Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Review: It's Skin Clear Skin Daily Peeling Toner

Lately I decided to review the cosmetics I'm using right now rather than try to churn out review after review of bygone products. Today's review is about It's Skin Clear Skin Daily Peeling Toner. It is a BHA chemical toner similar to Clinique's Clarifying Lotion (review of Type 1 and Type 2 here) and Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner. Is it a cheaper dupe for Clinique's Clarifying Lotion? Let's see!

 It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner product info 
Brand: It's Skin
Name: Clear Skin Peeling Toner
Price: $5.76 on Koreadepart
Where to buy: Koreadepart, Tester KoreaeBay

The cheapest I've found this product is on Koreadepart, but unfortunately their shipping prices don't make it worthwhile to place small orders so the past few times I've ordered from Tester Korea. Now you've heard that I've ordered it a few times, I guess there should be spoiler warnings haha.

The toner is a 'peeling toner', which may sound scary but simply means it removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin to reveal fresher, newer skin. BHA can penetrate oils and get down into the pores so it's effective against preventing and calming breakouts.

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner contains salicylic acid (BHA), witch hazel and willow bark extract. Salicylic acid is the aforementioned breakout preventing beta hydroxy acid, witch hazel is an astringent that reduces inflammation and decreases oil in the skin which is great for acne-prone skin (although my dry skin hasn't suffered using this) and willow bark also contains salicylic acid, is an anti-inflammatory and astringent. So really, willow bark is like if salicylic acid and witch hazel had a skincare baby.
<It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner packaging info
It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner packaging
The packaging of Clear Skin Peeling Toner is a large dark green plastic bottle with a lighter green lid. It has a small opening in the bottle to pour out the toner. The packaging has a cosmeceutical look to it, it's not pretty or cute like other Korean skincare brands or products. The bottle contains 140ml of product and is pretty weighty.

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner packaging

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner packaging
Product info on the bottle

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner packaging
The bottle has the instructions and ingredients in English which is useful.

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner application info
It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner on a cotton pad
As with any BHA toner, I apply this with a cotton pad. When you first open a new bottle, it can be quite hard to shake out the product but once you've used about a third of it, it becomes a lot easier. I find this happens with many toner or runny products, is there a reason why? Something to do with the pressure or air in the bottle? (/r/shittyscience)

I use this product in my morning and evening skincare routine. I have never had a problem using this product and even when my skin is acting up, it doesn't irritate it. In fact a few weeks ago my skin threw a fit at something so I literally used just this and coconut oil for a few days to calm it.

Because I've used BHA toners before this one, I can contest that it continues to prevent spots, and on the odd chance I do get a spot, it disappears within a day or so of continually using this product. It keeps my skin clear and soft, and because of the great price I can say it has made its way into my staple skincare wardrobe. I have just had three more bottles arrive from Tester Korea, and before that I ordered two bottles so I must have gone through at least 6 bottles of this so far! As far as BHA toners go, this is definitely holy grail status for me! I've seen a couple of reviews say it's not effective enough for them but as far as results go, it's just right for me. It doesn't smell of strong paint stripper like the Clinique one, and seems more effective than the Mizon one.

It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner review
Seeing as I've gone through at least 6 bottles of It's Skin Clear Skin Peeling Toner, it's no surprise I will continue to purchase this and recommend it to anyone and their skin type, unless it's super sensitive, then I suggest trying it sparingly at first. It keeps my skin clear and although I don't get many spots anyway, has visibly reduced breakouts. The only thing I can possibly think of as a negative is that it's a little hard to get hold of as you have to order it online, but almost every Korean beauty website sells it and it's so cheap that this almost negates the wait, especially if you order multiples at a time like me! I give this product 5 stars out of 5! *fanfare*

Saturday, 30 April 2016

My Japan Trip 2015/2016 Day 4: Omotesando, Shibuya 109 Sales and Shinjuku Closet Child

My Japan Trip Day #4

Day 4 of my holiday in Japan was January 2nd, the day Shibuya 109 opens to sell their fukubukuro and general New Year sales, so obviously I was going to Shibuya 109 haha! Some people queue up ridiculously early and get issued tickets in order to buy fukubukuro that will sell out within minutes. This activity dwindles every year though, as more brands move online, where you can even reserve fukubukuro and have them sent out to you. Why would you queue up in the cold when you can order fukubukuro online?! Some brands even do online-only fukubukuro, with special items you wouldn't get in store. Because I didn't have my heart set on any fukubukuro since I'm too picky, I decided to go to 109 when I was ready and have a browse, which turned out to be around 11am-12pm.

I also took the time to take photos of Omotesando as I walked down it. It's interesting how it has such an elegant, refined air and then as soon as you cross Meiji Dori, BAM! You're in Harajuku with Condomania staring you in the face.

Condomania Harajuku
A legit novelty condom store in Harajuku. No joke. (Source)

Ralph Lauren Omotesando Harajuku Shibuya
Ralph Lauren Omotesando

I had a browse around Omotesando Hills but none of it was to my tastes so I quickly snapped some pics and left.

Omotesando Hills
Omotosando Hills, a shopping complex in Omotesando.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar Omotesando
This is the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar that is highly recommended. I would definitely like to visit there next time!

Omotesando Hills

Omotesando New Year
An amazingly cute shop display in Omotesando.

Ted Baker Omotesando
An animatronic dog in front of Ted Baker Omotesando. It bowed its head up and down as if it was eating from its bowl.

Omotesando Shrine
Inbetween all the fancy brand stores is a quiet little shrine. I found it very beautiful and watched a family go and pay their respects.

I walked to Shibuya and went down Centre Gai first. I happened across an arcade and seeing as it was my first time seeing one, I went in.

Shibuya arcade UFO catcher
Lots of cute anime figures as prizes in the UFO catchers. Seeing as I'm not up to date on anime, nor is it a big hobby of mine, I wasn't interested in trying to win the prizes haha.

Shibuya arcade
Now this is an arcade game I can get behind! CHOCOLATE! I spent 1000¥ and in the end I won two tiny, tiny squares of chocolate...oh well, it's an experience I guess? Don't play to win, play to have fun! ...I still haven't eaten that chocolate.

Shibuya arcade Taiko no Tatsujin
My first time seeing a Taiko no Tatsujin arcade game! I recognised it because I saw Konata play it on Lucky Star. I had a go but for the first two songs, I had no idea how to cycle through songs so I ended up playing the first song, which I had no idea what it was or who it was performed by, twice! Afterwards I got the hang of it and played along to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's 'Fashion Monster' and 'Ninjari Bang Bang'! Weeb goal accomplished!

After the arcade I went in search of a second hand clothing store a friend had recommended called Bingo. It was in the basement of 'Yahoo Off'. I have heard of 'Book Off', 'Mode Off' and the such but never Yahoo Off! They seemed to sell books and musical instruments from what I recall.

Yahoo Off Bingo Resale Shibuya
Unfortunately Bingo was not a success for me. I don't know what I was expecting, especially with the fashions I'm into, maybe some older Gyaru brands or clothing? There were a few things from brands like Snidel and Emoda but they were very bland and didn't look much different to 'normie' clothes.

Shibua Tokyu Plaza
Once you come out of Centre Gai, you face Shibuya Tokyu Plaza.

Shibuya Don Quijote
To the left is Don Quijote. This was my first time seeing a Don Quijote so I went in for a browse!

Don Quijote Cosmetics New Year Fukubukuro
Donki beauty fukubukuro on sale.

Don Quijote Cosmetics New Year Fukubukuro
Donki fukubukuro on sale, including Dolly Wink.

Don Quijote New Year Decorations
New Year's decorations.

I heard Donki was amazing for cosmetics and they do sell a lot, but I was a little overwhelmed so I didn't buy anything. I like to carefully decide what to buy, rather than impulsively buy and since I'd already bought my Hada Labo set, I was pretty satisfied.

Don Quijote Japanese Cosmetics

Don Quijote Japanese Cosmetics
So many face masks! A staff member was restocked them too. I got the pink Lululun masks (centre in the photo) in my fukubukuro from Matsumoto Kiyoshi Harajuku.

Don Quijote Nail Polish
Nail supplies

Don Quijote Japanese Skincare
Cosmetics including refill packs for many popular skincare lines including Hada Labo.

Don Quijote Japanese Haircare
I had Shiseido's Tsubaki (the red bottles in the photo) and Ichikami (black and pink refill packs on the second from bottom row) shampoo and conditioner on my shopping list, but after feeling the weight of them, I was unsure since they were pretty heavy. I also wanted the bottle version of Ichikami, not the refill packs and I only ever saw them in one store! Next time I go to Japan I want to stay longer, so maybe I can buy them then and use them during my trip, then bring them home since I might not buy as much stuff next time I go! I could also ask a friend living in Japan to buy them and post them back to me, since I checked online and the markup on these items are insane!

Don Quijote Japanese Air Fresheners
Pretty air freshener bottles with cute little crowns on them!

After going to Donki, I went to Shibuya 109. Even though the initial queue at opening time had dispersed, Shibuya 109 on New Year is INSANE. Seriously, what would probably take me 1/1.5 hours to go around 109 took me about 3 or 4. There were so many people, the elevators were always full and there were even police officers on every level to direct crowds and traffic calm! Many shop staff were holding up fukubukuro and shouting out the prices and other deals. I can only imagine those poor shop staff's voices must be so fact, two shop girls were taking turns to shout out deals and were giggling when their voices cut out half way through. There were still many stores selling fukubukuro by the time I arrived at 109. Some stores I can explicitly remember having fukubukuro left were Glavil, Ghost of Harlem, D.I.A. and RoseMarie Seoir (formerly Syrup).

Again, I couldn't take photos in Shibuya 109, and you wouldn't have been able to see much anyway due to the sheer amount of people but I did snap a quick video (albeit pointed at my feet) to capture the sounds of New Year sales. All those voices that you can hear shouting are the shop staff, promoting their fukubukuro, other sales and any time sales happening (more on that later).

I bought a couple of items in the New Year sales.

Glavil vest top
Glavil vest top, very similar to the Ghost of Harlem one.
Glavil cross necklace
Glavil's iconic cross necklaces were half price so I bought the silver one and received it in a cute reusable pouch. I put make-up in it when I'm travelling now!

Secret Honey by Honey Bunch Waistcoat and Skirt Set
I bought this cute set from a store called Secret Honey by Honey Bunch, which I had never known about until I came into Shibuya 109. Most of their items are very pastely, a bit like Honey Cinnamon, Swankiss, Rosemarie Seoir, etc. but this set stuck out to me. I really love the waistcoat and thought 'meh' about the skirt and wondered if I'd sell it when I got home but when I got home and wore the two together, it looks so cute! Whilst I was trying this on, I heard the shop staff shout about a time sale happening right there and there. A time sale, or flash sale might be more commonly used in the UK, is an extra discount for a limited time. In 109 or Laforet, it could only last 30 minutes or an hour. At Secret Honey's time sale I got an extra 10% off this set. In total I think this set cost me around £20.

After Shibuya 109 I decided to go to Shinjuku to visit Closet Child.

Shinjuku Studio Alta
Shinjuku Studio Alta

Shinjuku Lumine Est
Shinjuku Lumine Est, connected to JR Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku at night
Shinjuku at night

Godzilla in Shinjuku
Godzilla overlooking neon skyscrapers!

It took me a while to find Shinjuku Closet Child since the marker for myself kept jumping around on Google Maps...I think I circled the station about three times haha... I almost gave up but thankfully I didn't because I had an amazing haul at Closet Child Shinjuku.

Closet Child Shinjuku
Closet Child Shinjuku (source)

Embarrassingly, this was the first Closet Child I visited where I realised they had another floor for Gothic and Punk clothing and one for Otome style...I just visited the Lolita floor of Harajuku's Closet Child before that haha! I'm so glad I found out sooner rather than later because like I mentioned above, there were lots of great things on the Gothic floor of Closet Child. Naturally the next time I visited Harajuku Closet Child, I had a good look around the Gothic floor! The Otome floors didn't really appeal to me so I never really bothered with them.

The first thing I laid my eyes on in Closet Child Shinjuku was the dress I had been wishing to see in Japan ever since I started planning my trip...Alice and the Pirate's Merry Making in the Ghost Town! I was literally internally screaming when I saw it, and had to check the label to make sure it was actually Merry Making and not just wishful thinking. It's safe to say I grabbed it off the rail and hung onto it for dear life whilst browsing the rest of Closet Child. It was on the 'Rare' rail but was a really reasonable price, around or just under retail price. It was really popular in the UK and US when it was released, so people sold it on for a lot afterwards. It's interesting to compare what is popular in the Japanese and Western Lolita community. Many consider Merry Making a Halloween print, as well as Metamorphose's Dark Night Guardian (which I found at a later date too) so maybe Japanese Lolitas were uninterested after that holiday had passed? I'm not going to think about it too much, just count my blessings haha! It was even in my favourite colourway, black and purple!

Alice and the Pirates Merry Making in the Ghost Town
My beauty...I tried it on as well, just in case, since I would've been heartbroken if I bought it and it didn't fit or suit me...

They also had the very first dress I fell in love with in Shinjuku Closet Child. It was Innocent World's Chandelier OP in grey and I spotted it in Vol. 1 of the English Gothic and Lolita Bible. It was so pretty and elegant to me, but when I tried it on, I just felt it didn't suit me. I put it back but was so grateful for the opportunity to try it and realise it wasn't for me.

Next I went up to the Gothic floor, and other than my blessed Merry Making find, I was like 'Yes, yes...this is my floor' haha~

When I first went into the Harajuku Closet Child, I was obviously in awe but I also thought '...Where are the Gothic Lolita brands? Atelier Pierrot? Moi Meme Moitie?' When I found the Gothic floor, I realised they were stored here instead.

H.Frill JSK
Gorgeous H.Frill JSK

After a very pleasing haul at Closet Child, I headed back to my home, Harajuku.

I was very pleased with my shopping this day, and just so so happy I got Merry Making in the Ghost Town. I remember thinking before I went to Japan 'Ah, if I walked into Closet Child, and there was Merry Making in the Ghost Town and Dark Night Guardian, I would die happy, and if there were nothing else in Japan I wanted to buy, I would still be satisfied.' so it really was a dream come true to get both pieces!

Stay tuned for Day 5, where I visit Aoyama, Akihabara, Ueno and Asakusa, visiting Sensou-ji (Tokyo's oldest temple) for hatsumode, the first shrine or temple visit of the new year!

Friday, 25 March 2016

My Japan Trip 2015/2016: Day 3 - New Year's Day, Osechi Ryori, Laforet Sales and Ginza

My Japan Trip Day #3

So, today was New Year's Day in Japan, 1st January 2016!

In Japan, they have a traditional breakfast eaten on New Year's Day called 'osechi ryori', which literally means New Year's Day cooking. There are lots of little dishes of food,  all of them signifying something for the new year. I was super grateful to be able to experience a traditional Japanese New Year's breakfast and day! There were many things I didn't know about or had never tried so I decided to eat first and ask questions later haha!

Japanese New Year breakfast, osechi ryori
Osechi ryori! I was interested to find out what everything was, so with a little extra Googling when I got back home, I was able to find the names of most items. If you can identify anything I haven't, that would be amazingly helpful!

Left box, left to right:
Steamed or boiled kabocha (pumpkin) or sweet potato, I'm not quite sure.
Kuromame (black beans) cooked in sweet syrup with edible gold leaf. It symbolizes hard working and healthy living for the next year.
I'm not quite sure on this one, I think it was maybe some form of artichoke?
Harusame salad.
Ikura (salmon roe/eggs). Red is an auspicious colour and the eggs symbolise fertility.
Edamame salad.
Candied walnuts.
Kuri kinton, a paste made from sweet chestnuts and sweet potatoes. 'Kin' means 'gold' and that kanji character is used in 'kuri kinton' so it symbolises a prosperous business or luck with money that year.
Namasu, a salad of carrot and daikon radish. Red and white are colours of celebration in Japan and symbolises happiness and celebration.

Centre box, left to right:
Some form of sushi, I'm not sure.
I think it was some form of chicken with vegetables in the middle.
Again, I can't remember!
Tataki goubo, pounded burdock root with sesame seeds. Burdock is a long, deep root so it symbolises stability, and splitting it (tataki) symbolises splitting good fortune.
Sweet potatoes and ebi (shrimp). The curved shape of shrimp looks like the curved back of the elderly, symbolising longevity and a wish for a long life.
Tazukuri, dried sardines cooking in a sweet soy sauce. 'Tazukuri' means 'making a rice field' and signifies hope for an abundant harvest in the new year.
Sweet potatoes cut into a shape, I can't remember much else.
Torihamu, a type of chicken ham.
Datemaki, a rolled egg and fish cake that slightly resembles rolled scrolls, so symbolises a wish for success whilst studying.
Konbu maki, thick seaweed usually tied in a bundle. Like datemaki, it symbolises a wish for successful studying.

Right box, left to right:
I'm not sure of what the entire first row is, unfortunately! I just remember the item on the right was very slippery and rounded/oval shaped.
Soramame, boiled broad beans.
Kazunoko, salted herring roe marinated in dashi. One lump of roe is many tiny eggs pressed together and so it symbolises many children and a prosperous family.
Kouhaku maki, an egg maki roll tied up with fish cake.
Braised tako (octopus).
I'm not sure what the last item is.

Underneath the osechi ryori is a bowl of matcha green tea, and ozoni, a type of soup with a piece of mochi (sticky rice cake) in it. There are many variations of ozoni, this one had tofu and daikon radish in it.

Japanese New Year breakfast, osechi ryori and ozoni soup
Ozoni soup

Japanese New Year breakfast, sake
This was sake that we drank afterwards. You lift the sake cup and drink three times. I think it's a form of the custom 'o-toso', where you drink to flush away the previous year's ailments and maladies. Tradition uses spiced sake with medicinal herbs but this was just regular sake. Spiced sake is still used in some Kansai and west regions of Japan though.

After we ate breakfast, I then met up with my friend Amelie and her friend Katie. We happened to be in Japan at the same time so we decided to meet for New Year sales at Laforet in Harajuku!

We went down a side street on Takeshita Dori and found CONOMi, a popular school uniform shop for fashionable schoolgirls.
CONOMi Harajuku

We went through Takeshita Dori to try and find Fernopaa, a store Amelie wanted to visit. I hadn't heard of it but I tried to find it on my phone but it took us down a street that Fernopaa clearly wasn't on, so we gave up. I wanted to see if Closet Child had any New Year sales but I wasn't sure if it was open. The atmosphere of New Year's sales is really great - some people have expressed that it's annoying but I enjoy it! Many stores on Takeshite Dori had shop staff outside, shouting out their sales and fukubukuro (lucky pack) offers, announcing time sales and generally trying to attract you into their store. They sometimes had plastic microphones and would bang on them before spewing their sales pitch again, repeating and repeating all day! Some cute shop girls were doing that but one of their voices started getting hoarse and they were laughing about it. #justfukubukurothings

We then went to Laforet to check out the sales and to see if there were any fukubukuro left. I didn't take any photos unfortunately because you're not really supposed to, and it was very busy. A lot of stores did have lucky packs left; from what I can remember, Ghost of Harlem, BTSSB, Metamorphose, Innocent World, Swimmer, Putumayo and Axes Femme still had lucky packs when we arrived a few hours after opening. Again, there were lots of shop staff shouting out offers and holding up fukubukuro, banging and generally a festive "we're all here for bitchin' sales" vibe was around.

I had a browse around Putumayo because they had a stained glass print that caught my eye. They did it in a JSK or skirt but I am always funny about buying skirts unless they're much cheaper than the JSK, and I was unsure about the full shirring on the bodice of the JSK.

Putumayo stained glass OP

After debating coming back for the JSK or skirt, I saw a cute skirt and matching jacket that I bought there and then. Somehow when photographing the items separately I didn't photograph the jacket (probably because I took it to an event to wear shortly after returning from Japan) so have my badly lit, 'on the day' haul photo of the set!

Putumayo jacket and skirt set
They're really nice for a casual coord and they're very easy and comfy to wear.

We had a bit more of a browse but that was it for my Laforet New Year sales, at least that day anyway! I love shopping with friends but I really want to try everything on before I buy so I decided to come back at a later date. Anything I had my eye on that wasn't there later would be considered 'not meant to be'.

Afterwards we went to Listen Flavor and I bought a super cute beret!

Listen Flavor occult beret
Sooooo cute~

They also had lucky packs but I decided not to get one since there was only one or two things I liked in the store. I realised before I even got to Japan that it was unlikely I'd buy any lucky packs. I'm far too picky and specific in my personal tastes. Katie and Amelie bought Listen Flavor lucky packs and when they opened them, they were mostly t-shirts and sweaters, none of which I wear.

Harajuku New Year fukubukuro lucky packs
By this point we were getting pretty laden with bags! Katie and Amelie bought Ghost of Harlem lucky packs in Laforet. Amelie opened hers and from what I can remember, it had a hoodie, sweater, t-shirts and a pair of leggings. Again, I wear none of those so it'd have been a big fail if I'd have bought one. I only like certain tops and most of the dresses in Ghost of Harlem.

During the day we needed to find somewhere to eat and went to the Pom Pom Purin Cafe in Harajuku but it was queuing out of the door and we were quite hungry. Thankfully Ojisan no Panda Cafe is literally right opposite Pom Pom Purin and had no line so we went there instead! I feel sorry for Ojipan, why don't people like his cafe haha?

Ojisan no Panda cafe - Omura inu pancakes
I knew I wouldn't be able to eat much so I got Omura-inu (omelette dog) pancakes. They were super yummy though so no regrets! The pancakes were warm, soft and fluffy, the omura-inu cream was sweet and the pancakes, fruit and cream all went together nicely. They even had an Ojipan biscuit which was nice too!

Afterwards Amelie and Katie and I decided to part ways. As we walked through Takeshita Dori, I noticed Closet Child was open and I intended to check out the salesssss~ Amelie and Katie had to be up early the next day so I decided to go to Ginza for a wander around. I thought some of the big department stores would be open.

Ginza Year of the Monkey shop display
One of the first sights that greeted me after getting out of Ginza station, a shop display for the year of the monkey this year!

Ginza Wako
Ginza Wako, a very memorable department store with a large clock made by Seiko. It was closed...

Ginza at New Year

I didn't think I would see many Christmas decorations since New Year is way more important in Japan; Christmas decorations get taken down pretty much the day after Christmas but I was pleased to see pretty Christmas trees lining streets in Ginza!

Matsuya Ginza
Matsuya Ginza, a huuuuuge department store in Ginza...again, seeing a pattern here?

Louis Vuitton Ginza
Louise Vuitton Ginza, such an impressive storefront!

Bulgari Ginza
Bulgari store front, again, impressive!

New Year decorations at Matsuya Ginza
New Years decorations at Matsuya Ginza

Ginza at dusk

Ginza at dusk

Ginza at dusk

Ginza Hakuhinkan Toy Park
Hakuhinkan Toy Park...closed...

In Japan there are vending machines and convenience stores everywhere...except Ginza! Seriously, I just wanted a cheap drink to carry around and had to go down a lot of side streets to find a convenience store. Just goes to show what an image Ginza has. They should make super swanky vending machines just for Ginza that sells super expensive mineral water from Mount Fuji and gourmet green tea.

I got the metro home, stopped at Omotesando and walked back to Harajuku.

Louis Vuitton Omotesando
Louise Vuitton Omotesando

Omotesando at night
Omotesando street

Kiddyland Harajuku Omotesando
Kiddyland with Funassyi decorations!

Laforet Harajuku at night
LaForet at night, I love the little monster New Year's greeting!

After walking up to Meiji Dori, I remembered Closet Child was open and went back in to see if they had any sales! I was there almost every day for two weeks, then disappeared like a frilly Lolita ninja who'd just dropped mega dolla on a metric shit-ton of clothes. I wonder if they still think about me... *sarcastic*

Ozz Oneste dress
Ozz Oneste dress - I'd only seen Ozz Oneste online beforehand and hadn't seen much at that, but I absolutely fell in love with them in Japan and bought so much of their stuff in Closet Child. That brand speaks to me on a spiritual level.

Atelier Boz blouse
Atelier Boz blouse

On Day 4 I had a proper browse in Omotesando, checked out Shibuya 109 for the sales (spoiler: it was insane) and went to Shinjuku so check out my next post!