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Until last night, I had never used a face pack. In fact, aside from the fact that they go on your face, the only thing I knew about face packs is that many women use them because…skin. Or something.

But all that changed when I discovered my wife grinning at me and waving a white cardboard envelope around. “It’s time!” she told me. Pure panic hit me before I’d remembered I’d agreed to do…something. What was it? Oh, right, put on a kabuki face pack. “But first, let me get the camera,” she said…


Face packs, in case you haven’t heard of them before, are basically masks that you slap on your face to fill it full of…stuff that makes skin happy. They’re supposed to “rejuvenate the skin,” which, if I’m being honest, I always thought was a made-up marketing term. I didn’t even know my skin had been juvenated to begin with! Why does it need to be done again?

I admit that I’m not terribly familiar with beauty regimens in the east or the west. I suppose face packs might be popular in the US or other English-speaking countries, but I’d never seen them until I came to Japan. So, in case you’re like me, you might be wondering what’s in the face packs. Some of the ingredients listed on the Kabuki Face Pack website are: Collagen, vitamin C, hyaluronan (apparently good for cell growth), camellia sinensis leaf extract (basically extract from tea leaves), prunus lannesiana flower extract (extract made from cherry tree flowers), and camellia japonica seed extract.

▼And jazz hands, apparently.


Though I’m not sure what all of that is, it does sound like it should be good for your skin. Probably better than my current practice of shaving with a dull razor in the shower without any shaving cream. But regardless of efficacy, the Kabuki Face Pack is something anyone will want to try out–because simply by slapping on one of the packs, you can instantly turn into a legendary hero…or a dastardly villain! There are two face packs in each envelope, one red and one blue. According to the packaging, the red is Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa (from Shibaraku) and the blue is the ghost of Tair no Tomomori (from Funa Benkei). In case you’re not familiar with your kabuki plays, Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa is a hero and the ghost of Taira no Tomomori is a villain.

▼Of course, my wife chose the red mask…

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After setting up the camera, it was time to get started! Putting the mask on was a fairly simple process–the eye holes go over your eyes, the mouth hole over your mouth, and the nose hole over your nose. The first thing I noticed was that it kind of felt like someone had smeared chilled pudding all over my face and then wrapped my head in paper towels.


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The other thing I noticed was that the Kabuki Face Packs are apparently not designed for my head. Somehow all the holes just felt like they were in the wrong position–which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was a regular hockey mask. But the goo (the technical term, I believe) kept getting in the corners of my eyes. It didn’t hurt, but it was pretty annoying. Like someone tickling you with a feather while sleeping. It was also difficult to speak or move my head, since either would cause the mask to slip down.

▼”Don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t move. CRAP!”

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▼Growling wasn’t impossible though.

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▼And here’s the photo for my Joker Fan Club application…

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After fifteen minutes of posing and intense rejuvenation action, it was time to take the face pack off. The first thing I realized once the gooey mess was off my face was that…the gooey mess was still on my face!

▼Like peeling off sunburned skin!

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Apparently the face pack leaves a layer of the goop on your face–to continue the rejuvenation of your skin, I suppose. Eventually, it just dries off on its own, but it just felt like warm mayonnaise to me, so I ended up wiping it off with a tissue. From the disappointed way my wife shook her head, I gathered that I had just entirely defeated the point of putting the face mask on–but I disagree. Looking like a kabuki villain was the point!

▼Spooooooooooooky kabuki villain!

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▼The heroic face pack

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All kidding aside, though, the important question is: Did it work?

To be honest…I’m not entirely sure. Immediately after taking the face pack off, my face seemed to feel softer and this morning I still had fun poking my cheek trying to decide if it was placebo effect or if something was actually different. Right now, I feel pretty safe in saying that it seems to work…but your mileage may vary.

▼My skin! It’s so soft and pliant! And kinda gross.

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If my glowing review has you wanting to pick up your own set of Kabuki Face Packs, then good news! You can totally do so at either of these Internet retailers. But be warned: Each envelope only comes with two packs–and they don’t come cheap.  If you get a set from Isshin, it looks like you’ll only have to pay around 880 yen (about US$8). If you’re in the United States, Amazon has a few imported face packs in stock–but they cost $28. Probably not quite worth the price of admission.

So, in summary, Kabuki Face Pack: It turns you into a theatrical badass and makes your skin soft (maybe). Oh! And, for some reason, the goo tastes kind of sweet. (I accidentally got some in my mouth.) It doesn’t seem to be toxic, but I still wouldn’t recommend licking the masks…

References: Kabuki Face PackIsshin
Photos by RocketNews24 unless otherwise noted