Each of the Starter Set goes for 6,720yen (~ US$85), however their calculated retail value differs each time since they feature a different sample product. The August set I bought has a calculated retail value of 12,252yen since it comes with a 2.5g sample of the Skin Signature Cream.
Aeon's August SK-II Starter Set:
- Cotton 90 sheets
- Facial Treatment Clear Lotion 40mL
- Skin Signature Cream 2.5g
- Facial Treatment Essence 75mL
I was actually really iffy about starting this Facial Treatment Clear Lotion. A month prior to using this, back in July I happened to switch my retinoid treatment, leaving behind the Differin I'd been using religiously for the past 5 years to experiment with Avene TriAcneal (the jury's still out). With TriAcneal already containing 6% glycolic acid in addition to retinaldehyde, the incorporation of the Clear Lotion and its blend of AHAs (citric acid and lactic acid), BHA (salicylic acid, no specific percentage indicated for any of the 3 acids), and pitera wasn't exactly perfect timing.
I had tried a combination of retinoid and an AHA in the past. While on Differin, I used up an 8 oz. bottle of Anthony Logistics Glycolic Facial Cleanser containing 4.9% glycolic acid with great success - think super soft, smooth, and clear skin. However, in combination with TriAcneal this Clear Lotion may just be overkill with its 3 acids too many. In the end, I don't know what I was thinking but the decision was pretty much, hell, let's just try it ^.^
This Facial Treatment Clear Lotion is a toner in the most "Western" understanding of the word, which means it is to be soaked up with a cotton pad and wipe the face and neck with. That said, I've read that some people prefer to use it the "Japanese" way, patting it onto bare skin. Given the acid overload, I thought throwing in the physical exfoliation of the cotton pad would be too much for my skin to handle. So I started out with the "Japanese" method, sprinkling this alcohol-free, clear, unscented, and pretty much identical-to-water lotion into my palm and pressing it into my face. No change. Even after I went from the hot and humid Japanese weather to the super dry climate of where my folks live, nothing happened.
Then I moved to Taipei where it's a lot more humid and the air is a lot denser with particle pollution, and my skin started clogging up like crazy, especially the area in front of my ears and below my cheekbones. So I ended up resorting to physical exfoliation with this Clear Lotion and this time, I saw visible results, in that the lotion has been helping with the clogged pores and my skin has cleared up a lot. And may be this is purely a placebo effect, but I feel the motion of wiping with a cotton pad gives my skin better absorption of the Facial Treatment Essence that follows too! ^.^'
Another surprising thing is that this 40mL trial bottle has been lasting me for quite some time now! Most likely this is because I started out applying it directly to my skin and kept using it this way for a good month and a half before starting to soak cotton pads with it, which uses up a lot more of the product. I still have a fourth of the bottle left, which is pretty amazing considering it's been more than 3 months now! Anyway, I have not made up my mind yet whether I will buy the full size after running out of this trial bottle.
Last but not least, it's important to note that I only use this toner at night, another reason why this small bottle is lasting me for so long. The Japanese guidebook suggests morning and night use while the SK-II USA website remains rather ambiguous about when to use. I chose to only use this lotion at night because of the acids in it, all of which, especially the combination of which, will make the skin more sensitive and thus more prone to sun damage. Of course I wear my sunscreen, but using this lotion in broad daylight and then applying sunscreen is sort of like hitting myself on the head with a hammer and then take a painkiller to relieve the pain. Not exactly healthy or logical. So I would caution against using any retinoid, AHA, or BHA product during the daytime, and yes, I used the Anthony Logistics Glycolic Facial Cleanser at night only.
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion:
Aqua (Water), Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate*, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Peg-150, Cellulose Gum, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben *Pitera
***List of ingredients from SK-II USA.