-Facial Treatment Essence (30ml) SK-II's most popular product, a balancing treatment essence containing over 90% pure pitera (a nutrient-rich antioxidant found in sake yeast) that smooths and renews skin -Skin Signature (15g) An anti-aging, moisturizing cream that helps diminish the appearance of wrinkles and firms skin. -Skin Signature 3D Redefining Mask (1 mask) A 2-sheet mask containing Saccharomycopsis (also known as "pitera") that soothes and softens skin, as well as improve elasticity. -MF Quality Cotton N (10 sheets)
and a booklet/diary with detailed instructions on how to use and when to apply the products. The 1-week trial kit cost 1,000 yen (including shipping) which is the standard price for drugstore skincare trial kits and a fairly good deal considering that just one SKII 3D sheet mask costs over 2,400 yen.
Carefully following the instructions, I used the 3D Redefining Mask the first night I began SKII's week-long Skin Power program. The mask was chalk full of milky-white essence that was extremely soothing. The design of the mask also made it very easy to apply to and keep on my face. (It comes in two separate sheets: one to wear over the forehead and eye area and another for the nose on down.) The next morning when I looked in the mirror, my face looked brighter than usual; my skin was smooth and hydrated (but not oily or sticky); and the redness from my rosacea was visibly toned down. The only disappointing aspect of the 3D Redefining Mask was that the holes for the eyes and mouth were very small and the actual price of the masks is quite high.
My experience with the Facial Treatment Essence and Skin Signature cream were not as pleasant, unfortunately. I noticed that, as soon as I applied the Treatment Essence, I felt a prickly sensation and the cream, except when applied after wearing the 3D mask, dried out my skin. Itchy, tiny red bumps began to show all over my face, which also felt more tight than firm in an almost painful way, and I had to quit using the trial kit. After reading many other reviews from others who participated in the Skin Power campaign, I have found that most either love these two products or have experienced some kind of allergic reaction to them.
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend testing the Treatment Essence before making a purchase. If you have sensitive skin, you should probably avoid the product. I also think that anyone suffering from dry and/or sensitive skin should stay away from the Skin Signature cream. However, SKII's 3D Redefining Mask is an excellent product and I highly recommend it to anyone willing to pay 14,175 yen (including tax) for 6 masks. For a cheaper alternative, InnerSignal's Rejuvenate Mask comes at 6 masks for 8,400 yen (including tax). Though both are on the pricey side, they are some of the best sheets masks on the market.
While cleaning up my makeup drawer, I discovered a Lancôme Fatale mascara I had purchased a long time ago. Somehow it had gotten stuck in the back and I had forgotten all about it. Fatale was never released in Japan but I found it at Donki Hote one day and bought it for only 2,000 yen. (The average Lancôme mascara costs around 4,000 yen in Japan.)
What sets Fatale apart from other Lancôme mascaras is its Ampliform 3D Comb that adds dramatic, "femme-fatale" volume to the lashes. At first, I did not care for the brush but now that I have gotten used to it, I kind of like it. It is more like a 3D hard comb that you gently run through your lashes. If you allow too much product on the comb, you may end up with clumpy lashes and mascara on your face, so a steady hand and some practice is necessary. Though Fatale is advertised as a volumizing mascara, it does add some length and will keep your curl. It lasts all day and I have found that it does not smudge as much as Hypnôse. But what I like most about it is how it defines my lower lashes and leaves me with doll-like eyes. Unfortunately, Fatale was recently replaced with the Ôscillation mascara, so it is no longer available at Lancôme counters anywhere. It is quite similar to Hypnôse in that it gives you very thick, very black lashes so if you cannot find Fatale, I recommend trying Hypnôse or Virtuôse, if you are looking for something a little less dramatic.
Fairy Drops is a drug-store mascara, well-known for its attractive packaging and name, developed by a former news anchor from Los Angeles. Waterproof, the mascara promises to provide rich volume and curl to the lashes without any clumping. The brush also has a unique teardrop-shape, designed to catch and coat every lash.
After using the mascara, I found that Fairy Drops gave my eyelashes a delicate, pretty, "fairy-like" appearance. It added volume to my lashes but was light enough to help maintain their curl. While the mascara did not produce as dramatic results as Hypnôse or Virtuôse, I do think it they were more dramatic than what I have seen from some of the other drugstore mascaras. However, it did little in terms of lengthening (though it never promised it would) and despite its claims, did clump quite a bit. At the end of each day I wore the mascara, I had dark circles under my eyes and my eyes itched, likely due to the fiber-like formula. I do not think I will purchase Fairy Drops again because of the problems I have experienced but I may try the Platinum version in the future. 1,575 yen including tax.
The Nude Bon Bon Lip Gloss line is one of Elizabeth's most popular makeup collections. Just like Maxi Bon Bon, the glosses have a brush-tip applicator, are fragrance-free and contain palmitoyl oligopeptide and jojoba oil to keep lips plump, hydrated and moisturized. They come in four work-appropriate, "nude" shades: 1 Feminine Beige, 2 Nudy-Concious, 3 Rose Happiness, and 4 Elegant Beige. Both 1 Feminie Beige and 3 Rose Happiness contain pearls while the other two glosses do not. I recently purchased 3 Rose Happiness at Donki Hote.
Rose Happiness is an attractive, dark pink-beige shade that turned out to be too light to look completely natural on my lips but would look great on those with paler lips. The gloss is very pigmented and thick with a creamy but sticky-free texture. The formula and color makes lips look plump, shiny and alluring in a still work-appropriate way. The white shimmer is so fine that it gives just a hint of a sparkle. Unfortunately, the gloss pigment does sink into and accentuate the lines and cracks in your lips so I do recommend applying a primer, cream or base before applying the gloss, to make the color look even across your lips. Wearing Maxi Bon Bon under Nude Bon Bon will also give you extra milky-looking lips and improve the lasting-power of the gloss, which is not so great. Aside from the somewhat poor lasting power, however, Nude Bon Bon Lip Gloss is a very nice gloss. And at just 630 yen (including tax), it's a steal.
I recently purchased a lip gloss from Elizabeth's Bon Bon brand which is a cosmetics line that targets OL's and career women searching for work-appropriate makeup. The Maxi Bon Bon lip gloss and treatment is a fragrance-free, emollient gloss that is supposed to provide moisture, shine and volume to the lips. It can be worn alone or over/under another lip color and comes in two shades: 1 Clear and 2 Pure Pink. The gloss ingredients include palmitoyl oligopeptide (an amino-peptide that stimulates collagen and elastin to combat aging), mineral oil, royal jelly extract, and jojoba and avocado oil.
Maxi Bon Bon in 2 has a slight pink tint that turns up clear on my lips. The applicator is a short brush rather than the typical gloss sponge and the essence itself is quite heavy but not sticky. Though I am not sure that you could replace your regular lip cream with the Maxi gloss, its moisturizing and hydrating properties are similar to petroleum jelly-type creams and makes lips look extra plump and shiny. If you are looking to add greater shine and long-lasting power to your lip color, I highly recommend applying the gloss over your lipstick. If you want extra-juicy, milky lips, apply the gloss under a separate lip gloss color. It does a wonderful job of preventing gloss pigment from seeping into the cracks and wrinkles of your lips. Maxi Bon Bon is 840 yen (including tax). Though I do not think it is a must-have item, I do think the gloss is quite useful and may buy it again.
For their Precious Pearlescent collection, The Body Shop released two baked-mineral Blush Trios. 01 Cool Dusk is a pink, cool-toned palette of three shades while the equally beautiful 02 Warm Sunset consists of three warm shades. Like the Eye Trio shadows, the Blush Trio powders are satiny smooth and blend right into the skin, leaving a gorgeous pearly finish. The Body Shop recommends 01 Cool Dusk for fair to medium skin and 02 Warm Sunset for medium to dark skin but you can control the intensity of the blush by what shades you choose to mix together. I find that the darkest shade in 01 Cool Dusk to be much to red for my skin so I stick to using the two lighter shades to create a sun-kissed look on my cheeks. The only complaint I have regarding the Blush Trio is that there is not an equal amount of each shade and my palette contains very little of the lightest shade but a lot of the deepest shade which I cannot use. While at The Body Shop, I even picked out the 01 Cool Dusk palette that had the most of the lightest shade. Other than that, however, I am very happy with the palette. The Blush Trios sold at The Body Shop stores in Japan are 2,625 yen (including tax). If you are looking for a cheek brush to apply the Blush Trio, I highly recommend purchasing the high quality and cruelty-free Face and Body Brush from The Body Shop.
The Body Shop's Eye Trio in Moonlight Lustre is one of two baked mineral eyeshadow palettes in The Body Shop's Precious Pearlescents fall point makeup collection. This is the first baked mineral palette that I have ever used. Brilliant and blendable, the shadows are well-pigmented and silky smooth with a pearly finish. They maintain their color and luminescence throughout the day and softly glow like moonlight at night. The shadows in Moonlight Lustre include the shades forest green, shimmering grey and lilac. Each shade can stand alone but combined, they produce an especially stunning smokey-eye. Though Moonlight Lustre is a cool-toned palette, it is suitable for all skin colors and shades. To achieve The Body Shop's autumn look, apply the grey shadow to the eyelid, the forest green shadow to the outer corner and the lilac shade to the inner corner of the eyes. Complete the look by lining the lower eye line with the Metallic Eye Definer in 10 Brilliant Blue. Or you can do what The Body Shop staff did for me and apply the lilac shadow to the eye hole as a base, forest green to the eyelid, and shimmery grey below the eye, and line your eyes with the 12 Shimmering Steel Metallic Eye Definer. One Eye Trio palette is priced at 1,575 yen (including tax) at Body Shop stores in Japan which is quite a steal. I have always overlooked The Body Shop's makeup collections but now that I have had the chance to try Moonlight Lustre, I am very interested in what else they have to offer.