Knowing my sister was coming home from Japan, my family emailed us for special requests of the things they would like to get but can't find at home. Like my sister's friend who asked about green tea soap, my aunt requested charcoal soaps, which she credited me for getting her into when I gave her a bar of Max Sumi Haigou Sekken Charcoal Soap way back when I first tried them. She said that bar cleared out the stubborn black heads on her nose, and she was so amazed she showered with it, whereupon it proceeded to also cleared out the bumps on the back of her upper arms, just like the green tea soap did for my sister's friend's husband. So my aunt wanted more of these miracle soaps, and although she said that 1 bar I gave lasted her forever, this time she asked for 2 packs for a total of 6 bars to ensure they will last forever and a half LOL! xD
Pelican Deitanseki Clay & Charcoal Facial Cleansing Bar
***Picture from Pelican Soap Japan.
So I was happy to oblige and found the Max Sumi Haigou Sekken on Amazon Japan for an amazing price of only 300yen/3-pack of huge 135g bars!!! That's equivalent to the $5 I paid for it at my local Asian market at home in 2009, and if you take into account of the dollar's 20% loss of value against the yen at the present, 300yen/3-pack is a shockingly amazing price! I've already tried Max, but that 300yen price justified a retrial so I bought 2 of the 3-packs for my aunt and another 4 of the 3-pack for myself. Of course hubby and I won't be able to use them all, but they will make nice gifts, no? ^.^
And then I totally got carried away and bought yet another 3-pack of Pelican Deitanseki Clay & Charcoal Facial Cleansing Bars to try too xD This is actually not my first brush with a Pelican brand soap. The first was Komenuka Rice Bran Amino Soap, which smelled really nice but was too drying for my skin at the time. And after buying the Deitanseki bars I briefly had a tinge of buyer's remorse. First of all, these are more expensive. According to Pelican's Clay & Charcoal products page, this 3-pack of 110g bars retails for 1,470yen/pack, and even if you can get it for much cheaper else where, I got mine from Amazon Japan for only 1,000yen - a third off of retail, it's still 3-5x more expensive than Max. That's not to mention the Pelican bars are 25g smaller than the Max bars.
Secondly, the Max bars have bamboo vinegar, which is supposed to be soothing, non-stripping, overall softening the drawing effect of the charcoal and making it a milder soap. The Pelican Deitanseki bars on the other hand don't have bamboo vinegar, instead they have Kaolin clay, which is supposed to help with oily skin. The problem is that I don't have oily skin, so I was worried these might turn out to be too drying for my skin, even with all the humidity right now.
I accidentally tore the labels off of the soap pack before taking a picture, so you'll have to excuse the bare naked bars below and view the label in the stock picture above from Pelican Soap Japan's website instead.
Turns out I fretted for nothing - this Pelican bar has not dry out my skin at all! Out of curiosity, hubby and I decided to shower with it too and not just using it as a facial cleansing bar. With daily use for the past 3 weeks, I still have yet to experience any dryness. If anything, my skin feels softer than it did before when I was using the Cow Brand Milky Body Wash or the goat's milk bar soaps I bought from Etsy! And get this - it cleaned out the pores on hubby's back and now his back looks totally poreless! Not that his back was bad before, nor has he ever had bacne, but he does get a some bumps now and then in addition to enlarged pores around the middle upper back where it's hard to reach and wash adequately. But now he has perfect skin on his back in addition to perfect facial skin and I'm green with envy! It's so unfair!!! He's super lazy about using a facial cleanser/moisturizer regularly (he only washes with water, and puts on some aftershaves after, well, shaving), and I have to nag him to put on sunscreen before spending a day out in the scorching sun, and yet he still has super nice skin! Hmph. He says he's currently focusing on getting rid of the clogged pores on the back of his arms and is hopeful this Pelican bar will clear them out too. Mr. wanna-be-perfect here, aren't we?
As for me, I didn't get any dramatic results with this Pelican bar, but the most significant improvement I did notice was the softening of my flaky-scaly-proned arms and legs. I haven't felt the need to put on any lotion with the exception of my rough feet, elbows, and knees, and I must admit they will probably need a lot more work than just lathering up with charcoal soap. Before using this bar however, I did have to apply my trusty LostRiverRags Goats Milk Hand & Body Lotion every couple of days or so, yes even in all this humidity, because that's just how dry my skin is! Other than that, I have been breaking out a little on my forehead along the hairline and my upper back has been getting some clogged pores, thanks to all the crazy sweating, and the soap has helped both a little although nothing as wowing as what it did for hubby's back.
And with all that said, I'm still not convinced that charcoal soap in general, or specifically this Pelican bar, is anything miraculous, and not just because it didn't perform miracles on me :P First of all, it is insanely hot and humid right now, and if you're wondering how humid is insanely humid, well, let's just say it's humid enough for the leather soles of hubby's Italian loafers to be covered in green mold. Yuck. He had to take them out for a walk and then drying them in the sun on our windowsill, but I digress. I'm going to try using another bar in the dead of the drier winter to see if it's still as softening and mild as it is now.
Woops - forgot to cover the basics. This Pelican bar lathers up nicely with a thick and creamy lather, and it is not "fragranced" per se, it does have a smoky earthy scent that I'm not sure was added or comes naturally with the charcoal powder in the soap. That's it. It's a pretty straightforward bar of facial/body soap!