Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Koyuki Nadeshiko face wash and Gan Shiro lightening cream

A long, long time ago, in a far distant land, I lived in an awesome loft that during the day doubled as a busy photo studio. Two photographers ruled that kingdom. One was a product photographer, and the other shot fashion.
It was in the days before digital photography. We still used film back then. You, young ones, probably don't even remember those times. Ahhh... the memories... they make me feel really ancient...

There were rolls of film everywhere, there were messenger pick ups and deliveries - to and from a photo lab that was contracted to process the daily load. There were lights, and sets, and equipment everywhere. And models, and even make up artists (it's clear that I didn't learn anything from them, LOL).

There was also a creature (to this day I don't know whether it was a man or a woman), from Malaysia, employed by the photographers to do retouching. Photo retouching in those days meant anything from airbrushing to digital work. The creature worked its magic in a corner space that at night would transform into my bedroom.

And while I enjoyed watching the photographers at work, sometimes I even got to assist during sessions (though, clearly I didn't learn anything from them either), it was the creature's retouch wizardry that truly captivated me.
It was the first time that I witnessed with my very own eyes how an already stunning model becomes perfect, how a bowl of soup becomes irresistible, how a pair of underpants becomes a must-have item.

Since that time I have never looked at magazines, or commercial advertising, or celebrity photos, the same way again. I've been damaged for life.

So now you understand, that when a brand releases magically perfect beauty product photos (yes, Amore Pacific et al, I am looking at you), I know they are selling skincare dreams. Dreams manufactured in a corner space somewhere by a photoshop wizard (though not necessarily Malaysian). Dreams so real that we want to believe they are true. Admit it, we've all been there. I know I fall for it every time I see a new cushion foundation compact. Ehhh...

But sometimes a brand, usually, a small, independent brand, releases less-than-magically perfect photos. Photos so unreal that my bullshit detector just yawns and demands a sandwich.

So when it2yinc (or Itty, Inc), a company behind Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream and Gan-Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream, sent me such photos, I immediately became intrigued.

Just take a look for yourself:

It's amazing how the model's white shirt became so much whiter on the left, where her hand is, surprise, surprise, also so much lighter than the hand on the right (in the photo).

Yet despite that, I became obsessed. I wanted to replicate those results. Without photoshop.

This is that story.

When it2yinc asked me to introduce their skincare on the blog, I said that I couldn't do it without trying it first. In reponse, it2yinc simply sent me the products, along with all relevant information. Including the ingredient lists in English. Nice! I really appreciate when companies understand what bloggers need and then actually provide it.

It was clear that it2yinc read my blog, because the company's representative knew exactly that one of my main concerns was, is, and always will be, hyperpigmentation.

Hence the two products I received were supposed to address my concerns. And I tried to keep an open mind. I didn't discount them right out of the box. Remember the Lioele Crystal Beam Cushion? I wanted to hate it, because, c'mon, Lioele. But I ended up liking it. And now, that it's gone, I quite miss it.

I was hoping it would be the same with the two products I received from it2yinc:
  • Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream


  • Gan Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream

To prove that they work, the company included the hand image you can see above. And despite the obvious photoshop, I set out to confirm their results.


Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream

"Koyuki" means light snow. And "Nadeshiko" is hmmm... several things. It's a flower (dianthus japonicus), it's the name of the Japanese women's soccer team, it's the essence of ideal Japanese woman and some such.

In addition, 米発酵化粧品 means it's a rice ferment product.

And here you have it, it's a normal foamy facial cleanser.

It comes in a simple white tube that was sealed in plastic. There was no paper box.
The tube is quite substantial and holds 100g of product. That's a lot of cleanser!

It's made in Japan and it boasts some pretty incredible claims.

Remember the first photo in today's entry? No?
Ok, go back and take a look. I'll wait.

Yes, it's supposed to visibly lighten your skintone after just one use.
And this is how we use it:

Because the tube is not equipped with a flip top, using this cleanser was a real PITA.

It's a bright white creamy substance (no noticeable scent) that required a foaming net to foam up properly. Once foamed up, it rinsed easily and cleanly. It left the skin feeling fresh and despite its high pH - not dry at all.

Ah, yes... The pH... Here it is:

No longer 7 but not yet 8. Too high for the pH purists out there.

While I personally don't shun high pH cleansers, I decided not to use it on my face. My face is in the best condition it has been in many years and I wasn't about to introduce an unknown cleanser into the mix.

Taking inspiration from the photo, I've been using the cleanser on my hands only. Well, one hand, actually. Well, one half of one hand, actually.

Did it work?
Take a look for yourself (unedited photo):

The part on the right, along with the thumb, index and middle fingers, was treated with Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream twice a day for two weeks.

As you can see, I have been unable to re-create the advertised results. And not just after one use, but after nearly 30 uses.

The moral of this story:
If something looks too good to be true, it's most likely Photoshop.

To debunk Photoshop claims, on the Koyuki Nadeshiko Facebook page there is a short film showing how after just one application your skin will be visibly lighter. Yeah, it will be, for about 10 seconds, until your circulation returns to normal. The same instant gratification that lasts a few seconds can be achieved using any old cleanser along with a bit of pressure on the skin.
Sadly, the fleeting "whitening effect" didn't even last long enough for me to take a photo.
I have not observed any long term whitening / brightening/ lightening results.

Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream ingredients:

Despite the fact that this facial cleanser claims to be a "rice ferment product", there is zero mention of Oryza Sativa in the ingredient list. Oh well... moving on...

Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream final verdict:


  • - a nice, gentle cleanser (nothing to complain about here)


  • - high pH (if you are in the low pH camp)
  • - no visible lasting brightening results

Koyuki Nadeshiko Facial Washing Cream was provided to me for review purposes, however the opinion presented here is my own.


Time for our second contestant:

Gan-Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream

We get 50 grams of cream packaged in a simple, no-frills plastic jar, packaged in a simple, no-frills box.

There is no leaflet inside and all relevant info is printed on the box. In Japanese only.

The company very kindly provided some English language information as well.

The claims sound amazing. The ingredients look amazing, too.

We have dipotassium glycyrrhizate a.k.a. licorice root extract, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties and is supposed to help soothe dry skin. It also supposedly has the ability to inhibit melanin production and do a bunch of other great things for your skin.

We have placenta extract, that while scientifically unproven, might be beneficial for the skin.

We have acetyl tyrosine, which is an aminoacid that is supposed to leave your skin baby soft and silky smooth.

We have hyaluronic acid for moisture.

We have peony extract for moisture and anti-aging.
We have pueraria root extract for skin lightening and anti-aging.
We have prune enzyme decomposer (prune enzymatic decomposition) for brightening and moisture.

We have loads of other good things crammed into this unassuming cream.

Gan-Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream is considered a quasi-drug in Japan.

And you also have a long list of its purported benefits.
It claims to be an all-in-one cream, too.
Wow! This just keeps getting better and better.

Gan-Shiro Cream says to double as an essence, milk, moisturizer, lotion and cream. Pure magic!
Pity it doesn't cook or do the dishes.

Despite its highly inflated claims, its primary function is skin brightening and moisturizing.

The cream is milky white in color, and its consistency is very soft and fluffy. It reminds me of mayonnaise, if mayonnaise were pure white.

There is no discernible scent.

The pH is typical of most creams out there, around 5 ~ 5.5

The texture was soft but very siliconey. It felt vaguely plastic immediately upon application.
It took a while to dry, but it did absorb nicely and did not leave a sticky film.

And all would be just great if not for two things:

1. It didn't moisturize enough. Actually no, scratch that. It didn't moisturize at all.
My skin is very dry. This cream did nothing to moisturize it properly.
I ended up using it as a hand cream.


2. I did not notice any visible skin lightening results.

Gan Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream ingredients:

Of course the last ingredient is 精製水, which is "purified water", not "manufactured water".

So that's that.
Gan Shiro Cream is a perfect example that a stellar ingredient list does not equal stellar performance. Which is a pity, because I had high hopes for this cream.

Gan Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream final verdict:


  • - amazing ingredient list


  • - didn't do much at all

Gan Shiro Bihaku Lightening Cream was provided to me for review purposes, however the opinion presented here is my own.

I'd like to thank it2yinc for giving me the opportunity to try these products.

And here folks, you have the reason why *I* prefer to select my review items *myself*. While I appreciate the chance to try new things, I feel sad when a *company's* selection does not perform to my expectations.


  1. It's a shame that the products didn't live up to expectation. If it worked, I could easily see myself using it to get rid of my freckles.

    1. I know!!! That was my intention too! I had high hopes for it. Sad :(

  2. Pretty sure that male, female or somewhere on the spectrum in between, that the retouched was a human being. Using the pronoun "it" and referring to them as a "creature" makes it difficult to get past the characterization of them as non human and get to the product reviews.

    1. Thanks for this message; I felt the exact same way - profoundly uncomfortable with the characterization of a person, gender notwithstanding, as a creature. Especially given your great discussion of the othering of geishas and Japanese culture in your Tatcha post, this was really bothersome.


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