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Frequently Asked Questions


Skin Care (production methods, ingredients, usage)

Are these cosmetics made in Japan?

Yes, all of our skin care products are manufactured at factories located in Japan.

Do you use animal testing?

Absolutely no animal testing is performed by Hokuroku Sousui during the manufacture of products. Nor do we outsource such testing to other institutions. Product safety is assured in testing by company staffs and outside monitors.

Do you perform allergy testing?

We do not perform allergy testing, but in addition to thoroughly researching the safety of ingredients, Hokuroku Sousui also tests product safety on its staffs.

Do you use synthetic surfactants?

We use synthetic surfactants as emulsifers for creams, milky lotions and other products that could not be produced without mixing water and oil. Almost all are extremely safe non-ionic surfactants, and most are used as food additives. There is very little irritation of the skin, and no toxicity. We select our raw materials carefully so as to minimize the load on the natural environment.

Do you use petroleum-based raw materials?

Our basic policy is to design all of our products from natural raw materials. However, there are some ingredients that cannot be made entirely from natural raw materials, or if they are, like stability or reliable supplies. Whether an ingredient is safe and biodegradable depends on the nature of the ingredient itself, not whether it is derived naturally or synthetically. Hokuroku Sousui does use ingredients synthesized from natural raw materials and petroleum-based raw materials, and also ingredients synthesized from petroleum-based raw materials alone. In all cases, these ingredients have excellent safety.

Do you use silicone or synthetic polymer?

Silicone is not used in any Hokuroku Sousui product. We can achieve the effect and feel we want from our products without using non-biodegradable silicone. We do, however, use synthetic polymer as a thickener. This ingredient gives the proper feel to some of our products. It is widely used as an ingredient to protect the skin and often found in creams and lotions. "Polymer" is a general term for a large molecule that is made up of numerous smaller molecules that have bonded together. Polymers exist in nature; cellulose, starch and protein are all examples. There are also synthetic polymers that exhibit functions geared to specific purposes and uses. Whether natural or synthetic, there are many different polymers, each with a different level of safety. The synthetic polymers used by Hokuroku Sousui have virtually no toxicity and cause virtually no irritation to the skin or the mucous membrane. They are produced from extremely safe raw materials that fully wash off when rinsed with water.

Do you use paraben?

Paraben is not used in any Hokuroku Sousui product. In addition to paraben, we do not add any ingredient that formerly required labeling under Japanese law.

Do you use mineral oil?

Mineral oil is not used in any Hokuroku Sousui product.

What is the best-by date?

We recommend using Hokuroku Sousui cosmetics within about one year after purchase and about six months after opening. Avoid extreme high and low temperatures, high humidity and direct sunlight when storing. Also, avoid using the product if it has been unused for a long period after opening.

What is your concept for aroma and fragrance?

In addition to feel and effect on the skin, Hokuroku Sousui values the gentle fragrances of plants in its products. We try to incorporate the natural aromas of plants in products, and do so primarily with the use of plant extracts. We also have three types of aroma that we create with the original combinations of essential oils. For cypress, we use a combination of essential Hinoki(Japanese cypress) oil and essential sage oil to create a refreshing, invigorating aroma; for Yuzu(Japanese Citron), we use a combination of essential yuzu oil, essential frankincense oil, and essential Japanese pepper oil to create a calm, peaceful aroma; for grape, we use a combination of essential grape well, essential rose geranium oil, and essential aomoji oil to create a rich, comforting aroma. All of these are familiar plant fragrances that have long been a part of Japanese life. We hope that you will experience pleasure of "skincare that makes you want to breathe deeply," the feeling that you are actually in the forest.

In what order should skin care products be used?

The basic steps are: Soap → lotion → milky lotion
Follow the sequences below if you use other items:
Face washing: Cleansing → soap or face washing foam → scrubbing (once or twice a week)
Moisturizing: Lotion → liquid foundation → milky lotion → moisturizing cream

How should I store products?

There is no need to refrigerate our products. In fact, we do not recommend the refrigerator as a storage environment because of the large amounts of bacteria that are associated with food. Differences in temperature inside and outside the refrigerator can also cause moisture to condense within the container, which is in turn a source of mold. Rather than the refrigerator, therefore, we recommend storage at room temperature.

You say, "Discontinue use if the product is unsuitable to your skin." What specifically are you referring to?

We make every effort to ensure that our cosmetics are safe for your skin, and they are designed and manufactured so that there will be no irritation or other problems in normal usage. However, for reasons of body composition, health, seasonality or age etc., some people may experience skin abnormalities during or after use. These can include burning sensations, itching, redness, pain and blistering. Warnings for cosmetics refer to these be symptoms as "being unsuitable to your skin" and recommend that you "discontinue use" to prevent symptoms from worsening. We also recommend that you consult with your doctor if symptoms warrant.

Some of your products contain alcohol. Does this place stress on the skin?

The alcohol (ethanol) included in some of our products has the effect of making them anti-bacterial. Alcohol is also used in some cases as a medium for plant extracts. All of the alcohol used in our products is created by fermentation and can be ingested. It will not place stress on your skin unless you are sensitive to alcohol. If your skin is sensitive to alcohol, we recommend you use products that do not contain it; otherwise, we do not believe there is reason for concern.

I've been told that weak acidity is good for the skin. Soap is a weak alkaline. Should I be concerned?

The skin naturally returns to its weakly acidic state even after using weakly alkaline soap. Your skin will also return to its natural state after using weakly acidic lotions, so we do not believe there is reason for concern. In addition, our soaps are designed so that no residue from the cleansing ingredients remains on the skin after rinsing with water. Soap is much more biodegradable than synthetic cleansers. Most hot springs in Japan range from being neutral to being weakly alkaline. Weakly alkaline ingredients soften unnecessary oils and old corny substances on the surface of the skin, making them easier to wash off. The reason your skin feels so smooth after you bathe in a hot spring is because the water invigorates metabolism of the cornified layer.

Non-aromatic Moist Lotion and Moist Serum do not contain essential oil, but they still have a smell. Why?

You may perceive an herbal aroma because of the many plant extracts included in Moist Lotion and Moist Serum.

Do Moist Lotion or Moist Serum contain artificial colors?

There are no artificial colors in Moist Lotion or Moist Serum. The coloring is a result of the amachazuru, yuzu, licorice and other plant extracts used. These colors will not be transferred to your skin during use. The ingredients are different from those used in vegetable dyeing, and also different from the mechanisms that stain white clothing and skin.

I'm concerned about the phototoxicity of essential oils.

The phototoxicity of essential oils results from phototoxic ingredient and depends upon how much of those ingredients a product contains. Phototoxicity is a particular concern for citrus essential oils. The only citrus essential oil used by Hokuroku Sousui is derived from yuzu. To make our essential citron oil, Hokuroku Sousui uses evaporation and distillation rather than pressing. This method does not produce the furocoumarins (citropten/bergaptan) that are the phototoxic components. However, even if there is no phototoxicity, people with particularly sensitive skin may experience abnormalities. If you do, we recommend that you not use products during the day, or that you first try them out on an inconspicuous part of your body.

Body Care

Use of massage oil

[Face and body care]
For facial massage, put 0.5-1 drops in the palm of your hand, and spread it out well so that the warmth from your hands is transferred to the oil.
Massage gently and without force from the center to the outside, and from the bottom to the top. We recommend moving from the chest to the neck, and then to the face. After massaging, hold the skin in both hands and work the oil into it. Use a steamed, hot towel to remove any residue.
For foot massage, put 3-4 drops in the palm of your hand and spread it out well so that the warmth of your hands is transferred to the oil.
Work slowly from bottom to top, beginning with the ankle and moving up to the calves (shins), knees and thighs.
For corn and heal care, put 1-2 drops in the palm of your hand or around the second joint of your finger, and apply a small amount of force to work it into the heel, knee or other area of concern.
For nail (cuticle) care, put an extremely small amount of oil, about 1 drop, on the tip of your finger, and use a small amount of force to work it into the root of the nail. Note that the oil may remove nail coloring.

[Hair care]
For pre-shampoo care, slowly work oil into all of your hair while it is still dry before washing. Wrap your head with a warm, wet towel and wait 3-5 minutes. Then, use your shampoo and conditioner as normal. The emollient ingredients will permeate your hair to give it a lovely gloss.
When blow drying, after towel-drying your hair, place an appropriate amount of oil in your hand for the length and volume of your hair and work it into the hair. Your hair will become sticky and oily if you use too much, so we recommend using a small quantity at a time and spreading it out well. You can then blow dry your hair to create a full, moist look.

Use of Bodycare Emulsion

This is a moisturizing spray for the body in which the water layer and the oil layer are separate. Shake the container well and confirm that the content has mixed before spraying it on your palms or the area you want to moisturize and working it into the skin. If massaging, spray 2-3 pushes onto the palm of your hand and gently work it into the desired part of your body, moving slowly from bottom to top.

Hair Care

What is the best way to use Refresh Shampoo (soap shampoo)?

We recommend that you pay attention to the following if you wish to reduce the brittle, rough feeling:
・ First, when shampooing, be sure to work the soap up into a good lather before washing. Lather helps bring out the soap's cleansing power.
・ Immediately before showering, use a scalp massage brush or similar implement to comb the skin and hair. Comb from the hairline to the top of the head, and then to the bottom of the head and the neck to prevent hair from tangling.
・ Rinsing with a brush or similar implement will ensure that warm water reaches the thickest part of the hair and has an opportunity to remove all of the soap scum.
・ Hokuroku Sousui's conditioner is a suitable to soap shampoo, and we recommend you use it together with volume conditioner. However, soap scum breaks down into fatty acids (oil), the main component in soap. Residual soap scum, in large volume, can be a source of stickiness and oiliness. It is important that you rinse thoroughly and carefully to avoid this.

Is Refresh Shampoos (Soap shampoo) suitable to hair that has a permanent, coloring or the like?

If hair is damaged by a permanent or coloring (cuticles have peeled), an excessive amount of soap scum can enter the peeled off portions of the cuticle and become a source of brittleness and roughness. Likewise, an excess of soap scum remaining in the hair will itself make the hair heavier. Soap scum is broken down by the acidic components in rinse and returns to the fatty acids that are the raw materials of soap. Fatty acid is the primary component in oil, and can cause your hair to feel sticky and oily. However, you can in some cases use soap shampoo without problem even if you have a permanent or coloring. Some of our staff members have permanents and colorings and still use soap shampoo. Basically, we do not think that soap shampoo is a good match for hair if it has a permanent or coloring, but it depends on the individual, which is why the product warns that it ""may not be suitable.