October Favorites 2013

Another month has flown by again and I’m finally ready for my monthly favorites post. If you remember from my last monthly favorites post, it was back in July 2013, where I state it’s rare for me to have products that are worth mentioning on a monthly basis. Here we are a few months later, and I’m proud to say that these babies have made the cut for all the right reasons. :)

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Living Proof Full Shampoo & Living Proof Full Conditioner
It’s not that often I rave about hair products, and I don’t even think I’ve ever mentioned a shampoo and conditioner on this blog — ever. I’ve got quite a thick head of hair, but it’s temperamental and rarely behaves — meaning, it’s difficult to style at times. The “Full Shampoo deeply cleanses fine, thin hair, removing all traces of dirt, oil, and product build up, and is “formulated without damaging sulfates.” This shampoo “properly cares for and prepares lifeless, limp hair for optimal styling.” The “Full Conditioner properly cares for fine, thin, lifeless hair by adding weightless hydration, without silicones, oils, or heavy moisturizers.” All the claims are true; the shampoo is better than using a traditional clarifying shampoo, which can be drying and harsh on the scalp; and, the conditioner is so weightless that it adds body to the hair since it’s not being weighed down. Only sample sizes are shown in the pictures, but I’ve already purchased the full size bottles and I’m happy with them!

Yves Saint Laurent Youth Liberator Serum Foundation
This foundation is not new news and it’s been incredibly popular every where. Based on rave reviews you be the judge — is it worth the $70? I love this foundation and feel that it’s truly perfect for the finish and coverage it provides. See this foundation in action here — in a full face of the day post, and you’ll be amazed at the un-retouched and unfiltered photo of my skin.

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Topshop Nail Polish
I’ve been into green nail polishes this month for a variety of reasons, but I was mainly inspired by this shade in “Green Room.” Topshop nail polishes are expensive for the size at $10 a bottle, so I try to pick unique colors wisely. “Green Room” is a strangely pretty color — it’s a bright turquoise-green that’s glossy in finish and texture; and dries shiny and fast. They’re worth checking out in person for sure.

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Diorshow Mono Eyeshadow
This shadow is an oldie but goodie; and, the most perfect nude-skintone shade. “Grège 726” is described as a “peach beige sheen,” and is a soft eyelid color shade that evens it out, softens any harsh edges of other shades, and is perfect for when you only want to wear eyeliner (but need something extra as well). The Mono Eyeshadows “boast a unique wet/dry formula for a custom and professional finish,” and they’re smooth, long-lasting, and so naturally pretty. For no makeup days, this is perfect.

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Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush
This brush is a unlikely brush to fall in love with because it looks so small and simple. However, the densely packed synthetic tip is perfect for applying gel eyeliner or smudging pencil liner. The brush hairs are finely pointed and tightly packed for precise application, and applies liner smoothly and effortlessly without getting messy. If you want to apply liner thick, use the flat side of the brush; and, if you want a thinner line, use the edge. Truly useful and versatile — I recommend.

With the exception of the YSL Youth Serum Foundation, all the other items featured in this post were products that I already had in my collection. It was nice to shop my stash and regain love for products I had already loved to begin with. It’s always fun rediscovering items and falling in love with them all over again. What products — new and old — caught your attention this month?

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Benefit Fake Up Concealer

Normally, I don’t bother with an under-eye routine. Simply because — most of the time — I’m in a rush or I just plain forget. Luckily, I don’t have dark circles; however, it always helps to take care of the under-eye area because it helps you look more awake and healthy. Also, since the eye area tends to be the most thin and sensitive area on the face, it would help for anti-aging and preventative reasons to take some extra time to hydrate and conceal.

Keeping that in mind, I got the Benefit Fake Up Concealer after some research. Up until now, the Benefit Ooh La Lift has been sufficient. But, since it’s just an eye brightener I figured it would be good to have a proper under-eye concealer in my arsenal. Well, at least, that’s the excuse I gave myself when I decided to make this purchase. :) The Fake Up Concealer is described as an “ultrahydrating crease-control concealer” that provides hydration and coverage. Its “moisturizing crease-control [formula] with vitamin E and apple seed extract hides dark circles and diffuses fine lines for a silky smooth, ultranatural look.” Benefit promises to keep skin hydrated and concealed for up to six hours without caking, creasing, or settling into lines.

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As you can see, this is like a lipstick so it swivels up and down and you can just swipe the product under your eyes. The “hydrating ring” is the clear part of the product, which contains vitamin E and apple seed extract. And, as the name suggests, it’s quite balmy so it’s hydrating without being sticky or tacky. The “concealing core” is the colored part of the product. My shade is in “01 Light,” and this core is supposed to be light diffusing and skin smoothing. It also provides the coverage that you need under the eye area.

For the most part, yes, I think this is a good under-eye concealer that provides both coverage and hydration. It’s easy to use and easy to blend in with your ring finger. The finish is just a simple, refreshed appearance; but, it’s not noticeably brightening or anything like that. In my opinion, the coverage is light and not buildable because of the design of the product. Even if you want more coverage, you can’t really build it since you’ll have to swipe both the “hydrating ring” and the “concealing core” on at the same time. Also, for those with severe under-eye issues, such as discoloration — this may not be right for you since there’s no corrective properties. I’d recommend this to people who don’t really have under-eye issues, but still want to address the area with some light coverage.

Made in USA.
Retails for $24.00 USD.
Available in three shades: 01 Light, 02 Medium, 03 Dark.

Diorskin Shimmer Star in “Rose Diamond”

Ok, when Dior describes a product as a “magical shimmering pressed powder,” I buy it. This purchase was totally unnecessary since I already own the “Amber Diamond,” and I’ve mentioned it multiple times over the years. In an old post, I featured the “Amber Diamond” highlighter when I wrote about various highlighters. Acting on impulse, I got the “Rose Diamond” and I don’t regret it all. :)

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“Rose Diamond” is “a light-filled pressed powder enriched with Jeweled Microdust™.” Sounds fancy and tempting and I’m not ashamed! These “five micro-shimmering tones set off sparks of brilliance, highlighting your complexion. The ultra-fine, super-blendable formula virtually fuses with your skin for a sheer, radiant luminosity.” Doesn’t it sound like the most perfect, most lovely product? Well, it is. If you want glow without adding the glitter, then this is a great option. In fact, I’d recommend this over the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact in “Rose.” Same concept, but different in the most subtle ways.

While “Amber Diamond” is warm and slightly bronzey because of the beige tones, “Rose Diamond” has a slight pink hue when blended together. Because my skin tone has some pink under tones, rather than just yellow under tones, the “Rose Diamond” is a great highlighter. I apply it to my cheekbones and down the center of my nose for an ethereal glow that does NOT contain any sparkles or glitter. It’s just a luminous glow. LOVE the finish.

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Quickie comparison here. As you can see, these things last FOREVER. I recommend either of these and they’re worth the money. I think “Amber Diamond” is great with dewy makeup in the summer and “Rose Diamond” is great for the fall/winter. Of course, this isn’t a rule and you can wear whichever whenever you want. But if you need help justifying this luxurious purchase — this is what you could tell yourself. :)

Made in France.
Contains 0.35 oz.
Retails for $45.00 USD.

Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss in “A-Lister”

While on my lip products kick, I picked up the new Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss, and I’m already ready for more. Described as a lip gloss with “plushness,” it promises “poutrageous” results from its smooth and silky application. The formula is thin and glides on easily–allowing the color to “drench the lips in luscious color that’s never sticky.”

In short, the texture is non-sticky and thin, but covers the lips in color — but not in a heavy way. It’s non-drying and hydrating without looking gloopy on the lips. It lasts for a few hours of wear without eating or drinking, but when it does fade, it fades nicely leaving behind a moisturizing film behind. Then, it just feels like lip balm. Love.

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My color of choice this first time around is “A-Lister,” and it’s a bubble-gum, nude pink. On its own, it just adds nice shine and fullness to the lips. However, when applied over pink and nude-y lip colors, this adds a kick of something extra that makes the lips look sexy. The glossiness is just the right amount — not too shiny, but shiny enough to help the lips out. The scent is refreshing like minty fruit, but it’s not strong and it doesn’t affect the taste of the gloss. I believe the original Plush Lip Glosses were released along side Benefit’s boxed blushes. The packaging didn’t catch my attention and neither did the colors. But these new ones are worth purchasing for sure.

I bought this one on its own, but I noticed a holiday pack at Ulta with all the colors in miniature form for $26.00 USD, which is an excellent deal. It would be a good way to try out all the colors without having to commit to the price; or, it could be a great gift to give (or to receive) during the holidays. :)

Made in France.
Retails for $16.00 USD.
Contains 15 mL/0.5 fl. oz.

REVIEW: SK-II Stempower

I’ve briefly mentioned various SK-II skincare products — like the infamous Facial Treatment Essence here and there on this blog, and I try to be careful with recommending such expensive products since everyone has different preferences when it comes to skincare. I’ve also mentioned the SK-II Cellumination Mask-in Lotion as well, and I’m not shy about admitting that I enjoy SK-II products and I’d recommend the line to anyone any day.

Overseas, the new newest moisturizing cream has been introduced — the SK-II Stempower, and the rumor in Asia is that this will replacing the SK-II Essential Power Cream. While Stempower has not been introduced in the United States yet, the Essential Power Cream is still available. I ordered my Stempower online via eBay — and, I find that SK-II products shipped directly from Asia are cheaper.

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As with most Asian skincare lines, the Stempower line includes an essence (serum) as well. However, for my personal skincare needs, I prefer just the cream for now — and I’ll probably integrate the essence into my routine in a few years. This moisturizer contains “Stem-Acanax Complex,” which is supposed to improve the skin “from within.” This product addresses issues with pores, firmness, and controlling the development of spots as well. So, basically, it alleges that the Stempower line is the ultimate anti-aging cream.

The cream is thin and spreads easily onto the skin. It also absorbs reasonably well and keeps my skin hydrated. Because I use this as my night cream, I don’t mind the slightly heavier texture. I’ve been using it for a month, and I’m really surprised with how my skin looks at night. It’s a shame I don’t have anywhere to go (lol), because my pores and superficial lines are pretty much invisible. Also, minor healing spots have gotten better and I haven’t experienced any random skin eruptions.

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I’d like to believe that this cream helps your skin look 10 years younger. But I’m happy with what I see so far and I’ll continue to use it. A little bit goes a long way, so yes, I spent a lot of money on this cream, but I’m pretty sure it will last until the end of 2014. One of the things that I appreciate the most about the SK-II line in general is that they address multiple concerns in their products — it’s not just about anti-aging. And, I know that some people have sensitivities regarding the pitera in SK-II’s products — however, for me, I haven’t experienced any unwanted spots and the scent is non-existent (to me, personally).

If you are thinking about taking the plunge and investing in some serious skin care, the SK-II range is worth dabbling in. I know that it’s not for everyone, but the quality is truly amazing with fantastic results. Now that I’ve passed my mid-20’s and heading towards 30 very quickly, I try to not buy menial skin care products; I just save my money and splurge on what works. I recommend this product and it makes a super night cream.

Made in Japan.

REVIEW: NARS Lipstick in “Niagara”

While feeling bold and expressive on a routine trip to Nordstrom, I came across this NARS Lipstick in “Niagara” and fell in love before swatching it. This line of lipsticks is described as catering to a wide range of “captivating shades designed to provide the look and style the color dictates.” The formula claims to be “exceedingly long-wearing,” “nourishing,” and “non-drying with vitamin E.” NARS lipsticks come in three different formulas: satin, sheer, and semi-matte.

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Originally, I’d say that the shade “Niagara” is out of my comfort zone, for sure. However, this “satin pinkish coral” shade is the perfect watermelon-coral-pinky shade that flatters. In some ways, it can be a very summery color; yet, at the same time, it could also translate to being festive for the holidays. So, in my book, this color wins for versatility. The formula is creamy and hydrating — and the color is sheer enough to be comfortable to wear in public; and, pigmented enough to feel like you’re getting color without it looking like a marker. The texture is smooth on the lips — kind of like your lips are naturally drenched with such a pretty color. The glossy finish is nice with a shade like this, and I love how shiny it is without looking too wet. It wears nicely and fades beautifully too. Win, win.

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This is my first NARS lipstick and I’m quite happy with its performance. The range is worth checking out, but for me, since I already have so many colors and brands to get through in my collection, I purposely picked a bold shade to make it worth purchasing. The reviews are very high for these lipsticks, so don’t forget to check these out next time you’re at a counter. I’d recommend “Niagara” because it’s incredibly girly and feminine, yet really sophisticated at the same time. The problem with nude-pink lips is that I feel like I can’t always wear a lip like that to work or school; and, it can look a little harsh and unnecessary during the day — even though it’s my favorite “lip look.” I think using “Niagara” will re-inspire me to play with lip colors during the day.

Retails for $26.00 USD.
Made in USA.
Item contains 0.12 oz.

REVIEW: Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Foundation SPF 18 in I00

I feel the year 2013 has been filled with foundation successes for me. While I vow routinely to stop buying base makeup, I can’t help it because they are my favorite to research, purchase, and write about. Although I deem that skincare is most important of all things, nothing helps you look more pretty and put-together than a perfected canvas. Without that, it doesn’t really matter how beautiful your eye makeup looks or how wonderful your false eyelashes are. If you can only select one area to invest in, I’d say to splurge on a good foundation and concealer. The rest — can be found at all kinds of price points.

The new Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Foundation is brilliant. I admit, originally, I wasn’t drawn to this foundation because I was annoyed by the packaging. However, I think all shake-up foundations that are liquidy need to be housed in these kinds of squeeze bottles. So, I’ve made my peace with it. I tried a sample of it and was floored — the name says it all — it’s sheer coverage, yet provides the most natural and perfect-skin look. Winning.

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According to the insert, the coverage is sheer, the finish is natural, and this formula is designed to be long-lasting. It states that “this sheer liquid foundation evens skin tone and provides a healthy, glowing finish that lasts all day.” The texture is light, liquidy, and refreshing — making it easy to blend in and easy for the skin to absorb as it sets. The formula feels like water, so you’ll feel like you need to apply a lot to get what you want from this foundation. However, a little bit goes a long way.

My shade in Shiseido foundations is I00. This means that my undertone is ivory (I) and I wear the lightest shade (00) in this category. This is positively, absolutely the most perfect shade for me. Upon application, skin looks fresh and healthy, and glowy and silky without looking heavy or feeling sticky. It sets reasonably quickly, but not so fast you can’t work with it. Once it sets, the makeup/foundation is not what you see — you just see and feel skin. Shiseido claims that this foundation is “formulated with Shiseido-exclusive Reflect and Fit Powder,” which contains three kinds of “light-dispersing granules.” This technology allows the formula to “target and visually correct acne marks, dullness, dark circles, and prominent pores.” You’ll see nothing but clean and even toned skin.

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I feel that this would be perfect for anyone with oil, oily-combination, and combination skins. The formula isn’t drying, but appears to control oil and the look of large pores instantly. Also, it conceals redness and uneven pigments in the skin upon contact — so the changes you’ll see with this foundation is subtle. Coverage is sheer and not entirely buildable, so you’ll need to rely on some concealer if you need to. But the light feeling of this foundation is its key winning factor because it feels like nothing at all on your skin. For a high-end product, it’s reasonably priced so I recommend it.

Made in USA.
Retails for $35.00 USD.

Face of the Week

Remember when I got the Urban Decay NAKED Basics Palette and I couldn’t stop using it because it was true love? Well, that routine went on for months and months — and, yes, there’s only so much you can do with the same palette and only 6 colors. Now, I’ve officially moved on after a little break from the Naked Basics Palette and my recent purchase of the Laura Mercier Artist’s Palette for Eyes. It’s ALL about the LM palette now.

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CHANEL Le Blanc Light Revealing Brightening Makeup Base & CHANEL Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour
As usual with many of my face of the day routine, my base makeup is quite basic. I used the Le Blanc Light Revealing Brightening Makeup Base before applying some concealer. Then I dusted on some Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour in N10 to seal the deal. Beautiful finish — natural, glowy, and just pretty.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in “Vanilla”
My concealer of choice is still the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and it’s great because of its creamy consistency and superb coverage. There’s really nothing more you can ask for in a concealer — sounds dramatic, I know. My shade in “Vanilla” is a great match and only a teeny tiny dot of product is all you need.

CHANEL Joues Contraste Powder Blush in “Espiegle”
A “shop my stash” find — I regrettably abandoned this blush so it hasn’t been in regular rotation. The silky texture is truly unique and will look so beautiful on the skin. I am re-obsessed with this and I’m reminded of how much I love Chanel blushes in general. Welcome back, old friend.

Benefit Ooh La Lift
For brightening the under eye area, I’m still relying on the Benefit Ooh La Lift to do the trick. I’ve noticed on days I don’t use this, I can tell! So, of course, with that said, this is an every day must for sure.

Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter
I haven’t used a Lip Butter in ages, so naturally, it was time to bust it out and put it back in rotation. A while back, I got the shade “Pink Lemonade” — not just because the name was cute — but because it’s a sheer, light pink shade that was pretty and hydrating. Originally, I wasn’t too happy with the Revlon Lip Butters because I felt that they made my lips flaky and appear dry even when they were not. But this shade seems to work for me.

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Laura Mercier Artist’s Palette for Eyes
Still the featured item on this post — the Laura Mercier Artist’s Palette for Eyes 2013 as previously mentioned. I love playing with the colors and the versatility of this palette is the one of the reasons why it’s worth the money. I don’t have last year’s version and I’ve read on blogs that there are some duplicates in this palette. Personally, I’d prefer this palette over any of the Urban Decay Naked palettes.

Shiseido Nourishing Mascara Base & Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Edge Meister Mascara
I’m back to using my beloved Shiseido Nourishing Mascara Base and I’ve missed it for sure. I swear, layering this base before ANY mascara will help your curl stay all day. And, the best part is tat it will keep your lashes hydrated and nourished so it doesn’t get dried out from curling your lashes every day and using heavy-duty mascara. My tube will last 6 months without looking gross, so while it’s expensive at $24.00 USD, it’s worth having it around. And, yes, I’m still using my random no-name Japanese brow pencil and I’m still really liking it for now.

Probably by next week, I’ll be in a foundation mood so stay tuned. And, as always, thanks for reading. :)

REVIEW: Etude House Correct & Care CC Cream – #1 Silky

I’ve been dabbling in various CC creams here and there, and wanted to write about another Korean brand since my previous posts regarding CC creams. My very first CC cream purchase was the Rachel K CC Cream as seen on LisaLisaD1’s YouTube channel. I’ve finished the product since and it wasn’t a repurchase item for me.

I moved onto the Banila Co. IT Radiant CC Cream, and I liked it but also disliked it at the same time for making my skin feel and look so oily. On a whim, I purchased the Chanel CC Cream – Complete Correction Sunscreen SPF 30 and I’m still pretty happy with it, although I know that I won’t be repurchasing it either. So, while perusing on eBay, I ordered the Etude House Correct & Care CC Cream in #1 Silky and I was amazed because of the way this product worked.

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Etude House is a Korean skincare and makeup brand known for its cute and feminine packaging and affordable price range. I had no idea how this CC cream was going to work prior to ordering, but I have to say that it’s the best of both worlds — skincare + BB cream — the original intent of CC creams. This new multitasking formula is known for its 8-in-1 features: this product promises whitening, anti-aging, stress relief, hydration, sun protection, tone-up, luminosity, and smooth texture.

I would agree with the claims — it’s hydrating but not oily and sticky; it absorbs quickly and sets semi-matte — while covering pores, redness, lines, and spots. The luminosity the product provides is natural as it smooths out skin’s texture — and your skin exudes a glow from within — with no shimmers and glimmer. The “just skin” approach is the goal of pretty much all of the CC creams in Asia, as it combines skincare ingredients with coverage — all the while looking natural and not made-up.

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As you can see from the application of this product, the CC cream is white with little bumpy granules. A little bit goes a long way with this. As you spread and blend the product onto your skin, the capsules turn the white CC cream into a skintone-beige color and then blends out translucent. Amazing, but not a new concept — sure. The color-adjusting formula makes it ideal for various skin tones. There are two shades available: #1 Silky & #2 Glowy. I recommend this CC cream because it’s truly an all-in-one kind of product. It’s best to apply this with your hands so the product can be warmed up. It applies and looks so beautiful. I love it.

Much like the evolution of foundation formulas and BB creams, CC creams out in the market have evolved as well. While coverage is still an important feature in base makeup, the naturalness of it seems to be the deal-breaker for various formulas. In reality, no one wants to LOOK like they’re made up; you want your skin to be your skin. There’s a lot of options out there, but I’d recommend browsing around eBay to see if anything peaks your interest.

Made in Korea.

Fairy Drops Long & Curl Mascara (Film Type) Platinum T2

I got a new Japanese mascara last week via eBay and this is the first one I’m not all that thrilled with. I’m new to trying the Fairy Drops mascaras, but I had high hopes since I’m always singing praises for Japanese mascaras. I got the Fairy Drops Long & Curl Mascara (Film Type) Platinum T2 and it was just okay for me. Maybe a little less than okay — it just MEH.

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While the packaging is cute and the brush looks fancy and promising — that was about it for me. As you know, a mascara’s abilities to uphold the curl is most important to me. And, even though the Fairy Drops Long & Curl Mascara Platinum T2 did hold the curl, the angle of the curl was not as high as I would get from the Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Edge Meister Mascara, or the Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash King Mascara, or the Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume Mascara, or the Kiss Me Heroine Volume and Curl Mascara.

I know it sounds picky since I’m concerned with the angle of the curl, but for me, if the curling power is weak — it’s time for me to move on to something else. I’m disappointed because supposedly the design of the “fairy drops” brush is supposed to help with curling the lashes and fibers are supposed to give length. I got neither. However, on a sidenote, the product contains 5 kinds of treatment ingredients for lash nourishment: collagen, squalene, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and panthenol. I did feel that my lashes were soft and not hard and crunchy, so I appreciate the conditioning ingredients.

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This mascara was a pass. Inability to hold curl is a deal breaker. Other than the conditioning aspect of this mascara, I liked that it was easy to remove. Normally, in my experience, Japanese mascaras are difficult to remove — but the “film type” Fairy Drops mascara came off with minimal effort — and, I wonder if this is the reason why the mascara wasn’t able to uphold the curl of my lashes to the desired angle. :)

Made in Japan.