Over the holidays, we spent what felt like hours (in a good way) at Takashima in San Gabriel and in Arcadia. The selection differs slightly between the two, so we had to go to both. ::looks away:: Ahem, moving on . . .
We loooove Takashima as hands-down the best place for Japanese beauty products–better than any Japanese supermarket and any other Japanese beauty store. I haven’t seen any place on the East Coast with the breadth and depth of the offerings at Takashima. (But please let me know if I’m wrong!) Check out Takashima’s e-storefront here and brick-and-mortar locations here (currently in Calif. only).
What makes Takashima special is its focus on Japanese products. Only this time around did I notice the addition of a few Korean brands such as Forencos (but in all, they comprised only like half a shelf’s worth). Of course, Takashima doesn’t have everything Japanese. For example, you won’t find Lunasol, RMK, or Addiction here. But those brands are hard to find in the U.S. anyway. Interestingly, Takashima seems like a Chinese business: the website is in Chinese and its stores are in areas with large Chinese and Chinese-American populations.
In addition to makeup and skin-, body-, and haircare, there are household items, clothing accessories (arm coverings, wedge insoles, tights with contouring), and skin and hair tools. Hada Crie, ReFa rollers, Panasonic heated lash curlers and hair dryers . . . you name it. Check out the various gadgets for removing blackheads:
Looks like I’m not so weird after all for using tweezers to pluck blackheads.
Personally, the best part about going to Takashima this time around was seeing all of the PA++++ sunscreens from Japan. Ever since I started reading up on the importance of protection from UVA rays, which are the rays that darken pigmentation (i.e., cause tanning and sun spots), I’ve been obsessed with replacing my American “broad-spectrum” sunscreens with Japanese ones rated PA++++, the highest possible rating for PPD (persistent pigment darkening from UVA) protection in Japan and equivalent to a protection factor of at least 16.
For reference, the maximum rating in Korea only goes up to PA+++, and “broad-spectrum” in the U.S. only means that some UVA protection is offered–with no indication of how much. Although their sunscreens might in reality offer protection equivalent to PA++++, there is simply no way to discern that from the labeling.
Below are some closeups of various sunscreens at the Arcadia store so you can see the price. While most of the skincare and makeup have testers, there are no testers in the sunscreen section.
The biggest selections of PA++++ sunscreens were at the Takashimas (sooo many). Out of the other Asian beauty stores in the San Gabriel Valley that we visited, Beauty Tips at Atlantic Square had the next largest selection (about 5 options?). Most other Asian beauty stores offer only 1 or 2 options.
The offerings vary at each store (even between the Takashimas) and so you’ll want to shop around if you are seeking a specific one or want to know the full universe that’s out there. For example, the two PA++++ sunscreens that I ended up buying weren’t available at Takashima: NIVEA Sun Protect Plus UV Skin UV Cream was at Maneki Neko and Sekkisei Sun Protect Essence Gel was at Beauty Tips (also seen at Image).
To verify that you’re purchasing a recent version, always check the sunscreen packaging against a reliable source–RatzillaCosme is the most comprehensive one. That’s because Japanese manufacturers often don’t print a manufacture or expiration date on products but rather update the packaging each year.
Oh yeah, and Takashima sells maxi pads. Lots and lots of maxi pads.