Friday, March 30, 2018

How House of Rose lost a fan

I used to love House of Rose. It's a Japanese skincare and beauty brand that this year will celebrate its 40th birthday. House of Rose prides itself on providing cosmetics that are "friendly for the skin." Its products are based on plant extracts and milk derived ingredients. House of Rose wants the customers to fall in love with its skincare and become loyal, long-term users.

Despite being "natural," House of Rose skincare is ridiculously cosmetically elegant, mostly expensive, and dare I say, effective. The Refining White (with tranexamic acid) line is pure gold.

The only thing that House of Rose does not have is a solid SPF50+ sunscreen. Sad. That was one of the reasons why I didn't visit their counter at the local mall more often.

Apart from Refining White, another reason why I loved House of Rose was the fact that it had a licensing agreement with Disney. If you buy a character hand cream at Tokyo Disneyland, you are buying a House of Rose product.

Yes, I'm a huge Alice fan. I can't help it. All these cute Disney goodies are made in Japan and are available exclusively at Tokyo Disneyland. I'm going there next week, actually. Yay!

The exception seems to be Winnie the Pooh, as you can find Pooh's image on honey-based products sold at regular House of Rose counters.

This is the shop selling Disney-branded House of Rose products at Tokyo Disneyland:

The name is La Petite Parfumerie and it's located in the Adventureland part of the park.

House of Rose was always my go-to place when I needed suitably fancy, but still (kind of) affordable gifts. And that is why last week I was standing in front of the House of Rose counter at a local mall. I stood there pondering which ones of the ready-made gift sets to grab. They included a hand cream, or a body butter, and a bath bomb. All beautifully packaged and ready for gift-giving.

The bath bombs had subtle and a lot more natural smelling scents than Lush next door.

I made my selections of sakura hand creams and bath bombs and body butters, paid, and the woman at the counter started to gift wrap my purchases.
I mean, you can't go wrong with a House of Rose gift, can you?

And then I picked up one of the bath bombs and looked at the back of the label carefully.
What did I see?

Made in China.

Made in freaking China.

Sorry, not sorry, but I do not buy beauty products made in China. The country can't get something as essential as a baby formula right, and I am supposed to trust it with cosmetics? No. Just no.

That is the reason why I do not buy L'Oreal or Maybelline products sold in Japan - they are made in China. Hardly anyone I know, except for foreigners perhaps, buys them, for precisely the same reason.

Now sadly, I will have to add House of Rose to the list of companies I am going to avoid. Why? If a drugstore brand makes its products in China, well, they are drugstore cosmetics sold at drugstore prices.

If a department store brand sells made in China beauty products, I have a problem with it.

I asked to cancel my purchase, removed all bath bombs from it, and settled on made in Japan bath salts instead.

This really saddens me, because House of Rose does have great skincare. However, I just can't support a "natural" and quite expensive brand that sells beauty products that are made in China.

I really wanted to buy some of this sakura line for myself, because it does smell divine, but in the name of principles, I didn't. I only bought the gifts. Then I tossed my loyalty card in the trash and went over to the next counter, to HABA, to buy skincare for me.

Bye bye House of Rose.
It was nice knowing you.


  1. The other brands of House of Rose - Doux (dry skin care), Baobaorich (hair care) - are made in Japan.

    1. Yes, I know that. And I thought I made it clear in the blog post that everything else, except some bath goods is made in Japan. But that "except" is enough for me to ditch HoR. If it was a cheap brand I could live with it, but from a brand that that aspires to be an indie high-ish end? No, thank you.

  2. hmmm.
    I wandered onto your blog recently looking for sunscreen reviews, which were very helpful, and found my way here. And am quite saddened.
    So the baby powder situation happened years ago, and it is considered a shock and tragedy by everyone. It’s effects are still being felt, and CCTV drags out affected disabled children on the regular, to no ones’ delight.
    But that doesn’t mean that a situation is consistent. As a country grows, so does the demands of the people. There are many companies nowadays who do traditional, herbal-medicine based cosmetics based on ancient recipes. Although they are not readily accessible outside the county (but many Japanese skincare isn’t either). I’d bet most people would believe that 5,000 years of history with the largest country in the world would have something to offer in the world from skincare and cosmetics, once it has a chance to breathe from wave after wave of political turmoil. For example, the company TATCHA (which makes amazing skincare) is actually founded by a Chinese native.

    Besides, it’s not the workers or the physical location of the factory that determine your formula, or ingredients. It’s the company who sent the formula over, and it’s also them to decide on where they are sourcing ingredients from. A company based in the States could decide to build two plants (one in China, one in Japan) but ship the same ingredients... well, what difference is there? I doubt the Japanese government would allow actual shit quality items into the market.

    I understand your concern, as I had many of the same ones myself a few years ago. I was just really saddened by the way you used “made in china” above, with a tone that screams of disgust... like something you would pick up with two fingers and fling into the trash. In a 2015 blog, you mentioned that a rosemary’s clerk was a “racist pig”. While I don’t think you are one, I do feel a strong sense of prejudice here. A good many things are made in China, including high quality luxury goods... but at the end of the day, “you get what you pay for”. Yes, there are things with shit quality offered, but there’s also high quality items. Please don’t shoot the crowd with one gun. It’s a good idea to get a better understanding of a situation than using outdated information.


    1. Adios!

      PS. Victoria Tsai is an American of Taiwanese descent, not a Chinese native. And no, Tatcha does not make amazing products.


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