Friday, November 10, 2017

Tokyo Drugstore Haul: Skincare, Sheet Masks & Beauty Tools Galore

Happy Friday, guys! I finally have time to sit down and recap the drugstore beauty goods I picked up in Tokyo. I can't believe it's been almost three weeks since I've been back but better late than never, right?

If you're heading to Japan in the near future, I highly recommend having an idea of what you want to pick up or else you'll spend a lot of time browsing the aisles due to the sheer amount of stuff available. Heck, I did a fair amount of research and I still spent a long time walking back and forth the stores like a crazy person. Hopefully this post helps you get an idea of what you can and should buy if you're headed to Japan.

I purchased most of this from Don Quijote (Donki for short) in Akihabara. Don Quijote is a chain store that has every random thing you could want from food to bedding to clothes to toys to, of course, skincare and makeup. I didn't get a chance to visit other Don Quijotes but I have a feeling each one has slightly different stock. I wasn't able to find every drugstore brand I was interested in so I had to stop into other drugstore/personal care stores to check out their stock. The great thing about Don Quixote is that they process the duty free cash back directly at the counter - there's a separate line for duty free customers. If you'll be in Tokyo for a few days, don't stress about finding a particular drugstore to stock up on beauty products. There's no shortage of places to buy these things.

A word about pricing.... I actually can't remember how much each thing cost but it's significantly cheaper than buying online from the U.S. Most of these products can be found on Amazon, eBay or the brands' international sites but you have to be wary of fakes, long shipping times, etc.

Now let's get into the actual haul!

I knew I wanted to get my hands on some Hada Labo whilst I was there. I picked up the Hada Labo Goku-jyun Foaming Face Wash, the Hada Labo Rohto Gokujyn Hyaluronic Acid Lotion and the Hada Labo Rohto Goku-jun Hyaluronic Hydrating Milk. I believe each of these was around $5-6. The acid lotion is probably what the brand is most known for - a very simple, no-frills hydrating essence water.

I also grabbed a tube of the Sana Nameraka Honpo Soy Milk Facial Cleansing Wash which is a classic foaming cleanser. No matter what people say about sulfates, I think I'll always have a soft spot for very fluffy foaming cleansers. They're a staple in Asian skincare regimens and my favorite for second-step cleansing. I think this tube was less than $5.

You can't come back from Asia without sheet masks. Almost every haul video I watched featured the Lululun masks. The idea behind these is that you use one every day so they're sold in resealable packs of seven or 32. I went for the packs of seven since I wasn't sure if I would love these. The pink one is for moisture, blue is for intensive moisture, white is for brightening and the red is for anti-aging. These are really inexpensive at only JP¥400 (about $3.50). I didn't realize Lululun had a U.S. site but they do and you can order all of these here. The prices are about double the Japanese retail price but they're still affordable. I'm planning to do a full review of these once I've had more time to test them.

I got a box of the Kose Clear Turn White Masks which I've seen around a lot but have never tried. I'm dealing with a lot of breakouts and acne scars right now so I'm hoping these will help lighten those spots.

A highly recommended sheet mask was the Minon Amino Moist Face Mask. This is one of the more expensive things I bought. I believe the pack of four masks was JP¥1200. Considering sheet masks go for $6 and up at Sephora and other U.S. retailers, I guess this is still a steal. I'll definitely report back on how I like these.

Finally some miscellaneous skincare bits that I like to buy when I'm in Asia because they're way cheaper. I know some people don't think Biore Pore Strips work but I really believe they help if used sparingly. I read a lot of good things about the DHC Lip Cream so I picked up one of those. It was only JP¥400 I believe. People stock up on sunscreen in Asia and the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is super popular. Blotting sheets are unbelievably pricey in the U.S. so I make sure to grab a couple when I'm in Asia. These Shiseido ones were only JP¥380 per pack. The exact same pink and white striped pack is $12 here.

I'm super proud of my ability to resist buying Japanese drugstore makeup. I put some Kate eyeshadows and Canmake blush in my basket and placed it back on the display several times. I have a soft spot for eyeshadows and blushes but I knew I wanted to save up to purchase from some of the higher end brands (that's a post for another day).

I did, however, pick up some tools. The Shiseido 131 brush looked really similar to the $30 one they sell stateside. The 131 brush is apparently limited to Japan and costs JP¥1800, about half of the Shiseido Foundation brush we have here. I haven't used this yet so can't report back on how it fares.

The same exact Shiseido eyelash curler we have here in the U.S. is considered a drugstore product in Japan. Which is flippin' phenomenal since I like this curler a lot. It's only JP¥800 and get this - the replacement rubber pads are only JP¥100! They sell them for $6 here! I think Don Quijote was having a promo on the Shiseido curler so I think I paid even less than the retail price. I also bought the Maquillage eyelash curler because I've seen a lot of other Asian YouTubers use this one. Maquillage is a brand under Shiseido and this curler was a few bucks more. But I'm so glad I picked this up because I actually like it more than the Shiseido one. The curve is more flat and it's easier to reach the root of my lashes.

The one makeup-y thing I bought from Don Quijote was the Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Long & Curl Super Waterproof Mascara. Keep in mind I can't read Japanese so I kind of had to guess that this was the waterproof version. But after some cross referencing on Google, it looks like I walked away with the right one.

Last, but certainly not least, I hunted these Tabino Yado Hot Springs Bath Salts down. I find myself getting more into the self-care aspects of beauty beyond just skincare and makeup - baths are a nice way to unwind. The online consensus seems to be that these are awesome so I'm excited to try these out. I know they make a milky version and clear version but I can't read Japanese so... I hope I picked up the milky kind. These were super affordable - I think they were only JP¥480 or something like that.

That pretty much sums up my Tokyo drugstore haul. I'd say it was pretty tame, all things considered. I haven't dug into most of these products so it'll likely be a few weeks until I've formulated my opinions on them. If you're curious about anything in particular, let me know in the comments!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Shiseido Synchro Skin White Cushion Compact: Before and After

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I recently came back from a short trip to Tokyo. It was my first time visiting Japan but it definitely won't be my last. I won't lie and say the 13 hour flight was pleasant but once you get there, the food and people make it all worth it. Oh, and the beauty selection is absolutely insane!

Naturally I had prepared a beauty shopping list well in advance because there were a lot of Japanese brands I wanted to try that are either unavailable here completely or very overpriced. One of the things I knew I wanted to get was the Shiseido Synchro Skin White Cushion Compact because the Shiseido Synchro Skin Liquid Foundation is my favorite and most-used foundation. 

Shiseido has two Asia-exclusive cushion compacts, the other being the Synchro Skin Glow Cushion Compact that comes in a black case. I originally intended to pick that one up but the sales associate told me the white cushion had more coverage and was more similar to the foundation I love so much. 

Let me go off-tangent for a second and talk about my experience buying this cushion. I went to Isetan's flagship store in Shinjuku at around 6pm on a Friday with the intention of picking up this cushion and browsing the THREE, Addiction, Suqqu and RMK counters. I was not mentally prepared for the number of people who would be shopping the beauty section but wow, I have never seen so many customers and sales associates in a department store like that. You would have thought they were giving away product! I'm used to going into a half-empty Bloomingdales or Saks and having the testers all to myself.

Nonetheless, I was determined to at least get this cushion because I knew I'd be able to find THREE and Suqqu at Narita the next day when I was flying home (that haul to follow at some point). The sales woman who helped me was very gracious but unfortunately didn't speak much English. They do have Chinese-Japanese translators on hand so I was able to sort of communicate in broken Mandarin with my boyfriend's help. Maybe it was because I went on this shopping trip sans makeup after a long day of sightseeing but the sales associate seemed to really want to help me put some of this foundation on before I purchased it. I don't like getting my makeup done at counters because I find it rather unsanitary (but given how clean everything is in Japan, it might have been different). I noticed a lot of women getting their makeup done at the counter - maybe that's how they usually sell products? I feel like that's gone out of style a bit here in the states.

I would have actually purchased both cushions by Shiseido since they're unavailable in the states. Well, why didn't I? A very simple reason - the price. These are freaking expensive cushions! Shiseido sells the compact and refill completely separately and there's no second refill. It's one refill per pack. The case retails for JP¥ 1,200 (~$10.50) and a single refill is JP¥ 4,300 ($37.80). There was an additional tax of JP¥ 440 - I later received JP¥ 380 back from Isetan's duty free counter minus the JP¥ 60 service fee. All in all I paid about $49 for a 12 gram cushion foundation.... This is the most expensive cushion foundation I have purchased to date because it does not come with a second refill.

Besides the exorbitant price, another negative right off the bat is that this cushion only comes in six shades. That might sound like a lot but it's more like three because half are neutral toned and the others are golden toned - the actual shades are all pretty light. The deepest shade is Golden 4 which isn't dark at all because my shade is Golden 3. 

Now that I've got the bad stuff out of the way, let's talk about the positives. For the price, there better be a lot of positives. The formula contains SPF 40 PA+++ and "smart skin" technology that absorbs excess sebum and diffuses light. It also claims to provide buildable coverage with a weightless, comfortable formula. Surprisingly I couldn't find mention of specific skincare benefits. Given the name I would think this would claim some kind of brightening or whitening effect but I didn't see that to be the case. Given that this cushion's main selling point is the natural coverage it provides, let's see how it performs. 

On the left I have on a little bit of the YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer and nothing else. On the right I have one layer of the Synchro Skin White Cushion applied with the accompanying cushion puff. You can see that the coverage is certainly good. The redness on my cheeks and around my nose is pretty much gone and my angry acne scars are covered up as well. I've been using my Dior DreamSkin Cushion a lot lately which has very low coverage and this is a very different look upon initial application. The formula is quite matte compared to other cushions I've used but it doesn't look flat or dull. If you have dry patches, you need to moisturize very well before applying this.

The cushion looks more natural once it has some time to meld into the skin. While my nose did get shiny after five hours even after setting with powder, the product didn't break up or cake on my skin. It stayed comfortable to wear throughout the day though I wouldn't say my skin felt more hydrated.

The overall look of this cushion is very similar to the Synchro Skin Liquid Foundation but I like the way the original foundation applies better because it has a more watery texture. I also think the lasting power of the liquid foundation is superior to the cushion. I don't dislike the cushion by any means but for the price and the fact that I can't easily get this even if I loved it, I'll stick to the $45 foundation which gives you more than double the amount of product.

My makeup current obsession is all about fresh, dewy but not shiny skin - almost all my makeup purchases from my trip were base products. Cushions are some of my favorite base products to use because they're so darn easy and I can actually finish them up. I somewhat impulsively purchased a duo pack of the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushions (that's four refills in total) when I was at Changi duty free. I haven't tested out that cushion yet but keep an eye out for that in the next couple of weeks!

Are you a fan of cushion foundations? What's the most you're willing to pay for a cushion compact?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In a Palette: Natural Beauty & Seductive Beauty

"This would be so good for travel" - probably my most used justification for unnecessary purchases. Combine that with "limited time promotion" and I'm pretty much sold. Such was the case with the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look in a Palettes in Natural Beauty and Seductive Beauty. I was interested in these palettes when they released but I couldn't swallow the $75 price tag for each. Well, at $45 a pop, I couldn't help myself.

With three eyeshadows, two blushes, a bronzer and a highlighter, this slim palette has most of your color makeup needs sorted. The inside of the compact also houses a big mirror which is very convenient for travel. I've gotten to the point where I don't bring many options with me on trips so I thought something like this would be perfect.

Though travel was my main reason for getting these palettes, I'm a bit hesitant to throw these in my carry-on because when these were delivered, the bronzer in Natural Beauty was totally smashed. The powders are pretty soft and though the packaging is sturdy, I can see the powders easily smashing if the palette makes impact with something. Not sure if FedEx was a little too rough with my package or what but I just wanted to put that out there. Thankfully, Charlotte Tilbury has amazing customer service and quickly shipped out a new palette to me, which arrived in one piece.

I'm more drawn to the eyeshadows in the Seductive Beauty palette - all three are very wearable and staple shades that everyone should have in their collection. All the shades are shimmery so you would have to pack a couple of extra matte shadows if you wanted a transition shadow for the crease. The Natural Beauty palette has a nice matte mid-tone brown but I wish there was a darker eyeshadow that I could use to set eyeliner.

The eyeshadow pans are 2 grams (.07 oz) which is larger than the standard eyeshadow pan. But they're the same size as the blushes in the palette which I think is a little odd. Your eyelids are obviously smaller than your cheek area. I would have preferred they made the eyeshadow pans smaller in size and included more colors so you could have every shade from lid to brow bone all in one palette.

I haven't really dug into Seductive Beauty much because I've been kind of obsessed with the cheek shades in Natural Beauty. The shades swatch very light on my arm but the powders are very buildable on the cheeks without looking ashy or powdery. The bronzer is a really nice tone for subtle contouring and you can't overdo the color because it's quite light. Meanwhile, the bronzer in Seductive Beauty is a bit odd because it is pretty dark, red-toned and has noticeably more shimmer in it. The highlighter has more of a pink hue rather than the warmth in the highlight in Natural Beauty. I can see myself getting more use out of the eyeshadows and highlighter in Seductive Beauty in the fall and winter but the dark bronzer kind of clashes with the look I have in mind.

The formula of the powders is nice but, honestly, nothing that you need to run out and buy now. That's kind of how I've felt about all the Charlotte Tilbury products I've tried to date. They're nice and I like having them, but they're very pricey and not much better or different than other products I have already. Are these worth $75? No, I don't think so. You're probably better off building a custom palette with Inglot, MUFE, MAC or Makeup Geek refill pans if you want the ease of having eyeshadows and cheek products all in one palette.

I don't mean to knock Charlotte Tilbury because I respect the brand and like their aesthetic. But almost all of the products I've tried from the brand have been just good, not amazing. And for the price, I'm expecting to have my heart stop a little every time I dip my brush into the product. Okay, I'm obviously exaggerating. But you get what I mean. I have a couple of other Charlotte Tilbury things on my "would love to try" list before I rule out the brand as overhyped. Again, don't want to be grumpy about the brand but I just haven't fallen in love with the products as I expected to.

What are your thoughts on Charlotte Tilbury's Instant Look in a Palettes? Or any of her other beauty products? Curious to hear if you have any favorites or if you've also been a little underwhelmed!