Thursday, November 12, 2015

DHC Kakonjuka Lotion, Essence and Cream

Life happens.
Bad, bad blogger!
And that's all you're going to get in lieu of apologies for my prolonged silence.

Today's review is long overdue.
Looong overdue.
Why? I always have a hard time writing exciting things about solid products. You know what products I'm talking about. Those... you know... solid... always dependable... boring... dependable... in simple packages... not earth shattering holy grails, but just... you know... good... dependable.

DHC is such a brand for me. Solid. Dependable. Boring. Doing what it's been designed to do. But utterly unexciting.
If I can't decide what to use, I reach for DHC. I know it's not going to hurt me. I know I can't go wrong with it. I know I can... you know... depend on it.
DHC is like a pair of my favorite shoes. Comfortable, well worn, on my feet day in and day out. Yeah, I have pairs of sexy heels, and fancy sneakers, and classic pumps, but it's the trusted, boring pair of Vans that I end up wearing every day.

So when one day earlier this year I found myself in need of some emergency skincare, DHC was the default brand I went out to buy. It helped that there was a DHC sale going on, too, and I could get every product for more than 50% off. And as we all very well know, cheap is always good. And cheaper is even better.

DHC is a pretty basic brand in Japan. It's available at most drugstores, supermarkets and even some convenience stores, however, the selection of products in stock in those locations tends to be limited. For the full DHC assortment you need to visit its own brand stores, easily found in most shopping malls, or order through the company's website or direct mailing.

If you want to know a bit more about the company, here's a handy link to the "About DHC page" on their international website.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is well known and loved by beauty fans (even those unfamiliar with other Asian beauty products) all over the world. It helps that Lisa Eldridge sings its praises, too.
It's also one of my cleansing staples. I like trying new oils, but always find myself coming back to DHC. So yes, maybe it is my holy grail after all.

DHC in the West is considered to be a mid- to higher-level brand apparently. At least it seems so judging by the ridiculous prices. When I saw the products markups on the international website, I nearly wept. Holymotherofbatman! Speechless!
But as soon as I stopped weeping, I noticed that those DHC products that are no longer available in stores in Japan (for whatever reason), are still sold overseas.

Today's trio belongs to this category. I snagged it on sale, because, seemingly, it was being phased out of in-store assortment in Japan. I haven't seen it listed in the DHC direct mailing catalog either.
You can, however, still order it on the Japanese DHC website. The question is whether or not you'd want to, if you had to pay full price for it?

So, let's try to answer it. Shall we?

And with that in mind, I'd like to introduce today's contestants:

DHC Kakonjuka (or Kakon Juka) line.

Yes, as you've probably noticed, I have this unhealthy habit of buying not just one product from a particular line, but the whole damn thing. All the bits, whether I need them or not.
On one hand it's very convenient, because I can see whether the products work separately, or together, and can determine the best combination for the best results. If there are any results, that is.
On the other hand, good grief! I have too much stuff already! I don't need more skincare products!

Still,  I hate piddling piecemeal, and because they were all on sale, I just got the entire DHC Kakonjuka line:

  • - DHC Kakonjuka Lotion (80ml)
  • - DHC Kakonjuka Essence (25ml)


  • - DHC Kakonjuka Cream (30grams).

What the eff is this Kakonjuka anyway, I hear you say.

It's pronounced ka-kon-ju-ka, and means “flower, root, tree, fruit” in Japanese (花根樹果).

With a name like that you'd expect it to be full of extracts and good-for-you natural stuff? Right?
Some bloggers, like Musings of a Muse, fell for this trick and said that Kakonjuka is "all natural skincare".
Of course that's a crock of kaka, as we will shortly see.

Kakonjuka is "all natural" in about the same way that I am an innocent, blushing virgin.

Having said that, it's not a bad line. But is it as great at DHC would like us to believe? Heck no.

Let's start with the DHC Kakonjuka Lotion - 80ml.

Some bloggers were confused why it's called a "lotion".
So here you have it - it's called a "lotion", because that's what we call toners in Japan. It's not a lotion in the western sense. It's a toner. And as most toners, it goes on your face after cleansing to prep the skin for the rest of your skincare products.

Kakonjuka Lotion is supposed to plump and hydrate your face. DHC says that it contains six Asian botanicals to "prepare your complexion for your moisturizer and promote collagen for firmer skin and fewer visible fine lines."
Those botanicals are: maitake mushroom, Platycarya strobilacea, great burnet, purslane, reishi mushroom and licorice.

The lotion has a pretty thick texture. DHC calls it "rich" and "serum-like."  It absorbs completely and doesn't leave a sticky layer. It has a vague earthy smell and is alcohol-free. So that's the good stuff.

Now for the bad. The botanicals are at the very end of the ingredient list, which means they do diddly squat. I guess the only reason they are there, so the company could say they are there.

DHC Kakonjuka Lotion ingredients:
water/aqua/eau, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, propanediol, pentylene glycol, butylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, glycosyl trehalose, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, arginine, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, aureobasidium pullulans ferment, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, polyquaternium-51, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, sodium hyaluronate, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca oleracea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract, ethylhexylglycerin

My opinion:

I noticed decent hydration and zero plumping. Firmer skin and fewer lines? Hahaha!!! Surely you didn't take that product blurb seriously.

So, does it do anything? Yes, it does. It's a very basic, alcohol-free toner that does what a basic toner is supposed to. It's perfectly serviceable, it doesn't make my face erupt in angry cysts, and its fragrance doesn't make my eyes water. In fact, the earthy smell is kind of refreshing.

But if you're expecting fewer wrinkles and other bells and whistles, you are looking at the wrong product.


Next up we have: DHC Kakonjuka Essence - 25ml.

We have the same six botanicals at the very end of the ingredient list. And we have the same lofty promises of firmer skin. Hahaha!
I'm not going to give you a detailed summary of what each extract is supposed to be doing, because trust me, there isn't enough of any of them to do anything. Except, just like in the case of the lotion described above, justify the product's cute name.

The bottle is tiny, it holds only 25ml of product. But at least it has a pump.

The essence is off white in color, has the same earthy smell and is alcohol-free. It provided my skin with just enough hydration to stay sane during the ridiculously hot and humid Japanese summers.

It didn't break me out, it absorbed completely. It worked with the cream from the same line, as well as with a different set of products. In short, nothing to complain about.

DHC Kakonjuka Essence ingredients:

water/aqua/eau, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, propanediol, ethylhexyl palmitate, pentylene glycol, dimethicone, glycosyl trehalose, glyceryl stearate, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, butylene glycol, bisabolol, behenyl alcohol, polysorbate 80, PEG-75 stearate, phenoxyethanol, carbomer, arginine, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, tocopherol, polyquaternium-51, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, glyccyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca olearacea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract

My opinion:

DHC Kakonjuka Essence is a basic, no-frills essence that gives basic, no-frills moisture. Any additional benefits are, more likely than not, purely a placebo effect.


And finally we have: DHC Kakonjuka Cream - 30 grams.

DHC Kakonjuka Cream intensive face moisturizer "features six nourishing, antioxidant-rich botanicals—used for centuries in Asia—to plump and hydrate your complexion. Promotes collagen for firmer skin and fewer visible fine lines and wrinkles." That's what DHC says.

The cream is again off white and has a "natural" smell. Again, the six trace elements extracts are all present, but highly doubtful they provide any noticeable benefits.

It turned out to be a perfect day cream. It moisturized just enough, it absorbed completely, it left the skin feeling soft and smooth.

It worked great under makeup, it didn't break me out and I didn't notice any adverse reactions.

DHC Kakonjuka Cream ingredients:
water/aqua/eau, dimethicone, ethylhexyl palmitate, propanediol, behenyl alcohol, beeswax, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, glycerin, cylcopentasiloxane, glyceryl stearate, pentylene glycol, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, octyldodecyl myristate, PEG-75 stearate, polysorbate 60, butylene glycol, bisabolol, glycosyl trehalose, phenoxyethanol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, grifola frondosa fruiting body extract, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed platycarya strobilacea fruit extract, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, tocopherol, polyquaternium-51, arginine, sodium hyaluronate, citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) leaf extract, ziyu glycoside I, portulaca oleracea extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, ganoderma lucidum (mushroom) stem extract

My opinion:

DHC Kakonjuka Cream, like the rest of this line, is a decent, basic cream that serves a decent, basic purpose.

I wanted to test the moisturizing claims, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Here you have the before and after results when using the entire set:

Not too shabby, I'd say.

And if you are interested, here's this test:

Final thoughts on DHC Kakonjuka line:

The Kakonjuka line has turned out to be exactly what DHC is famous for - a solid set of skincare products that are low key, efficient, no frills, and doing, at least partially, what they're supposed to in that unassuming DHC way.

But the packaging... Oh gods, the packaging is awful. Just awful. Looks cheap and trashy.

For all three products I paid the equivalent of US$25.00. There were cheap.
Will I repurchase?
If I have to pay the full price - no.


  1. $25 for the whole set? That is absurdly amazing. I looked at this set a few months ago but it was really expensive over here. I think each product cost more than $25.

    1. Yeah! I saw the prices on their American website and thought there must have been a typo somewhere.
      They are not exactly rock bottom in Japan either, but I was lucky and got them on sale. That's why the super low price.

  2. The color of the cream is a bit ugly (fortunately my skin wouldn't care about this).

    Just curious: have you tried Astalift from Fujifilm? I love that line!

    1. Hahaha! Yeah! That color! When I opened the jar for the first time I had to sniff the contents to check if it wasn't spoiled. Because the color totally threw me off.

      I like Astalift. I have used their Perfect Day Protector, foundation, lotion and the gel. While I'm willing to pay full price for the makeup and sunblock, I think the rest is horribly overpriced. It's nice. But not that nice.

  3. Sorry for the mistake, the "Rafael" was me (Pedro). There was another login save by someone here...

    1. Hahaha! I was wondering who that guy who that guy was!

  4. Tak wlasnie postrzegam DHC, jako solidne kosmetyki, ktore mnie nie uczulaja ;) Olejek de demakijazu tez bardzo lubie ! Swietnie zmywa makijaz, nie jest za tlusty i w dodatku wydajny. Seria wybielajaca tez jest niezla ;) I filtr Q10 tez lubie, lekki, skuteczny i tani :)
    Niestety, wybor na europejskiej stronie jest bardzo marny. Mamy do wyboru ledwo olejek, mydelko,
    lotion i oliwa, w dodatku ceny zabojcze.
    Gdzie kupilas ten aparat do pomiaru poziomu nawilzenia??? Ile dalas? Fajny gadged :D
    Iwona P z Perpignan

    1. Mnie tez nie uczulaja! Dlatego wiem, ze moge bez problemu kupowac :-)
      Gadget ci zamowie jak tylko wroce do domu. Niestety jestem wiesz gdzie :(

    2. O, ja także jestem bardzo zainteresowana tym urządzeniem. Mogę prosić o namiary? :)

    3. Hexxie, zamowic Ci? Wymiana za Dior it-lash? ;-)

    4. Dzieki Ci bardzo, dobra kobieto. Sciskam :)))
      Iwona P

  5. whats the difference between japanese essence, emulsion and cream??

    1. Their texture and the level of moisture they provide.

  6. What a cheap and great set. I still didn'T try any DHC products although it seems they have so many great ones...time to put some products of this brand on my wishlist.

  7. So you got yourself a deal :) I think full price the products would be overpriced for what they deliver, nothing special. The packaging is very boring and cheap looking, but I think most of DHC products look like that, in general that's the issue I have with japanese packaging.
    I don't know how overpriced DHC is in the us but I remember that in a french pharmacie: DHC cleansing oil was 200ml for 23 euro. How does it compare to japan? And that's almost the only product you will find in France the celansing oil, + a primer, blot paper and exfoliating gel

    1. I know what you mean about Japanese packaging. It's bleh and meh in general.
      And I saw on the net how much DHC products cost in Europe. I nearly had a heart attack!

  8. Według mnie 25 USD za taki skład to bardzo dużo. No, ale ja patrzę na tą cenę inaczej niż Ty, bo nie zarabiam w jenach, nie żyję w Japonii - nie wiem jak taka cena ma się do japońskich realiów. Przy obecnym kursie 25 USD to prawie 100 zł - za tyle spokojnie dostałabym w Polsce trzy kosmetyki o składzie bogatym w składniki aktywne i naturalne ekstrakty, możliwe że nawet eko kosmetyki. Mamy na rynku coraz więcej niedrogich firm polskich, które produktują kosmetyki eko lub po prosto o prostym dobrym składzie (kwas hialuronowy, gliceryna, ekstrakty roślinne, naturalne oleje - chemii tyle, ile trzeba, żeby się wszystko kupy trzymało).

    No ale fajnie nawiża ta seria rzeczywiście :)


    1. Nie przeczytalas uwaznie. Ta cena byla za calosc, czyli trzy produkty za 25.
      Na temat polskich eko-kosmetykow nie bede sie wypowiadac, bo te ktore mialam okazje sprobowac byly mniej niz mierne.

  9. Aha, i nie wiem czy wiesz ale nasz Bielenda też już produkuje olejki myjące. Ok są. Jak jest promocja w Rossmanie to kosztują 10-15 zł - normalnie ok. 18-20 zł chyba. Tutaj możesz podejrzeć skład jednego z nich, do cery tłustej,350914,3359,6030

    Olejek myjący o naturalnym składzie, bez oleju mineralnego, można też zamówić na Biochwmii Urody

    (albo zrobić samemu kupując półprodukty - ja robiłam z dodatkiem oleju rycynowego, taki oczyszał mnie najlepiej, pory puściutkie)

    Ceny bardzo niskie w porównaniu do cen japońskich olejków.

    Oczywiście rzucam tylko jako ciekawostkę.


    1. Patrze na sklad tej Bielendy, i na pierwszym miejscu widze olej mineralny. Widze tez Butylphenyl Methylpropional. Prosty olej do oczyszczania o prostej cenie. Tutaj tez takie mozna kupic za okolo 5 dolarow ;-)


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