Kiku-Masamune High Moist Lotion is a Japanese sake-based hydrating toner that I’ve heard only good things about. It took me a while to remember the name without looking it up, but now that I have, I can’t stop saying it in my head. Kiku-Masamune. It’s like poetry.
I’ve come to realize that my love for watery, quick-absorbing skincare products is purely theoretical. The closest I’ve ever come to loving an actual first essence or toner is Hada Labo Gokujyun lotion, and I like that stuff okay. I hoped the Kiku-Masamune High Moist Lotion, with its rave reviews and its bonkers price-to-size ratio, would be the first.
Unfortunately, the search continues.
What it’s supposed to do
Kiku-Masamune is a Japanese sake (rice wine) brewing company founded in 1659 (!!). In addition to sake, they also make a few sake-based beauty products. Their High Moist Lotion, the ethanol-free version of their regular skin care lotion, is a watery, toner-type product. It promises to provide “ultra hydration”, healing, and whitening.
How to use it
Japanese “lotions” are similar to Western “toners” – that is, they’re watery and go early in your skincare routine. This product would go after cleansing and pH-dependent actives (like AHAs, BHAs, and vitamin C), but before essences, serums, and creams.
To use, pump a little puddle in your hand (although, as I’ll get into, that’s easier said than done). Massage it between your hands and pat or spread it into your face. Let it dry before applying your next product.
One thing to note: it’s absolutely enormous (half a liter!), so you can easily use this on your body in addition to or instead of your face. For size comparison, here it is next to a normal 12 ounce beer bottle:
Kiku-Masamune High Moist Lotion: the product of choice for people stocking up for an apocalypse.
Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamate, arginine, leucine, ceramide 3, ceramide 6 II, placenta extract, arbutin, Glycyrrhizic acid, soy protein, maltitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydroxyethyl cellulose, alkyl styrene/acrylic acid copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance
So much good stuff for such a short list! Sake filtrate contains kojic acid, a powerful skin-lightening agent that’s safer than hydroquinone; it’s also a good source of antioxidants. Arbutin is another powerful lightening agent, as is Glycyrrhizic acid (a derivative of licorice root). Arginine has anti-aging and healing properties. Ceramides are critical building blocks of your moisture barrier and crucial for skin health. Placenta might have some anti-aging and moisturizing benefits (and is often derived from plants, cutting down on the ick factor, although I don’t know how Kiku-Masamune sources theirs).
What it’s like in action
It comes out of the bottle as a watery, somewhat milky liquid.
Here’s where I encountered the first problem: the pump on this bottle sucks. It sticks a lot, so you have to press down hard to get it to pump, but then it jumps down suddenly. That, combined with an extremely watery product, means it would take the hands of a surgeon to control the amount of product you dispense. More often than not, my sink counters got more lotion than I did.
When applied, it spreads easily and absorbs somewhat quickly. It doesn’t feel heavy, but it does feel very moisturizing, and doesn’t absorb as fast as other very watery products I’ve used. It doesn’t feel sticky at all and the hydration lasts all day – impressive for such a light product.
I mentioned strike one above, with the awful pump mechanism. Strike two: that smell. It smells like sake. Not maybe-that’s-sake-in-there-I-can’t-really-tell; this smells like a brewery took up residence in your bathroom. For those of us who have had sake hangovers (which I maintain are the worst kind of hangovers), this smell brings back immediate flashbacks. It’s brought me to the point of gagging when I’ve used it first thing in the morning.
Strike three won’t necessarily apply to anyone else: it broke me out. Out of the dozens and dozens of skincare products I’ve used, exactly three have broken me out: Mizon Snail Recovery Gel, Mizon All-In-One Snail Repair Cream (I don’t fuck with Mizon anymore), and Missha’s FTE. Now I guess that number is up to four. Within a couple days of starting this product, I had several small whiteheads on my forehead. I only ever break out on my chin, and haven’t had any blemishes at all in at least a month or two, so this was a pretty striking reaction.
It’s not all bad; this is easily the most hydrating toner-type product I’ve ever used. The hydration really lasts and kept my skin feeling soft and supple all day, even when I skipped my beloved Scinic Honey All-In-One Ampoule. Plus, there’s just so much of it.
Kiku-Masamune High Moist Lotion reminds me of a 30 Rock quote (if you don’t want 30 Rock quotes with your skincare, you’ve come to the wrong blog): Liz Lemon’s doctor asks her if she’s eating right, and Liz responds “No, but I am eating a lot.” That’s how I feel about this product. It’s impossible to dispense, smells like liquid hangover, and breaks me out, but there’s just so much of it!
If you have the patience to deal with the pump, don’t mind the smell of sake before breakfast, and don’t react to any of the ingredients, this could actually be a really wonderful product for you. The ingredients list is amazing, and it’s well-formulated. But for me, I’m looking for some schmuck I can unload this giant bottle on. Anyone live in LA and want to take this thing off my hands?