MEGA REVIEW: Hair Products from Korea, Japan and China

Just one of the many products I reviewed for this post... keep reading for the detailed breakdowns!

Hair care often gets over looked in favour of skin care, but did you know that up to 40% of hair loss sufferers are WOMEN? Gradual hair thinning/loss isn't just a problem that affects men, it affects everyone especially as we age 😫. The difference though is that women are often overlooked by hair care companies, skin specialists, and physicians alike when it comes to hair thinning.

Thinking about this problem led me to write this blog post...along with some encouragement from readers requests (dear readers-this post is for you!! 😘). So anyway, my point is simple: the skin on the top of our heads should really get just as much tender loving care as the skin on the rest of our bodies.

Good and reasonably priced hair products are hard to find and paying more doesn't always guarantee better results.  Going "natural" also doesn't mean safer either.  I was shocked to find that a popular, celebrity-endorsed hair brand, Wen, is now facing a class action lawsuit from women who have experienced devastating hair loss and balding from using its shampoos.  What's even more shocking is that Wen markets itself as a natural alternative to traditional shampoos/conditioners that use (and I quote) "harsh chemicals". Anyway, long story short, Wen products contain a lot of natural extracts and oils but women reported losing their hair by the handfuls (one poor lady had Mr. Burns' style male pattern balding from using the products allegedly -😱 omg).

So what's the relevance of Wen in all this?  Well, I just want to emphasize that the all natural, hanbang approach we oh-so-love in our facial skincare products don't automatically work as fantastically on our scalps.  In my sort-of mega review/comparison of some hair products, you'll see where my complaints are and where some of my new found love is for products that properly CLEAN the scalp and hair without leaving a waxy build up behind OR dry my hair into straw.  Moral of the story: scalp health/hair care is really a whole different category from regular skincare and deserve a lot more attention than it's currently getting.

Shiseido 



AQUAIR Moist Hair Pack Shampoo

I bought this at an Asian supermarket (T&T Supermarket for all the Canadian readers out there! You know what I'm talking about!) and I didn't actually have high hopes for it. I think I paid something around $15 CAD for it.  There is also quite a bit of product in each bottle (600 ml).

Product Description

Shiseido Aquair Deep Moist Shampoo is meant for all scalp/hair types with its mild and pH-balanced formula. It helps to repair damaged hair and works to improve scalp health, strengthen brittle strands, and soften dry, coarse, and over-processed hair.

Ingredients 

Water, sodium laureth sulfate, dipropylene glycol, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycol distearate, cocamide mea, sodium lauroamphoacetate, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, stearyl alcohol, sorbitol, dimethicone, sodium chloride, glutamic acid, arginine, phytosteryl/octyldodecyl lauroyl glutamate, dihydroxyethyl stearyl propyl dimonium, ceratonia siliqua hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, citric acid, sodium methyl lauroyl taurate, disodium edta, propylene glycol, tocopherol, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol, fragrance

Verdict

Honestly, it's okay.  Maybe a little too much fragrance for me.  I didn't find it enhanced my hair much, but it's still better than the average shampoo from a local drugstore in that it doesn't completely strip my hair of moisture.  At the same time, if you have a sensitive scalp, dandruff, dry or damaged hair, you may want to get something a bit more targeted for your needs.

Ichikami by Kracie

I actually love Kracie hair products.  They smell nice and are tailored to different scalp and hair needs.  I have an oily scalp but completely destroyed ends due to too much colouring, so I'm in a tricky spot when it comes to picking products that will clean my scalp without leaving any waxy residue behind, while also respecting the moisture balance of my hair.  To this date, I still haven't found a product that will do that just yet... But Kracie comes pretty close to it.  

Product Description: Ichikami Smoothing Shampoo

Product creates a gentle, fine foam that repairs damage caused by friction and protects against further damage. Removes knots and tangles and gives hair a smooth silky finish.  This is a silicone-free shampoo containing amino acid based surfactants that are derived from vegetables, Tea Lauroyl Sarcosinate and TEA-Cocoyl Glutamate.

Ingredients

Click image to enlarge.

Verdict

Ok, I love this shampoo.  It leaves my scalp feeling so clean and tingly.  Since it's silicone-free, there's no waxy build-up left behind to clog any follicles and cause pimples on my scalp. As an oily scalp person, I'm always on the hunt for shampoos like this!  

After using this shampoo for several months, I've even noticed my hair feels stronger and thicker. I've also noticed a minor reduction in the amount of hair that falls out when I shampoo or when I comb my hair. I'm not sure if this is due to the shampoo 100%, but I can definitely say that since using this, my scalp does feel healthier overall. 

Product Description: Ichikami Smoothing Conditioner

Repairs damage caused by friction and protects against further damage by strengthening the cuticles. Removes knots and tangles and gives hair a smooth silky finish. 

Ingredients

 
Click image to enlarge.

Verdict

This is a pretty decent conditioner and does a good job smoothing out my dry, tangled ends.  It doesn't leave as much of a residue behind either so I would definitely recommend this purchase to others who are picky about waxy build up on hair.  My damaged ends also softened quite nicely with this conditioner, and my scalp did not get irritated (although I refrain from adding conditioner close to my scalp anyway since I'm so oily TT.TT haha).  

If you have super damaged coloured hair however, I would suggest getting the smoothing mask pack for your hair as well from the same line.  

Product Description: Ichikami Moisturizing Conditioner

Moisturizes both the hair and the scalp. Repairs damage caused by dryness and protects against further damage. Replenishes moisture and leaves hair smooth and manageable.  Key botanicals and other extracts include Mountain Bark Extract, Fermented Black Rice (i.e. Lachancea, fermentation solution of hydrolyzed rice, and rice extract), Rice EX-S (note: selected ingredients derived from the water used to wash rice; phytic acids are blended into shampoos only), Apricot Oil, Tea Blossom Extract, Cherry Blossom Extract, Camellia Extract, and Blackberry Lily.

Ingredients

Water, Cetearyl alcohol, dimethicone, ppg-1/peg-1 stearamine, lactic acid, amodimethicone, fragrance, behenamidopropyl dimethlamine, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, glycosyl trehlose, behenyl pg-trimonium chloride, dipropylene glocol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, methylparaben, hydroxyethcellulose, bis-isobutyl peg-14/amodeimethicone copolymer, behenyl alcohol, alcohol, prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, [[skin and beauty story do not steal]], steartrimonium cholride, oryza sativa (rice) germ oil, caramel, butylene glycol, lachancia/hydrolized rice ferment filtrate, phenoxyethanol, inositol, oryza sativa (rice) extract, camellia japonica seed extract, dextrin, prunus yedoensis leaf extract, tocopherol, belamcanda chinensis root extract, camellia sinesis flower extract, saccharomyces/rice bran ferment filtrate extract, oryza sativa (rice bran) extract, paeonia suffruticosa root extract

Verdict

I picked this one up during the dead of winter in Southern Ontario where my hair might as well be crunchy straw.  This one is certainly a lot "heavier" than the Smoothing Conditioner and it does leave a bit of a waxy build-up in my hair, especially if I don't rinse it out very very well.  Personally, I didn't like the feeling this conditioner left on my hair and it didn't do much for my damaged ends either.  But if you don't colour your hair like I do, this might work for you.

Ryo Jang Yang Yun Mo Shampoo - Anti-Hair Loss for Greasy Scalp

Shampoo is the bottle on the left.

A popular Korean brand of hair products, Ryo is available at any drugstore or supermarket in Korea.  I purchased mine at a supermarket and tried it for two weeks.  This "hanbang" product is meant for oily scalps and people who also suffer from hair loss.  And in case you don't know, hanbang refers to traditional Korean herbs or plants that are typically used for medicinal purposes.

I chose this product because since hitting my mid-twenties, I have noticed my hair is thinning a bit (not that I have bald patches) and is not as dense in numbers compared to when I was younger.  So thinning hair along with my oily scalp made this product seem like a sure winner...

Product Description


Ingredients

Water, Gold, Spanish Licorice Extract, Biota Seed Extract, Yeast, Ginseng, Honey, Green tea, Poria cocos, Swertia Herb, Pleuropterus multiflorus turcz, Rehmannia Root, Ginseng Extract, Black Soybean Extract Ferment Filtrate, [[skin and beauty story do not steal]], Coix lachryma-jobi, Pine Needle Extra, Camellia Oil, Cridium Officonale Makino Extract, Green Tea Extract, Ginger Extract, Peony Root Extract, Wormwood Extract, Pleuropterus Multiflorus Turcz Extract, Salicylic Acid, Dexpanthenol Pyrithoine Zinc. 

The product is marketed based on its use of medicinal plants and herbs to help reduce hair loss and increase thickness.  Key ingredients include coix seeds (job's tears), wilfordi root, ginger, green tea, licorice, and even "gold" (which by the way does nothing for your skin or hair since it's just a metal...).

Verdict?

The smell can be a bit of (or major) turn off for most people. It has a distinctly Chinese herbal smell which stays on my hair long after I've washed it.  The smell is also noticeable by other people if you've just washed your hair and they're standing close to you.  Now if you don't like walking around smelling like the inside of a Chinese herbal medicine store, then I suggest you skip this product!

As for efficacy? It's not a super soapy shampoo, but at the same time my hair and scalp still felt clean and fresh after using this.  My ends weren't stripped either which is a nice bonus! However, I'm sad to report that I noticed quite quickly after about 5 to 7 days of use that pimples were starting to form on my scalp!  Grace (another contributor to this blog) also purchased this product and noticed the same problem, except for her the scalp irritation and pimples began after only 2 or 3 days of using this product.

I guess my scalp just couldn't handle some of the herbal and/or plant extracts used in the product.  But I really didn't want to give up on this brand, so I took a break from this shampoo and went back to using it again after the irritation and pimples cleared up to see if my scalp irritation was just a coincidence. But sadly, no.... not a coincidence because the same thing happened again.  Now the product just sits sadly under my sink :(  So, dear readers, since I didn't get to use this product for a long time, I can't comment much on the product's claims that this shampoo will help thicken hair and prevent hair loss. 

However, if anyone has used this shampoo with better results, please post a comment below! :) I wanna know how it went for you! ^^

Opal One Minute Treatment 


This Opal product helps conditions and soften dry, tangled, and damaged hair and yes, IT WORKS!!  When my hair is especially tangled and dry, I use this in place of my normal conditioner.  After using this, combing my hair after coming straight out of the shower is no longer painful as my hair brush literally glides through my hair with minimal effort.  This is definitely a HG hair treatment product.  

This Opal One Minute Treatment is very cheap to purchase as well.  I usually get mine at an Asian supermarket that sells 4 x 225 ml bottles for $12.99 CAD. SO CHEAP!  One bottle lasts me a long time too and I have very long and thick Asian hair.  


Ingredients 

Yes, my photo is partly in French. I live in Canada where labels need to be in both official languages...but someone this Opal distributor neglected to include English ingredients... -.- 

Key ingredients include NaPCA (sodium pyrrolidone carboxylic acid), aloe vera, vitamin B5 and Karatin Protein which help to condition the hair and disentangle damaged strands.

Verdict?

This is an awesome product, especially for the price.  I have zero complaints and it does do the trick, helping to turn my dry, frizzy, colour damaged hair into softer, sleeker, healthier and smoother looking locks! Of course, this product won't fix permanently damaged hair ends but it does help make them a lot more manageable and easier to run a comb through.  This is definitely a product I recommend and one that I will always keep in my stash of haircare products! 

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