Japanese Products


Japanese Hair Color: Blaune by Kao Review

In Japan, at-home hair color kits rock. They’re inexpensive (just like the States) and come in a huge variety of colors (just like the States), but because they’re all formulated for Asian hair, the colors really saturate and last a long time (at least in my experience). Today I tried a new one that isn’t reviewed often, but if you can get your hands on it, you should check it out: Blaune.

Blaune Hair Color

Blaune is from Kao, the makers of the Liese product line (that I also really like). These are inexpensive drugstore lines that are for everyday use, but I’m always impressed with the quality when I compare to drugstore stuff at home. The Blaune hair color is no different– kinds of reminds me of L’Oreal’s Feria.

I can’t go crazy with my hair color because of audition restrictions,  but I wanted something with a bit more red in it for winter—5P… like a dark-brown plum.

Blaune Color Chart

The color scale says it’s Pure Dark Brown, but also on the pink side of the scale (pink? Eeek.) Ash colors are extremely popular in Tokyo, lots of younger girls rock the ash blond hair really well but I’m pretty sure these colors would make me look like a ghost.

Blaune application

Anyway– the kit is your standard at home kit: pour the color into the developer and apply. The cool thing about this kit is the applicator—it’s a foam atomizer that creates a super-thick foam that doesn’t drip—at all. I had zero mess, which for me is kind of impossible.

Me Blaune 5P

me blaune outside

Um… do you see plum? I see no plum. Indoor and outdoor photos are all plum-free.

Because I can’t read Japanese very well, I really rely on the packages to be accurate, which makes me a little helpless. The actual color my hair became isn’t anything like the package! It’s super dark brown with no  “pink.” Maybe a little in the sun but nothing like I’d imagined in my post-color hair fantasy. As far as hair experiements go I’m pleased: it’s shiny and lovely and looks like I went to a salon… but not the color I was shooting for.

Verdict? It’s easy to use– zero mess. And I like the formula a lot (I was overdue for some color…) but I need to figure out this color scale and try again in six weeks. I also need to sign up for language school.






Steam Cream                                    K-Palette, Fasio, Primavista       Japanese Drugstore Makeup   

K-Palette eyeliner steamcream KPalette lissage lip gloss

shu review 2014

Color Story: Shu Uemura Review

Such a lucky girl. I recently did a shoot for a company that generously gifted me with a 10000 yen gift certificate to Hankyu department store, a large luxury chain in Osaka, with a few locations in Tokyo. I naturally, burned through this and them some at the cosmetics counters, where I hauled for the Addiction review I wrote a few weeks ago, and these lovely goodies from Shu Uemura.

Shu Uemura review

Quality aside, one thing I love about Shu is their commitment to color. Rich, complex hues that stay put and don’t morph into pale, faded weirdness by the end of the day. By the time I hit the counter I’d spent most of my certificate on Addiction but had enough left over to pick up some great finds for my winter palette.

Shu Uemura cream eyeshadow

Eyes: Cream Eye Shadow in P Beige

The cream pots come in two formulas, matte and pearl. With shadow, pearl can range anywhere from glitterface to chalky, but Shu delivers a lovely, true pearl texture with just the right amount of sheen… and it’s available in eight shades no less.

Shu Uemura color swatches

shu uemura shadow and liner

Sheer, creaseless (I mean it), and a great lay down color for layering pressed shadow. A great daily go-to.

Shu Uemura drawing pencil

Drawing Pencil- ME Purple 10

Finding eyeliner in anything other than black or brown in Japan is tough, but Shu does a lovely, incredibly wearable pencil in blue, khaki, and purple. Again, there’s a formula option of matte or metallic. I chose metallic since I already have a Visee matte purple. It’s definitely smudge-able, but I prefer a super clean mini-wing. I’ll play with it for sure.

Shu Uemura Nail Color

Shu Uemura manicure


High-quality nail polish makes SUCH a difference. I almost always wear nudes on my manis and this red has officially converted me. The formula is fantastic—goes on silky and dries FAST. RD 170 might not be available in the U.S., but this one is.

Shu Uemura cleansing oil

GWP: Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil

I received the cleansing oil as a gift with purchase and I have to say I’m not blown away with it. It does make your skin softer, no question, but it didn’t remove my makeup very well. It worked great on my eye makeup… but as a nightly skin cleanser I think I prefer something a with a little more power for squeaky clean skin. I wouldn’t buy it, but I’ll try the sample out and see if I change my mind.

Artful, luxe, and pro-quality, Shu Uemura is still one of my favorite Japanese lines, and definitely one of the spendier brands I use, but with colors and formulas this lovely I have to say: it costs more and it’s worth it.






The Japanese Drugstore        Splurges and Steals            Addiction by Ayako 

maquillage powder foundation

Visee eyeshadow, Fasio Lipstick addiction basquiat summer

Steam Cream

Smell Awesome Now: SteamCream

A cool side benefit to working in media (both in front of the camera as well as beauty blogging) is that I get a lot of product recommendations that are tailored to what might work for me. Not long ago, a reader suggested I check out a Japanese cream that’s for everyone and does everything. It’s organic, effective, and works on everything: face, body, and hair? Hair? I took one look at the website and was hunting it down at the Takashimaya Mall in Shinjuku the next day. This, my friends, is SteamCream.


Yes—the packaging instantly sold me on at least trying it. (And I mean instantly- look these designs… immediately collectable…) It’s no secret that I love beautiful packaging… and I REALLY love reusable packaging. These little tins are perfect for storing little bits of whatever on your makeup table or bathroom.



But the actual product is the hero shot here. Handmade using all vegan, mostly organic ingredients, including:

  • Lavender oil
  • Almond oil
  • Chamomile oil
  • Orange flower water

and loads more in a cocoa butter base. Here’s the clincher… usually cocoa butter is pretty rich, but because Steam Cream is steam processed, the cream is super lightweight and absorbs instantly. The steam process also emulsifies the ingredients in a way that lets them moisturize quickly, so you’re not slick-as-a-seal after applying.


A great gift idea (I gave it to my sister for her birthday and she flipped over it) and it’s a super affordable beauty treat.

Here’s where you can get it in Japan, as well as everywhere else. Oh and guess what? Free shipping worldwide.

I smell awesome. Thanks Hiromi!



Candy bento boxes

Holiday Gift Idea: Beauty Bentos

I have a few nieces I needed to shop for,  and I because I don’t see them very often I really have no clue what to get. But one thing I do know: girls like candy, and girls like makeup. Japan excels at delivering the goods for these, so I put together a few cheap-and-cheerful bento boxes full of goodies for them to play with.

bento box ideas

Bento boxes are Japanese lunch boxes, for both adults and children. Kids’ lunches in Japan are a serious affair, and moms go to huge efforts to make sure their kids have the cutest lunches possible, sometimes waking up at 5am just to prepare them. Giving your kid a super cute lunch is a bit of a status thing in Japan—it shows that you’re an especially thoughtful mom. And kids’ bento boxes are SO freaking cute, they come in all shapes and sizes, and every color and character you can imagine. But I of course am repurposing the boxes as the best reusuable gift boxes ever.

makeup bento

Because they’re teens, I didn’t go nuts with the glamorama sparkle makeup, just some lotions and tinted lip balms that would fit. The older girls got the dressier black patterned versions…

bento makeup

 And the younger ones get the kawaii characters full of candy! And because they’re reusable, I figure my sister can use them for snacks or knick knacks for the kids. How fun is this?

Candy bento bear

Candy bento boxes

I can’t wait to give these to them on Christmas morning. I’m going to start doing beauty swaps soon, and I think the bento box is the perfect package to send makeup to my friends and fellow beauty bloggers back in the States!

Getting ready for take off… next stop… America!


addiction basquiat summer

Japan’s Answer to Nars: Addiction By Ayako

I’m such a sucker for cool packaging, and an even bigger sucker for cool compacts. This past summer I stumbled onto Addiction when I was browsing around, and found these insane limited edition pre-mades, screen printed with Basquiat designs.

addiction basquiat summer

addiction summer basquiat

Summer collection. Limited edition. They sold out in less than a month. No crowned dinosaurs for me. I moved on.

Then, a few weeks ago, I received a gift certificate to a fancy department store in Tokyo, where of course, I blew the whole thing and then some on new product (I got some Shu too, but that’s for another post!) . I decided to give Addiction a small test drive.

Addiction by Ayako

These were the two things I really needed: a new bronzer (my Mac baked minerals has toootally hit pan) and a fall red lip color.

The bronzer isn’t really a bronzer (they don’t bronze in Japan, Kogal girls aside)  is really a dark brown blush with no shimmer, but it’s not completely matte either… slightly satiny is the best way to describe it. It’s super finely milled (like a lot of Japanese powders I’m noticing) gives a very subtle glow in a true tan tone—no orangey brown. I’ve just started using it—like, this morning—but I l do like the quality and the subtlety of the color. (I know you can’t see it very well in my swatch- my arms are always pretty dark.)

Addiction by Ayako swatches

The winner was really the lip crayon—I love chubby pencils like Nars’, but this one is in a case so there’s no sharpening mess. And the packaging is very minimal: thin, black, sleek font… just like Nars. Herm…


addiction by ayako

Oh hey fun fact: Did I mention Ayako was the creative director for Nars before she took on Addiction? Great quality, refined palettes, minimal brand: think it’s safe(ish) to say Addiction is Japan’s Nars. Either way—it’s awesome.

Addiction by Ayako I’m wearing Saffron– the color is a true deep, slightly brick-y red. No orange (like you’d think saffron would look!) I’m a little scared of and obsessed with red right at the moment—but finding a color I feel I can pull off has been tough ever since Armani discontinued their dark red lip pencil (still not over it). But… I think I’ve found a winner!

Addiction is a brand I’ll continue to check out, and see what other Nars-y connections I can find. In the meantime, you can check it out just about anywhere in Tokyo, or if you’re in the States, buy it here.

Okay… back to Christmas shopping (that’s not for me)!


deck the halls

Holiday Gift Set Ideas

I haven’t even started my holiday shopping yet, but I’m definitely thinking about it. I’m taking the long-haul trip back to the States to visit family and friends, so gifts must not only be charming, but totally packable. In the meantime, here are a few sets I wouldn’t mind seeing in my stocking! (I AM TERRIBLE.)

Holiday Gift Sets
makeup artist chair

What the Pros Use: Tokyo Makeup Artist Must-Haves

One of the best things about doing photo shoots and commercials is working with makeup artists. They always know the newest, latest, and best, so sitting in the MUA chair becomes a personal interview session- and they always let me take photos of the products I want to research. Even with the language barrier it’s a great time—we all speak makeup. It’s a universal language.

Here are a few MUA- approved products they use on models and actors on a daily basis.

amritara white birch water

Amritara White Birch Moist Water

This stuff smells clean and botanical. Atsuko spritzed my face before toning and moisturizing- the shoot was in the summer and it was hot and sticky out… I loved this one. This would also be great for travel hydration/refresh, and they sell trial sizes—YES.

Key Ingredients:

  • With White Birch Sap
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hyaluronic acid

It’s available at their website, or at any Cosme Kitchen webstore… (use Google page translator for English!)

Triology Hydrating Mist Toner

Triology Hydrating Mist Toner

She used this one next- great if you’re on the dry side. An alcohol-free toner with rose and geranium extracts. It’s another natural brand that seems to be popular in the Tokyo skincare departments.

Triology is certified natural, which means:

  • Natural and organic ingredients
  • Environmentally friendly practices
  • No animal testing
  • No synthetic fragrances and colors
  • No GMOs
  • No petroleum
  • No silicone oils

You can buy in online in the US here.

Prime Latte by Cosme Descorte

Prime Latte by Cosme Descorte

This one is a lightweight moisturizer that absorbs instantly. My skin felt incredibly soft and dewy afterward—kind of a wonder product. Between shoots and my own product testing I worry about weird reactions and breakouts- but this is another nature-based product that made my skin really happy. Not to mention a pretty bottle, AND… you can buy it online with free shipping worldwide!

Helena Rubenstein Lash Queen in Cobra Black

Helena Rubenstein Lash Queen in Cobra Black

HR is super popular in Japan, and I’ve seen this mascara on every shoot I’ve done here. If there’s one thing Japanese MUAs and women know about—it’s eyelashes. It creates volume and length without being the least bit cakey. It is waterproof—which is another thing I’ve noticed. Waterproof mascara is the default here, and most of them DO NOT COME OFF with a simple remover swipe or washing. I still prefer tube mascara for that exact reason, but if you’re looking for a mascara that does what it says and doesn’t budge… look no further.

You can get it here.

Kryolan Creme Interfernz Eyeshadow Mini Palette

Kryolan Creme Interfernz Eyeshadow Mini Palette

Kryolan is a pro-line most MUAs I’ve worked with use in one way or another. I saw this cream palette and thought “woo- fingerpaint for eyes!” BUT… they’re blendable and buildable and are perfect for when you need eye drama that’ll last through a full day’s shoot. Prime your lids with an extra light cream-based primer to get the truest, most vibrant color. You can use just about anything to apply them (including your fingers) And the bonus: they’re super affordable!

I always think it’s fun to learn what the pros are using– sometimes the discoveries are worth putting in my own kits at home. There are loads of professional shops that let the public buy their goodies. Naime’s, CRC, and MakeupMania are fun to browse, shop, and find inspiration!



anna sui holiday

My Holiday Beauty Lust List: Makeup

Lust List: Makeup

Whoosh-this was a tough set to build. There are so many products I want to try, and only so much room on a set board… I adore Polyvore but they definitely need to include more Japanese and Korean brands. I know I can upload myself, so I may have to take this on as a personal mission.

I left out so many lovely things… but this is a good start. I think I want to do an indie brand board too. The new, smaller companies are creating some really cool products, and they need support from the beauty junkies.

beauty tool box

A Few Beauty Tool Box Essentials

I like to think of myself as a minimalist in training. After years of hording books, shoes, clothes, and cosmetics, I’m trying to focus on keeping only the things I truly want and need… things I’ll appreciate every day.

Here are some of the tools I use everyday, from budget to youpaidWHAT? Most of them are old standards… but I did discover a new love this week (for under $7.00 USD!).


1) Laura Mercier for Tweezerman
My makeup artist friend Maria Lee is a huge Laura Mercier fan. In fact, most MUAs I know really love Laura’s quality. She talked me into getting this a couple of years ago and I’m still thrilled with it. The round grip makes all the difference in the world.

2) Japonesque Pro Concealer Brush
Japoneque has always rocked my socks. I’ve seen their tools and brushes on so many MUA table I had to copy cat and get a few of my own… this one is a multi-purpose super tool. The slightly rounded synthetic bristles lay down concealer like a dream. This brush is also great for priming eyes or laying down cream shadows.

3) Giorgio Armani Blender Brush
This was a splurge for me. A makeup brush over 50 USD means you’re entering a world of hyper-awesome beauty-ness… or you’re just a hard core beauty junkie. I love the blunt cut of this sable brush for laying down color evenly, and it blends cream highlighter in perfectly.

4) Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
The gold standard in lash curlers. I knew I was dependent when I lost my makeup bag a couple months ago and immediately went out and bought a new one—like literally within the hour. They’re much cheaper here in Japan, but even at 20 USD, it’s a smart buy for anyone with eyelashes.

And my last pick…


5) Chasty Metallic Mascara Comb
I avoided eyelash combs forever because the tines were always too narrow for freshly my primed and tubed lashes. This “wide tooth” comb by Chasty has a 1.2 mm tine width so you can comb through your mascara without creating a goopy lash-disaster. It folds up nicely to protect the times and at 700JPY (less than seven bucks) I’m hooked.

Let me know what your MUSTS are right now… always looking to play with new gadgets!




Splurges and Steals: Best Japanese Makeup for Fall 2013

SWOON. Okay Shu Uemura has completely gone over the top for Holiday 2013 with the most lovely little palette, designed by none other than Takashi Murakami. SIGH.

The collection was created to commemorate Shu’s 30th anniversary, and consists of 19 pieces, of which only 14 will be available in the U.S.. While the entire run is pure magic, the two palettes are seriously makeup works of art.

My favorite: The Heat-full Pink Parallel  Palette

Shu Uemura Holiday

photo: http://www.shuuemura-usa.com/

  1. Pressed Eyeshadow – Iridescent White
  2. Pressed Eyeshadow – Iridescent Yellow
  3. Silk Smooth Eyeshadow – Dark Brown
  4. Pressed Eyeshadow – Glittery Pearl Light Pink
  5. Pressed Eyeshadow – Iridescent Pink
  6. Silk Smooth Eyeshadow – Reddish Brown
  7. Silk Smooth Eyeshadow – Orange
  8. Glow On – Pearl Deep Pink

Shu is a splurge, but sooo seriously worth it. This  palette is screaming Fall COME LOVE ME NOW. Argh!

But… on the steal side of things, Visee and Fasio both launched some serious plum love for Fall 2013. And at under 1500JPY… I’m all over it.

Visee Glossy Rich Eye Palette PK-3

Visee Glossy Rich Eye Palette PK-3

Visee Glossy Rich Eye Palette PK-3

Pale pink, warm peach. cranberry, choco-plum (my descriptions, not Visee’s 😛

Normally I’m not the frosty pinky type- but this kit doesn’t go bananas with the glittery sheen… it’s very soft and makes a great highlighter. And the plummy brown is a perfect setter for the eyeliner.

Visee Color Impact Gel Liner PU100

Not that you really need to set this liner—I always follow the “set wet with dry” rule, but this stuff STAYS PUT. Even when I took this swatch shot and went to wash it off with facial cleanser, the liner required actual remover to get off. A good thing if you ask me… I hate wandering eyeliner!

Fasio Airy Stay Rouge (エアリースイルーヅユ) in RO620

Rich plum color with a pinky-blue undertone, this one is super wearable and not gothy at all. Gives the color you need with a bit of edge.

Visee and Fasio swatches

Swatch it up (left to right): palette colors: Choco-plum, pale pink, warm peach, cranberry; Visee gel plum liner; Fasio lip color

I’ve been wearing glosses forever and recently have made the switch back to lipstick. I love the new matte looks, but I can’t help but feel like my lips are super dry now. Anyone else have this problem? I’m lip scrubbing in the shower and using a super rich lip treatment pre-makeup, which is helping. Maybe it’s just the weather, or because I’ve been sick lately. Herm…

Anyway- Fall colors are the bomb. I want to find a plum pen liner, which in Japan, seems to be kind of impossible. I’ll be making my US stock up list soon when I go home for the holidays. ☺


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