Review: Bioderma Sebium H2O Non-Rinse cleanser – the blue Bioderma

Bioderma has been creating a buzz on the beauty world for a while. When I saw it at a pretty good price at a Japanese drugstore, I decided to give it a try.
This is a review for the Bioderma Sebium H2O Solution Purifying Non-Rinse Cleanser for Combination or Oily Skin.

What it does: (from Bioderma’s website)
BIODERMA innovation, Sébium H2O gently cleanses the skin without drying it, through the micro-emulsion of impurities and excess sebum. Enriched with purifying active ingredients, Sébium H2O cleanses the epidermis in depth and regulates secretion of sebum. The patented sebo-correcting complex, Fluidactiv®, normalises sebum quality.

Price: will vary, I see this online for $25-30 for the 500ml bottle. There is also a 100ml bottle.

How to use:
This is basically a cleanser/makeup remover. Soak a cotton pad with the product, and rub your face. You do not need to rinse the product off, but the website suggests to dry your face after using.


  • it does a really good job at removing face makeup!
  • Not having to rinse my face after using it is a big plus


  • I cannot use it to remove my eye makeup. It does not remove mascara at all. (Bioderma’s website does say to not use it around the eyes)
  • For me, this was a good level of drying/moisturizing qualities, but it may be harsh for some people

Would I repurchase? Maybe, if I can find it at a good price.

Have you tried this product after all the buzz online? Please let me know what you think!

xoxo, K

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Review: Muji Aging Care Premium lotion – somewhere between a serum and a lotion

This is a review of the Muji Aging Care Premium lotion.

After coming back to Japan, I realized that the seasons are rapidly changing. When I came back to Japan in mid-September, it was so hot and humid that I could not stay outside during the day. It has only been 2 weeks since then, and yet the nights are cold enough that I feel chilly in short sleeves.

At the same time, I realized that my skin has gotten a lot of damage over the past 2 years. I’m not sure if it is caused by stress, the environment in China, or age, but I will try my best to recover during the short time that I’m in Japan!

What it does: (From Muji’s website)
Concentrated care for skin which suffers from dryness or aging. Has a premium feeling similar to serums. Contains 10 natural ingredients for such as pomegranate and raspberry, as well as 5 ingredients for better skin such as hyaluronic acid and collagen.

Price: 2000 JPY for 200ml, about $25.50.  This may look REALLY expensive, but in Japan, it is only slightly higher than normal prices that I would pay at the drugstore.

I use this in my lotion mask routine. As mentioned in the product claim, this is a very thick lotion, so I like to dilute it with distilled water before applying it to my skin. As the weather gets drier and colder in the winter, I’ll probably start using this product by itself.


  • This product does a great job in moisturizing my skin, leaving it very plump.
  • Apparently this product does not contain fragrances.  It does have a slight scent, which to me smells like grapefruit peel.
  • The packaging has an inner cap with a small hole in it so that I can control the amount of product I pour out


  • The price is slightly more expensive than other products at Muji
  • I would not use this product during the summer or if you have oily skin

Would I repurchase? Maybe. This is a nice product if you have dry skin.  If this product was closer to 1500 yen, I’m sure it would be more popular!

Hope you enjoyed this review!  What other Muji products would you like to try?

xoxo, K

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How to make a lotion face mask with cotton

I’ve mentioned several times before that I do a lotion mask on my face every day. This is a very popular technique in Japan, and it has really changed how soft and supple my face is. This technique was created by Chizu Saeki, who is a famous skin care expert in Japan. She is also quite old but her skin looks fantastic!

What you need:

  • Japanese toner. Also known as lotion, toner is a critical step in Japanese skin care. Called keshosui (化粧水, “cosmetic water”) in Japanese, you can find it in every single brand of Japanese skin care. Even foreign brands such as Lancome and Chanel have toners (usually several types) marketed for Asia. Please be careful to pick a product that does not contain alcohol! 
  • Cotton that can be separated. These cotton pads were created so that they can be separated into thin sheets. Read on to understand why they need to be separated!  Several brands carry this type of cotton. I like the ones from Muji and Hakugen the most. 
My favorite brand of cotton for this technique
“Hakugen Mekuru Cotton Ookime” 
(Hakugen separated cotton large size)
    Here’s what a pad looks like.

    It is made up of thin sheets of cotton.  This is critical to this technique!
    Alternatively, you can separate cotton by yourself. I’ve found that the more expensive cotton works better for separating.

    1. Dampen the cotton with distilled water and gently squeeze it out. Press the cotton between your hands instead of squeezing in a fist will help maintain the sheets of cotton.

    2. Gently stretch out the cotton. This will help the cotton sheets adhere better to your skin.

    3. Apply toner to the cotton. Make sure that the cotton gets wet, almost to the point of dripping.
    4. Apply each sheet to the face. Here are some face charts to show you how I apply each sheet to my face. This can be adapted to your face shape.

    (Yes, these face charts look ridiculous!)
    Sheet 1 & 2
    Sheet 3
    Sheet 4

    Sheet 5

    5. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes. 
    6. Remove the cotton and continue with your skin care routine 

    – Be careful not to leave the mask on too long. If the toner starts to evaporate, it may cause your skin to dry out
    – You can modify this based on the shape of your face. This is how I apply the cotton sheets.
    – Each brand of cotton will work differently. As I showed here, Hakugen has 5 sheets in each cotton pad.  Muji has 4 sheets
    – I find that dampening the sheets first makes you waste less toner, but you can skip step 1 if you want. Alternatively, you can just use distilled water for the entire process (This is also very popular in Japan). Make sure not to use tap water!

    This has really, really changed my skin care routine! It has made my skin so much more supple and less prone to breakouts!  I hope you enjoy it as well!

    xoxo, K

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    Skin Care – Splurge vs Save

    A sweet reader kindly requested a post to share my thoughts on what skin care products you should spend money on, and which ones you should save on.

    The more I thought of it, the more I realized that it really depends on what your values are.  There are so many good, affordable products on the market, many which contain very effective ingredients.

    In the end, it depends on which type of product you will use correctly.  If the product is too expensive, I will be more likely to skimp on it.  For example, I could buy a $200 serum, but if I don’t use the correct amount, it will not work.

    Having said that, I do have a personal guideline: If the product costs more than $50, I need to see results before I use up the product.  I find it hard to be convinced to repurchase a product if I can’t see the results.

    Here are my favorite low end and high end skin care products.

    (in Asia, toners are used to hydrate the skin.  Most of them do not contain alcohol.  They are also referred to as lotions)

    I go through a bottle of toner every 2 weeks, because I use it as a face mask every morning and night.  Buy what you can afford to use, and use generously!

    Low end:  Rohto Hada Labo series (the retail price is around 1000 yen, but I regularly find them at my local drugstore for around 700 yen. Imomoko sells them for $17.50)
    This is my favorite toner because it’s cheap and it hydrates well!

    High end: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($100 for 75ml/2.5 oz, buy here)
    Yes, this a super expensive toner.  I love how it makes my skin feel after I’ve used it for 2-3 days, but it is too expensive for me to use regularly.

    Facial Moisturizer
    Fair & Lovely Skin Clarity Anti-Marks Fairness Cream (Amazon sells them for $10, some Indian online shops sell them for less)

    This was in my favorites for (gasp) 2009! I still love it.  It is light but leaves my skin moisturized, and contains whitening ingredients.

    I don’t have a high end favorite, unfortunately!

    RoC Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum (Walmart says they are $25, Amazon has them for $9)

    This totally depends on what you want your serum to do.  I want either to get rid of fine lines, or to get rid of discoloration.  I haven’t found anything that really works for discoloration, though.

    Again, no high end favorite.  This is typically the most expensive in any line of products.

    Sheet Masks
    Low End: Silk Whitia ($16.60/5 pieces on Sasa)
    I feel that Silk Whitia has the best products for the price.  My Beauty Diary masks are $12.70/10 pieces, so Silk Whitia is twice the price. Still, I find that they are much more hydrating and they leave my skin smooth.  I need to stock up next time I go to Hong Kong!

    High End: SK-II Whitening Source Derm Revival Mask ($160/10 pieces online)
    This did AMAZING things for my skin.  I can buy a single piece for around $20 in Hong Kong, but it’s still too expensive for me!

    Low End: Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel and Lush Mask of Magnaminty

    Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel (7.15 GBP at Boots)

    I’ve written a blog post about this product, and I really did love it.  It left my skin very smooth, thanks to the salicylic acid.


    Lush Mask of Magnaminty ($11.95/4.4oz on
    This mask contains adzuki beans to exofoliate your skin, unlike the Soap & Glory mask which chemically exfoliates.  I’ve written a blog post about this product as well.
    High end: Cellnique Advanced Bio Renewal Masque ($51 on

    I’ve reviewed this product before as well. This product also chemically exfoliates.  It leaves my skin feeling very soft and smooth.

    Low end:Biore Sarasara UV daily care gel (750 yen in Japan, $15.50 on Amazon)
    This is the VERY FIRST review I ever wrote, in March of 2009! I still love this product.  It gives me the sun protection I need and is very light on my skin.

    High end: Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen SPF 50+ (3150 yen in Japan, around $50 online)
    Anessa is a brand of sun protection from Shiseido.  This is the best sunscreen in Japan, hands down.  I do not get any kind of tanning with this sunscreen.  It stays on even when I go diving.  However, it is expensive, and I have to keep reminding myself to use the correct amount.  Did you know that you need to use an entire shot glass worth (1 oz, 30 ml, or 2 tablespoons worth) for the amount of skin that is normally exposed? 
    Anessa has several products, so I always remember this as “the gold one”.

    I hope you enjoyed my picks!  Remember, skin care does not work if you do not use it correctly!!

    xoxo, K

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    Winter essentials

    Has the Chinook blown in your area?  Over here, it is still very cold and very, very dry.  Here are my winter essentials which are helping me get through the coldest winter I have ever experienced!

    1. Sunscreen/sunblock
    The sun is still shining very strongly here, even if the temperature is below freezing.  I wear sunscreen religiously to protect my face.  I like Biore Sarasara UV daily care gel because it does not leave my skin feeling oily.  (This product is NOT intended for the face and contains alcohol.  Please be careful if you want to use it on your face!)

    (from Kao’s website)

    2. Toner
    I use a ton of Japanese toner, going through a bottle every two weeks.  Japanese toner, also known as lotion in some lines, does not alcohol.  It is considered an essential skin care step in Japanese skin care.  Most Asian skin care lines, including imported brands such as Dior and Chanel, will have a toner and a separate moisturizers.  I love the Rohto Gokujun line, which is affordable enough that I don’t have to skimp.

     (from Google image search)

    3. Cotton
    Every morning and night, I soak a few pieces of cotton in toner and put them on my face for about 10 minutes.  The result is the same as a sheet mask.  This method is very popular in Japan, and I really need to do a blog post on it!  I love this Mekuru Cotton.  Yes, it’s very important that I can split this into 5 pieces… but it’s hard to explain why without doing a post!


    4. Hair treatment
    For the first time in about 15 years, I’m having to battle static electricity!  I like to use a thick hair treatment at least every other day to moisturize my hair, in order to hopefully reduce static electricity.
    In Japan, the thick hair treatments are usually called hair packs, and are sold in pots.  The thinner ones are usually called hair treatments and are sold in tubes.  I’m currently using the Pantene Pro-V Deep Repair Hair Mask, a Japan-exclusive product.


    5. Body Lotion
    Regardless of which shower gel I use, I need to use a heavy duty body lotion.  Without a nightly application of body lotion, my skin will get dry and itchy.  Considering how obsessed I am with the brand, I would love to try the Bath & Body Works Body Butter in Twilight Woods.


     (from the Bath & Body Works website)

    6. Lip cream
    The cold, dry wind means chapped lips!  I see a lot of girls here with painful-looking bleeding lips!!  My lip cream of choice is Vaseline.  Yes, pure petroleum jelly.  I find that it is the most moisturizing.  I apply a thin layer before I do my makeup in the morning.

    (from Unilever’s website)

    7. Uniqlo Heat Tech tank tops and leggings
    These are lifesavers here.  I wear the tank tops and leggings under my normal clothes.  It’s the same as wearing thermal underwear, but I would rather say I’m wearing Uniqlo leggings!

    8. Uniqlo room shoes (slippers)
    Long time readers of this blog know that I hate socks.  However, I need to wear something when I’m at home, or else my feet will get really cold.  I love these ones from Uniqlo which are made of sweatshirt material!

    (from Uniqlo’s website)

    On the other hand, here are some typical winter essentials that you will not see on me:

    1. Knits
    Most woolen knits make me itch like crazy, even if I am wearing a shirt underneath.  I haven’t worn wool in a very long time.

    2. Turtlenecks
    I don’t like how I look with turtlenecks.  I love my V-necks and that is what I wear most of the year.  I also seem to have very sensitive skin around my neck, which turns bright red even with cotton turtlenecks.

    3. Scarves
    I just can’t make them work for me!  I know there are plenty of non-wool scarves, but I just don’t know how to do them properly!!

    What are your winter essentials?  Please let me know!

    xoxo, K

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