I’m an incurable cosmetics junkie; my love for beauty products began at the age of 6 when I begged my mother to buy me a tube of Coty Nature’s Blush that I’d seen advertised in her Glamour magazine. 22 years later, I can still spend over an hour in one drugstore, rubbing my hands in glee over the racks of gleaming bottles. You might wonder why you’ve never heard me speak of cosmetics on this here blog. Maltreatment at the hands of children, yes; eyeshadow, no. Well, I never mention cosmetics on this blog because this blog is based in Japan.
Let me explain. Thanks to the countless hours I’ve spent researching brands and skincare science, as well as the years I spent reviewing cosmetics for various websites, I’ve come to put extreme care into the products I buy. This means learning how to read ingredient lists so that I can weed out products that might damage my troublesome skin and if at all possible, I read as many reviews as I can before actually shelling out money for a product. When I moved to Japan, my eyes glittered at the mere thought of all the new products I would be exposed to but I forgot one small fact: all of the product literature would be in Japanese. Excitedly, I trolled cosmetic shops only to find that each product was a mystery to me. I didn’t watch TV or read magazines because of the language barrier and had no female friends with whom to compare notes with. Similarly, the English-language beauty websites I frequented usually didn’t have reviews for the Asian brands and forget about reading the product literature on the back of the bottle – an eye-crossing exercise. Even now, while preparing for my 3-Level JLPT exam, the most I can get from the writing on a hair product bottle is the name and type of product. Sean must usually translate the directions for me, and he does so dashingly; ferreting out his dictionary, delivering commands and finishing with the admonition: “You don’t need this rubbish.” That’s madness; of course I do.
For me, there are no impulse cosmetic purchases in the realm of skin and haircare. I find that color cosmetics like lipstick are possible to buy blind since, unless they contain menthol or heavy fragrance, they probably won’t cause any irritation. When it comes to putting something on my face, though, I need an ingredient list. As a result of this, I’ve experimented very little. However, I am still a cosmetic junkie and that means that from time to time I’m bound to have a moment of weakness. So every once in a while I buy something that looks, to the best of my knowledge, harmless … only to regret it when my face breaks out in crops of fresh red spots. What could have been the mystery ingredient? Isopropyl Myristate? Sodium Chloride? Carageenan? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate? Since I can’t read the ingredient list, I’ll probably never know.
Other times, my gambles have paid off. Behold my facial scrub! I bought it a few months ago when my skin was looking ashy. As I’ve always been a fan of baking soda in skincare products and I like using a manual scrub in the shower, it seemed like a good pick. I’m pleased to report that for all my initial trepidation, I’ve used this product for about 6 months and, in combination with some AHA and Benzoyl Peroxide products I picked up back home and two other fortunate gambles, Ettusais clear bar soap and Whitening SPF 25, I find my skin is in pretty darn good working order.
To be fair – the bottle told me all I needed to know.