Trying your Japanese beauty products… still can’t read, but hoping for the best…

Posted on 16.07.2014





As I stated in an earlier post, I still can’t read kana or kanji. This means that when it comes to shopping for beauty or hair care products, unless I already know the product, or it has some English on it, I’m on my own. I’m TRYING to learn, but speaking English all day doesn’t really help!
photo 2The first local shampoo that we bought is from a company called Honeyce. Mark really liked the bottles, and they’re honey-based (apparently). That’s a good sign for being natural, maybe, right?

I have no idea if these products are animal tested, contain whale blubber, or anything. But we have used them, they work fine, and smell good.

Since coming to Tokyo, I’ve been having some dandruff issues. This is kind of funny to me, since I had a similar issue in Germany, which I was blaming on the hard water there. The water here is amazingly soft, and I’m still having the issue, which seems to be wide-spread around here, from what I’ve heard.

I’ve been using Weleda Skin Food as medicine (thanks to Griet, who brought me 2 tubes of it from Belgium in April!!) on the dry spots that I can’t help scratching, and it seems to be helping. That lotion lasts forever… thank goodness, since it may be another year  before I can get any more! The stuff is like TRIPLE the price over here, and I can’t decide if I want to pay that… yet.

I’m not sure if putting lotion on my scalp will help, but I’m hoping for the best.


I wanted to get something for my split ends (this is what dying blonde, or dying at all will do to hair, apparently), so I got some trial sized items from LOFT. I got one product from Schwarzkopf, which is a German company whom I KNOW animal tests, but I could read the label and thought giving them 500Y might not do too much for them in the grand scheme of my NOT supporting them. I actually bought this product as a reward for them just being there, and alerting me to the fact that THIS SECTION IS THE HAIR REPAIR SECTION. Thank goodness I speak German. Because they import a TON of German stuff, and I can use these labels as signposts throughout a lot of stores.

photo 1Along with the Schwartzkopt treatment, I also got an egg protein hair mask by Lebel. I can’t read the entire label, but the front has some English on it, and they appear to be a Japanese company who goes the all-natural route, and may not test on animals. A web search got me their website, but no information on cruelty either way. I couldn’t find any news articles, either.

Even though the Schwarzkopf hair repair worked BETTER, I went with the Lebel one made of egg protein, since I think these guys may be more natural and less cruel than Schwarzkopf is. This is absolutely how some US companies dupe their customers into thinking they’re ‘all natural’, but I know the Japanese market and consumers are more demanding, so I’m hoping for the best. The egg protein hair pack works fine and helps with the split ends. I apply it every time I wash my hair, which is about twice a week.

This led me to try their line of shampoos and conditioners…

They are kind of expensive, but it appears that ALL good hair care products in Tokyo might be. I’m not too excited to spend $9 for a tube of conditioner, but if it works.. ok.

All I can say is that I REALLY like the seaweed shampoo, but the rice protein conditioner is a little too expensive for the amount of conditioner I actually get, so I may not buy it again, even though it does feel nice. As far as natural products go, the shampoo suds up enough, even though I have to use a TON of it, and the conditioner goes through my hair and coats well. Better than most natural products, actually. But since I can’t read the label to see if they are *actually* natural, I have no idea whom I should be comparing them to.

I almost MISS the cruelty-free choices I had in the states. If worse came to worse, there was at least always VO5… which they have here. It may be the only US product I’ve seen whose markup doesn’t make me want to break something. Cheap over there, cheap-ish here!


photo 3On the search for body wash, I came across this stuff. I can get Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps here,  but the cost of a large bottle of it (which I know would last a long time) is about $30+ dollars. While I’m more than happy to pay for things I love SOMETIMES, I’m afraid to get into the habit of buying this stuff ALL the time. So I wanted to see what else was around.

Since I normally like to shave my legs with body wash rather than shave gel, I wanted something unscented. Scented stuff (that is not natural) tends to irritate my skin. And also, I don’t like when it interferes with my perfume. I bought a bottle of this stuff, which was SUPER cheap, based on the fact that all I can read is ‘additive free soap, and that sounds good to me.

It suds up well, but doesn’t do a lot of good when it comes to shaving. I don’t really care. In the summer, I take SO many showers, and the Bronner’s doesn’t sud up perfectly, either, and I don’t want to waste it on two showers per day. So I’m already onto my second container of this stuff, just to extend the life of my Dr. Bronner’s soap. I love that it’s affordable, unscented and works.

A lot of beauty products here have really ridiculous names  (“Moist, Dianne” comes to mind), or poorly designed labels. I don’t want to say the design is terrible, but it appears that the beauty products for women label aesthetic is swirly writing, looks French or English, but ends up looking like a knock-off with funny English. So I think I may end up rewarding properly used English as much as, if not more than, I reward good design and a lack of animal cruelty.

I can’t wait to learn how to read.



Posted in: Japan, life, reviews, shopping