Saturday, May 4, 2019

DHC Lip Cream Star Wars Edition

I've realized that reviewing Korean cosmetics is, for the most part, pretty much pointless. Many brands are here today, gone tomorrow and products are constantly changed and discontinued. That is good from a marketing point of view, but sucks when you like something, wrote about it and then want to buy it again.

Today's post will be about a product that has been around for ages. It's still the same (or with minimal changes), because if something works, why mess with a good thing, right? Right.

Fortunately, DHC is that rare breed of companies that keeps the formulations of its hit products pretty much constant. If there are changes, they are not affecting the product's key properties and most users don't even notice that anything is different. And this is what I like about DHC. It's not the most exciting of brands and it's not rock bottom of the drugstore shelves. It's a solid, quality brands churning out solid, quality products. And sometimes they have a brilliant idea of adorning their packaging with Disney characters. In the past we got Alices, Winnie the Poohs, Ariels and other cuties that appeal to the prepubescent crowd (or to grown Japanese women).

This time DHC decided to take a more inclusive approach (probably realizing that you can shove only so many Disney princesses down customers' throats) and slapped Star Wars characters on one of its most popular products - the one and only DHC Lip Cream.

And since today is May 4th a.k.a. Star Wars Day, it's a perfect excuse to finally tell you about why DHC Lip Cream is the only lip balm I keep repurchasing.

So... what makes DHC Lip Cream (what a stupid name, btw) special?
It works. Bring me your chapped, dry, sunburned, peeling, swollen lips, apply a swipe of DHC Lip Cream, then another one a couple of hours later, and then again before going to sleep. Wake up to healed, soft, amazing, kissable lips.

Seriously, this stuff works. It works because the ingredients are carefully formulated for it to work. It works because it has zero stupid irritants, like menthol, or flavor, or other additives so beloved by Japanese high school girls who can't wear makeup to school.

DHC Lip Cream is boring (hence the Disney princesses to make it more appealing to the younger crowd), it's more expensive that a typical drugstore lip balm, it holds only 1.5 gram of product (seriously, f*ck you, DHC), but it works.

And now it works even better (at least for me), because the tubes are adorned with my favorite Disney characters: Darth Vader and stormtroopers, the droids, and Master Yoda. Yes, Star Wars is a Disney franchise now. And yes, I will buy anything, literally anything, with Star Wars on it. It's an addiction, I know... But I'm quite happy being a Star Wars addict.

Yes, that's me. You have a problem with that?

Anyway, back to the DHC Lip Cream. What's in it that makes it work?

  • Lanolin oil
  • Olive oil
  • Squalane (from olive oil)
  • Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, and 
  • Ginseng root extract.
The last two are there just for vanity purposes at the very end of the ingredient list. They don't really do anything useful in such tiny concentrations.

But mainly lanolin oil. And I just love how some sites, like for example even DHC's own UK website tries to pretend that olive oil is the main ingredient. LOL. It's not. It's lanolin.

Lanolin is basically stuff secreted by sheep to keep their wool waterproof. Sounds scary, right? No worries, no sheep are killed in the production of lanolin. They need to be alive to secret it. And unlike what some bloggers claim, lanolin is not a fat. It doesn't contain glycerides, hence it can't be a fat. So what is it? It's more like wax.

Image: Wikipedia

The wool is coated in lanolin and this substance is removed during a washing process using centrifuge separators. About 200ml to 300 ml of lanolin can be recovered from the wool of one sheep. Fun times.

This lanolin is then purified to produce lanolin esters in their natural state. All impurities (environmental and otherwise) are removed and the result is white, odorless, hypoallergenic lanolin. The sensitivity to lanolin is highly exaggerated, mainly by bloggers who don't understand that "lanolin possesses a number of important chemical and physical similarities to human stratum corneum lipids; the lipids which help regulate the rate of water loss across the epidermis and govern the hydration state of the skin." (from "Investigations into biomechanisms of the moisturizing function of lanolin" from Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (1993))

Anyway, there you have it. Pure lanolin (which is used in cosmetic products) is very similar to our own human lipids that keep our skin from drying out. And that is exactly what lanolin does to our lips. It keeps them from drying out. It keeps them moisturized. It keeps them healthy and soft. Just like the lipids keep our skin healthy and soft.

I understand that basic science is hard, advanced science is even harder. So, no sweetheart, you are not allergic to lanolin. You probably tried a product with lanolin that contained a number of other known irritants, like color or fragrance, for example.

Speaking of fragrance, DHC Lip Cream does not smell like sheep. In fact it doesn't smell like anything. People who complain that their DHC Lip Cream stinks probably bought an old product past its due date, or one that was stored incorrectly. That is actually very common when you buy imported stuff in Europe or the US. A clean, fresh product should not smell at all.

What else? In Japan DHC Lip Cream is considered a quasi-drug which means it has been approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to be recognized and labeled as "medicinal" and permitted to show certain efficacy and effects. In this case, the effects of liquid lanolin.

DHC Lip Cream ingredients:
lanolin oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax/candelilla cera/cire de candelilla, beeswax/cera alba/cire d’abeille, lanolin, stearic acid, squalane, paraffin, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, pentylene glycol, tocopherol, phenoxyethanol, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, panax ginseng root extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract

And that's pretty much it.
We have a great product with a listed price of 700 yen (without tax), but most drugstores sell it cheaper. I usually buy mine at a cheap supermarket and pay around 500 yen.
These Star Wars ones I was forced to buy at a DHC counter in a local shopping mall and I paid full price. I usually have about 4 of these lip balms around. One in my purse, one in my other purse, one by my computer at home, and one in the bathroom. I do not overuse. They are so tiny that the product literally disappears with normal use in no time. That's the only thing I hate about it.

But, on the other hand I understand. It will go bad fast when exposed to air and sunlight, and it's meant to be used quickly. I just wish it was a bit cheaper... But, hey, I'm not complaining. If it works, it works. And I'm happy.

May the fourth be with you!
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