Gifts from Kyoto: Ueba Esou Gofun Nail Polishes 上羽絵惣 胡粉ネイル
|November 21, 2011||Posted by peach_ under Japanese Cosmetics|
In recent years, I’ve noticed myself being more and more drawn to traditional Japanese arts and crafts. There’s something so charming about beautiful designs that come about from the masterful craftsmen who preserved the arts and their methods from generation to generation. It’s fascinating to see what the human hands and mind can produce, even without the advanced technology of today, or better yet, that even machines cannot recreate.
Imagine my joy when I recently received these distinctly Japanese nail polishes as gifts. Nail polishes! I was immediately drawn to the Byakko “white fox” logo, with phoenixes guarding its sides. With quite a retro look and their origin being Kyoto, I knew this company had quite a history to tell.
Aside from its packaging, I was told these are water-based gofun nail polishes that are completely natural, odorless, and non-toxic that make them popular and safe for even pregnant women and children. I’ve heard of, but had never used, water-based varnishes and I was intrigued.
So what’s gofun?
Gofun means “seashell powder” and it refers to the ingredient used to make these polishes. The company Ueba Esou was established in Kyoto in 1751 (!!!) and began making high quality paints from gofun to be used for Japanese arts, including painting the famous Kyoto dolls, ceiling and wall paintings in temples and shrines, as well as Noh theatre masks.
These gofun nail polishes do not contain any organic solvents unlike regular nail polishes. The solvents are what give off the “nail polish” scent, which is why these water-based polishes are virtually odorless, and more importantly, non-toxic.
The company boats of these points as some merits of using gofun polishes:
- Gentle on nails
- Safe for use by children and pregnant women
- No strong scent
They came housed in a cardboard box, with each nail polish arriving in their own clear plastic box. Each had a small folded note that explained gofun nail polishes and that they’re carefully made by craftsmen using traditional methods.
I found through researching this company that each 10ml nail polish retails for 1,200yen, or a little less than USD $16. Mine came in a set with a base and top coat (the white bottles) plus 3 colors, which are 5,000yen (USD ~$65) for the set. More information can be found on their Japanese site, and they also have an English site, though their online shop is entirely in Japanese.
By Japanese standard compared to other regular polishes on the market, these nail polishes are on the inexpensive, affordable side. However, I currently don’t have a good impression of water-based polishes, as I’ve heard they do not apply or stay on like regular polishes and dissolve in water.
I’ll be putting these water-based gofun polishes to the test and I’ll report back on how they perform.
Have you ever tried water-based nail polishes? If not, would you?