Today I am going to dive into the topic of skin care – after a long time!
If you follow me in Instagram, you probably know that lately I have dipped my toes into the curious topics of nutrition, regenerative farming and how they impact one’s health and the overall environment. I started to eat more carefully and responsibly, to the extend of knowing the sources of my food.
And then I thought, if I do so for the food I put in my body, why not do the same for substance I apply on my skin? What exactly goes inside the bottle of the skin care I use? Who made it? How is it made?
That’s the reason I am writing a follow-up entry on DERMED, the skin care I have been using more than a year ago, to find out more stories behind the scene.
If you haven’t read my previous post, DERMED is a Japanese skin care brand headquartered in Fukuoka Prefecture, under the company of Sansho Pharmaceutical with the history over 130 years.
You can read my previous article here about DERMED’s premium skin-lightening product, and my visit to its HQ as well as the factory.
Sansho Pharmaceutical has been devoting to developing quality ingredients from raw materials while pursuing both safety and effectiveness for since its foundation. Their main business is to supply high quality ingredients to various other companies, but they also have their own line of exclusive products, and one of them is DERMED.
Today, I want to bring us to more behind-the-scene stories, all the way to the beginning: where the ingredients are grown.
Organic Farm in Umi Town, Fukuoka
One year later since I wrote the previous article, I flew to Fukuoka again, and visited a relatively unknown town called Umi Town (宇美町). Found here is an organic farm that grows the rosemary which is used as the ingredient for some of DERMED’s skin care products.
I love the scent of rosemary!
While factory visit last year was fascinating enough where I had an opportunity to take an exclusive peek into what goes behind the scene, actually visiting the very places that produce the ingredients in the first place was very humbling and eye-opening at the same time.
First of all, Umi Town, a small town with declining population, is trying to revive their hometown by encouraging medicinal herb agriculture. Other than rosemary that is grown for DERMED, they also grow organic stevia used as natural sweeteners, as well as Yamato Ginseng (大和当帰) used in Chinese herb and the likes.
Meet Fujiki san, the man of the farm! He overlooks this 12,000sf farm, and turned it from a neglected bush area into a beautiful, organic farm.
Umi Town is aiming for organic agriculture, and of course it is not an easy feat. First of all, it takes 3 years for a rosemary plant to grow before it can be harvested. They spend the first year usually just to deweed, the second year is usually plagued by insects… It’s just a lot of hard labour. Instead of using pesticide which is often the way out for the majority of the world, the farmers stick a yellow patch to trap all the insects that could cause potential harm, and apparently it is pretty effective!
I am truly humbled by the resilience and the love farmers pour into caring for their crops.
Fujiki-san showed us how rosemary is harvested, and dried to finally be sent to DERMED for extraction into a precious ingredient called “Serumvital“, which has a remarkable anti-wrinkle and moisturizing effect on skin.
When asked how much of these rosemary could be extracted as serum, I was told an astonishing figure.
Apparently, it takes 1kg of fresh rosemary to turn into dried rosemary, where 1gram of Serumvital is extracted from.
Wait what?! 1kg for 1gram?? That’s like… a drop. I mean… the sweat combined in growing the plants probably is more than the all essence produced!
Well, while many of us would ache thinking how much of it goes to waste, I was told the remaining rosemary are used to produce another skin brightening ingredient, which is contained in DERMED’s Whitening Cream.
Serumvital, made using the rosemary grown by Fujiki-san can be found in DERMED’s Winkle Cream and Eye Cream, as well as DERMED No.1 Premium Cream.
The Eye Cream contains 2X the amount of Serumvital compared to the Wrinkle Cream for face, so you can use it preciously around the eye area that you feel need caring the most.
Other Attractions in Umi Town
I just could not go to a new destination without exploring some of its attractions, as I believe every corner of Japan is worth visiting!
Umi Town focuses a lot on natural farming and agriculture, for example right now they are trying to promote healthy goat’s milk, using natural milk from their local goats… like the two ladies you see above besides me!
This little truck is selling soft serve from KOYASU Farm, and their goat milk ice cream range is called “Umi Ice” (産み愛す ), a pun play on the Japanese words “giving birth” and “love”.
Another major attraction is the Umi Hachiman Shrine, where it is said to offer blessing for safe pregnancy, just like the baby wishing tree I visited in Hakone. People who want to start a family pray at the shrine, and return a stone with the baby’s name of it once the baby is safely delivered!
Bamboo Forest in Yame, Fukuoka
Next up on the itinerary is Yame City (八女市) of Fukuoka.
For those of you who love green tea, you may have heard of Yame-Cha, green tea harvested from the local tea plantations which is of really high quality. Other than the super beverage, Yame city is also the no.1 city producing takenoko (bamboo shoots) in Japan.
There are vast bamboo forests in Yame city, and they were an important source of income for the locals to harvest the bamboos. However, when cheap imported bamboos started to flood the market coupled with the aging population, the bamboo forests had slowly become neglected, causing a lot of environmental issues.
Recognizing this pressing issue, the Kyushu University, Fukuoka Prefecture and Sansho Pharmaceutical made a collaborated effort to care for and restore these bamboo forests, hence a new creation of DERMED’s sister skin care brand – yameKAGUYA. Yame is the name of the city, and Kaguya, as you may have guessed, refers to the Bamboo Princess – Princess Kaguya.
YameKAGUYA is the first skincare of Japan containing bamboo bark extract, coming from these organic bamboo in the very forest I visited, for various beauty benefits, including brightening effect. The essence is extracted by first shaving a very thin layer off the surface of the bamboo bark, as I attempted in this photo, and whoa I must say that it’s lots of hard work!!
Part of the profits from yameKAGUYA will be given back to the forestry and bamboo forest community to ensure they are well taken care of.
It comes in the form of Face Wash, Facial Essence, Face Lotion, Body Soap and Body Lotion, and is free of fragrance, coloring, Paraben, Silicone and synthetic antioxidants(BHT).
Although yameKAGUYA is available right now only within Japan and in the UAE, hopefully you can pick up a bottle next time you visit Japan!
DERMED’s First Show Room, Hakata
I had a nice day exploring the city of Hakata and stuffed myself with all kinds of delicious food, and the next morning I headed over to DERMED’s first ever show room located near Tenjin Station in Hakata!
Really happy to see how much they have grown in one year. At first glance it looks like a stylish cafe boutique.
Here you get to experience and try out their full range of skin care in person, and also perform a self-executed skin test with a simple device to find out your skin type and the best range of products that suit you.
Guess what?? I score a 4.4 out of 5 for pores! Maybe it is all the DERMED products I have been using…? Just saying. Hahaha.
Oh, and there’s also a juice bar, offering fresh, cold press juices while you go about exploring the store.
I ordered the red and yellow juice, and both are really refreshing and a perfect thirst quencher in the summer heat.
My Journey with DERMED
You probably have noticed but I don’t promote various skin care brands very frequently, mostly because I really want to make sure I recommend the best for my followers.
I have never been so closely connected with a skin care brand to the extent that I visited their HQ, meet their CEO, toured the factory, spoke to their chemist who formulate the ingredients, interacted with all their friendly staff, all the way down to witnessing how the actual ingredients are grown and communicate with the actual farmers!!
That’s a very intimate relationship with a brand, if you ask me, and I am so glad to know all these people, from farmers to factory workers to the specialists and professionals. For me, this will definitely be a precious long term relationship.
DERMED is sold nationwide through e-commerce in Japan, but now it is available to be purchased through its distributor in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and UAE.
For purchase outside of Japan, visit here: