Is there anything more fun than traveling to a new country and perusing the cosmetic counters at the local drugstore in hopes of discovering all the weird and wonderful products that have yet to make it to the States? Not to this product junkie! And as far as foreign locales, Tokyo was tops for doing just this with its plethora of multi-story shops such as Tokyo Hands in Shibuya, and many smaller, but no less fascinating, drugstores dotted along just about every major Dori (street.)
Scanning the racks at these shops unveils a wild variety of products, from relatively mundane Manic Panic hair dye to beauty 'Eyelid Trainers' that look like torture devices straight out of A Clockwork Orange, the stockists clearly operate under a 'if you can dream it we will have it' philosophy when sending their buyers out into the marketplace. But among all the mind-bending gadgets there are some truly great deals to be found.
Here are my two favorite finds in Tokyo, first up Canmake Tokyo's Day & UV Lip Serum. After a long and difficult day of shooting runway at several of Tokyo's offsite venues I was crushed to discover that in the day's travels via subway, railway, and running uphill with 20 pounds of camera gear on my back I had lost my favorite Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick. And after the 11 hour plane ride to Japan, and countless days in a hotel with forced air, I really needed a good chapstick. So I headed to the small pharmacy near my hotel and began looking for a replacement. After several minutes spent rejecting everything that was a re-packaged US brand, (because, how boring!) and everything that I couldn't actually figure out what it was meant to be used for, I settled on this little pink beauty, that clearly stated UV Protection, Silicone Free and most importantly "Moist Charge."
Moist charge indeed! Within a few hours my crackly lips felt soft and smooth. The gloss also has an ever-so-subtle tint (in either pink or red, I chose pink) to it, so it gave me the natural-but-prettier-than-natural look I adore. Double bonus, it was only about 400 Yen ($4 USD) so it was definitely a super-bargain find. Downside: as of yet, I have not found anywhere online where you can buy the product in the US.-- If you know of a place please let me know in the comments!
Now on to the scrub! To be honest, this product originally caught my attention due to the funny text on the package. At Tokyo Hands, it had another sticker over the text that showed an orange and a strawberry, which my very basic level Japanese reading comprehension told me was a reference to large pores. But it was not the stickers that caught me eye, it was the line on Keana Good Bye Baking Soda scrub Wash packaging that reads "Why you feel like you have a hole in your heart might be because you have holes on your skin" that had me mesmerized. I love the audacity of it. Can you image a product line in the US that boldly tells consumers "you are lonely because you have bad skin! We can fix that" It's outrageous! I had to have it.
And of course just owning, and instagraming the package is not enough. My curiosity was more than peaked as to whether or not this product would profoundly impact the size and texture of my pores.
Here's the crazy part, it pretty much did! Although I am a little suspect, based on the gritty but quickly dissolving texture of the scrub, that it may just be pharmaceutical grade baking soda, the results were remarkable. After just one use my skin felt super smooth and soft. The following morning, after using the product my normal make-up went on easier too and didn't 'sink in' to pores the way it sometimes does. A few days later my skin still looked glowy and I had none of the break-outs or irritation that frequently comes with using a new exfoliant.
All images: C. Hope for Style Wylde.