Tag Archives: japanese skincare


Sakura Kokoro Beauty Essence Review

There is no shortage of Asian beauty products with really, really long names and so it’s nice to find a product called something a little simpler! This serum is simply called “Beauty Essence” and is what we’re looking at today. Let’s take a look!

Product Name
Sakura Kokoro Beauty Essence  Continue reading


Ippin -New Japanese E-Commerce Site- Introduction and Window Shopping

When Ippin reached out to me back in November, I was super stoked for a few reasons. For example,

  • Their selection of products looked really interesting. They have FlowFushi, Kate, Acseine, which are all brands I recognize from the Cosme best-of lists but have never tried
  • Their prices seemed very competitive for the few items I was familiar with. For example,  they have the Canmake stay on balm rouges with no markup AND with free shipping
  • They use Paypal

But most of all I was excited to have another player trying to make Japanese skincare and makeup accessible abroad. While Korean beauty products have gone very mainstream in the past couple of years, Japanese products still have a ways to go towards achieving mass accessibility.


Continue reading


Lululun Face Mask Rich Moisture Type 32 Sheets Review

Having a skincare blog and instagram changes the way I consume skincare. If I were using sheet masks in a vacuum, I’d probably never even think of dropping $7 on a single sheet mask, regardless of how much I like the artwork, but being able to share (and preserve?) that artwork on Instagram somehow makes all the difference in the world.

Bulk packaged sheet masks, on the other hand, are about as Instagram-friendly as a box of tissues but they are functional and economical, which might be more important priorities for someone less invested in social media. Of the bulk-packaged masks I’ve tried so far, these ones from LuLuLun are by far the nicest. Let’s take a look: Continue reading


Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel Enrich-Lift-Ex Review

Seeing “Dr.” in the name of a skincare product usually kills any interest I have in it. Not only is the product guaranteed to lack any skincaretainment value but I also don’t like it when brands pander to “serious skincare” seekers. There have been two exceptions to this rule: Dr. Jart, which pretty consistently churns out products that I like, and Dr.Ci:Labo, who’s MO of throwing every buzzy skin ingredient in their products makes me willing to overlook their name and their love of abusing punctuation.

Today we are going to look at one of their more popular products, the Aqua-Collagen-Gel Enrich-Lift-EX.

Product Name
Dr.Ci:Labo Aqua-Collagen-Gel Enrich-Lift-EX / ドクターシーラボ アクアコラーゲンゲルエンリッチリフトEX  Continue reading


Keshimin Sealing Milk Review

There are certain products, whether due to packaging, branding, or hype, generate a lot of excitement. This is not one of those. However, I have a lot of lotions. If you check my empties posts, you’ll notice I rarely finish any, yet this bottle is nearly empty and I’m a little sad to see it go. I guess this means I liked using this a lot more than I’ve been conscious of and so I felt compelled to properly review it.

Product Name
The Japanese name is 薬用ケシミン密封乳液. I’ve seen it referred to as Keshimin Sealing Milk and Milky Lotion.  Continue reading

Astalift Cleansing Oil review

Astalift Cleansing Oil Review

For the longest time, all I wanted was a cleansing oil that worked. Something that removed all my makeup, didn’t leave any residue on my face, and didn’t break me out. After a comically long struggle, I found one, and I still think it’s the best no-nonsense, super functional, great value, oil cleanser out there.


But as they say, if you give your mouse a cookie, she’s going to ask for an even fancier oil cleanser that smells like rose red tea and has the same golden orange color as salmon caviar, which is what this cleanser is.

Product Name
Fujifilm Astalift Cleansing Oil Continue reading

fancl cleansing oil earth recipe waterful sun gel glossier milky jelly cleanser

August & September Empties

My skin changes drastically when Autumn and Winter roll around, so I have been frantically trying to finish up some of my items that are better suited for summer. Here are my empties from September and October!

Empties I Would Repurchase / Have Repurchased


Benton Honest TT MistFull review here. This is my third tube of this mist and I already have 3 backups in my stash. I spray it at least twice a day on the around my nose and mouth, which is very prone to redness. It’s really good at calming and preventing irritation for me. Continue reading

mochitto awadate irazu face wash

Mochitto Mochi Mochi Awadate-Irazu Face Wash Without Bubbling Review

A few years ago, I worked in a building that had a newly open self-serve frozen yogurt shop on its ground floor. One of my coworkers and I figured out quickly that while the yogurt itself was terrible, there were other benefits to be had and so, in the afternoon, two or three times a week, we would make our way to the shop. She would get a cup and fill up with gummy bears and I would do the same but with mochi and cheesecake chunks.

The moral of that story is I freaking LOVE mochi. I love mochi filled with azuki beans, I love mochi covered in teriyaki sauce, I love mochi filled with ice cream, and baked mochi by itself!


Taken at Mochi Cream in Torrance, aka my main mochi dealer. I’m partial to the Raspberry Mille Feuille flavor, but honestly they are all magical.

So naturally, I had to have this mochi mochi cleanser the minute I laid my eyes on it. Luckily, it’s actually a really good cleanser because of course it is! Mochi would never fail me like that. All hail mochi! Continue reading


Muji Sensitive Skin Cleansing Oil

I used to live with a girl who was manically obsessed with cleansiness and organization and who, following a trip to Italy, came back with a suitcase full of not only cashmere tights and Schoko-Bons, but also pens, containers, and storage tools she had purchased from a “Japanese, brand-less store” called Muji. This was my first introduction to Muji, a few years before Muji opened their first US flagship store in SF, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.


Muji is what I want to be when I grow up. I’m totally convinced that by buying their functional yet minimalist goodies, I will somehow turn into someone who has all her shit together in the most tasteful manner. Yet, it’s taken me years to finally give their skincare line I try. I guess because my skin is so problematic, I was worried Muji’s products would prove ill-suited for my skin, and I’d have to face the fact that Muji is less perfect than I had built it up to be in my head.

A few months ago, I spotted this cleansing oil while shopping for furniture, considered how unhappy I was with the cleanser I was then using, and figured why not? The rest is, as they say, history.

At a Glance

Size: 200ML, but also available in travel size (50ml) and extra large (400ml)
Price: $15.50 at Muji stores and online.
Packaging: Transparent, plastic pump bottle
Fragrance: Smells like olive oil
Color: Pale yellow
Texture: Thick, viscous oil

UPDATE: There are multiple versions of the sensitive skin cleansing oil and Muji makes it extremely difficult and confusing to figure out which is which. Read more here.
Acne Triggers & Irritants
: Olive oil (2), Octyl Palmitate (4), Sorbitan Oleate (3), Tocopherol (2), and Butylene Glycol (1) flagged as acne triggers; Octyl Palmitate (1) and Tocopherol (2) are potential irritants
Full Ingredients: Olive Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polysorbate, Sorbitan Oleate, Water, Pentylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Purslane (Portulaca Olearcea) Extract

Ingredients Overview

Somewhat unfortunately, this cleansing oil is a great example of how ingredients are only one variable in how well (or poorly) a product performs. At first glance, there are two major issues with the ingredients of this oil.

First, this cleansing oil contains quite a few acne triggers as identified by cosdna. Secondly, the main ingredient is olive oil, which despite the fact that it is all natural and edible, has somewhat of a challenged reputation in skincare. In particular, this study comparing the topical effects of olive oil and sunflower oil demonstrate that 4 weeks of applying olive oil topically caused a significant reduction in stratum corneum integrity and induced mild erythema in volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis.

And so, at first glance, we seem to have an oil that may cause/exacerbate acne and/or damage skin’s natural barrier. Yet, as someone with super dry, acneic, easily inflammed, and occassionally sensitive skin, I have not experienced any issues with this oil on either the acne or irritation front. I think there are two important thing to keep in mind when looking over these ingredients: Cosdna is NOT a perfect guide – I think I’ve mentioned before that my two main acne triggers both have a rating of 0 – and also in cleansers the effects of constituent ingredients are diminished because the product does not stay on your skin for long enough to do much of anything. If you have very acne-prone skin (and even if you don’t because there’s no telling what your skin might react to), patch test thoroughly and introduce this into your routine carefully. But as a whole, I think this is a fantastic oil, despite its ingredients.



Pic 1: hand with foundation, 2 types of eyeliner, lip crayon, and a bunch of eyeshadows. Pic 2: hand with makeup and a few drops of cleansing oil. Pic 3: oil cleansing has dissolved all makeup except a bit of eyeliner. Pic 4: hand after oil has been rinsed off. Notice the trace amounts of eyeliner from pic 3 has fully come off.

All I want from oil cleansers is for them to remove makeup thoroughly and rinse off cleanly without doing something bad to my skin, which sounds simple enough, right? The five cleansing oils I’ve tried prior to this one would either cause my skin to breakout, not remove makeup fully, leave behind cleanser residue after rinsing, or dry my skin out. By the time I had gotten around to trying this oil, my expectations for oil cleansers were basically nonexistent – if it didn’t break me out, I could live with it.

Happily, the Muji Gods are merciful and kind! This oil not only checks all of my requirements, but exceeds them!

Makeup comes off with remarkable ease. I don’t wear eyeliner frequently, but when I do I require one that can withstand my constant eye rubbing, which means they tend to be difficult to remove. The Muji oil can get all my eyeliner off with the gentlest of rubs, no tugging required!

Texturally, this oil does not feel like any other cleansing oil I’ve tried. It is thick and behaves and feels almost as a thick gel might behave. If you frequently struggle with oil dripping on your floors, running into your eyes, or just overall not staying in place, you must try this oil. It’s not so thick that it’s hard to apply – I actually use less of this oil than I do with most cleansing oils I’ve used if that is any indication – but once you’ve spread it around your face, it stays put pretty well.

Not only does this oil washes off fully, without leaving a trace of residue, and does so in such a lovely manner. Upon contact with water, this oil seems to BLOOM, becoming a bit thicker and creamier at first before giving way to a thinner milky, liquid texture. The whole experience of cleansing with this oil, from beginning to end, feels very luxurious!


The area of the (gross looking) oil X makeup mixture that is whitish is where it has come in contact with water. As mentioned, this oil turns milky when it emulsifies.

My only complaint with this oil is that it smells a bit like olive oil. I don’t mind the smell, but I also don’t love it, and I can’t help feeling this oil deserves to smell as remarkable as it performs. Other than this, this oil would be as close to reaching holy grail status as anything else I’ve ever tried. If you’ve read my blog a lot, you may have noticed I never use the phrase Holy Grail because to me, something labelled as such needs to be so perfect and impossible to improve upon that I declare my undying loyalty to it. I’m not quite there with this oil. There are two other cleansing oils I have my eye on before I’m willing to settle on this category, but it’s very, very close to that point.

The Takeaway

I love this oil. It’s a easy and pleasant to use cleansing oil that does everything a cleansing oil should.

Benton Honest TT Mist (3)

Disclaimer: Product purchased by me. No affiliate links are used.


Quality 1st All in One Sheet Mask Review

Like most other people, every January I always feel the desire to be an overall better person. As it relates to my skincare hobby, I’ve resolved to be a more conscientious and less wasteful consumer. The main goal for the first part of this year is to get my stash of products down to a manageable quantity, and to that end I am trying to focus on finishing products I like before buying new ones. You might even see a few empties posts!


Also in the spirit of reducing waste, I’m trying to streamline my sheet mask collection. I think I’ve come to the somewhat sad realization that sheet masks for me are an means to an end – I love how plump and hydrated my skin looks with regular sheet mask usage but I don’t feel like I enjoy them in a proper, treat yo’self manner. I love seeing instagram posts of the prettiest, silkiest trendiest masks, but I can’t help but feel they would be wasted on me. More appropriate for my needs, I think, are Japanese bulk sheet masks, the “low-cost airline,” as RatzillaCosme puts it, of sheet masks. First on my list of bulk sheet masks to try are these Cosme Award winning masks from Quality 1st.


At a Glance

Size: 105g, 7 masks
Price: $5 at Image Beauty Store and Imomoko.
Packaging: All masks in one resealable, plastic bag container
Fragrance: Mild, naturey scent. I’m not a fan of the scent, but it is faint and disperses almost immediately.
Sheet Material: This mask is made out of a thick, sturdy cotton. It’s a little stiff, but conforms to the shape of my face really well.

FullSizeRender-2Acne Triggers & Irritants: Roman Chamomile Flower Extract (2) and Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (1) flagged as potential acne triggers.
Full Ingredients:

Water, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Platinum Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate, Succinoyl Atelocollagen, Clematis Vitalba Leaf Extract, Equisetum Hyemale Extract, Bladderwrack Extract, Hedera Helix Leaf / Stem Extract, Spiraea Ulmaria Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Soybean Extract, Ceramide 3, Roman Chamomile Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Hypericum Perforatum Flowers / Leaves / Stem Extract, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Bilberry Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Sap, Orange Extracts, Lemon, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Saxifraga Extract, Chtoligopeptide-1, Polysorbate 80, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Xanthan Gum, Mannitol, Damask Rose Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Lavender Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Rosemary Oil


These are definitely budget sheet masks. Because there are 7 masks packaged together in one pouch, there is less essence to go around. As a result, each of these masks only last about half an hour on my skin, which is significantly shorter than the individually packaged cotton masks I’m used to (which usually last an hour +) and a bit shorter than silk sheet masks (which last about 45 minutes).


What the masks look like folded up in the pouch.

If you can get over that hurdle, these masks are actually quite nice. The material is thick and a little stiff, but conforms to the shape of my face surprisingly well. The flap that goes on my chin refuses to sit still, but every other part of it stays firmly put once on. I was wearing one of these masks earlier this week while cleaning and doing laundry, and it stayed glued to my face. I feel like I could’ve done an entire Olympic gymnast routine and the mask wouldn’t have budged!

My two pet peeves when it comes to sheet masks are fragrance and residual stickiness. These masks avoid both of these pitfalls. These masks are not entirely scent free- when I first remove them from the pouch they have a mild, natural-type herby/floral scent that I’m not a fan of, but the smell dissipates as soon as the mask is unfolded and once on my face, I really don’t notice the scent. Also, when I remove these masks, my face feels clean. There is no stickiness or tackiness, and there is no residual product. I can continue with my skincare routine without having to mist and pat at my skin, waiting for the mask essence to absorb.

The Takeaway

There are 7 masks in a pouch and I used them all up in a week. After which, I can totally understand why these masks are so popular and so highly ranked in Japan. They are not the most pampering masks in the world by any measure, but if you’re just trying to get your daily sheet mask in to maintain your skin, these sheet masks are one of the easiest, least annoying ways to do so. Their ability to stay put on my face and their lack of scent means I can wear these while doing household chores and forget that it’s even on my face. The lack of stickiness and quick dry time makes them a very low time / effort commitment mask. As for effects on my skin, they’re pretty middle of the road, maybe even above average. Given how cheap these are, I’d say that’s pretty good!

Benton Honest TT Mist (2)

Disclaimer: I purchased these. There are no affiliate links.