Kiyoko Beauty – Shop Feature and Product Reviews

A while back, I came across Kiyoko Beauty, a Canadian company dedicated to making Japanese and Korean beauty more accessible here in North America (they ship to the US as well!). I gave them a budget and asked for product suggestions to feature, and they were kind enough to work with me to basically double what I was able to get for my budget. It was enormously appreciated, and allowed me to bring a wider range of products to you all.

Before anything else, I would like to thank the staff for being so patient with me. This review has been a very long time in coming, but I’ve been travelling a lot, having some issues with a sick lizard, and wanted to make sure I gave all the products a good long test to make sure my reviews were as thorough as possible.

However, this timing benefits you as my readers, because they’re currently having a huge Black Friday sale, which is on until November 30th. If you’re looking to try any traditional or modern Japanese (or Korean, but I focus on the Japanese here) beauty products, or looking to get some holiday shopping done, this is a fantastic opportunity for you.

I tried a variety of hair and skin care products, and thoroughly enjoyed every single one. I can recommend all of these, with a few case-specific (sensitive skin, colour-treated hair) caveats mentioned in each section.

Tsubaki (camellia) oil has been used in Japan as a miracle multi-use beauty product for centuries. This is pure camellia oil with no additives and it has been so versatile. I've used it on my hair, my nails and cuticles, and my dry legs. It would be great for face too, for someone with drier skin than myself. If you only consider one product from this post, this is the one to go for.

I have been on the hunt for a true sakura fragrance and had high hopes for this line. It smells absolutely amazing, but it's almost got more of a fruity and sweet scent than I was looking for. That said, it's a fantastic line, I used up all three of these products (shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask) while I was in California and they made my hair look and feel great and didn't strip my hair colour more than any other shampoo I've used. These may have not hit my "sakura" button but I'm definitely debating buying more!

I won't lie, the name of this brand may have been my primary motivator to select these. They were literally calling my name! This line feels luxurious and elevated, from the packaging to the subtle orange bossom fragrance. The products were great, but they definitely did something funky with my hair colour - it's gone from its usual teal to a very natural-looking brown! It's not terrible but I wouldn't really recommend this particular line for colour-treated hair. It's not marketed that way though, so I knew it was a possibility.

I wanted to try some skincare as well and the folks at Kiyoko suggested Kikumasamune. I grabbed a face cream and a cleanser. The oil cleanser is absolutely amazing. It's got a delicious but subtle orange fragrance to it, removes makeup like a dream, and leaves my face feeling soft and smooth. The moisturiser contains sake lees and probiotics, and worked fantastically for me for quite a while, until my dermatitis started acting up (for unrelated reasons). I've had to go back to more specialised products but I'm looking forward to being able to finish it off when my skin settles back down though! However, it absolutely smells like sake so that is something to consider.

These sheet masks are fantastic. I have no idea how they manage to both clear up breakouts and dry oily skin while hydrating the face so well! They have a faint scent of both cucumber and pineapple, which is very invigorating and refreshing, so they're a great pick-me-up to wear while getting ready for a big evening. One thing to note, these masks are not individually packed. The bag has a press-and-seal strip so they do stay moist for a long time, and I appreciate the lack of disposable waste, but I like to toss a sheet mask or two in my carryon bag when I'm spending a whole day travelling and that's not possible with these.

This is it! This is the sakura scent I've been on the hunt for! It's light, floral, a little herbaceous, and a little powdery. It's also incredibly moisturising and didn't irritate my eczema or dermatitis. If I could buy industrial barrels of this cream, I absolutely would. I cannot say enough good things about it!

Again, I want to give a huge thank you to the team at Kiyoko Beauty. On top of the great products and affordable prices, the service I received was so incredibly helpful and thorough. They helped me work within my budget, and gave me some fantastic suggestions that took my concerns and interests into account. So if you’re looking for some cult favourite products from Japan, I highly suggest you check out Kiyoko Beauty.

 I purchased this item at a discounted price for honest review purposes.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

Review – Ritual of Sakura duty free kit

Sakura season may be ephemeral, but I’ve always wished I could enjoy the scent year-round. And so begins my quest for a line of gentle, authentic, lightly sakura-scented bath and body products that are relatively easy to obtain.

Rituals is a line of home and personal-care products inspired by scents and, well, rituals of self-care from around the world. I’d been wanting to try their Ritual of Sakura for a while but never got around to it. Until I passed through the duty-free shop in Denver on the way to California last time, and I knew it was fate. They had this lovely little kit that was a duty-free exclusive and I took it as a sign that I had to snag it.

I managed to hold on to it until we got to Las Vegas, where I could take advantage of the huge glass shower and giant two-person bathtub. It made the experience all the more special.

The products included in this travel-focused kit are a shampoo, rice scrub, foaming shower gel, and a body cream. They all include rice milk and cherry blossom. The products are all lovely to use – rich and creamy and not drying. The shower gel also makes an incredible shave gel and I’m always a fan of double-duty products, especially for travel. The rice scrub is very gentle, which my sensitive and eczema-prone skin greatly appreciated. The whole kit comes in an elegant little travel bag that’s white faux-leather on the outside with a soft pink lining that suits the sakura theme perfectly. There is branding on it, but it’s a very discreet embossed logo and I would not feel self-conscious carrying other products at all in this. The whole package and experience felt suitably luxurious for a Vegas getaway with a fancy bathtub.

Unfortunately, for me personally, the scent on these missed the mark. It’s definitely got notes of sakura but it reminds me more of that iconic “doll” scent from the early 80s (I know, I’m likely dating myself here). It’s a combination of bright florals and a powdery, comforting scent, all undertoned with a very faint whiff of plastic. It was definitely less fresh and herbaceous than a true single-note sakura fragrance should be, which is what I am still on the prowl for.

However, none of of this is to say that it’s an unpleasant scent! Not by any means! It’s familiar, but elevated, and unique enough to make it stand out in a line of overly florid and saccharine “cherry blossom” scents on the western market. All it means is that my hunt for a true, easily attainable sakura body care line continues. If you like the idea of a softer cherry blossom scent with a more western scent profile in mind, then I highly suggest checking this line out. But if you’re like me and you’re on the lookout for a pure sakura experience, maybe give Rituals of Sakura a pass.

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. 

S is for Sakura

Sakura, 桜, Japanese cherry blossom

Few things are as aesthetically emblematic of Japan as the sakura blossom. It’s an easy visual shorthand in movies and anime for spring, new love, and youthful exuberance. All for good reason. They bloom in profusion across the entire country, a season as looked forward to as the holiday season here in North America. The blooming of the sakura trees is celebrated on coins, with parties, by time-limited merchandise, clothing, picnics, drinks at Starbucks, you name it.

They are a perfect example of mono no aware, or the acceptance of the transience of life. They burst open in a cloud of soft colour and last mere days.

When it comes to kimono, sakura can be depicted many ways. However, there are some constants that make it easy to identify. Sakura will always have five petals in the central or main layer, and each petal is slightly elongated with a tell-tale notch in the tip.

Traditionally, sakura is a spring motif, worn right before the real ones bloom. However, it’s become such a ubiquitous design that it shows up in all seasons nowadays. Unless you’re going to a very strict event, I believe you can wear it any time.

Here are some examples taken from my collection, so you can see the variations and similarities.

All the photos in this entry come directly from my collection. You are welcome to use them for personal projects and reference, but not for anything commercial. If you’re uncertain, feel free to contact me.

Let’s Celebrate the New Era of Reiwa!

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new era in Japan. Emperor Akihito abidcated the throne at the end of April, paving the way for his son Naruhito to ascend to the throne. This ushered in the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the Reiwa era. There will be a week of celebrations of all sorts, but when I saw that they had announced a special colour palette for the event, I knew I had to do a coordination to celebrate. The three celebratory colours are ume (plum), sumire (violet), and sakura (pink).  They  were  chosen  because  they  are  all  traditional  spring  flowers,  and  also because  they  are  mentioned  in  the  Manyoshu,  Japan’s  oldest  recorded  poetry  that  served  as  inspiration  for  the  new era’s  name.

I knew right away that my beloved peony furisode would be absolutely perfect for this outfit, since it features all three colours already. A white-based obi with delicate pink accents gave the outfit a bit of visual rest, since the kimono itself is quite busy and bold. I chose more pink and purple accessories to reinforce the theme and went with a classically feminine but modern styling.

To me, this outfit is the perfect way to usher in what will hopefully be a new era of peace, cooperation, equality, and prosperity for Japan.

Items used in this coordination

Fudangi First Friday – Flirty Florals

I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping up with my Fudangi First Friday project, but since this is the last one of the year I figured I had to make an effort! This gorgeous raspberry red hakata obi is one I got from Kimono Yuki back during the summer and hadn’t gotten around to coordinating yet. I love how rich the colour is, and it’s also super long, I can’t wait to wear it myself!

The obi is one of those strange colours that’s super bold and vivid but still manages to fall into the neutral category, at least when it comes to kimono. So I knew I could pair it up with almost anything. I haven’t done much with this multi-season komon recently but thought it could work and make a sort of sweet, feminine outfit that still felt a little mature due to the black base and richer tone of the obi.

I’d also never gotten the opportunity to use this adorable owl haneri. It matched some of the pinks in the kimono so perfectly, I’m very glad I thought of it. The finishing touch was a peach and white obijime that again ties in to some of the accent colours on the kimono. It was feeling a little drab against the obi, somehow, so I thought tying it in a cute bow would help balance things out a little better.

As much as I’ve loved doing the Fudangi First Friday project (and the MonoKimono challenge), I’m pretty sure that in 2019 I’m not going to commit to any challenge or project where I have to do something at a fixed and repeated time. I’ve just got too much going on. I hate feeling like I’ve failed and I don’t need that sort of stress going forward.

Today’s post was apparently brought to you by the letter F.

Items used in this coordination