Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion SPF50 PA+++

It's so damn hard to come back to blogging after an extended break. Even harder when you are feeling sick. And it's cold outside. And you have a crapload of work to take care of before Monday morning.

Anyway, enough of this self-pity. We have a cushion review to write.

Today's contestant is none other than Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion SPF50 PA+++ in shade 012.

The name definitely is an improvement over the previous Diorsnow Bloom Perfect Blooming Skin something something cushion. And I feel like this is the only improvement and I could basically finish this review right here, right now.

Dior, I love you darling and you know it. But, damn... What is up with those shit cushions you keep releasing?
You have a direct pipeline to the Korean cushion gods themselves, the mighty Amore Pacific, and yet, even with their help and licensing, you still can't make a decent cushion. Oh, for fucks sakes, I'm done being pleasant here.

By now everyone should know what a cushion foundation is. If not, get on with the program and read some reviews (click here). It's basically liquid foundation in a compact. The foundation sits inside (or under, in some cases) a sponge on which you press with an applicator puff. Hence "cushion".
So there you have it, your portable liquid foundation that is easy to apply on the go.

Amore Pacific, the Korean cosmetic giant responsible for brands such as Iope, Sulwhasoo, Hera, Hanyul  and many, many others, is the granddaddy of cushion foundations. It holds a bunch of patents that make cushions possible. Dior wanted some of this cushion goodness and developed its cushions using Amore Pacific patents. The story is more complicated than that, but this is the TL;DR version for those of us with really short attention spans.

But before we proceed any further, I have a confession to make.

I am over cushions.
So over cushions.

I was an early adopter and really gave them my all. Don't get me wrong, I still like cushions. But given a choice of spending my hard earned cash on a cushion or a bottle of traditional liquid foundation, I am going to go with the liquid.
Why? Cost-performance. And hygiene. But mostly the fact that with cushions you have to spend a lot of money for a minuscule amount of product. Which may, or may not, be crap.

So yeah, I'm over cushions...

I wasn't going to buy this one.
I had no intention of buying this one.
I went in for some nail polishes and the sales lady remembered me from back in February when I was lamenting how quickly the previous Dior cushion oxidized.

This time the lady was prepared.
As soon as I sat down to wait for my nail polish swatches to dry, she grabbed the cushion and started to show me the new shades.

Here they all are. In Japan the darkest shade (030) isn't available.
I was going to go to the department store with my trusty MAC NC15 tube for comparison purposes, but I've been feeling lazy. I'll swatch all the colors soon and post an update.

My cushion comes in shade 012. It's not the lightest color, but it's nowhere near as dark as it looks in the screenshot above.

And what else can I tell you?
This cushion still oxidizes in a hurry. Granted, not to the point of some other base makeup products (ahem ahem, Blooming cushion, I'm looking at you), but close.

However, when applied over a white, glowing base, it looked pretty decent. That was what fooled me. That's why I bought this cushion. Unfortunately, when I brought it home and tried to play with it the next day, it didn't play nicely at all.

It hated my usual sunblocks.
Yes, despite having SPF50 PA+++, this is not a stand alone  sunscreen. Don't be an idiot. Don't rely on a makeup product as your only source of sun protection. It amazes me that some beauty bloggers actually refer to cushion foundations as "sunscreens". They are not. They are makeup. But hey, it's your face and your photo aging process, so enjoy!

So anyway, this Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion hated the usual sunblocks I use. It would roll and flake forcing me to redo parts of my routine.

It needed to be set with powder.
Now, on a normal day I have nothing against that. But... it seemed to only like the loose powder from Dior. With that combo it looked perfect. The other loose powders I tested it with (Laura Mercier, Kanebo, different Kanebo and Kose) made it settle angrily into wrinkles and fine lines. Seriously, it accentuated fine lines in places I didn't know I had them.

And finally, its staying power.
Less than 5 hours. More like 4 hours. And that was with using a primer. This is not what I expected from a cushion that cost me an arm and a leg and a firstborn.  Meh all around.

So, that's what I say. Because what I say is the reason why you're reading this review in the first place. But, in the name of fairness, let's check out what the marketing honchos at Dior have to say about this cushion.

Blurbs about Dior Capture Totale DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion SPF 50 PA+++ straight from the box:

And in detail:

And here in a language that I can actually understand:

Image source: Dior website

Such awesome claims would mean an awesome ingredient list, right?
Well... not quite...

Dior Capture Totale DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion SPF 50 PA+++ ingredients:

Dior touts its organic gardens somewhere in the Alps and Madagascar.  That's supposedly where the "natural" ingredients came from. Well, you know what? They are at the very end of this ingredient list. They do nothing in this product and any magical skincare results you allegedly experienced while using this cushion, are nothing but wishful thinking.

I'm very curious about these Dior gardens and would like to visit them someday. Or at least locate them on google maps, or something. Because considering the sheer number of products that Dior offers, and considering that nearly all of these products require plant extracts, these gardens must be mighty huge to meet all the demand. Or, it just shows you that the highly touted ingredients appear in truly minuscule amounts. Just enough to justify fancy marketing slogans.

Source: Dior website

And hey Dior, I always wanted to visit Madagascar. Hook me up! I want to see your Dior Gardens there!

Now, the color...

Here are the swatches of Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion SPF 50 PA+++ in shade 012:

See what I mean?
Why the hell did I buy this thing in the first place?

Overall, I am very disappointed. It's a very average cushion with an above than average price tag.
For 8500 yen plus tax (yes, I live in Japan and that's where I bought it) you get two refills of 15 grams each and a compact. Standard stuff for Korean cushions, but a generous novelty among western and Japanese brands.

The puff is identical to the puffs you can find in Korean roadshop brand cushion compacts:

It doesn't feel as sturdy as the typical blue and white Amore Pacific puff we all know and love. This is a flimsier version.

The surface is protected by a sticker so you know that nobody else was playing with your cushion.
When you peel off the sticker you can see that the sponge (the cushion) is the same as in the older generation cushions from Amore Pacific brands:

It's a lot finer than the abominations offered by the L'Oreal brands. Finer pores mean that the foundation is dispensed a lot more evenly onto the puff, and hence easier to apply on your face.

So, is there anything else I can tell you about this cushion?
Other than "save your money and don't buy this crap"?

Let's see...

The finish is moderately glowy, the coverage is minimal. It will even out the skin tone but that's about it. It won't cover any major redness or blemishes. It may accentuate pores and settle in wrinkles. It will oxidize.

I always say "In Dior We Trust" when it comes to color makeup.
But Dior still has a long way to go before they make a cushion that we can trust.

If however, you like fancy logos and high end brand names impress you, then by all means, go out and buy it. Just don't complain later on.
You've been warned...

Final verdict?

For 8500 yen plus tax I could have had 15.3 tall dark mocha chip soy frappuccinos. That means about one every week for 4 months. Yet instead I have this crappy cushion...

Monday, October 10, 2016

SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream (day and night)

Do you love tea?
I do. Though despite living in Japan, I am not that crazy about green tea. My preferred kind of tea would be Earl Grey, hot. Bonus points if you recognize this reference ;-)

While I might be a picky tea drinker, when it comes to skincare, I don't discriminate. Tea is tea. Is tea. Or rather, is camellia.
Show me a cosmetic product with Camellia sinensis and chances are I will buy it. Or beg it. Or try to get my grabby hands on it in some other way. Because tea. Must have.

When SainTFengel, or Saint Fengel, or however you want to spell it (part 1 of my SainTFengel experience is here) initially contacted me with their product list, the first thing I saw was "camellia". And my brain immediately went "yeah!"
I wasn't interested in other SaintFengel products, all I wanted was this camellia thing in a big pink jar. Pink! My brain was like "just give it to me already!"

image: SainTFengel website

And that's how I met today's contestant.
But before I continue, let me make a cup of tea. It's bloody cold here, been raining for days, typhoon number whatever (they number them in Japan) and it seems the season of wearing parkas indoors is already here. In a few short weeks we'll be wearing those damn parkas to bed.
Some hot tea will do me good. Actually, it's my second cup today.

Hang on. I'll be right back.

So. This is it.
SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream.

Yes, it's a sponsored product. It was sent to me by SainTFengel. The brand was sure that I was going to like it. It takes balls of monumental proportions to be so confident. But the brand did their homework. They read my blog and knew my skin concerns. And as it happened, this cream ticked all the boxes.

But let's talk about tea first.

You see, camellia sinensis, because that's what tea is, is an interesting plant. Green and black tea come from the same plant. The only difference is in how the leaves are processed.

The health benefits of drinking tea have been studied for nearly 5000 years. You'd think that in all this time we could agree on the results. But, as it turns out, it's not that simple.

While tea is loaded with compounds essential for our health, the actual studies of the benefits of drinking tea are to this day inconclusive. Any studies examining this tea-health relationship are careful to use words "likely" and "possibly" and "based on limited evidence". Why? Most of those studies were conducted in test tubes on tissue cultures.

Bottom line, it seems that most of the health benefits of drinking tea are actually linked to the fact that you need to boil the water first. Boiled water was (and still is!) safer to drink in most parts of the world. It is very possible that the stories about magical properties of tea started in ancient times when one person was drinking water and fell sick, and another was drinking tea and stayed healthy.  That is just one reason why statistical models can be very misleading.

The truth is that we don't really know.

The other truth is that tea is loaded with lots of beneficial compounds. But it's also loaded with compounds that may make many health conditions worse.

So, that's all about drinking tea.

What do we know about skincare benefits of tea?

Here the situation looks a lot better.

There have been studies that showed that tea extracts help to heal sun damage, that green tea extracts are beneficial in treating inflammatory conditions, including in papulopustular rosacea, that tea extracts can slow down the development of some signs of aging (that might be due to the tea's power in healing and protecting from sun damage).

Now you have several reasons why, when I see a product featuring Camellia sinensis, I buy it, sight unseen.

This product I didn't buy. It was offered to me in exchange for a review.The company was perfectly straightforward in communicating that they wanted an honest review.
Personally, I don't give a flying f*ck through a rolling donut if a product is sponsored or not. It's going to get my usual treatment regardless.

So let' s get this party started, shall we?

What do we have here?

SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream Day and Night

Country of origin: made in Taiwan

Volume: 56 ml / 1.9 fl oz

Packaging: a very pretty pink jar in a massive paper box. Came with a plastic spatula.

Active ingredients and claims to fame:

Consistency and texture: thick and luxurious but silky and light at the same time, soft, delicious, easily absorbed, yummy.

Feel on skin: absorbs to nothing, leaves zero film and zero residue, no pilling, plays nicely with others (actually, this was something the company emailed me about after my previous review to clarify that all of their products are formulated to work well with other skincare and/ or makeup products) - huge props for that!

Scent: none really.

How I used it: morning as my moisturizer, night as my cream.

And here is the point that makes me want to spit nickels and piss cement.

You see, the SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream jar has a divider inside. One part is filled with the day formula, and the other - with the night formula. Great concept. In theory only.

C'mon people, if you're going for something like that, couldn't you mark the sides clearer??? Which is which??? Day??? Night??? For crying out loud, was it that hard to put happy suns and moons on the appropriate sides?

Yes, I know, the jar came with an inner plastic lid with day and night markings, but unfortunately, you could put that lid any way you wanted. Those markings meant nothing.

According to the video on the company's website, it may appear as if the sun and moon signs on the back of the jar might indicate which part is the day cream and which is night. But... when you look at the front of the jar, the words "Day & Night" don't match up with the signs in the back.

So, as a result I had no clue whether I was smearing day or night cream on my face. I could make an educated guess, but I was never 100% sure. Fortunately, I didn't notice any ill effects either way.

Swatches of SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream:

Results: skin was soft, moisturized, even toned, irritations and angry red splotches were soothed and calmed. There was no adverse reaction at all. No breakouts, no zits, no nothing.

Actually, the results reminded me of a much more expensive Korean cream, cough... cough, with the name starting with "s" and ending with "7". But which was three times (if not more) as expensive.

This is what the company says:

Final verdict: I loved it.

Purchase again: Hell yeah!

SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream ingredients are here:

As you can see, it isn't really clear which is the night version and which is the day version. Again! To figure it out ingredient-wise, I had to contact the company and ask for clarifications.

And here day version and night version entered into cosDNA: day and night.

Where to buy:

The biggest issue is where to buy this stuff.
Seems the only place that carries SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream is YesStyle - link (not affiliated with me in any way).

Other comments:

This products contains a patented compound ALPAFLOR® GigaWhite developed by DSM, which is a Swiss company making cosmetic ingredients. I have been interested in Alpaflor ever since I heard about it last year through a special project I was participating in.

So, getting a chance to try this ALPAFLOR® GigaWhite in the wild, as part of a formulation of an Asian beauty product was the icing on the cake for me. Worth noting is that I had no idea SainTFengel Camellia Quintessence Revitalizing Cream contained this proprietary compound when I agreed to test it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

K Beauty online shopping featuring Cremorlab haul from Brush and Powder

I don't normally do store reviews.


It's been proven time and again that I am a bitter and miserable human being. I love to complain. I live for complaining. No kvetchin', no life.

That makes me a nightmare of a customer.

I freely admit it.
When I go online to do some shopping, I usually tend to spend a fair amount of money. When I shop, I usually buy the entire line (as evidenced by some of the entries on this blog) instead of piddling piecemeal. I don't have the patience for "hauls" consisting of one product. When I go shopping, I mean it. I shop.

Because of that, and because I am a bitter and miserable human being, my customer service expectations are somewhat different. When shopping, I'm in my special snowflake mode and I expect to be treated as such.

My usual shopping place is W2Beauty (affiliate link, this is the ONLY affiliate link in this post), because Alice totally gets it. She treats me like a special princess that I am. I love Alice.
W2Beauty is more expensive than other online stores, but I am willing to pay more for the opportunity to be treated like a spoiled brat. Because I am one. Alice knows that too, and I love her for that.

Last year Alice went above and beyond her responsibilities of an internet store owner and got something for me that was sold only duty free at the airport. She was going on vacation. She lugged my shopping with her around Europe. She EMSed it to me when she returned to Korea. THAT'S why I love Alice.
When I had questions about plastic surgery clinics in Seoul, she actually asked her friends and associates for recommendations. THAT'S why I love Alice.

I never win any of her giveaways, I hardly ever post any reviews on her website. Apart from one W2Beauty sponsored review on this blog, everything is always paid with my own money. Because I love Alice. And I will continue buying from her for as long as she stays in business.


Another place I shop at is TGI Wholesale, because despite the awful site design, they also get customer service. And just like Alice, they go mental with samples and freebies, as well.

When I needed a particular recommendation, they actually wrote back with a list of what was trending at that time in Korea. And guess what? On that list they included items they did not carry and did not sell. I appreciate such honesty.
Unfortunately, lately their selection seems to have shrunk. Pity. On the other hand, they are revamping their website. So maybe new and exciting things are going to happen soon. Good luck, TGI Wholesale!


Everybody's favorite Jolse is not my preferred shopping destination. Yes, I do buy from them from time to time. But I never understood their high standing among foreign Asian beauty fans. Jolse used to be referred to as BAE by people who just got their first package full of CosRX something or the other. Because apparently a handful of cheap foil packets made them look so generous and special.
I have no use for low-end samples, I have no use for TonyMolys, or Skinfoods, or other Etude Houses. If I haul in triple digits and get Tony Moly Tomatox foils, I will not be shopping there again.

Sorry, that's just my thing. Your thing might be different. But I'm going to take my business elsewhere.


I have hauled from RoseRoseShop in the past and it was a less than satisfying experience (see Jolse above) mainly due to looooong as all eternity shipping times.
I have hauled from Koreadepart and it was meh, too.

I am a semi-regular G-Market hauler and due to the nature of that site, it can be a very hit or miss experience. I had more hits than misses, but their point system sucks. For that reason, if I can, I tend to avoid G-Market altogether.

I have hauled from numerous Ebay sellers as well. Overall, it was a decent experience. With one exception. But more about it soon.


(all links to Wishtrend are non-affiliate)

One place I refuse to shop at is Wishtrend.
Why? They allow, suggest even, to mask affiliate links, because they are well aware of the fact that some people (like me) choose not to click on a random affiliate link. That fact alone made me say "fuck you" to Wishtrend and avoid any link with "wishtrend" in it 100% of the time.

Pity, because I'd like to try their klairs brand. But I am not going to. Unless I can get it from somewhere else.


However, despite my deep and undying love and devotion to Alice at W2Beauty, I am always on the lookout for new places to shop.
  • One, because I love to shop. 
  • And two, because Alice does not stock every single brand under the sun. She's trying, yes, that's true. 
  • And three, because whenever I want something that she doesn't sell, I feel bad for asking her to do me a favor and get it for me anyway. Even I know there are limits to my special snowflakeness.

(no affiliate links below)

It seems that the majority of new online vendors these days are located either in the US, or in Canada, or in Europe. That doesn't do me any good.

Though there is one store in the UK, named very appropriately K-cosmetics, that offers free worldwide shipping, has an interesting brand that I am lusting after (I'm From) and decent prices (considering their physical location).
It seems like a great choice for folks in Europe to try.

And they're also offering 40% off right now, if you sign up for their newsletter or something, something. Their website kinda sucks, but the prices are really reasonable, and that I'm From is calling my name (especially since I refuse to buy from Wishtrend, which is like the only other place that stocks this brand).


(NO affiliate links below, this is NOT a sponsored review)

There is also a new player based in South Korea, one called Brush and Powder.
I mentioned them before in my Cremorlab review. They are notable for carrying a fuckton of Cremorlab and having periodic "buy one get one" offers on Cremorlab Fresh Water Gel (and hopefully on other Cremorlab, too, hear this B&P???). It was one of these offers that lured me in.

Don't know about you, but I hate the name. Sounds too much like a makeup store. True, they also carry a bunch of makeup, including some lesser known brands (Unpretty Rapper, you're next!), but that's not all they have. So why the stupid makeupy name? No idea.

They are very active on Instagram and that's how I found them.
They are kind, friendly, and for the most part, well organized. For the most part, because as you will see, there was a little snafu with the discount code. However, overall, their customer service is second to none. They actually indulged my special snowflakedness and did so with a smile. Gotta love that.

When shortly after my Cremorlab post, they announced on Instagram they were running their BOGO offer on Fresh Water Gel, I immediately jumped on it. Cremorlab is good, but only if I can get it for less than the regular price.

And so I placed an order. I also added Cremorlab Skin Tone-Up CC Cream, which I've been wanting to try for a while now, and which turned out to be excellent.

Before I placed my order, I got this pop-up:

So you mean not only a BOGO offer on Cremorlab, but 10% off as well?
Just shut up and take my money already!

Of course I signed up.
I didn't get any email with an activation code, or a discount code, so I assumed it would be applied during checkout. I assumed wrong.

Now, my total wasn't that outrageous. It came out to 87 dollars. But 10% of 87 dollars that's 8 bucks. That's a fully customized Starbucks soy frappuccino in Japan. Nothing to sneeze at.

I wanted to know if perhaps I did something wrong and missed my 10% off, so I sent an email. Even though it was almost midnight here and in Korea, their lovely rep got back to me almost immediately. Seriously people, don't you ever sleep???

She explained that emails are sent at certain times, and that unfortunately, I missed my discount code for my first order. Yeah, I was bummed. But then she suggested that she could upgrade my shipment from normal registered air to K-packet to make up for the inconvenience of missing the discount.
Now, you see, I live in Japan. I always pick the cheapest shipping option when choices are available, because whether it's a K-packet, or a registered air package, they get here around the same time. It doesn't make any difference. EMS, if it's sent out first thing in the morning in Korea, gets to me the next day. We are close enough that extra shipping options don't really make much sense. Better to use that money towards an extra sheet mask, or two.

Of course if you live in a country with a less reliable postal system, by all means, go for the safest option.
In all my years of buying from Korea, I have lost only one package. With three su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Sticks. From an Ebay seller, who didn't send it with a tracking number. But I placed that order during the famous MRCS shortage, so it's anybody's guess whether the package was actually sent out at all. After a long wait for my sticks and a very brief Ebay dispute, I got my money back. I ended up ordering the sticks from W2Beauty, because by then they were back in stock and available.

Back to Brush and Powder...

While I appreciated the shipping upgrade gesture, I didn't really need it. I paid for the tracking number anyway. I would have preferred a couple of sheet masks instead. I said so to the Brush and Powder rep, and she basically replied "whatever makes you happy".

Time frame:
  • I placed my order on Monday at midnight, or very early Tuesday morning, we're talking like zero A.M. here.
  • It was shipped out on Friday.
  • It got to me a week later.

It was sent out as K-packet AND there were the masks I whined about. AND a packet of Cremorlab makeup cleansing sheets AND a bunch of samples and foils. AND a handwritten personal note.

People, that's how you do customer service.

Am I going to be shopping at Brush and Powder in the future? Hell yeah! Especially since after all that, I can STILL use my previously missing 10% discount code.

And that is WHY I am writing this post.

Too often I bitch about bad service (I refuse to shop at the flagship Shu Uemura store at Omotesando Hills), shady service (staff at SkinGarden in Shin Okubo in Tokyo diligently scratching off stamped expiration dates) or racist service (as detailed in this entry).
So to balance it out, today I am writing about excellent service. And unlike my shopping experiences in Japan, this excellent service is available worldwide with free shipping, no matter where you live.

But of course, I wouldn't be myself, if I didn't find something to point out.
Now, this stuff doesn't really matter to me, because Japan and Korea have some sort of offcial agreement and nobody cares what's written on customs slips.

However, if you live in a country with an anal retentive customs office, you might be in for a rude surprise.

The package was marked as a gift, but... the sender was listed as "Brush and Powder". That is an immediate red flag that the parcel is not a gift, but in fact, merchandise.

In contrast, W2Beauty and TGI Wholesale (don't remember about Jolse) write the name of an actual person as a sender, so the package has at least a semblance of being an actual, private gift. A tiny thing but one that customs officers look at when "randomly" selecting shipments for inspection.

Another thing that could be a red flag for bored customs staff was that the total value was listed as "0" on the customs form. Yep, zero dollars, zero won, zero yen, zero anything.  

 Yeah, we all play that lower-the-value-to-avoid-customs-fees game. I do it every time I send a package to Europe. But c'mon now. Keep it believable, please?

Anyway, that's just my two yen worth of bitching.


What exactly did I buy?

  • Cremorlab Skin Tone-Up CC Cream - single price US$36.00. This stuff is magnificent, perfect for hot and humid weather. If you have oily or combo skin, this is going to be ideal for you (according to my very oily friend). It has yellow undertones and is suitable for light and very light skintones up to NC20, maybe. I'll post a full review after testing it some more.

Here are the two sheet masks:

As you can see, the combined total of these masks is nearly double of what my 10% would have been. Thank so you much, Brush and Powder!!!

The hand written note recommended this mask:

I'm going to try it tonight and report back :-)

And in addition to all that, a generous stack of samples and foils was included in my shipment as well.

Miss N (the oily skinned friend) immediately grabbed the CC cream samples. She's the one who reported back that it worked like magic.

Mineral Treatment Essence, Shadow-off Cream and Essence Tonic are new to me. While one foil is not enough to get an idea about a product, I'm still looking forward to trying them all.
Incidentally, September is my "use up all the samples" months, because I am trying to reorganize my stash.

So there you have it.
A totally honest, non-sponsored store review.

What are you waiting for?
Go, do some shopping!

And now, if you excuse me, I have to start preparing for yet another typhoon. Meh...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Best and worst of Tatcha - Indigo cream and Silken sunscreen

I mean productwise, not PR or marketing stories. I already wrote about what I think about Tatcha's nonsensical claims of ancient geisha beauty secrets and mystical lost books full of Japanese skincare magic, which can be easily found on Amazon.
Here's the link to my Tatcha - first impressions blog post from last year.

Nah... Today we'll talk about products. One Tatcha product that actually shines in the brand's otherwise quite medicore lineup, and one Tatcha product that was met with total disbelief from my Japanese friends when they tried it, and which then inspired a ROTFL episode when they heard the story behind it.

The rest of the stuff I bought and tried was either just OK, not worth the money, or simply meh.

Yeah, I might not be a fan of the brand's PR mythology, but that doesn't mean that I am going to automatically wave off the entire product lineup. No. If something is good and if it's working for me, I will tell you about it. I will tell you about the other stuff too, just to keep it nicely balanced, you know?

But before we begin, we need a little refresher lesson in botany.

  • 1. Latin. It's used by scientists and in INCI listings for a reason.

Exhibit A:

See this?
Two plants, right? Don't even look alike, right?
So what the hell do they have in common, apart from the "tinctoria" bit in their names?

Both of them are sources of blue dye used to dye clothes since the beginning of time. Incidentally, that's what "tinctoria" means - it's a Latin word meaning "used for dyeing or staining".
Both of them are commonly known as "indigo".
Both of them have anti-bacterial and analgesic qualities and have been in used in traditional folk medicine.

WTF, right?

Same, same but different. Very different, in fact.

The one on the left is known as Chinese indigo (or Japanese indigo), genus Persicaria, family Polygonaceae.
The one on the right is the regular Indian indigo, genus Indigofera, family Fabaceae.

Their origin is completely different. They are completely different species.

We are interested in the one on the left - Japanese indigo.

Exhibit B:

My pretty, pretty indigo blue purse. I got it in Kiryu, Gunma prefecture. Kiryu is a famous local indigo dyeing center. But there is also a famous indigo dyeing place in Tochigi, right down the street from me, in Moka (I love this town, btw!). They still do it the traditional way using locally grown indigo.

But, but...
Back to indigo plants.

That's not the end of it, because there are actually five other different species of plants that are referred to as "indigo" in Japan, and that are also used for dyeing fabric: Indigofera suffruticosa, Isatis tinctoria, Strobilanthes cusia, Marsdenia tinctoria and Mercurialis leiocarpa. And all of those fuckers are called "ai (藍) something or the other" (ai meaning "indigo" in Japanese). Not to be confused with a different "ai" meaning "love".

You still with me?

  • 2. That is why, when talking about plants, Latin is so important.
Otherwise you're gonna end up looking like an idiot.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I've seen a few reviews of Tatcha's indigo cream that got the plants wrong, that got the words wrong (ai and ai, I know, I know, kanji can be very cruel like that), that got the story wrong.

It's like saying that AHA and BHA are the same. I mean both are acids, right? Both are used in skincare, right? Both exfoliate, right? Ergo, same!

So while a rose is still a rose is still a rose by any other name, it's not so simple with indigo.

  • 3. Today we want Persicaria tinctoria
a.k.a. (because this fucker has not one but TWO Latin names, mutually interchangeable) Polygonum tinctoria, a.k.a. Japanese Indigo, a.k.a. Chinese Indigo (because that's where it came from).

So Latin, folks, Latin...

Tatcha's indigo cream contains extracts from both indigos - Polygonum tinctoria and Indigofera tinctoria, but it's only the first one that is the Japanese indigo of Tatcha's pretty story of Japanese tradition, Tokushima prefecture, banks of the Yoshino river, blah blah blah...

Here you can read more about Japanese indigo from a source that is not Tatcha, meaning it's not going to make you gag. (You're welcome).

Because Tatcha, as we all know, tends to have a very elastic relationship with facts, Japanese history and Japanese culture.

Now that we know what we are talking about, we can finally start talking about it.


Best of Tatcha:
Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream - 50 ml - link.

Full disclosure:

When I placed my massive Tatcha order last year, I ordered the travel size of this indigo cream. When the package arrived, there was a full size jar in it along with the small one I ordered. I was using that full size jar and loving the cream and then one day at some shitty hotel in a third world country, my precious Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream was rudely stolen from my room (they also stole Ettusais Amino CC cream in pink, WTF, in a country where no one is pink? Maybe they took it for a hemorrhoid ointment, or something, I don't know).

So when Miss Y (my dear friend who should be nominated for sainthood) was going to the US earlier this year, I asked her to bring me another Indigo cream. She did. She also brought a Tatcha lipstick, which, incidentally (#1), is also amazing. Miss Y compared the lipstick to Pola lipsticks, applied it onto my lips, and even though the color was totally not me, everything else about that lipstick was amazing. If Tatcha ever does colors other than hooker geisha red, I'll totally get them. The comparison to Pola made me go out and buy a Pola lipstick. And I don't even wear lipsticks! LOL!

Incidentally (#2), this is the second time when Tatcha and Pola meet in my narratives. Something's going on here...

End disclosure.

Every time I read Tatcha's PR bullshit, I roll my eyes so hard, I can literally see my brain. That two hundred year old text? I got mine on Amazon. For 12 bucks.


Anyway, where was I?

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream.

I did not expect much from this cream. Because Tatcha, you know?
So one day last year when my hands and wrists were being eaten alive by dryness and eczema, I was ready to try anything. I cracked open the Indigo Cream and smeared it on my red splotches. It said in the promo blurbs that it's supposed to help with eczema and irritated skin. Right? I wasn't holding my breath. I went to bed.

I woke up to soothed and calmed skin.

Tatcha Indigo Triple something something actually worked.

And grudgingly I had to admit that this cream was slowly moving into my must-have territory.
Guess what?

Nearly a year later, it firmly is in the must-have territory.

I don't know what I am going to do when I run out. Ordering just this cream from the US is not very cost effective. But I'll worry about it when the time comes. Right now I still have some left in the second jar that Miss Y brought back from the US for me.

So what about this cream?

What is responsible for the results it brings?
Is it indigo? Or is it plain, old oatmeal? The cream has both. I don't know, and frankly I am not interested. As long as it keeps soothing and calming my red face, I'm happy. As long as it keeps moisturizing and nourishing my aged, wrinkled skin, I'm happy.

If you look at the box, you will notice that only the oatmeal is listed as the active ingredient. I supposed calling it "Oatmeal Soothing Triple Recovery Cream" doesn't sound as sexy as "Indigo". And that's fine, I don't mind. As long as the formulation works for my skin, it's all good.

Can you see it?
This cream was not made in Japan. It was made in the US. It says "formulated in Japan", but knowing Tatcha's propensity for bullshit, I'm going to take it with a spoonful of salt.

Make no mistake, this is a rich cream. For dry skin, it works both as a night and day cream. For any other skin, it's strictly an evening moisturizer.

It has a very faint smell. Very faint. Reminds me of oatmeal and basil. An odd combo, I know, but that was my very first though when I sniffed it.

Indigo is blue, and so is this cream. Its light blue hue dissipates upon application and does not transfer to clothing. Don't worry, you will not end up looking like a Smurf.

The jar looks very small. Hard to believe it contains 50ml. I did not see a spatula in my box. Doesn't bother me, because I prefer to use my fingers.

Yep. Blue.
This is what Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream looks like on the skin:

It takes time to absorb. It will feel slightly tacky and sticky right after application. But if you are patient, or have dry skin, you will see an incredible glow. Not greasy shine. Not oily mess. Just beautifully moisturized, calm, glowing skin.

And you know why I love it so much?

Take a look at the ingredient list (below).
See what's in the second place, right after "water"?

My holiest of holy skincare grails. My skin loves squalane. No wonder it loves Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream.

 Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream ingredients:

Active Ingredient: Colloidal Oatmeal 3%
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Squalane (Olive origin), Glycerin, Propanediol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Diisostearyl Malate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Xylitol, Behenyl Alcohol, Polygonum Tinctorium (Japanese Indigo) Leaf/stem Extract, Indigofera Tinctoria Leaf Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat Kernel) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract, Prunus Lannesiana Flower Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Inositol (Rice Extract), Sericin (Silk Extract), Tetrasodium Tetracarboxymethyl Naringeninchalcone, Chondrus Crispus (Red Algae) Extract, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dextrin, Sorbitan Tristearate, Trihydroxystearin, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Beheneth­‐20, Bis-­Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-­2, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Sodium Acrylate/acryloyldimethyltaurate/dimethylacrylamide Crosspolymer, Titanium Dioxide, Calcium Carbonate, Tin Oxide, Phenoxyethanol, Mica.

Tatcha has other products in the Indigo line. Am I going to try them? No, they are too expensive for me. If they were available locally, then maybe. But as it is now, getting them from the US is just too pricey.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream is breathtakingly expensive as well. 50 ml for US$135.00.
Yes, that's one hundred thirty five dollars, no typos here.

Final verdict:

It's in the SK-II price category, it's not available in Japan, but my skin seems to like it.
I will weep and eat nothing but rice and nori for a few weeks, but yes, I will be repurchasing.

Final notes:

I was reading an interview with Ms Tsai (the founder of Tatcha) in which she claimed that Japanese indigo is not commonly used in cosmetics. Of course that is the usual Tatcha nonsense.
A quick search reveals that Japanese indigo is an ingredient in (for example):

  • Kose Sekkisei Supreme Powder Foundation
  • Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Repair Eye Cream 
  • Kose Sekkisei Supreme Liquid Foundation 
  • Kose Sekkisei Supreme Whitening Eye Cream 
  • LuLuLun  Face Mask (white)
  • Dr. Ci:Labo Photo-White-C Whitening Lotion
  • Kose Sekkisei Supreme Revitalizing Cream
  • Kose Sekkisei Supreme Moisturizer II 
  • Naruko Raw Job's Tears CO2 Brightening Mask

And I'm sure it's used in many other products by many other companies. I'm just too lazy to search more.

And that concludes our Best of Tatcha segment.

EDITED to add:

Yes, I know, blue creams and blue skincare in general seems to be in now. It's the new snail, if you will. May Lindstrom, Sunday Riley, klairs and a bunch of others all have something blue in their lineup. But as far as I can tell, none of the products contains indigo of any kind.


Let's move on to:

Worst of Tatcha
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 (60ml) - link.

Full disclosure:
I didn't buy it. It was included as a present with my order.

Let's keep it short and sweet, because this sunscreen is not worth more than 5 minutes of my time. And definitely not worth the 68 dollars that Tatcha wants for it.

US$68 for this thing?

Only an idiot would willingly spend that much money on this mediocre approximation of a cheap Japanese sunscreen makeup base.

Tatcha claims this sunscreen was formulated in Japan and manufactured in the US.

Personally, I don't think this sunscreen got anywhere near Japan.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the limitations of producing an SPF product for the American market. The US is still in the middle ages when it comes to approved UV blockers.

Japan, on the other hand, is THE sunscreen capital of the world. Sunscreens here are cosmetically elegant (for the most part), plentiful, come in a dazzling variety of formulations and in every price point - from rock bottom cheapos for the equivalent of 5 dollars to high end skincare miracles that can cost upwards of a hundred bucks.

Japan knows sunscreen.

And Tatcha?
Tatcha doesn't know the first thing about Japanese sunscreens. Their product is not even in the same category as Japanese sunscreens. They are trying to pass off an American sunblock as a Japanese-formulated product.

First of all, the SPF.
35? Really? Really, really?

Standard for Japanese sunscreens is SPF50 and PA++++ (which, I suppose would be the equivalent of a very broad spectrum).

Lower SPF is usually found in base makeup and makeup primers.

This is exactly what Tatcha Silken Sunscreen is - an SPF enhanced makeup base. Tatcha even admits as much on their website.

Unfortunately, Japan also happens to be the leading power in makeup bases. We love our primers here and we sure know our bases.

So how does Tatcha's Silken compare to an average Japanese pore perfecting makeup base? Not very well, unfortunately.

  • Tatcha says it's "weightless" - it's not.
  • Tatcha says it's "pore perfecting" - sure, in the same way that wall spackle is.
  • Tatcha says it's "brightening" - if a horrid white cast is your idea of "bright", then sure, yeah, it is.
  • Tatcha says that it has skincare benefits from all the wonderful extracts in the formulation - personally, my skin was screaming for air when I applied it to my face. 

I was expecting sunscreen. I got something that felt like a wash off mask.

But then again, I am spoiled. I live in Japan and use Japanese sunscreens daily.

I thought I was being unnecessarily harsh on Tatcha Silken Sunscreen, so I invited a couple of my friends to try it. Miss I and Miss Y both politely said that this sunscreen was nowhere near Japanese standards in this price range. It was nowhere near Japanese makeup primer standards in this price range, either.

They were a lot less polite when they found out about the nonsensical geisha story used to peddle this product. Let's just say that good LOLs were had by all.

Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen ingredients:

Water, Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Propanediol, Hdi/trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Behenyl Alcohol, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Eriobotrya Japonica Leaf Extract, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (Licorice Extract), Glycyrrhiza Inflata (Licorice) Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, Sericin (Silk Extract), Algae Extract, Lecithin, Inositol (Rice Extract), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sorbitan Tristearate, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Silica, Potassium Sorbate, Beheneth-20, Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Dimethylacrylamide Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Titanium Dioxide, Methicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Dimethiconol, Disodium Edta, Iron Oxides (Ci77491), Tin Oxide, Mica, Fragrance (Natural), Ethylhexylglycerin, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol

Final thoughts:

From all the Tatcha products that I have tried, this is hands down the worst ever. The exfoliating rice powder is a close second runner up, but this sunscreen gets the honors of being total shite. At least the rice powder I can use to wash my feet.

So there you have it.
One Tatcha winner and one Tatcha loser:

And did you notice that both of them were "formulated in Japan" and "made in USA"? Interesting, isn't it?

Now, if ever this Plum Blossm Lipstick comes back in stock, it shall be mine...

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