Welcome to my new feature for Symmetry called Featured Brands. This section is mainly about my personal experiences and stories about certain brands that I grew to liking, and have landed on my personal must-shop shopping list. This section is not meant for any type of advertising, nor that I’m getting paid to write about these brands. Instead, I’m simply sharing about these brands and why I love (and recommend) them so much.
As an Asian born and raised in Southeast Asia,1 I’ve already had my first exposure to Asian skincare in general at a young age. I’ve dabbled with a lot of the local Filipino brands, such as Eskinol,2 those endless whitening soaps that contain papaya,3 household brands such as Sunsilk and Cream Silk4 as well as familiar ones like Palmolive and Irish Spring. And then at age ten,5 my family and I immigrated to the U.S.
In short? Not so much. It wasn’t until I reached in my mid-20s, right straight out of college, that I got myself re-exposed to Asian skincare again. The brand that got me into it? The brand is named Daigaku Honyaku Center （大学翻訳センター）, commonly known to the world as DHC. DHC (the company) is one of these traditional (?) Japanese conglomerates in which they don’t manufacture or promote one type of product, but many products and services that are completely unrelated to each other. The company started off as an educational translation service until they discovered a very high-quality grade of olive oil from Spain.6
From that one single miracle ingredient, the first set of skin-sensitive skincare products: their award-winning bestseller DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and the rest of the olive original set: DHC Mild Soap, DHC Mild Lotion,7 and DHC Olive Virgin Oil as their moisturizer. When I first discovered DHC from out of the whim, these exact four were my very first products I’ve used from the skincare line.
Sometime in the early 2000s, I was looking around for some affordable types of skincare that would fit my natural skin markup. I’ve had so many problems with my skin then, such as those nasty eyelid rashes, sometimes I would get minor eye styes,8 combination of oily and dry, so much acne, a huge scatter of blackheads and whiteheads, and others I don’t want to list out. I’ve tried so many products, even the really high-end ones,9 way before I found DHC through an online ad. I decided to purchase their beginner sample pack using the above four products mentioned.
With just those four items, I can finally see the gradual changes on my skin. My skin became brighter, a lot more plump, a lot more hydrated and moisturized, and for the first time in my life, became a lot more appreciative with the condition of my skin, as well as an appreciation to my natural outside markup. Starting with this starter set of olive oil-based skincare products, my adventures with Asian skincare officially began.
Lessons learned from DHC
From my long loyalty towards DHC, I have learned a few things about my continental cultural identity. It wasn’t just about finding a lot more appreciation towards Japanese culture,10 but to discover and learn things that I wasn’t aware of in the beginning or just something brand-new altogether. Here are a few of the things I learned from being a DHC loyal customer from the last decade:
- The proper (?) skincare routine. There is a reason why this starter pack was recommended when you first encounter the DHC skincare line. The olive oil starter pack taught me lessons on how to properly cleanse and maintain your skin through these steps: double-cleansing (DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and DHC Mild Soap), toning (DHC Mild Lotion), and moisturizing (DHC Olive Virgin Oil). These steps are the most basic of the multiple steps that now known today as The 10+-step Asian Skincare Routine (or even The 10+-step Korean Skincare Routine). More on these at a later entry.
- The benefits of the olive. Some, even for the Japanese, would find it odd for a Japanese conglomerate company’s signature direct mail skincare line to take pride of their signature ingredient: the olive from Spain, which is something foreign. On the other hand, more higher-end, prestigious Japanese skincare brands such as Shiseido are already way ahead of their Kampo ((traditional Japanese medicine.)) formulation heritage.
- Throughout shopping and trying out samples and actual full products of the DHC skincare line, I gradually learned of the other optional steps that make up this 10+-step Asian Skincare Routine. There were exfoliators, essences, serums, emultions, and even sunscreen to be added along with the three basic steps that started from the olive oil starter pack.
- My first discovery of an essence/serum-drenched sheet masks, starting with the DHC Alpha-Arbutin White Mask.
Favorite DHC Products
I already love the olive oil starter set, especially their highest bestselling product, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. Here are a few that I tried and eventually became favorites:
- DHC Cleansing Milk (foam cleanser)
- DHC Face Wash Powder (foam cleanser)
- DHC Eye Bright (eye cream)
- DHC Washing Puff (used as an exfoliator along with some foam cleanser)
- DHC Olive Leaf Milk (toner/essence)
- DHC Olive Leaf Cream (moisturizer)
- DHC Head Oil (pre-bath treatment for hair)
- DHC Hair Tonic (long discontinued)
Curious? You can look them all up on Amazon or you can always order directly online at their online shop.
Halting from DHC
I would call it a temporary halting. I stopped purchasing skincare products, not just with DHC, but overall in general, sometime in the late 2000s. I was laid off from my job and struggled about 3-4 years of being unemployed. This meant that proper skincare products such as DHC have become completely out of my daily budget. I had to save up as much as I can from my short-term UI11 payments in hopes that I can get by while still looking for a new job.
Fast-forward, I still look up to DHC, but I feel that the prices had gone up from the last time I used to shop with them. I was really desperate in getting back into the “proper” skincare routines with the best products out there, but the prices really stopped me from getting back to DHC again. Eventually, I ended up passing by The Body Shop, as the local mall was very close to my new workplace. Ever since then, I started exploring their skincare products. Even though they have some similar products to the ones DHC markets, and that their prices are quite high, I do take advantage of their long-term sales, such as their Buy 2, Get 3 (or anything similar) promotions.
And then, in early 2017, with just exploring around a huge mall slightly further from my local area, I accidentally found a small shop called The Face Shop, and my early journeys of Korean skincare began. That will be in another entry.
Any plans on going back to DHC skincare shopping again?
Of course. I would love to get my hands on the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil again one day. But, I am an explorer, and I do tend to explore and try out different types of products from all over the place. But one day, when I have enough personal funding, I’ll definitely splurge!
Still, I am grateful to DHC for introducing me to this vast, exotic, and eclectic world of Asian Beauty. I’m one of the very many women who always thought that American/Western brands are the more higher-end brands until my natural skin markup has determined that these brands no longer work for my skin anymore. It was time for me to go back to the continental roots for newer solutions. I’m glad I did.
There are sidenotes...
- Philippines [↩]
- well, not really, my mom used this brand as a cleanser/astringent. I was too young to use any of those myself [↩]
- even though I’m naturally fair-skinned, these whitening soaps did nothing but completely dry up and soak up the moisture off of my skin… [↩]
- shampoo brands, not sure if they’re native Filipino brands though… [↩]
- late 1980s [↩]
- DHC – About [↩]
- Japan’s English term for a toner [↩]
- nasty stuff! [↩]
- such as the Peter Thomas Roth series of eye creams that you see in stores like Sephora… expensive, plus none of them remedied my eye skin problems [↩]
- as I have been a fan of Japanese culture for as long as I can remember [↩]
- unemployed insurance [↩]