In #TeamClozette, I can say that I'm the resident Japanophile. While many people raved about K-culture, my allegiance towards J-dramas, animé, and of course, J-beauty never wavered. This is why I'm happy that J-beauty is finally getting the recognition it deserves, aside from global favourites like Shiseido and Shu Uemura.
However, I have to admit that since J-beauty is still hard to access here in the Philippines, I only tend to stock up on my skincare and makeup picks whenever I visit the Land of the Rising Sun. Some of the things that I hoard like crazy? Cleansers. While K-beauty is known for their famous balm cleansers, I've always loved Japan's take on oil-to-liquid cleansers, as well as the fascinating powder-to-foam washes. So you can just imagine my excitement when I was asked to review the Mika Ninagawa x FANCL Special Edition cleansers.
Made in collaboration with Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa, the FANCL Facial Washing Powder and Mild Cleansing Oil were given a packaging that will entice you to pick them up. But is their pretty packaging as good as their performance? I draw my conclusions below.
As I said earlier, by the packaging alone, this collaboration owns some bragging rights. After all, Mika Ninagawa is a renowned photographer and film director in and out of Japan, earning fame for her stellar flora and fauna photography, plus a couple of visually stunning films like Sakuran (2006) and Helter Skelter (2012).
Her signature "vivid nature" aesthetic is evident in the cherry blossoms featured in the collaboration's packaging. However, only the Mild Cleansing Oil featured a realistic image. The Facial Washing Powder only followed the collab's colour scheme, playing with pink and blue with a touch of small cherry blossom detailing in front of its bottle. While these two definitely added flair to my vanity, I'd say that the Mild Cleansing Oil's bottle wins, packaging-wise simply because it stuck to the theme.
As for the other features, I'm quite used to Japanese oil cleansers having a clamp at the nozzle to avoid accidental spills and I'm glad that the Mild Cleansing Oil has it. As for the Facial Washing Powder, it's my first time to try this type of product because I've steered clear of these whenever I buy skincare products in Japan. I'm just scared of spilling products (I'm a klutz, tbh) and feel like powders are more prone to spillage than traditional foam cleansers. I know there are packet-types from other brands, but I just never really got around to buying one. I hoped that in trying this out, I'll change my mind.
Scent and texture
Both cleansers don't really have scents, which is a major plus in my book. I've tried a couple of Japanese cleansers that put me off because of their weird smell so I'm really glad these don't smell bad.
Left: the FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil is clear, lightweight, and non-sticky; Right: the FANCL Facial Washing Powder is finely milled, non-grainy, and turns to smooth, rich foam at upon contact with water
As for the texture, the FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil is actually pretty lightweight for an oil cleanser and didn't really feel icky or too thick in consistency, which is great. The FANCL Facial Washing Powder, meanwhile, is very finely milled and didn't feel grainy at all. I find this highly positive since it didn't seem to be too harsh to cause skin abrasions, nor did it ball up when I start rubbing it against my skin.
Claims and usage
Let's start with the FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil. It is said to dissolve and remove even the most stubborn makeup along with pore-clogging oils and dirt instantly. It also promises to leave no residue and no sticky feeling whatsoever while ensuring that the skin is not stripped of moisture post-cleansing.
As a fan of oil cleansers, I'd say that the Mild Cleansing Oil performed beautifully. For two pumps, I easily got rid of a full face of makeup, including my waterproof Heroine Make Mascara, which can be tough to remove even for other heavy-duty cleansers I've tried before. It didn't sting my eyes nor left any weird sensations on my sensitive skin. Plus, my skin felt refreshed, clean, but not dry at all.
Left: swatches of liquid lipstick, waterproof mascara, pencil liner, and full-coverage concealer; Right: FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil in action, wiping everything off without any hard rubbing or scrubbing
Moving on to the FANCL Facial Washing Powder. It promises a rich, creamy foam upon contact with water. It's quite similar to the Mild Cleansing Oil when it comes to its claims, except for the makeup removal part. It is said to work best with their recommended Facial Washing Puff (which is sold separately).
I don't really use electronic face brushes nor do I have their washing puff so I went about it in two ways. One, I directly used my fingers to see if it will sud up without any aid. Two, I used my facial brush. The thing I noticed is that it can be a bit tricky to control the water ratio when using your fingers, so having a face washing tool with this is a lot better. My face brush gave me the nice, sudsy texture I was looking for and it performed quite close to a typical face foam but with a lighter and gentler feel.
The FANCL Facial Washing Powder when applied using a wet facial brush
However, if there's one thing to note about the Facial Washing Powder, I'd say it's easy to lose control when pouring out the product. This is especially so when compared to other products like the Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Cleanser, which has individual packets. With this, I'd say that while it's a nice novelty pick, I won't be using it as my daily cleanser but rather as something I would take with me when travelling. I like the idea of convenience and practicality it gives, versus a foam cleanser that could burst in my luggage.
Let's go back to my initial question. Are the Mika Ninagawa x FANCL Special Edition Cleansers as good as they look?
I'd say yes. The FANCL Mild Cleansing Oil is definitely a new favourite for me. It trumps my longstanding pick, the Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil, when it comes to aesthetic and size. It also ticks off all the boxes when it comes to fragrance, gentleness, and of course, great performance.
The same goes for the FANCL Facial Washing Powder. While I do have reservations about using it as my daily cleanser, I think its pros still make it worth a lot of praise. I brought it on a weekend excursion and it proved to be a better choice for travelling than a liquid/foam cleanser. Plus, according to my research, powder cleansers are also a lot better than foam cleansers when it comes to gentle exfoliation because of their dry particles. This makes it a great pick for people like me who want to trim down their routines to include gentle yet efficient products that are multi-purpose.
With that said, along with the added bonus of both products having nice aesthetics, the Mika Ninagawa x FANCL Special Edition Cleansers prove to be solid additions to my list of top Japanese beauty product picks. While the experience may vary from one user to the next, I can honestly say that these are worth considering if you're looking to build your J-beauty vanity.