Bacteria on your FACE is a GOOD thing? Review of Black Paint skin care from Japan

Science is confusing. Take bacteria, for example. You grow up with your mom telling you to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom because there's lots of bacteria in there. Or your teacher tells you not to touch the earthworm crawling around the playground because he's covered in bacteria, too. But then you grow up and all a sudden your doctor is telling you to proactively take probiotics that add bacteria into your digestive system, because as it turns out, there are certain kinds that actually help things run smoothly on the inside.

I guess this means I shouldn't have been surprised to hear about beneficial bacteria on my face. If you've read any of my other skin care posts, you'll know that I don't have the perfect, smooth, porcelain skin of my dreams. In fact, I've suffered from acne, rosacea, uneven pigmentation and scarring for much of my adult life. All this time, I've thought it was because my skin was covered in bacteria that was clogging my pores, causing outbreaks and making me oily as an unstirred organic peanut butter jar.

Then about a month ago, a company called Black Paint reached out and asked if I'd like to give their products a try. They offer a multi-step skin care system derived from all-natural essential and plant oils that is actually designed to foster and support the natural bacteria on your face. Their products are cold pressed (yep, just like your olive oil), don't have synthetic preservatives and are free of all the nasty stuff you want to avoid (no artificial fragrances or colors, no paraffin or drying alcohol, etc.). Apparently they're crazy popular in Japan and are newly available in the United States. I jumped at the chance to give the stuff a whirl.

The company sent me two of their products to try - their signature Black Paint soap and their Black Sponge, which is a charcoal-infused Konjac sponge. I'd used something similar to the sponge before, so it was familiar to me, but the soap was a completely new experience.

Because the soap is made of plant oils, with one of the key ingredients being coconut oil (which solidifies at room temperature), you have to let it emulsify in hot water before you use it. Once the soap is soft enough that you can press a fingerprint into it, you're supposed to apply it to your face directly from the bar (avoiding the eye area), then massage it in before rinsing.

When I first got the soap, I tried doing this as part of my regular skin-care routine in my bathroom. This was a disaster. The soap is black (duh) and since you have to wait until it emulsifies, then apply it directly from the bar, I wound up having black-colored soap dripping EVERYWHERE. I'm talking water running down my arms, dripping onto the floor from my elbows and making a great big, black mess of my bathroom counter. Plus, the soap left a goopy, black mark on my white sink after I left it to dry overnight, not to mention it didn't dry evenly, which I know is a recipe for the BAD kind of bacteria.

I didn't want to give up on this product so quickly, so I decided to move the soap to my shower, and voila! Since you're already wet in the shower, this was a much better solution that created significantly less mess, not to mention allowed the soap to dry more thoroughly, since my shower caddy has a wire frame. The only issue I continued to deal was the no eye contact + massaging piece. Since I'm squeezing my eyes shut while applying it to my face, I find myself blindly groping around for the soap holder, while trying to avoid getting my face in the water, lest I accidentally rinse it off before I'm ready.

So how does the stuff work, you're wondering?

I can't say that it's a miracle product, but I've also only been able to use it once a day, so there's the possibility that the benefits would be enhanced with twice daily use. What I can say is that it's most certainly an effective, gentle, safe facial cleanser that is great at removing face makeup (not eye makeup, since once again, you're supposed to avoid the eye area). It rinses clean without any residue, and it seems like it'll last a while (I've been using mine for about 3 weeks, and it's only about 1/3 gone). I've actually been applying the soap to my chest as well, and it seems to be helping clear up my body acne, which is a huge win. I haven't noticed much of a difference in the skin on my face, unfortunately, but I have been dealing more with acne scarring and the odd breakout these days (rather than a full facial explosion), so perhaps this soap is helping to keep things at bay.

As for the Konjac sponge, a sponge is a sponge is a sponge. This one is infused with charcoal, which I know is a purifying element, but based on their instructions, you're not even supposed to use it with the soap, nor are you supposed to scrub your skin with it. In that case, I find its use a bit perplexing, so I just kind of do my own thing and use it as an extra scrubber after rinsing the soap from my face. That said, their price isn't bad ($9.99), so if you're going to order the rest of the system, why not throw that guy in as well.

The company sells their full, 5-step system for about $140, which isn't cheap, but you can purchase the soap separately for $30, which is comparable to a lot of high-end cleansers. I'm not 100% sure if I'd re-purchase myself, but I would be much more interested if they figured out a way to bottle it and sell it in a pump or squeeze-tube format (then I could keep it on my sink and use it more regularly).

Have you ever tried Black Paint products? What about other skin care items from Japan? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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