Kitsune Beauty

Skin Care

Japanese Lotions 101

Asian Beauty, Skin CareAnnisa DavilaComment

Don't Judge a toner by its label

"How did you even know what you were buying?" is the common question I get from friends when they come across the HADA LABO  Lotion on my skincare shelf. With every single word on the bottle in Japanese, aside from the Made in Japan stamp, its safe to say it stands out among the more mainstream brands in my collection. Sure the label isn't much to look at, but don't let the less than chic packaging fool you. There is a reason the HADA LABO Shiro-jyun Lotion has been a cult classic in Japan for years. 

But Really what is it ? Is it a toner ? Is it a lotion? 

The answer lies somewhere in between. When talking about Japanese skincare those two words seem to be used interchangeably. Its understandable considering the consistency of the "lotion" products on the Japanese market. Although they might look and feel like toners there are two main differences to remember. 

Asian Toners are more hydrating

The first difference in Western vs Asian toners is function. Toners is the U.S as well as Europe are usually considered an extension of the cleansing step. Most are very high in alcohol content and change the PH of your skin. Whereas Asian toners are geared toward hydrating and soothing the skin. Asian toners are also a great foundation for the rest of your skin care routine. 

Even though Japanese toners are more hydrating these products are not just for people with dry skin. If you have very oily skin, using a Japanese lotion after cleansing might still be a good idea. These lotions are a great way to add more hydration to the skin without the added weight of a heavy moisturizer. 

Asian Toners are applied differently
The second most important difference in the two styles of toner is application. Western toners are usually applied to the skin via cotton pad. Asian toners on the other hand are applied using a different process. After cleansing, take 2 to 3 drops the Lotion water and mix between your hands. Then lightly press your palms into your face until the liquid has absorbed.

Please refer to the video below for a simple demonstration. 



So now that you know the basics of Asian toners lets talk results. I choose the Shirojyun lotion in particular because of its powerful whitening ingredients like Arbutin and Vitamin C. The Hada Labo lotions are also packed with the companies signature blend of 3 forms of Hyaluronic Acid to keep skin moisturized.

When you hear the term "whitening" in regards to Asian skincare don't think of the word literally. Instead think of it as meaning brightening. This lotion will not, I repeat will NOT alter the color of your skin.

What it will do however is deliver a brighter and more even skin tone skin.   After only a few days of use I found that the constant redness around my nose and cheeks had dissipated. My skin also looked significantly more plump and supple. 

Hada Labo Shirojyun Arbutin Lotion: Rating 3/5

This is an amazing brightening product. It works extremely fast to help even out skin tone. However there must be an ingredient in it that my skin does not care for. I found that while this product did what it was suppose to do it also caused me to break out in little red bumps. 


  • Fast Results 
  • No Scent 
  • Price 
  • Brightens Skin 
  • Moisturizes
  • Portion Size 


  • Slightly Sticky
  • Breakouts 

Review: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Product Reviews, Skin CareAnnisa DavilaComment


When I first heard about cleansing balms, I immediately knew I had to try one. Not because I necessarily needed a new cleanser, but because I'm a sucker for new and unusual skin care products. Seriously, the more foreign the product sounds, the more I want it. In the wee hours of the night, I've convinced myself that I needed a Korean essence, packed with bee venom and snail secretions. I had never even used an essence before, but I had to have it! I've also spent countless hours in search of peel away lip stains (Ouch!) and Derma Rollers (Double ouch!). While my lack of self-control for all things obtuse has sometimes been in vain, I have also found some amazing Holy Grail products like Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.

Just like the rest of you ladies, after a long day at work and especially after a night out, I'm tempted to just hop into bed without taking off my makeup. A few years ago when cleansing wipes were all the rage, they seemed like an easy and fast option to clean skin. Maybe I just never found the right brand or variation, but the cleansing wipes always required a lot of work on my part while delivering mediocre results. I always needed multiple wipes to remove all of my makeup and even still, I knew there was stuff left behind. (Let's not forget about the trauma of removing eye makeup.) So, when more and more brands started to release cleansing balms, I decided to do my research and see what all the fuss was about. After a few long nights of intensive research (insomnia is real), I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. Coming in at $29, I thought it was a reasonable price from a trustworthy brand.



When it first arrived, I will admit I wasn't completely sure how to use it. The product comes in a plastic jar with a metal twist-on lid. The product itself is completely solid until it comes into contact with body heat. The first night, I tried to swirl a cotton ball around to pick up some product, but it wasn’t a great result. I was hesitant to put my fingers straight into the jar for hygienic reasons, and because I wanted to spare myself the probable mess.

After a bit more review-trolling, I finally came across the best piece of advice on how to apply it: use a knife (or spoon) to scoop out the desired amount of product. If you’re a complete germaphobe like myself, you can use a new, disposable knife every night.

Once you get the product out, you have to begin warming it up by rubbing your hands together. The heat from your hands turns the balm into a rich oil. I usually spend 30 seconds or so massaging it into my dry skin in a circular motion. I even rub it gently around my eye area. After 30 seconds, I take a clean washcloth, wet it under the faucet, and then begin to wipe my face in sections. When the balm comes into contact with water, it emulsifies and turns into a milky white substance that dissolving along with every last bit of your makeup.  


The cleansing balm is extremely gentle on the skin. It’s a true godsend for me in the winter because it never leaves my skin dry or tight. Even stubborn eye makeup comes off without a struggle or sting. For that reason alone, the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm will always have a place on my skincare shelf. Yes, there are a few more steps than using a cleansing wipe; but in the long run, the cleansing balm removes makeup more thoroughly and with such ease, you’ll never want to use anything else to remove your makeup again!

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm Verdict:


  • Dissolves all makeup including eyeliner and mascara
  • No fragrances
  • Doesn't dry out the skin
  • Good for sensitive skin


  • Unhygienic jar

Rating: 5/5

This cleansing balm gets a perfect rating because of its amazing ability to dissolve makeup—including stubborn eye makeup—with ease. It’s gentle enough to use year ‘round. Do you have any experience with cleansing balms? Leave me a comment with your favorites! 

Review: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Skin CareAnnisa DavilaComment

Paul's Choice 2% BHA Liquid


 When I was a teenager, my skin was perfect. I would get the obligatory hormonal pimple once a month, but aside from that, I had no real concerns. The only makeup I wore was mascara, and if I felt like it, I would sometimes remove it before bed. If I were feeling really inspired, I would maybe wash my face at night. My skin stayed that way until my mid-twenties when my body chemistry decided to do a complete 180. My clear and effortlessly glowing skin was replaced with dry patches. Aside from the texture change, I also had to deal with what seemed like a never-ending string of breakouts. The pores on my cheeks, which I honestly never noticed before, grew larger with every passing day. 


After a few weeks of sulking around and hoping that my skin would even itself out, I decide to take action. I started with a simple routine of diligently removing my makeup with a cleansing wipe every night, followed by a foaming cleanser, and then applying a night cream. While taking better care of my skin did seem to help keep the breakouts at bay, I kept feeling that my routine could use an upgrade. After many nights of tireless research, I decided that if I really wanted to get serious about seeing results in my skin that I had to commit to a proper, grown up, 6-8 step routine. Which, yes, I’ll admit is a little bit on the crazy side, but once I get into something it consumes me and all of my $$$.

Since I didn’t have the funds to just go out a buy an 8-piece set, I decided to add the new steps in gradually. This also helped me to see how each individual product was performing. First, I added a hydrating mist, then a serum, and then an eye cream to the mix. After a few months, I began to grow more comfortable with my longer skin care routine. In fact, with every new product added, the more I began to treasure my nighttime routine. I found the time dedicated to my skin relaxing, and more importantly, I loved being able to see the positive results in my skin.

Even though I was beginning to see my skin change for the better, there was still one-step that always alluded me—finding an exfoliator. This was proving to be a harder task than I originally thought. I purchased several exfoliating scrubs and washes but was always left with nothing more than a red and irritated face. Desperate to find a product that wasn't so physically rough, I stumbled into a realm of exfoliants that I had never knew existed before: chemical exfoliation!


There are several different chemical exfoliators on the market, but I decided to go with the universally loved Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. Having never used a chemical exfoliant before, I very slowly incorporated the powerful liquid into my routine. After a couple trial uses, I began to use the product every night. After a week, I quickly began to see what all the fuss was about. The skin perfecting liquid lived up to all of its claims. Within the week, my skin began to appear noticeably brighter and smoother.

Another almost immediate result was that I began to see my blackheads dissolve. I won't lie to you and say that my blackheads are completely gone now, but I can say that this chemical exfoliant has helped significantly reduce the size and amount of them. To be honest, this is the only product I have ever used that has ever had any kind of effect on my blackheads. Also as a note, I only use this liquid once at night, but it is safe to use this during the day as well. Just make sure to use a sunscreen if you're going out into the sun. I’m sure using this product twice a day would help reduce blackheads even more. 

I knew before using this product that it would help with blackheads which was certainly welcomed, but it's the other results that have made me a true fan of this product. I started to notice that the constant patch of tiny red bumps on my forehead began to disappear. I also saw the redness around my nose and cheeks even out with the rest of my skin tone. 

This product has made such a noticeable improvement in the quality of my skin that I never go a day without using it. 

Paula's choice even offers the chemical exfoliant in varieties other than the liquid. If you have dry skin, you may consider trying the Skin Perfecting Lotion, or if your skin is oily, you should check out the Gel.

For $10 off your first purchase click here:

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Verdict:


  • Fast acting results
  • No scent
  • Easy to apply
  • Dissolves stubborn blackheads
  • Helps to relieve redness
  • Brightens complexion
  • Smooths skin


  • Can be somewhat drying

Rating: 5/5

This is a life-changing product that I would recommend to friends and family. Adding this chemical exfoliator to my routine has made a tremendous difference in the quality of my skin. It has also noticeably reduced stubborn blackheads. This product has been a welcome introduction to the world of chemical exfoliants. If you know of any other brands I should try please leave your recommendations in the comment section below!