Royal Honey Emulsion -}

Sorry to cut you out, Duffy.
The weather has been flirting with the idea of summer weather in Kyushu for quite some time, so it's high time I pulled out all my summer bits and bobs. One new thing in my routine, however, is this Royal Honey Emulsion from Skin Food. I had a friend pick this up for me when she popped over the Seoul, since I was interested in trying but not enough to fork over the Y4000 it is in Japan. 

Featuring Duffy the Bear from Tokyo Disney Sea!
I have to say, I've been really liking this as a night time moisturizer. It's lightweight and kind of tacky at first but after a few minutes it sinks in leaving you skin soft and plump. The weight and feel are perfect for the summer, when putting on anything unnecessary is just too much work. Overall though, I don't think I'll be repurchasing this in Japan - maybe if get over to Korea sometime where it's half the price - but for Y4000, I want a little more than just moisturizing going on.

Do you switch up your skin care for the summer? Have you ever tried the Royal Honey line?

Water & Tea -}

I am going to start with a disclaimer, I have terrible eating habits. I can not say 'No' to ice cream ever, I love a good bottle of Hoëgarrden or Carlsberg on Friday nights, and a slew of other bad habits. There are several habits that I have slipped in my routine, to try and counterbalance the bad habits.

There is almost always a cup of water beside me at all times – to the point of where my little shoebox apartment is littered with them by the end of the week. Without consciously thinking about it, I can drink about four or five cups of water just sitting about and reading through my blog roll or watching the latest uploads on YouTube.

While, water might be the best thing for you to drink, it can get pretty boring sometimes. So I've picked up a tip from Korea (and recently the rest of Asia) – drink water mixed with vinegar. I know, I know. It sounds absolutely disgusting, it certainly did to me when I first heard the idea. Now, I'm not talking white vinegar, the stuff you use to clean and cook with – although, I'm sure that's perfectly fine. However, there are actual products made for the specific idea with loads of flavors. I am personally loving this pomegranate vinegar I picked up for Y500 from Costco. It's delicious and cheap and my skin loves pomegranate, so win-win. Vinegar is supposed to be very good for the skin and the body, and some touted (though not proven) benefits are improved skin tone, improved digestion, and an increased metabolism. Plus if you're drinking a 'red' vinegar (hongcho? in Korean) they're supposedly loaded with antioxidants.

Another habit, I've picked up since living in Japan is drinking tea. While I'm still not a fan of English tea, or heaven-forbid, matcha, I've really grown to like hot oolong tea and cold barley tea (mugi-cha), and even more recently I've started enjoying a cup of hot green tea. Although in contrast to everything else, I tend to prefer cheap tea . . . I haven't gotten myself to like the really strong stuff. Now, green tea is suppose to help lower your chance of cancer – which helps me gulp down the strong stuff whenever I'm presented with it, but it also apparently helps against wrinkles and ageing of the skin. Oolong tea is also high in antioxidants, specifically those that are supposed to fight free radicals. And barley tea is assumed to have the ability to protect teeth enamel as well as other health benefits. I have to say though, even though I've snapped a picture of the Lawson bottled tea, I much prefer home-brewed barley tea – somehow the Lawson one tastes faintly of soap to me.

What are your healthy habits? Do you like tea or vinegar-water?

Turnaround Concentrate -}

Sometimes I feel like my beauty routine is just a big long boomerang process. I find I product I like, I use it up. And while I have ever intention to repurchase it, I end up being drawn to something, via a recommendation from a friend or another blogger, or just pretty packaging. Then I randomly pick up the product again and realize that while all the other products were nice, they don't compare.

Clinique's Turnaround Concentrate has been like that for me. I always feel like my skin is missing a little something when I don't use it. It helps gently smooth out the rougher areas of my skin and even out my skin tone. And while it's pricey (especially in Japan) I find it lasts a good while. I put a pump in my night routine, after my toner, every other night.

I'm sure I'll be distracted by pretty packaging or something or other, but I'm currently very, very pleased to have this back in my life.

Sheet Masks -}

Masks seem to be a pretty decisive topic in the beauty world. Some like wash off masks. Some like sheet masks. Some like both. I'm firmly in the both camp, I think each group has their pluses and minuses. But I think Asia in general is firmly in the sheet mask camp.

Sheet masks are everywhere, especially in Korea. And Korean sheet masks are everywhere outside of Korea. They generally can be found for a really good price, even outside of the Korean peninsula which probably helps with their popularity.

I like to use a mask at least once a week, if I can I try and use a sheet mask and a wash off mask each once a week. (Heavy emphasis on the try.) I always seem to be able to tell when I've been sticking to the a-mask-a-week routine and when I've fallen off. My skin just feels a bit limp and dull when I don't use them, and when I do, there's a obvious pay-off the next morning.

I'm currently loving anything pomegranate (my favorite is probably The Face Shop's pomegranate mask) and Skin Food's Royal Honey mask. Pomegranate has always made my skin look and feel amazing. And the Royal Honey mask smells amazing and makes my face feel so hydrated and . . . ぷるぷる . . . plump? (Here I go forgetting my English again.) I also purchased the avocado mask after hearing people talk about all the benefits of avocado for the skin – since I'm not particularly crazy about eating it, I figured a mask would be the next best thing.

Do you use masks? Which camp are you in?

The Omija Line -}

For the longest time the word 'whitening' in a products name or or description terrified me. As an American girl, raised on beach summers and swim team, I have always highly valued a nice tan over pale skin. Asia, however, is obsessed with pale, smooth skin. And on some small level, I've given in.

The Omija line from Skin Food claims to be for 'whitening' of the skin, but really it's secret is in brightening and smoothing out skin tone. While definitely not a miracle worker, or a speedy overnight treatment, when I put these into my every day routine, my skin seems to perk up. I use the toner and serum all year long and the emulsion m ainly in the summer months when I can use it in place of a moisturiser.

It's a bit expensive in Japan, but in Korea it's definitely a steal. Have you ever tried any brightening or whitening products?

A Second Day in Kyoto -}

I feel like I need a disclaimer in addition to the post title, this was my SECOND time to Kyoto. I'd already been to Kyoto before (a few years back) and hit the major sites of Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-ji, and Kinkaku-ji, and while I would definitely done some things differently if given the chance, I felt like seeing something a bit different this time around.

 As soon as I arrived at Kyoto Station, I grabbed a day bus pass from the Information Booth, but on busy days (the weekend, holidays, etc.) they have a small table set up outside, in front of the bus queues so you can skip the epic lines that form in the booth. And I highly recommend getting a bus pass, because with each fare a flat rate of Y230 and the daily pass at Y500, it's a very good deal. And the buses are a total necessary evil in Kyoto.

This time I did want to swing by Ginkaku-ji again, since it was under renovation when I went last time. The lady who sold me my bus ticket recommended grabbing a bus up to Ginkaku-ji and then working my way down towards Gion because the wait for a bus from the station to Gion was horrendous (trust me, I double-checked myself). Also, hopping the bus to Ginkaku-ji allowed me to get off at Imadegawa station and walk along the cherry blossom filled streets and creek-banks. 

After Ginkaku-ji, I wandered along the road, and wound up at Honen-in, a quiet, beautiful temple that is high on my re-visit list. I was running late to meet my friends and kind of sped through the galleries and rooms the temple had on display. Whoops.

How would you spend a second day in Kyoto?

Argelan Body Milk -}

You know how sometimes initial impressions can be wrong? Those pants that were such a steal make you look bloated. The super cute shoes, that actually pinch your feet. Ow. Yeah, I've made my fair share of those. But until now, none has landed me at the doctor.

Earlier this winter Matsumoto Kiyoshi put out a new organic house brand, Argelan. They might have other products but their two big products are lotion and shampoo. And I being a human being -that seems to magically posses scaly, lizard-esqe skin in the winter, I'm always on the look out for a new lotion.

So I bought this lovely packaged bottle of lavender scented body milk. And for the first few weeks it went well. And then I kind of forgot about it, until one morning I was feeling exceptionally dry and itchy. Before I threw on my normal layer of Heat Tech, I slathered my back with a coating of the lotion. Frankly this stuff smells amazing, I have to say, so the whiff of lavender I caught all day was quite nice.

However. That night, as I curled up and closed my eyes, I began to itch. And itch. And I couldn't sleep for an entire week because I was so itchy. I couldn't imagine what it was, nothing had changed. (I had been using the lotion semi-regularly at that point.) It took a trip to the dermatologist to figure out what was making me so unbearably itchy.

So while this is probably a lovely lotion/body milk for others, I shudder when I see it in the stores. Talk about trauma. Trauma from a body milk. Who knew?

Have you ever been lead astray by a product before?

Nara -}

Japan is jam packed with places to visit, if you look hard enough something old and fantastic is probably no more than a twenty minute leisurely bike ride away. Kyoto is a perfect example of this, almost to the extreme degree. But the lesser known, Nara is just as full of beautiful, ancient places, most much much older than your standard Kyoto fare.

Making it to Nara is relatively easy if you're already visiting another place in Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, etc.). It's around an hour's train ride from Osaka (probably faster if you pay the extra cost of hopping on an express) and maybe a bit more from Kyoto. I started from KintetsuNara on the Kintetsu Line, but starting from Nara Station on the JR Kansai Main Line doesn't really put you that far off the mark.

The walk through Nara Park up past Kofuku-ji (which is partly under construction, boo!) is nice on a good day, but beware – once you've purchased wafers to feed the deer in the park, good luck having any peace. Pushy little buggers!

Todai-ji is a must see, as it's complex houses the world's largest bronze statue of Bhudda, and the entire complex, along with seven other sites in the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Don't know what a World Heritage Site is? Do yourself a favor before coming to Japan and look it up. Japan is obsessed with them and very, very proud of the sites in Japan that have received the designation.) You can see quite a bit of the complex before having the pay the entrance fee to the main hall (Y500), but it's worth the coin to get and wander around.

I recommend buying a bento and bringing it with you through Todai-ji and the shrine's near by, and have a nice picnic lunch in one of the lovely open shelters in Nara Park. I unfortunately got hungry when I reached Tamukeyama Hachiman-gu Shrine and had to head back to find food, after which the weather became absolutely miserable and I had to call it a day. Major bummer. Don't make that mistake.

Have you ever been to Nara? What are your must see spots?

Rose Hair Shampoo -}

You know when sometimes you get swept away by beautiful packaging and the thrill of a new product? And it sits there, all shiny and pristine while your other products (while loved and much used) seem to shrink away from the perfection? But then . . . it doesn't live up to the excitement of the actual purchase.

Yeah, me too. And unfortunately, this shampoo is definitely one big fat case of buyers regret. After finishing up my CliniCare Full and Thick Shampoo, I was interested in trying a new shampoo and did some research (i.e. about five minutes of browsing

So off, I went to Kokura (a land that's not as magical as Fukuoka city, but it tries). And I found myself in the organic beauty shop in Izutsuya. Completely confused. There are so many brands and so many things to consider that I never really thought of (clearly the research didn't help). Enter the prettily packaged, of Cosmetics 'Rose Shampoo.'

The bottle is beautiful and the smell is, not exactly my style, but quite nice, something I thought I could definitely learn to like. The sample size that I bought has a screw cap, so you have to unscrew the cap and pour some out in your hand, which is kind of a pain when you're in the shower – however the full size does have a pump. The formula lathers nicely and seems to rinse well and left my hair feeling nice after the shower.

However, by the second day my hair was limp and greasy at the roots and I felt like a hot mess. So I went back and tried using a bit more product. Nu-uh. I tried using less product. Nope. I tried using the product on a every-other time basis with my Seanik shampoo. No go.

I'm sure this product has worked well for other people, but for me it just fell flat (see what I did there?). So I think I'm going to try and pawn this off to one of my girlfriends and try something else.

Have you ever tried Of Cosmetics products? Do you have any shampoo recommendations?

Red Bean Paste BB Cream -}

Confession time. For about a year and a half, I had my mom mail me foundation from America because I was too terrified to try out any Japanese foundations. This was probably a good idea, because the one I did try out was . . . waayyy to dark and yellow. It was terrifying. I try to block out my memory of it.

However, fast forward through a bunch of Clinique and some Estee-Lauder foundations to my first trip to Korea. Seoul stole my heart and blessed me with the beauty that is BB Cream. I know a lot beauty bloggers and others think very little of BB Cream. That is is, essentially, just over-hyped tinted moisturiser. Maybe it is. But for me, Skin Food's Red Bean Paste BB Cream is my holy grail (well, relatively).

The formula is much more foundation like than tinted moisturiser, and it gives very good coverage. It's still a bit more yellow than I'd prefer, but I live in Asia, what did I expect? I like to use a foundation brush to apply it to give that nice airbrushed finish.

I have to say it does slide a bit in my t-zone since that's where I tend to get oily, but less so than all other foundations. (Foundations always seemed to slide off for me until I found my perfect moisturiser, but that's for another post). My only complaint is something that can't be helped. It's ridiculously cheap in Korea (W10,000 or Y1,000) but in Japan it's twice as much (Y2,000), but between all the tariffs and whatnot, I guess it's understandable.

Needless to say I've gone through countless tubes of this stuff and I'm still in love. Although I'm itching to get back to Seoul and buy a bunch of new BB creams to try (particularly Skin Food's Aloe Vera BB Cream, and one from Missha).

Do you have any favorite BB creams? Or do you think they're over-hyped?

Random Kokura Haul -}

So last week my friend and I went to Kokura and did a bit of shopping. Even though the weather was absolute crap. (Boooooo.) I ended up picking up more than I intended to. (Isn't that always the case?)

We hit up . . . . well, pretty much everywhere except for Riverwalk. Izutsuya's second floor ladies shoe department has just re-opened, and now has shoes in sizes up to around 40!!! Excuse me while I dance for joy! My Sephora wish-list might take a massive hit as I might be splurging on some pretty flats instead. Hurrah!

In the picture above, you can see I purchased a large amount of paper products and the Bourjois CC Eye Cream Concealer from Loft. The pictures of them turned out just awful, but I really have been enjoying the concealer (weird packaging aside) and the post cards have been all mailed off to family in the States. The cards however are a year's supply, as I tend to stock up on a year's worth and then mail them when I have a family or friend's birthday.

There is this very clean, organic looking (can something be 'organic looking?') store on the edge of Kokura's arcade (Unomachi) across from a traditional shoe store, sitting on the street that runs between Izutsuya and Murosaki-gawa.
I've always thought this shop is really cute and always thrown around the idea of going in but never actually done it. Except this time, we were walking by and there was a bakery display with bagels. Hello! So we popped in and I bought two for around Y300 and let me tell you, totally worth it. Okay, not as good as something you might get in NYC or such, but in Kokura for Y150 a piece I was pretty happy. Although for some reason they included the instructions? Apparently bagels need instructions? A first for me.

I also popped into the Skin Food in Kokura Station's Amu Plaza. Ohhh. Skin Food. How I adore thee. I picked up a new tube of Red Bean BB Cream, what feels like my one trillionth tube. I love this BB cream - I'll be reviewing it soon. I also got a Black Sugar Mask as a sample. Which, while I like their Black Sugar Scrub for my body this is apparently for your face . . . not sure how I feel about that. But it's such a big hit in Japan, I guess I'll give it a try.

Hope you're all having a good week. And spring is bringing warmer temperatures to you! 

Toyotsu Biking Tour -}

A few weekends back, the weather decided to make a break for it and turned sunny and gorgeous and most importantly, warm. Now, I know, I know, Kyushu weather isn't all that cold, but it gets cold enough and so the sun-drenched high of 17C was a very, very welcome sight.

To make the most of the weather, my friend and I got out in the afternoon and biked a fair few kilometers to a small town called Toyotsu. The ride was gorgeous and the company was hilarious and while we might have gotten a bit turned around, it was a very fun trip.

The entire point of this little jaunt, however, was not just to get out and enjoy the fresh air (now with less PM2.5!). Toyotsu is home to a three story pagoda. Funny thing about pagodas, is that although my image of pagoda is definitely the Japanese variety, it is not, in fact, a Japanese word. Or in fact an original Japanese idea/architectural structure. (Thanks, Wiki!)

I'm not quite sure, why this pagoda was built. Or when it was. (Reasons why I should take pictures of the signboards – especially when the English is as good as the ones Toyotsu has!) But it's still very pretty, and very photogenic on a nice day.

I'm not quite sure, why this pagoda was built. Or when it was. (Reasons why I should take pictures of the signboards – especially when the English is as good as the ones Toyotsu has!) But it's still very pretty, and very photogenic on a nice day.

Buzen-Kokubunji, Toyotsu, Fukuoka

Open Daily (I think?) from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Closed from annually from December 28th until January 4th
Recommended? Yes, definitely! It only takes an hour or so to see the whole property. Two if you're taking your time. And the English sign translations are really well done.

Winning Combination -}

I have to admit, I'm not normally into 'crazy' nail polish designs. I like just a hand of the same solid nail color - maybe with an accent nail here or there - but nothing fancy. Plus with school I'm not allowed to indulge my love of dusty, dark colors nearly as much as I'd like. So this combination was not just a random trial test, but a lucky break.

Tuesday was graduation, so being a school day I had to wipe off the dark nail polish (OPI Black Cherry Chutney) off and put on something a bit more straight-laced. OPI Samoan Sands has been my go to nude shade for . . . well, whenever I discovered it years back. I often feel like I have to compromise what I'd like to be wearing whenever I have to go to school (pale pinks, nudes, nude-grays, etc.), but never with this one. It's subtle and chic, like the best of most things.

But once work was over Tuesday, I practically walked in the door and picked up this Vested Interest Essie polish. My friend picked this up for me when she went home for Christmas this past holidays. Now, to be fair, Essie is sold in Japan . . . but at Y1800 a pop. (That's around $18 for you U.S. readers.) Ouch. Plus the range of colors is pretty solidly in the 'pretty and pink' category, so for some one like me who lusts after Mind Your Mittens, After School Boy Blazer or the new Under the Twilight and Hide and Go Chic (although I'm hoping Resort Fling comes to Japan! PLEASE!), it just doesn't really work out in my favor.

At any rate, I'm loving the combination and the random diagonal pattern of them. It's quite simple, although I've tried 'simple' before and ended up wanting to just dump everything in the trash and never see nail polish again. (Dramatic, huh?) I popped on a quick top coat from Daiso (!!!!) and everything is looking good at the end of the first full day. But I'll let you know how this turns out.

Fingers crossed!


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Again. Please? :)

Not Giving Up -}

This is just a quick post to let you know, I'm not dead and neither is this blog.

I really liked beauty blogging (for the whole three weeks I really stuck with it), but when I sat down and really thought about it, I would never have enough content or opinions about beauty alone to fill a blog over the span of a year - or less. Actually, I sat down and did the math and figured I was way to broke to keep up a beauty blog.

So I'm shifting my focus - only slightly, this blog will still be primarily beauty but with a healthy dose of lifestyle and other random fun stuff. FUN! Hurrah!

Things to look out for in the future: new beauty brand reviews, biking trip ideas, and a trip to Kyoto! Hurrah!

See you soon!

Color Ink -}

I'm pretty sure these Color Inks that popped up in my drug store last week are the much talked about Color Tattoos elsewhere in the world.

Maybelline has been hard at work increasing their brand in Japan and while some have been grave misses (Baby Pore Primer, I'm looking at you). Others, well, I know I've been dying to try out.

Renamed Color Ink for what I'm assuming is a cultural reason (tattoos are still a pretty big no-no in Japan), Maybelline has launched five colors in the line. I'm guessing these pretty things aren't going to become part of their permanent line, judging from the fancy displays in stores and the Japanese love-affair with limited edition products.

I've already picked up the color BR-1 but I still find myself circling around the display like a shark waiting for it's prey. I can't decided if I want to pick up a fun bright color, like the green or gold, or if I should stick to my everyday colors and snatch the beige or rose.

What do you think? Are these something your eyeing up?

Body Lotion -}

You know how some times your life just seems to explode and you just have to let go and ride it out? This past week as been one of those weeks. Work and personal stuff just seemed to erupt into a torrent of insanity that mixed and meshed together and I was just trying to keep my head above water. So, what I'm trying to say is, sorry for not posting Thursday and it wasn't because I forgot. I just had run out of buffer and my life was not allowing me to sit down and write a blog post.

Anyway, let's get to it. Bioré's Body Deli Body Cream in Rose and Herbs (しっとり/moist type).

Japan's winters may not be as drying as other places, but when one compares it to the oppressive humidity we all suffer through here in the summer, it seems to be far drier than any other winter I've experienced. And maybe it's just me, but Japanese people don't seem to have the desire to drench their skin in lotion and oils to parch the skin.

How I miss 450 ml bottles of lotion for reasonable prices (or at all)! For the first few years, when I went to Kokura every weekend, I would always swing by the Body Shop in Riverwalk to get a tub of body butter. But the price tag is a bit hefty for something you're using a generous amount of everyday. And these days I don't get to Kokura or even Fukuoka all that often. So I hunted for something that would quench my skin's thirst better than the skin milks that seem to swamp Japanese skin care shelves.

Enter Bioré's Body Deli Body Cream! There are three types, とてもしっとり/really moist, しっとり/moist, and さっぱり/refreshed. I've just started using the しっとり/moist lotion. It has avocado oil, wild rose oil, and olive oil (also glycerin? Is that a thing now?). Recently I've started really getting into avocado oil (I just used up a avocado toner sampler from Skin Food – love!) in beauty products. But this was actually just a really great coincidence.

I can't say I'm super crazy about the smell, I'm not a fan of rose scented things – especially the sweet rose scent Japan seems to be so into. However the way it leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated more than makes up for it!

What about you? Do you get dry skin come winter? Have you tried any of Bioré's Body Deli's line?
Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!