Sunday, July 23, 2017

Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++

Back in March Miss Y went to Saitama for a work conference and apparently she had enough time to visit an esthe salon (a.k.a. a spa) to get a facial, a full body treatment and gods only know what else.

She brought some skincare with her. A brand I've never heard of before. Evermere.

She let me try a few things (a gel cream and a gel face pack) and I liked them enough to fire up the innernets to see where I could buy them locally. Because sure as hell I wasn't going all the way to Saitama to buy a face cream. I mean, I have my standards. Tokyo? No problem. Saitama? This is where I draw the line.

Luckily for me, according to the company's website, it turned out that a beauty store called Rosemary's carries some Evermere items.

So next time I happened to be around Rosemary's (I know you thought I immediately ran out to buy it, but you're wrong, ha!) I picked up this awesome thing:

Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++


They had me at "moist".
My dry skin was turning even drier at that time. And being a religious sunscreen devotee, it meant I could get two of my favorite things combined - moisture AND sun protection. You didn't have to tell me twice.

Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ was coming home with me.


Evermere is a company that prides itself on products formulated specifically for dry skin. Their lineup is very modest, but what it lacks in scope, it more than makes up for in moisture claims.
Evermere is so serious about skin moisture that the company partnered up with Osaka University to conduct "Fundamental Research into Skin Moisture Retention Measurment Using Terahertz Electromagnetic Wave" - link. Yep, they REALLY care about staying moist.

Anyway, where was I?
From what I see, all Evermere products are formulated without ethanol and mineral oil. Some use methylparaben as a preservative, but some don't.

Today's contestant, Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ is alcohol-free, mineral oil-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free and artificial coloring-free and it's supposed to be super gentle on the skin, with no stinging and no adverse reactions.


However, you still get the full list of standard warnings and precautions that's printed on seemingly every cosmetic product in Japan.

The first thing you notice when you take the tube out of the box is that this thing is HUGE. And when I say "huge", I mean huge by Japanese standards.


With Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ you get 70 grams of product for 2800 yen plus tax. If you think it's pricey, then remember that an average Japanese sunblock contains only 30 grams of goo. I consider it to be a good deal. Especially since this sunblock is as close to exceptional in my book as a sunblock can get.

I'm on my second tube of Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ and that in itself is all the review you need. I hardly ever repurchase the same sunscreen. There are VERY few exceptions to this rule and to my own shock and surprise, Evermere made the cut.


What makes Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ so special?
The fact that it does what it advertises. It keeps dry skin moist. It does it in a gentle and soothing way. It does it without feeling wet, sticky or greasy. Magic, I tell you. Pure, sheer magic!


The reason why it moisturizes so well is this whole Moist Tec® business. Short for "Moisture Technology", it's Evermere's patented way of yeah, basically, keeping you deliciously moist.

Now, in addition to adding moisture and keeping that moisture in, Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ protects you from UVA, UVB, tobacco smoke, air pollution (exhaust fumes and such) and even from PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter). Apparently, this is the sunblock to pack if you're going to China (or anywhere smoggy) this summer.

What else?
Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ is a watery gel type chemical (organic) sunscreen.


It's white and very, very watery. True to the company's claims, it has no scent whatsoever.
On my dry skin it absorbs rather quickly, even on very humid days. Maybe not as fast as sunscreens that contain alcohol, but for an ethanol-free product it dries remarkably fast.

Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ swatches:


As you can see, when it's fully dry it leaves no white cast and no visible residue. It works just like a normal moisturizing gel. Yet with all that, Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ manages to be seemingly sweat- and waterproof. AND it works as a makeup base. AND it can be removed with a regular face wash.


Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ ingredients:


And here in Japanese and English for your reading pleasure:


水、メトキシケイヒ酸エチルヘキシル、ジエチルアミノヒドロキシベンゾイル安息香酸ヘキシル、グリセリン、トリエチルヘキサノイン、ペンチレングリコール、アスコルビルグルコシド、水溶性プロテオグリカン、水溶性コラーゲン、アセチルヒアルロン酸Na、加水分解ヒアルロン酸、ヒアルロン酸Na、カミツレ花エキス、クロクスクリサンツス根エキス、アロエベラ葉エキス、ローズマリー葉エキス、ワサビノキ種子エキス、ビルベリー葉エキス、ポリクオタニウム-61、グリチルリチン酸2K、DPG、BG、イソステアリン酸、セスキイソステアリン酸ソルビタン、ラウリン酸ポリグリセリル-10、アラビアゴム、マルトデキストリン、キサンタンガム、デキストリン、カルボマー、水酸化K、トコフェロール、BHT、フェノキシエタノール

Aqua, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate), Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (Uvinul A Plus), Glycerin, Triethylhexanoin, Pentylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Soluble Proteoglycan, Soluble Collagen, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Crocus Chrysanthus Bulb Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract, Polyquaternium-61, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Isostearic Acid, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Dextrin, Carbomer, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopherol, BHT, Phenoxyethanol


Apparently, the star ingredient in Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ is this odd-sounding "soluble proteoglycan", which has anti-oxidant properties as well as being anti-aging, moisturizing, whitening and having an EGF-like effect.

Warning!
Soluble proteoglycan is derived from animal sources (bovine cartilage), so that means that Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ is not a vegan product.

Personally, it doesn't matter to me. I use a horse oil shampoo and a placenta toner. But if you are into vegan cosmetics, this is not a sunscreen for you.


In addition to proteoglycan, Evermere Moist Tec UV Gel SPF50+ PA++++ is packed with extracts (anti-aging), hyaluronic acid (moisture), collagen (moisture) and ascorbyl glucoside (anti-oxidant).

I simply love this sunscreen. It's a perfect basic, everyday, all-purpose sunscreen that doubles up as my morning layer of moisture during summer.



If you don't live in Japan, the only problem you might have will be actually finding this product. I see it on ebay for a very reasonable US$30.00 mislabeled as Shiseido.

Evermere is its own company, does its own in-house research (when not partnering with Osaka University) and it even has its own factory. That way the company has control over everything that happens with its products.
In addition to Evermere own skincare products, they also seem to formulate and manufacture cosmetics for other brands.



So there you have it.
This is my accidental sunscreen hit of 2017.

This is not the last you're hearing about Evermere on this blog. I also bought their gel foundation, and let me tell you, it's as amazing as it sounds. Perfect makeup for dry-skinned folks like me.

And now I'm also itching to visit that Evermere spa in Saitama where Miss Y went in March. There go my standards...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Amazon Japan Prime Day 2017 Haul

Amazon's Prime Day sucks. It's all hype and no real deals. Yeah, it's better now than it used to be, that's for sure. I still remember one of the first prime day events and a lightning deal for a five gallon bucket of personal lube, or something like that.

I'm not sure how Amazon did this year in other countries, but from what I'm hearing on the innertubes, it was less than inspiring in the US, too.

If you live in Japan and use Amazon JP, you do it primarily for convenience. Why? Because pricewise their "deals" are frequently still more expensive than what you'd pay at your local store. Their list prices can be quite imaginary, so it's always a good idea to check them elsewhere.

So, did I buy anything?

Yes. Plenty of cat food. Mainly because I'm lazy and don't like to carry heavy things to and from the car in this ridiculously hot weather. The disappointing part was that even with the prime day "deal", it still turned out to be more expensive than what my local discount store sells it for. But yeah, I'm lazy, so I bought it anyway.

Beauty deals were pretty much non-existent. And was did exist was very disappointing.

So, did I buy anything?

Yeah, I did. Because I'm impulsive like that. And because one of the deals was for a brand that I've been eyeing for quite some time.

This is the total haul:



The two bottles on the left I got for the man, so he wouldn't complain that I'm only spending money on myself.

This is what I got him:


A bottle of face wash and a bottle of all-in-one gel from a brand I've never heard before - Fine Skin Lab. He hasn't tried it yet, so I can't tell you anything about them. The products look simple with basic formulations. We'll see.

I have no idea why I got Rosette Ceramide gel and lotion.



I remember using them a while back and they were OK. But just OK. However, with the lightning deals, they turned out to be surprisingly cheap, so I guess I'll give them another go when the weather gets cooler.

Rafra Balm Orange Extra Cleansing was with me before and I quite liked it. I never got around to blogging about it, so maybe this time I'll do better.


I'm really looking forward to using it again. It just smells so lovely. So relaxing. So peaceful. Can skincare be peaceful? Yeah, it can, I guess.

And finally, this is the reason why I even bothered with Prime Day in the first place.
Tunemakers. Or Tune&Makers, if you will.


The hype is strong with this one. I got curious.
It promises simple, effective, customizable skincare. And it better be amazing, because these bottles are tiny. 20ml and 10ml tiny. And not that cheap at all.
But let's see. Stay tuned (see what I did here?) and I should be able to tell you more about Tunemakers soon.

So, this is what I bought during the very disappointing Amazon Japan Prime Day this year.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

MŪN Skincare - first impressions

Last year, sometime around October, I took a look at MŪN (pronounced "moon"), and thought it would be nice to try it.
Then, I guess it was in November, I actually commented somewhere that I was thinking of getting the MŪN Anarose toner, because I love roses. And up until then, all rose products I had tried were, well... not very rosy.

A few days later I had an email from MŪN waiting for me in my mailbox, offering to send me a set of their products to test and to review. Whoa! Serendipidipidipity. Or perhaps a very active social media presence?

I had already told the man to get me the toner for Christmas. I quickly told him to get me something else instead (he commented with why is it something something for women something something so hard to make up their minds, something something). And then I replied to MŪN that I'd be delighted to accept their offer.



See, I don't normally accept sponsored products. Unless they are from cool Taiwanese brands, or from brands that I've been going to try anyway.

With MŪN, I decided it was the universe's way of telling me that MŪN and I were meant to be.

"Wait a minute..." I hear you say, "isn't MŪN an American brand? Why are you blogging about it?"

Yes, MŪN is a US based company and they are very clear and upfront about it (unlike Tatcha). But, there is a connection to Asia.
The founder of MŪN is Munemi Imai, a Japanese makeup artist based in New York City.
Ms. Imai doesn't know it, but way back when, in a far distant land, our paths actually crossed on one occasion. I didn't realize it either until I started reading about MŪN and had my "whoa! I remember this woman!" moment. I used to work in the fashion and beauty business, too, just in a more behind-the-scenes capacity.

Here you can read more about MŪN and its founders - link.

Now, I hope you can understand why I was so excited to try MŪN.



It took some time for the MŪN goodies to get to me. First, I was in China and North Korea, then I was sick, and then work hit me full force in the face. And then my beautiful MŪN goodies arrived here, just when I desperately needed something to cheer me up and brighten my day. Serendipidipidipity.

But first things first.
What is MŪN?

It's a minimalist, natural skincare brand that is based on the oil from the seeds of the prickly pear cactus a.k.a. Opuntia ficus-indica.

Opuntia oil had its moment of glory in the beauty world in 2015. Everyone and their mother were talking about it then. Yes, it is indeed a very beneficial cosmetic ingredient.
In general, thanks to their skincare properties, Opuntia-based ingredients are very popular in Asian cosmetics. You can find them in a huge variety of products, from face washes to sunscreens.

image: Wikipedia

So, is Opuntia good for your skin? Yes, it is. It is known for its skin repairing and anti-aging benefits. In folk medicine, Opuntia was used for wound healing and scientific studies (conducted, among other places, in Italy) confirmed these healing properties.

So, is Opuntia a new ingredient? It's not. It's been around for a very long time.

Back to MŪN.

What does MŪN mean by minimalist?

This:

source: https://munskin.com/


All fans of multi-step "Asian" skincare routines must be in total shock now. Such words? Coming from a Japanese woman? How is this possible? The world is going to end!!!

Actually, I am not surprised. Japan, unlike Korea, is the capital of all-in-one products. Drugstores here are full of them. And I like quite a few of them, too.

When MŪN said "minimalist", they weren't joking. The entire routine, from start to finish, consists of just three steps. Three.

There is just one cleanser - MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanserlink.
There is just one toner - MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Tonerlink.
There is just one serum - MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serumlink.

There is also a body toning serum and argan oil, but I didn't try those.

I received this Daily Face Essentials set:


source: https://munskin.com/


So, let's get started, shall we?


This is what my set looked like:


I fell in love with the tagline:
Your #munglow starts from within (but our products help too).

I also loved the minimalistic package design and the black glass bottles - simple, clean, sleek yet sturdy at the same time.



And these are the official descriptions. Yes, the "Pure Beauty Ritual" phrasing makes me cringe, too.




I cleared my skincare schedule and started testing.
Here is my MŪN story.

~~~

MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser - 100 ml for US$60.00
I did not finish the bottle.

In theory this cleanser sounds great. It's not a first cleanser. It's not a second cleanser. It's the only cleanser.




As someone who religiously double cleanses (I credit double cleansing with keeping my breakout-prone skin zit free) and refrains from scrubbing, rubbing and using washcloths, I knew this cleanser would be hard to take.

And it was.



The claims are really impressive. According to MŪN website - MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser unclogs pores, removes waterproof makeup, is non stripping, detoxifying, pH balanced.

Was it?

Well...
It pains me to say that, but no. It wasn't.



I've gone through literally hundreds of cleansers in my 46 years. I know a good cleanser when I meet one. Sadly, this wasn't one of them.

It was a thick and sticky mess that cleansed OK, but was impossible to rinse. Let me repeat it. Impossible. To. Rinse.



I tried it with the included washcloth. I followed the directions. I tried it using my hands only. I ignored the directions and improvised. And nothing. Sticky oily mess it was. And sticky oily mess it stayed.



In desperation I started mixing it with my trusty Shu Uemura Ultime8 Cleansing Oil.

And that did the trick. MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser became manageable. But as anyone who uses Shu Uemura cleansing oils can tell you, these are not oils that you want to waste by mixing them with other unruly cleansers. Don't know about you, but I can't afford to literally pour money down the drain.

I switched from Shu to my economy size bottle of cleansing oil that I use in the shower (what? waterproof sunscreen is not going to remove itself from my neck and arms) and this is the only way that I could get MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser to work.



With this method, MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser became a first cleanser and needed to be followed up with a second cleanser. That kind of defeated the purpose of a minimalist skincare routine, didn't it?

MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser ingredients:




Despite beautiful claims and ingredients, I am not a fan of this cleanser.
This is Japan. There are hundreds of better cleansers (including those with natural ingredients) for a fraction of the price.


The website claims that MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser has a pH range of 4.7 to 5.2.
As my electronic pH meter is out of commission for the time being, I used strips to verify this info.



My MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser shows to be definitely closer to pH 6 than between 4 and 5.

Another thing that I wasn't particularly happy about was the pump design. The pump stopper (cap?) was awkward to use.



As I wasn't going to travel with this big bottle of cleanser, I tossed the stopped and hoped for the best.



Unfortunately, the same pump design is used for the serum bottle. I wanted to travel with the serum. But that damn cap / stopper drove me bananas.

I thought I was being unfair in my assessment, so I gave the rest of the bottle to Ms Y, so she could test it too. Ms Y usually double cleanses using a simple Muji cleansing oil and Fancl washing powder.

Her opinion of MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser?
"Life is too short for shitty cleansers."
Later, when I told her how much this cleanser costs, she replied, "Go get your head examined."

And that is the end of my adventure with MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser. I wanted to love it so badly, but I just couldn't. We were not meant to be together.

~~~

MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner - 100 ml for US$65.00
I finished the bottle.



Let me tell you this.
I am attempting to place an order for not one bottle of this stuff, but TWO. At once. Just to stock up.
I tried to do it yesterday, but it was sold out.
Today it's back in stock, but I just realized that my credit card is expired and I haven't gotten a new one in the mail yet (oops! I hope everything is ok, otherwise I'm screwed!) As soon as I can sort it out, I will complete this order.

Yes, I am repurchasing a sponsored / PR sample product. To use AND to stock up.

That is pretty much all you need to know about MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner, because it hardly ever happens in my case. I am picky, blunt, and nearly impossible to please.



MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is not 100% perfect. But good enough for me to overlook the gasp-inducing price.

So, let's take a closer look, shall we?

If you are expecting a Japanese style hydrating toner, you will be disappointed. MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is not a Japanese hydrating toner. It's a western toner designed for western audiences. Whatever hydration is there is minimal when compared to Asian toners.

So, what's so great about it?

I have rosacea. Finding a simple, no fuss toner that would work with my skin AND calm the redness is nearly damn impossible. MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner does it. It soothes my skin, it keeps it glowing, it controls the rosacea demon, it works with all other skincare I threw on top of it.



Even though it doesn't contain any ferments (or galactic mices*, as we call them here for fun), the end result is what I expected from SK-II Facial Treatment Essence but never got. Except SKI-II smells like pee, and MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner smells like, well... roses dnd something very strange.

So yes, MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner smells like roses (kind of), is cheaper than SK-II, works like a dream (I'm willing to forgive that it's not hydrating enough), and performs miracles on rosacea skin. Get on my face already!

Oh yes, what does the brand say about it?

MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is supposed to be:

  • calming (yes!), 
  • balancing (yes!), 
  • soothing (yes!), 
  • hydrating (not really),
  • pH from 4.5 to 5 (no idea, I didn't check myself).


MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner ingredients:



As you can see, this is a stellar list, and as much as I tend to side-eye natural products and their claims, MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is the real deal.

Is there anything that I didn't like about it?
Apart from being hydrating only in the name, I wasn't happy with the spray top nozzle.


It failed to dispense enough liquid and after a couple of weeks died completely. This is unacceptable in such an expensive product. I ended up unscrewing the top and removing the nozzle, and taking my chances with a cotton square directly from the bottle.

The official directions are such:


I love how MŪN understands that people mix and match their skincare and doesn't subscribe to the myth that so many brands perpetuate - that you need to use the entire set to get the best results.

What about the toner itself?
It looks like this:


Conclusion:

MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is an excellent product and might be an interesting option for people sensitive to ferments, but who want that ferment-induced first treatment essence glow.

MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner and I are definitely meant to be.

~~~

And last but not least - MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum - 20 ml for US$95.00
I finished the bottle.

That price definitely makes you look twice. But then again, compared to other natural high-end skincare products, it's actually one of the more affordable options.


Matt from Dirty Boys Get Clean on Instagram loves this serum. He said, quote, "First impression is : Aknari & I are totally dating". And I totally understand. MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum is a very interesting serum.

I wouldn't call it serum, though. It's a beauty oil. Here, take a look at the ingredients.

MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum ingredients:



Yes, this is not a typo. There are really just three of them: Prickly Pear Seed Oil, Argan Oil and Rose Flower Oil.

That is lovely. What is not lovely, and let me get it out of the way right now, is the smell. Maybe it's just my nose, maybe I got a funky bottle, but this smell is just odd.

I have the same problem with a few other oil serums. They tend to have these weird "natural" scents.
MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum smells like roses and rancid yak butter. The smell takes me back to Bhutan (that's where I learned how yak butter smells.)
Have you ever drunk Bhutanese (Tibetan) tea with salt and yak butter? Now imagine drinking this tea next to a bunch of fresh roses and you have a very close approximation of what MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum smells like.



If you can get past its very "organic" fragrance, then MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum turns out to be a very efficient and effective oil serum.

I used it only at night and mixed and matched with other skincare products. It worked as effectively as pure squalane oil (HABA) or rice oil (Kuramoto Bijin).



The company claims that MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum:

  • smoothes wrinkles (yes, it kinda did)
  • repairs sun damage (can't really confirm or deny)
  • lightens dark spots (not as effectively as Kuramoto Bijin sake serum)
  • soothes inflammation (yes, it does!)
  • brightens under eye circles (I think it's an optical illusion due to the fact that the skin appears plump and nicely moisturized with this serum)
  • makes skin soft and radiant (yes and yes),
  • has a "heavenly" scent (hell no!)


MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum is indeed very lightweight and cosmetically elegant. Too many oil serums feel heavy and greasy and tacky. This one doesn't.


I'm really on the fence with this serum.
On one hand, the results are very good and it is soothing and calming for my rosacea skin. On the other hand the price and the smell bother me.
I'd like to try it again, but it's not a necessity for me the way that MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner is.

If I get MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum again, I think I'll try to mix it with straight up rose oil to see if I can kill the scent of yak butter.
As it is now, MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum is not a "must have" for me. Just a "nice have" if given a chance.

~~~

The Daily Face Essentials set also included an Ikeuchi Organic washcloth.




I actually have a set of Organic5 Ikeuchi bath towels (white and purple), so I am familiar with the brand. I used my white Ikeuchi bath towel as the background in the photo of Akwi Purifying Cleanser and the cleansing oil earlier in this blog entry. I love these towels! They are soft and luxurious and make me feel like a princess.  So the washcloth was a nice addition.

This is the end of my MŪN story.
Caroline Hirons reviewed the MŪN Ayour Body Toning Serum last year and she liked it a lot.

As you can see, I really like MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner. 
About MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum I like everything except the smell and price.
And I don't like MŪN Akwi Purifying Cleanser at all.



You can buy these products directly from MŪN Skin here - link.

As always with my reviews, even though the products were provided as PR samples, it had zero effect on my opinion of them. And the fact that I am repurchasing MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner speaks for itself.



I would like to thank the team at MŪN for giving me the opportunity to test and review these products.

You can follow MŪN on Instagram here - link and on Twitter here - link.

Have an amazing week, everyone!
Until next time!


*) galactomyces ferment filtrate a.k.a. galactic mices
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