Beauty

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New Year News!

Wow. It has been an excellent year so far, and we’re just getting started. I’m beyond pleased to announce that I’m the new Senior Editor for DHC Skincare, America. The role makes a lot of sense for me, considering I’ve been obsessed with both natural and Japanese skincare for eons. DHC is absolutely huge in Japan and adored by some of the best beauty bloggers and MUAS in the world.

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I’ll be contributing a great deal to the creative side of the brand in America, and overseeing the print content as well. Plus, I’ll be representing the company at events and conferences, so I’ll be part-editor,  part-beauty ambassador. So stay tuned for some cool content on that side of things. Thrilled!

As far as content here goes, the modeling/business advice and travel tips for lady globetrotters isn’t going to change one bit. As always, feel free to ask me anything about getting into the business, photographers, visas in Japan, or starting a new life as a #ladyexpat.

Okay 2015… let’s do this!

 

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Chat with a Pro: Makeup Artist Favorites

Earlier this month I asked a few of my favorite makeup artists and hair stylists from Tokyo and San Francisco a question: On set, what’s the one hair or skin product you absolutely cannot live without?

From classic to obscure, here are the absolute must-have, makeup artist favorites– straight from the mouths of the pros.

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Creme de la Mer moisturizer and Smashbox Light Photo Finish primer.”- Rona De Castro Basa

SF based MUA Rona De Castro Basa is the beauty genius behind this super femme wedding shoot. (P.S. Her eyelash work is truly stunning…)

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La Mer is synonymous with soft skin. Before moving to Tokyo I used in for years and loved it as an eye cream, or an all-over night cream during the drier months.

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Smashbox is a long time cult favorite, and after launching 14 years ago, still remains a top choice for photoshoot skin smoothing. The founders are the great grandsons of Hollywood legend Max Factor, and their Smashbox Studios remain a mainstay in the L.A. fashion/editorial shoot scene.

You can see Rona’s work and find out more about her here. 

“I love Temptu SB. It’s amazing, especially for base make up.”- Yuki Haba

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Yuki Haba is a Tokyo-based fashion MUA and Temptu master. When he’s working, his level of precision is off the charts, yet he still manages to be super fun to work with.

IMG_0113-682x1024 10348206_543444885764834_3849937696814059992_n We did a job for BeautyWorld last year where he took his mad Temptu skills to the next level. His love for edgy, sexy shoots shows in his creative choices.

Straight up: When it comes to pro-beauty, Maria Lee can do anything.

“Powder or blotting papers for makeup and thick styling cream for hair to get the flyaways.”- Maria Lee

Literally ANYTHING. Super vamp sexy? Yep. Gory special effects? Oh yes. Bridal? It’s what she’s famous for.

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Victory rolls and matte flawlessness. The girl’s got talent…

Her organic spray tans are the stuff of legends in San Francisco, and everyone I know who’s worked with her absolutely adores her. Why? She’s super pro (her home studio is every girl’s makeup dream) and has that coveted MUA gift of pushing beauty boundaries and still making it look perfect.

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Blotting papers are everywhere, but lately I’ve been digging these ones from Kyoto-based Chidoriya– Nars’ head of global artistry James Boehmer loves them.

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For loose powder Chidoriya also makes a colorless setting powder that reminds me of Koh Gen Doh. Natural, Japanese, classic. And hey if it’s good enough for geisha…

Luna Yoshikawa is part of the Tokyo dream team at No. 3 , the top creative agency in town. A sought-after hair stylist (read: book her waaaaay in advance) Luna’s done countless shoots for fashion, TV, and editorial. Communication wasn’t an issue for us on our test shoot with Yuki because the girl speaks fluent Beauty.

“I love Prejume styling wax by Milbon. For straight hair, I use a polish spray, like Silky Fog Nigelle LaFusion.”- Luna Yoshikawa

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Harder to get in the States, but you can find them here and here.

Sarah Dean is not only a super amazing MUA but a total girls’ girl. I love her Instagram for product tips and general life inspiration. She’s a wife, mom, and full-on beauty junkie. 

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Her pick? Fix It spray.  It’s a setting and hydrating mist. Makes makeup feel like a second skin..and sets makeup too!”

Atsuko Ohtsu is the Tokyo MUA responsible for the pretty on countless TV and film projects, as well as the beauty lead for the IKEA.jp commercial we did last year. 

 

 

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Her answer?

“It’s difficult to choose… but for hair it’s Elnette satin.”- Atsuko Ohtsu

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I think this one gets nods from around the table. Some things are just universal. 😉

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New: Japanese Drugstore Beauty Products

In Japan, the humble drugstore is an absolute wonderland for skincare and cosmetics shoppers.  Great quality for the price points, fun packaging, and serious active ingredients make bargain beauty shopping a breeze here, and if you visit, you can pretty much throw a dart and find a huge selection in any ward in Tokyo. Here’s an updated roundup of some of my favorite Japanese drugstore beauty products.

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Brand: Canmake

Product: Gel Volume Top Coat

Price: Under 600 yen (like five bucks US)

Why it’s awesome: Super long lasting, a fellow expat turned me onto Canmake’s nail line a few months ago. The polishes go on easy and maintain shine for a solid week. For the price, they really can’t be beat.

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Brand: Puresa

Product: CoQ10 Sheet Masks

Price: Under 500 yen (~ $3.50 US)

Why it’s awesome: These are everywhere… EVERYWHERE in Tokyo, but not all sheet masks are the same. With CoQ10 as the hero ingredient, these masks fight free radicals, promote elasticity, and soften fine lines. Cheap and cheerful daily maintenance. 

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Brand: Shiseido

Product: d program Medicated Concealer

Price: Under 4000 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $45.00)

Why it’s awesome: Two words: maximum coverage.  I tested d Program in the store and my nose pretty much disappeared. It’s like a magic eraser, and loaded with active ingredient Phellodendron amurense (a.k.a. amur cork tree bark), it clears blemishes and fights red weirdness without over drying.  Considering the Mercier concealer palette is around $32.00, it’s not exactly a bargain, but if you breakout and want a serious concealment… this is the go-to.

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Brand: DHC

Product: Lip Cream

Price: Under 650 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $8.00)

Why it’s awesome: Not too hard, not too soft, DHC’s super emollient lip cream is just right. Fragrance-free, olive-oil based, this cult classic both in Japan and in the States is everywhere in Japan (even the convenience stores). DHC is to Japan what Clinique is to the States: a simple, nationally renown brand found in every woman’s beauty arsenal. My apartment in Tokyo is literally six minutes away from two DHC shops.

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Brand:K Palette

Product: 1 Day Tattoo Eyeliner

Price: Under 1300 yen (in Japan… buying in the States it runs about $15.00)

Why it’s awesome: A razor sharp tip and almost indelible formula make 1 Day Tattoo a forever favorite. I’m not a pro makeup artist by any stretch, so on most days nailing my cat eyes is literally a stroke of luck. K Palette is the Japanese standard for long lasting, super fine liquid liner. I’m not as crazy about the eyebrow version, but for a sexy stiletto eye, 1 Day Tattoo is my top choice.

Off to stock up for my trip to the States! 

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Holiday Beauty Deals

Packing and packing! I’m gearing up to come home for the holidays and have been too busy to do anything, but here are a few deals I’ve spied while trying not to shop… Maybe I’ll just live vicariously through you guys for holiday beauty deals this year.

ASOS has last-minute gifts sets at 30% off. Anna Sui, Paul & Joe, Models Own, et. al.

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CLARISONIC is giving 20% off all orders,  free overnight shipping on orders of $100+with code SAVEANDSHIP. Ends 12/19.

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CLINIQUE has free shipping on $50+ orders.  3 Free best loved Clinique fragrances with any $35 purchase with code 3BEST, ends 12/22.

 

DHC is offering the 12 Days of Christmas, with a new deal every day.

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ELF: 40% off everything (ends soon) Code GOODIES

Folica is offering 20% off site wide (Sedu extra 10%) Code MORE20

Juice Beauty is doing The 12 Days of Beauty, offering a different flash sale every day….

KIEHLS is dishing out $20 in Kiehl’s Cash to use towards purchases of $65 or more with code JOLLY, ends 12/31. Receive 2 deluxe samples with any $60 purchase with code HOLIDAY, ends 12/25.

 

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SEPHORA
 
 is doing 26 Days of Delights; discover a new FREE Mini every day with code DELIGHT, ends 12/26. Receive an Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick sample with $25+ order with code COLORENVY, ends 12/31.  Get a free Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer deluxe sample with any $25+ purchase with code ZEROPORES, ends 12/31.

Loads of deals for last minute gifting! I’m busy packing– see you soon in California!

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Natural Luxe: Koh Gen Do

Upscale,  but not insanely spendy. Natural, but still a little glamourous. Effective, but not mundane or medicinal. When it comes to skincare and foundation makeup, Koh Gen Do hits all the right notes.

I’d heard from the blogs about the line ages ago and filed it away under “stuff I gotta try.” Then I forgot about it, until a trip back to SF last year when I saw it at Sephora. With so many amazeballs products to check out, quite honestly, I jut never got around to truly test driving it until recently.

I was granted the ultimate beauty blogger assignment by Savvy Tokyo: A test drive of four of the best foundation lines in Japan… with samples of everything from primers to color correctors, powders, creams, and of course, the foundations. And one of those lines was Koh Gen Do.

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The foundation review is coming up on Savvy soon, but I wanted to share some of the other goodies KGD carries that I’m lusting after…

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Spa Cleansing Water

This stuff gets rave reviews on the blogs and at Sephora… my editor at Savvy called it a “life-changing product,” (and she’s a hard-core beauty pro). Cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

 

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Maifanshi Lipstick

This moisture-locking glossy lip color has no parabens, no artificial colors, and the pink beige might just be the mythical “perfect nude.” I’m on it.

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Moisture Concealer

This reminds me a lot of the Laura Mercier concealer palette. Again, a super natural and high quality choice, I’m looking forward to testing this one’s staying power.

After testing the foundation products, I’m pretty much convinced that Koh Gen Doh is my new favorite Japanese line. I’m heading back to America for the holidays so I’m on a spending freeze, but when the bar is lifted, I’m super excited to check these out. If you’ve tried any of these products… let me know your thoughts!

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Destination Seoul, (a.k.a. AwesomeTown)

 I’m at Incheon Airport now, (one of the nicest airports on the planet, BTW), trying to avoid the Duty Free rabbit hole and stick to my plan to do a massive beauty edit when I get home. (I did get a few things… let’s not be crazy. I’ll share my Fall mini-haul and manifesto on simple living later. Sounds contradictory but it’s not.

But I digress. I’ve been in Seoul for the past week doing some med-spa facial stuff (I’m hiding from the camera for a few days… please luxuriate in the selfie break on my Instagram!). Gangnam is the beauty capital of the planet and they are on the pulse of the latest, newest, safest, and most effective skin treatments. So my skin is a bit sore (and swollen– very glad for medical mask acceptance in Asia right now!). But preventive skincare is so key to not being tempted to go under the knife… so it’s a little painful and pricey, but in the long run it’s worth it.

Here are a few things I love about Seoul, and why it’s the perfect little getaway from Tokyo.

Garosugil: What a find! A super cute European-style neighborhood smack in the middle of Seoul. The food, the vintage, the vibe… all lovely and laid back and very up my alley. I spent a lot of time here.

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The necklace is a 1960’s mechanical timepiece… so prettah. Wonder if I can get it to work?

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Myeongdong’s Cosme Road: I wrote about this area last year (twice actually)when I went on a full on beauty bender. It was super fun, but this year, I stuck with one natural brand and only bought what I really needed, and one thing I’ve been dying to try.

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VDL storefront

Dragon Hill Spa: I couldn’t go this year because of my current chipmunk status, but the best Korean spa experience is an all day (and night) event. A must try. I recommend getting a full massage package (only about 100.00 USD) for a mask, accupressure, and deep bodywork. Affordable luxury and super good for you too.

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English-friendly: I’d argue anytime an eigo-speaker travels Asia, it’s close to impossible to avoid the the language question  Seoul is way more English friendly than Tokyo. Loads more speakers in service industry, and a greater willingness to communicate in even bad English. I realize Japan is shrouded in shyness… but I’m starting to see the Buddhist perspective on shyness (it’s considered pretty negative in Buddhist studies, as a form of self-absorbtion, selfishness). I’ll save the deep-dive into “shy” ideology for another post. Bottom line: Seoul seems more outgoing and more willing to speak up to help you out. It’s refreshing and appreciated.

Being here (and in Vietnam a couple months ago) made me realize that Japan has really worn off on me. I mumble little things in Japanese without realizing it, and bow a LOT. I can’t help but wonder how long that’s going to last after I get back to California? Being an expat isn’t just about trying new things and seeing new places… it’s also about noticing how these things effect you, your worldview, and how you live daily. Experiences layer onto your life, and change your perceptions and attitudes. It’s just a little surprising when you step back and notice it. I wonder what I haven’t noticed?

Okay almost time to board… see you in Tokyo!

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Giveaway: The Best Hair Extensions Ever!

It’s no secret I love extensions for shoots. Here’s your chance to win a top of the line set of Natural Black extensions courtesy of Irresistible Me, NYC.

Full disclosure: this giveaway was a total accident. Here’s what happened. My friends at Irresistible Me NYC hooked me up with a gorgeous set of Royal Remy, human hair extensions. But they sent me two sets: one in *my* color (medium brown) and one in Natural Black 1b.

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Details (from the IM site)

  • 100% Human Indian Remy hair extensions (highest quality hair)
  • Can be washed, heat styled and colored
  • Composition: 200 g sets (10 pieces) – 1 pc of 4 clips (7.5″), 2 pcs of 3 clips (6″), 5 pcs of 2 clips (4″), 2 pcs of 1 clip (1.2″)

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They’re the best clip ins you can buy– 100% Remy hair, 14″, and at the 200 gram weight, they’re the absolute top of the line that IM carries.  You can check them out on the IM site here. I seriously love mine– so easy to put in, and when I wear them I can’t keep my hands off of them. But I don’t need a set in Natural Black. Want ’em? Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s how dramatically extensions change your look. Kind of bananas…

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If you’re a MUA, model, actor, photographer, or a raven-haired beauty junkie, these are a must in your kit. They normally price at 249.00 USD but I’m sending one lucky winner a free set… and you can be from ANYWHERE.

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The contest runs from September 9th to September 19th. Just enter below and I’ll announce the winner here and on my Facebook page. Ganbatte ne!

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cynthia-popper

Favorite Asian Beauty Products for Tired Eyes

It’s been a weird week for patterns. The universe is colliding all around me and I have to say it’s been pretty cool.

I’ve gotten several emails from friends and readers this week asking about my favorite eye products. Specifically, any products that conceal, deflate, yell at, or otherwise eliminate dark circles.

Here’s a quick roundup of my favorites, but I have to say, no matter what you decide to try, you have to use it at least 1-2 times daily for a couple of weeks before you’ll notice any difference. If you use it once and nothing happens… it’s because you’ve only used it once. Good skin is like exercise- it requires consistency.

Okay enough nagging– here are my recommendations!

Etude House Collagen Eye Patches

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I know topical collagen doesn’t do much for anti-aging, but these patches definitely help me with any puffiness due to weird sleep, lack of sleep, or too much shoyu. I use a daily serum, then use these before shoots as back up. They’re really inexpensive and available all over Tokyo at Etude House (there’s one in Ginza Station) or online here.

 

Boots Time Delay De-Puffing Roller

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This is the daily serum. It’s a title cheat but it’s too good not to put down. I bought this in Bangkok and use it every single day and it has made a huge difference. The first few days, honestly, I didn’t really notice, but after about a week I just plain looked better.  We can’t buy it in Japan so I’m hoping to do a beauty swap with someone who can ship me a supply. Addicted.

HANSKIN Premium Magic BB Cream

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I got a luxe sample of this in a Glossybox. Most BB creams are WAY too light for my complexion but wow it makes a great concealer prep! I take my flat concealer brush and verrrry lightly pat a triangle under each eye. I layer a bit of Missha Style Perfect concealer on top and blend it with feather-light strokes. I don’t like powder under my eyes so I usually just use a blotting paper to tap in it. I think the key to concealer is very light building. If you smear it on and blend it with a sponge like you do with your foundation it’s going to basically just get wiped off. Don’t use a lot of product and blend it super lightly… it works for me anyway.

Other wellness tips to reduce puffiness and darkness:

  • Stay hydrated. (It’s a duh, but it makes a huge difference).
  • Acupressure massage. A lot of Asian beauty routines focus on facial massage. It feels great and really does make a difference in how your skin looks and feels. There are loads of gadgets and compression masks you can buy in Tokyo for this purpose too, but I think just making a little extra time to work out any stress in your facial muscles is a good call. I use NuFace almost every night and my face loves it.
  • Sleep right. Elevate your head a bit so you’re not super flat when you sleep. This definitely helps with puffiness, especially if you like soy sauce or salty stuff like I do.

Hope this helps you guys. Thanks for the notes and let me know if you find any other cool stuff to try!

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New Finds: 3 Japanese Beauty Must-Haves

Tokyo is the undisputed beauty champion of the world. Every week I see game-changing products at the counters and in the speciality shops, and especially, and somewhat surprisingly, at the drugstore. There’s a reason SO many beauty blogs are dedicated to Japanese drugstore loot– it’s inexpensive and generally pretty awesome. Because the market is so saturated here (seriously you can buy BB cream at the convenience store) the big beauty companies know they have to give up the goods.

Anyway– that’s a long intro just to say here are a few new finds I’m playing with, from fancy shops to the corner Matsumoto.

Shiseido Pore Smoothing Corrector

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Shiseido is one of my favorite brands even before I moved to Japan. I picked this up at the amazing Shiseido the Ginza store a couple weeks ago. LOVE. I’m a primer and BB cream fanatic– I’ve tried at least 20 types in the past 12 months. This primer is matte, goes on silky, and doesn’t do that weird cakey thing when you apply foundation afterward. PS? Shiseido the Ginza is amazing– it’s been described as a “Beauty Theme Park” and I totally agree. If you’re in Tokyo you have to check it out. The displays are so cute and they have every product under the Shiseido sun at every price point… I could spend hours there. If you’re in the States, you can get the primer here.

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Tuberose on the rock please….The perfume bar at Shiseido the Ginza. 

Now. Onto to some of the drugstore finds:

The Konjac Sponge

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I was chatting with a reader the other day about the konjac– it’s been a big buzz product in the US market for a while now, and after picking one up at Tokyu Hands the other day, I think I see why, but the jury is still out. Konjac sponges have been around in Japan forever– it’s a 100% natural, super gentle exfoliator and facial sponge. Surprisingly, they come moist in the package, and have a really interesting texture. Soft and spongy like you’d expect, but also kind of like foam rubber? I just started using it and can definitely say it leaves my skin squeaky clean without stripping or being too abrasive, which is nice since I’m microderming like a nut after all the sun I got in Vietnam last week. It’s more gentle than my Clarisonic and more effective than a wash cloth, so my guess it that it’s great for sensitive skin or for anyone doing a peel series or any kind of med-spa treatments. At 700 yen (15 bucks at Sephora), I say give it a try and tell me what you think.

Smile Cosmetique

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Cheap, effective, available at any drugstore in Tokyo… these kind of blew me away. I’m kind of addicted to tooth whiteners and wanted to try a Japanese brand, and let me tell you,  these seriously work. Totally gentle, they’re kind of like Crest Whitestrips but they’re padded so they stay in place really well and the formula foams up nicely. These are really only available in Japan as far as I know, so for my expat peoples, these are worth checking out.

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You don’t have to leave them on too long– the online translation says a few minutes, but I left them on for like an hour? My teeth are flipping WHITE. Maybe too white? I’ll back off for a while… in this shot they’re whiter than my pearls… whoops.

Wishing you smooth skin and pearly (but not TOO pearly) whites. 🙂

 

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Hello Summer Beauty: Sun Skin and Hair Plan

Hello Summer. You sexy thing you. I’m still a bit drunk from all of the beach and sea love from Vietnam. Seriously the people and the beaches were so lovely it makes me want to pack a bag and wander Southeast Asia for a few weeks. That said, when I got back to Tokyo, I did a full beauty inventory and realized that even slathered in sunscreen and limiting my exposure I got quite a bit of sun. Yikes!

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In Japan, tan skin is a big no-no, especially for modeling and commercial work (read: my agent is gonna kill me). No one wants to shoots dry hair or peeling skin. So right now I’m in full-on replenish mode to keep my skin glowing and hair shiny. Here’s the plan for the next week or so:

1) Take it off. This means getting my ends trimmed and exfoliating EVERYTHING. My hair is ombre and my afternoons at the beach have turned the tips of my hair white blond. Kind of cool looking, but also a bit fried. I’m getting a half inch chopped off across the board for a fresh edge.

I’m also using Shiseido’s Tsubaki Treatment Mask on the lower half of my head every other night for a next few days. I alternate with a purple conditioner so my blonde doesn’t turn brassy. Tsubaki gets mixed reviews on some of the JP beauty blogs but I have to say for my texture (fine hair, color-treated, and and lots of it) it totally works. And at less than 1000 yen, it’s a steal.

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I’m also using my home-grown coffee and brown sugar scrub every day in the shower to slough off dead skin, and moisturizing heavily with coconut oil both in the morning and at night.

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Here’s my recipe for the scrub- it’s super easy and always in my shower:

  • Day old coffee grounds (about a cup)
  • Brown sugar (about half a cup)
  • Lemon juice: it’s a natural toner and skin brightener (about 2 TBSP)
  • Almond Oil: Enough to bind the mixture

2) Shed a layer. As far as my complexion– I’m going hard core. Sun is a major ager, and while I didn’t burn, I could tell right away it was a bit too much sun love. I’ve been dermaplaning (the Japanese technique of facial fuzz and skin removal– LOVE– and wrote about it and the coffee scrub here.) and will microderm tomorrow night. I’m also breaking out the big guns and slathering Cle De Peau’s Le Creme all over my face at night. It makes a major difference and as cleared up the dry weirdness around my nose. This stuff is insanely expensive (525.00 USD an ounce!!), but after using my sample size from Shiseido the Ginza, it’s no question the best moisturizer I’ve ever used– and that’s saying something. Another luxe cream I adore is La Prairie’s Anti-Stress Cream. At 142.00USD for 1.7 ounces, it’s still super expensive, but at least attainably so. And it’s a major transformer as well.

So help is on the way. And even though tan isn’t popular in Tokyo, I personally love having a little glow. I feel like it looks healthier and I’m a bit more body confident.

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You can take the girl out of California… 😉

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