I’m sold on the idea of using Asian herbs in skin care. There are times when they don’t work out – for example, some ginseng products cause me to break out. Thankfully, the coix seed extract-infused Hatomugi Skin Conditioner from Japanese brand Naturie does the job by keeping my complexion clear, radiant and non-irritated.
What are Coix Seeds, aka Job’s Tears?
Even though coix seed is nicknamed Chinese pearl barley, it’s not a type of barley. In Japan, it’s called Hatomugi, whereas in Chinese it’s known as 薏米, 薏仁 or 薏苡. Coix seeds are about twice the size of pearl barley.
Left: raw coix seeds; right: cooked coix seeds
There are two kinds of coix seed available at Asian grocery stores: raw and cooked. Cooked coix seeds are twice the size and look like popcorn. Although cooked, they’re not meant to be eaten directly. Instead, they’re mixed with raw coix seeds and boiled with water and rock sugar. It’s believed that the cooked seed balances the “cooling” properties of the raw ones, making the drink milder and hence more suitable for consumption by people with different body conditions. Coix seed water is a common herbal drink in Asia during summer, often served chilled with lemon. It has a refreshing cereal taste, kind of like rice bran water.
Why are they called Job’s Tears?
The scientific name for coix seed is Coix lacryma-jobi. Some believe it got the name from its hard and shiny tear-shaped appearance. “Job” refers to a biblical figure from the Old Testament named Job, who endured hardship. Coincidentally, coix seed are sometimes used for making rosaries.
What are their benefits?
In Chinese medicine, coix seed are used to detoxify, strengthen the spleen, and remove heat and pus from the body. It’s also believed that drinking coix seed water makes skin smoother and brighter.
Now let me introduce to you the coix seed toner!
First, I like that the toner has a short ingredient list. Typical of Japanese products, it’s free from colorings and fragrances, and claims to be hypoallergenic. The only concern is the presence of alcohol and propylparaben, which may cause allergies.
The watery toner has a refined and persistent milky white color that doesn’t require shaking the bottle. A small opening under the screw cap steadily dispenses the liquid. Being scentless and runny, the toner feels almost like water on the skin. It has a slight cooling effect, making it particularly suitable for summer.
I usually use the toner after cleansing my face. It tones and moisturizes skin, which means mine becomes softer and less taut. I also saw a slight brightening effect after testing it for a month. At times I use the toner before makeup so my foundation can adhere better. Since it absorbs into the skin rather quickly, I have no problem putting on makeup soon afterwards. Seeing as the bottle is quite large (500ml), I can squander the product a bit without worrying that it’ll run out.
This toner is ideal for the Korean seven-skin method, in which you continuously apply the same toner seven times (toners are often called “skins” in Korea). Some YesStyle customers even use it as a mask lotion by soaking a cotton mask with the toner and applying it on the skin.
If you’re looking for additional benefits like makeup removal, exfoliation, astringing or super moisturizing properties, you might be looking at the wrong product. But if you’re in need of a skin-friendly and refreshing toner that doesn’t break your bank, this one’s for you!
To double up the effect of coix seed, let me include a small recipe for coix seed water here:
Ingredients: Lemon x1, raw coix seed 40g, cooked coix seed 40g, rock sugar 70g, water 1.5L
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Serves 2-3 people
1. Wash and steep the coix seed in water for 1 hour.
2. Boil the water (you can include the water used for steeping). Reduce the heat and bring to a simmer after the water is boiled. Close lid and cook for 1 hour.
3. Add rock sugar and cook ‘til it melts.
4. Serve with sliced lemon. Enjoy!