Must-haves : Japanese Skincare

As I mentioned in my previous visual diary episode, I wanted to do a round up of some awesome Japanese skincare I have fallen in love with. I go through phases with my skincare, moving from continent to continent. Currently, I am loving Japan’s simplistic approach, adorable packaging and affordable prices.

While I researched more on Japanese skincare, I found very few English sites that does reviews or provide information on Japanese products. It’s especially difficult as most products are entirely in Japanese, without translations.

 

Tip #1 : Find the item online, even on a Japanese site and cut and paste the ingredients to Google translate. It gives you a rough idea of what’s in the product, just in case you have any skin sensitivities. 

 

To cover every single Japanese product I love would take ages, so I will probably do a follow up on other things like haircare, makeup and so on. For now, I will pick out my favourites for each category that I think the Japanese excel in.

 

Here are my top picks.

 

tokyu-hands

 

dsc02719

 

japskin

Sunscreens

Japanese sunscreens are where it’s at. Their formulations are always cutting edge, leaps and bounds ahead of others in the market. They are known for their light textures that never leave a white cast whilst providing the perfect base for makeup. My favourites are the Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion SPF 50 PA+++ (S$19.90) and Labo Labo Super-Moist UV-Cream 5H x 5C SPF 30 PA++ (S$21.90). Though they sound they same, they are actually from different companies. Both are drugstore Japanese skincare brands and very affordable. I love these two because they are light but can be used alone without a separate cream underneath. They are undetectable when applied on the skin and are alcohol free.

The Hada Labo one comes in two formulations, but my favourite is the fresh version that contains anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C, resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. The Labo Labo version is a thicker cream texture, more like a traditional moisturiser that is formulated with 5 types of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Best sunscreens EVER!!

 

Lotions

The Japanese are masters at formulating facial lotions. In Western terms, these lotions would be classified under toners. You would soak them on a cotton pad and use them after cleansing to prep the skin for serums and moisturiser as well as giving it added benefits and balance the skin’s pH levels. Japanese lotions come in all shapes and forms but I recently discovered the economical ones that come in giant half a litre bottles. These lotions are unbelievably inexpensive and actually have a simple, yet effective ingredients list.

The one I recommend would be the Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Skin Care Lotion. The skincare line is based of a famous sake brewery in Japan and features sake as a skin care ingredient to help tone and brighten the skin. What’s mind-boggling is that this giant bottle costs S$14.90. An amazing budget buy that actually works. It comes in two versions. The Light version is great for hot weather as it is weightless and refreshing whilst the High Moist version has added ceramides to help provide extra moisture and is alcohol-free. Both are fantastic, though Singapore weather does better with the light version.

I can’t wait to try other giant bottles of Japanese lotions because they seriously make the best toners and are such money-savers.

 

dsc02731

 

dsc02733

Creams

Japanese skincare is big on gels and gel-cream formulations because they tend to prefer light, fast absorbing skincare that are great for layering. However, I do love a good night cream that helps lock all the moisture in while I sleep. After much searching, I found one that I am completely smitten with. Presenting the Keana Nadeshiko Rice Cream (S$27) ! This rich cream in housed in an adorable little orb that’ll look just so cute on your vanity. Keana Nadeshiko brand is known for tackling issues with pores using primarily natural ingredients such as baking soda and rice bran oil. This particular cream is packed with fermented sake, rice bran oil, rice bran extract and saccharomyces ferment (aka pitera).

I was initially worried that this would be too rich for my oily, acne-prone skin but I was pleased to find that it’s just right. The cream is luxurious to spread on the skin but sinks in very well. I wake up to plump skin despite using acids and acne treatments on a daily basis. I cannot recommend it enough. I was so pleasantly surprised how much I fell for this product. My only complain would be that it’s a more pricey product and the jar is rather tiny with only 30 grams of product. The results are worth it though.

 

Masks

LOVE Japanese masks. I have written an ode to Japanese sheet masks, which you can read here for an extensive list of my favourites. The one I consistently repurchase again and again are the LuLuLun Masks (S$8.90). They are inexpensive and tackle different concerns depending on which colour you picked. The ones I love most is the brightening mask that comes in a silver packaging.

Another awesome thing is that these masks are so affordable. Even more so than the korean ones. Enough said.

 

Blotters

I know this is something you wouldn’t really think is a big deal. But for a girl with oily skin, oil blotters are LIFE SAVERS. I am never without it, ever. I have one packet with me at all times to help me absorb excess oil and keep my face looking fresh. The best kind are the paper ones, and the Japanese variety are just the best of the best. Japanese blotting papers are revolutionary because they absorb oil so well and do not disturb any makeup you have underneath. I find that the plastic film types tend to lift my foundation and leave my face looking patchy. So now, I will only use paper.

The Japanese oil paper blotter are very affordable. No matter the price, they all work the same. If ever you are at a Japanese store or in Japan, I say stock up!

 

Cotton Pads 

A necessity that no one cares for. Cotton pads are rather dull, really. So no one ever wants to talk about them. However, I am incredibly picky when it comes to my cotton pads. I hate cheap cotton balls or squares that shed lint all over my face. Some that are too thin to hold and deposit your skincare properly. That is not to say that you should splurge on “luxury cotton”.

Japanese cotton pads are on another level. They are so soft, never shed and are designed to be a delivery system for your skincare. And they are affordable to boot! While many rave on and on about the coveted Shiseido cotton pads, I very much prefer the Muji Unbleached Cotton variety. They are identical to the Shiseido ones in terms of thickness, softness and never shedding. Fortunately they are cheaper. But the ones I repurchase the most are Silcot brand. The Silcot Lintfree Cotton Pads (S$4) feel like pillows on your face, I tend to use that for hydrating toners. The Silcot Uru Uru Sponge pads (S$4) are my favourite for acid toners (or really expensive toners) because they help you use 50% less toner. Truly I can attest to that. It’s a sponge-like pad that gets really soaked with very little product, which really help stretch your skincare product for longer.

It is AMAZING. I can’t be without this now. Otherwise I feel like I’m wasting so much product.

 

dsc02724

 

And there you have it! If you ever visit Japan and are overwhelmed with the plethora of beauty products, try these out or go for the categories I’ve highlighted.

It’s so amazing that you can get such great quality and results at drugstore prices. I can never justify buying a 50 dollar cream anymore, when the Japanese have such superior formulas for so much less.

Try them out and let me know!

Best of H&M Beauty

If the H&M beauty launch last Saturday is making you go hmm, let me put your mind to rest. It is worth the trip to town because it is BOMB. I have been waiting for this to launch in Singapore for almost a year. H&M beauty launched in the UK and US in the last quarter of 2015 and I have been patiently waiting ever since. It’s amazing that Singapore is the first to launch the ginormous beauty collection in Southeast Asia.

And ladies, it was worth the year long wait.

The prices do not disappoint. Nothing is above SGD$20, that includes liquid foundation, powders and bronzers. Which is impressive, considering the quality and other drugstore brands like Revlon have foundations priced at SGD$30.90.

 

First and foremost, let’s talk packaging.

hm

 

thumb_dsc02341_1024

thumb_dsc02346_1024-copy

 

It is monochromatic goals! Everything is black, white and gold. Though they don’t feel luxurious in your hands, they are a sight to behold. And that is good enough for me, considering the price. Packaging aside, the formulation of the products I’ve tried are incredible. I would never have guessed that it was drugstore. Part of the reason, I think is because majority of the makeup is made in Italy. Italy is known for their superior makeup formulations are unreal prices. Most of my favourite drugstore brands, such as Catrice and Essence, are European. Hence all the formulations can be encompassed in two words: Creamy and pigmented.

If you are overwhelmed, like I was, on where to start, here are my recommendations.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-1-36-14-pm

thumb_dsc02355_1024

 

1. Single Eyeshadows, S$9.90

The H&M single eyeshadows can put MAC to shame. The formulas are buttery and blend like a dream. Not only that, they have impressive pigmentation which means that you don’t have to work very hard to get them to show up true to colour. They have every colour you can think of from neutrals to bright greens and blues. Collectively they are pricier than a Maybelline eye palette, but the quality is far superior. I suggest getting a statement shade that you will reach for or a matte neutral that you need every single day.

 

2. Colour Essence Eye Cream, S$9.90

These things are INSANELY good. I want every single shade. I am not even joking. This is what I wanted the Maybelline Colour Tattoo eyeshadow pots to be like. Dare I say, I prefer this even to my MAC Paint Pots, which have been my go-to cream eyeshadow formula for years. The texture is luxurious and light, almost whipped and moussey. They have mindblowing pigmentation and a sophisticated sheen. Once blended out on the lid, they set and do not budge. These cream shadows blend so well with my finger, it’s effortless. They make the perfect one-shadow eye look that makes it seem as if you spent hours doing your makeup. Most shades that they offer are shimmery, but that’s what I love on a day to day basis. I cannot recommend these enough.

 

3. Cream Lipstick, S$14.90

Currently, H&M is only offering one cream formula for their lipsticks. Although they also have Lip Lacquers and other types of lip products, the traditional lipstick bullet houses very creamy lip colours that just glide on the lips like butter. These lipsticks go on fully opaque in one swipe, so they aren’t messing around. They are comfortable but do not feel overly thick or balmy. Hence, it stays on your lips for a long time, unless you are eating or drinking. The colour choices are as vast as choosing paint in an art store. They offer unique shades on top of popular neutral ones. Even if you are a lipstick hoarder like me, you will find a shade that you have yet to add to your collection.

 

4. Cream Blushes, S$14.90-S$19.90

Their blushes in both the powder and cream formula are amazing. You can’t go wrong with owning either. I went with a lip & cheek pot because I fell for it’s chic all black packaging. Also, even for a super oily skinned gal like me, their cream blushes do not make me look overly greasy. In fact, they have a velvety finish that is flattering and natural looking. This is the most natural looking blush I own. Granted because of that, they are not the most long lasting, but they last a decent amount of time and I love pulling out the dinky compacts to reapply. They are so silky and are a joy to put on.

 

5. Lip Definers, S$7.90

If there is ONE thing that you need from this launch, it is THIS. I have tried many lip liners, both high-end and low-end. But this lip liner formula tops EVERYTHING. First of all, the colour range is perfection. It goes from nudes to deeper nudes, reds, corals and even a berry. A lip liner to go with any lipstick in your collection. I was most impressed by how easily they glide on the lips. They aren’t drying at all, but don’t let that fool you. These liners will not budge. I had the hardest time wiping them off my hand after swatching a bunch. They are matte and they will stay all day. I would say they are very similar to Huda Beauty Lip Contours and Urban Decay Lip Liners.

I am OBSESSED with them. I want every single shade. Considering they are just 7.90 a pop, that claim isn’t too far a stretch either.

 

So there you have it my top 5 picks! Needless to say, I will explore deeper. But for now, the Lip Definers and Cream Eyeshadows are MUST HAVES.

Trust me.

You can thank me later.