コメヌカエキス、コメヌカスフィンゴ糖脂質、コメヌカ油、ヒアルロン酸Na、スクワラン、オリザノール、グリコシルトレハロース、加水分解水添デンプン、ヒメフウロエキス、ユキノシタエキス、ゲンショウコエキス、水添レシチン、リゾレシチン、トコフェロール、ポリソルベート60、イソステアリン酸ソルビタン、メチルグルセス-10、(アクリル酸ヒドロキシエチル/アクリロイルジメチルタウリンNa)コポリマー、フェノキシエタノール // Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Pentylene Glycol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rice Bran Sphingoglycolipid, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Squalane, Oryzanol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Geranium Robertianum Extract, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Geranium Thunbergii Extract (translated from ゲンノショウコエキス), Hydrogenated Lecithin, Lysolecithin, Tocopherol, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isosterate, Methyl Gluceth-10, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol
Hakumai Ferment Lotion
水、エタノール、 グリセリン、ペンチレングリコール、BG、コメ発酵液、マルチトール、ソルビトール、酒粕エキス、コメヌカエキス、コメヌカスフィンゴ糖脂質、コメヌカ油、オリザノール、グリチルリチン酸2K、加水分解ヒアルロン酸アルキル (C12-13) グリセリル、ヨクイニンエキス、シソ葉エキス、カワラヨモギエキス、ポリクオタニウム-51、PCA – Na、乳酸Na、レシチン、水添レシチン、リゾレシチン、クエン酸、クエン酸Na、トリ (カプリル酸/カプリン酸) グリセリル、オレイン酸ポリグリセリル-10、カルボマー、PEG – 60 水添ヒマシ油、水酸化Na、フェノキシエタノール // Water, Alcohol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Rice Ferment Filtrate (Sake), Maltitol, Sorbitol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lees Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rice Bran Sphingoglycolipid, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Oryzanol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, C12-13 Alkyl Glyceryl Hydrolyzed Hyaluronate, Job’s Tears (Coix Lacryma-Jobi) Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Artemisia Capillaris Flower Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Lecithin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Lysolecithin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Carbomer, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol
Cosdna identifies Butylene Glycol (1), Squalane (1), and Tocopherol (2) as acne triggers and Tocopherol (2) as a potential irritant in the milk.
Cosdna identifies Butylene Glycol (1) as an acne trigger and Carbomer (1) as a potential irritant in the lotion.
The things I like about the Hakumai Ferment Lotion are that it is hydrating, cooling, soothing, and particularly pleasant to use during hot summer days (keeping it in the fridge helps). It also smells amazing if you like the scent of sake, which I do.
I started using the lotion after I was already thoroughly infatuated with the milk, so my expectations were probably impossibly high from the start which isn’t really fair. That said, I ran into some issues immediately. On good skin days, the lotion made my skin look more luminous and generally better. On bad skin days, this lotion would sting and cause some momentary redness to my skin. My guess is this is due to the alcohol content. Also, depending on what products I apply or don’t apply before this lotion, it would sometimes leave a tackiness to my skin after it dried. This is an issue I have with 90% of gel products and I have no idea why (probably some combination of my dry skin + dry climate I live in) so if your skin doesn’t usually have a problem with gels, you might not experience that issue.
On the other hand, I literally have nothing to say about the Hakumai Ferment Milk, expect perhaps that the packaging isn’t super practical, but that’s something I’m more than willing to overlook because, well, just look at the bottle! It’s shaped like a sake bottle!
On the skin, it absorbs like a dream. It is also richer and more emollient than you would expect, given the fluid and lightweight texture. It leaves my skin looking plump and feeling nourished.
As mentioned, on my dry skin, it is not moisturizing enough to use this as a standalone moisturizer, but the all-in-one claims hold up pretty well otherwise. If I’m in a rush, I can slap this milk on without using my usual arsenal of essences, toners, and serums and can get through the day without feeling like my skin is lacking too much. Makeup, moisturizer, and sunscreen all go over this milk beautifully so long as you give it half a minute to sink in, and did I mention it smells amazing?
Putting a sake-based product in a sake bottle could have been gimmicky and childish, but Kuramoto Bijin produced something that looks rather elegant. This milk occupies the very narrow space where skincare products are both wonderfully functional but also fun. For this reason, I adore this product.
Hakumai Ferment Lotion Overall Score: 3/5
Hakumai Ferment Milk Overall Score: 5/5