Winter is coming. It's been getting cold but the worst has yet to come. We recommend some must buy items to help you get through this winter. From indoor household goods, outdoor clothing, skincare, and more.
The worst part about winter is cold bed sheets and waking up cold in the morning. You can avoid all that by turning on the heater but then there's the increased electricity expenses to worry about.
Here are some items we have to stay warm and also keep expenses low.
Nitori's N Warm Series
There are 3 levels of warmth in Nitori's N Warm Series. From least warm to warmest are Warm, Super, and W-Super. The series includes bedding, room wear, carpet rugs, and even pets beds.
At the moment, we have these from the series:
Pancake uses the Super Blanket because he runs hot, whilst I use the W-Super Blanket with a regular comforter because I'm bad with the cold.
So far we've been snug as a bug even without the heater on. Do keep in mind that our apartment is well insulated so even if it's below 10°C outside, the room temperature is around 16°C.
Once the weather gets colder, we'll be taking out the electric blanket. What we do is lay it under the Nitori bed pad, the bed pad keeps it in place. Switch it on whilst you're getting ready for bed then switch it off right before going to sleep.
We use Koden's Electrical Blanket which is machine washable and energy saving. Its dimensions are 130cm x 80cm which isn't really big but combined with the other Nitori itens makes for a pretty good setup.
💡 Set a timer for the heater to 15 or so minutes before time to get up in the morning. Saves on electricity if you're concerned about the bill.
Nitori sells quite a selection of Kotatsu's for a reasonable price. Though they are more expensive than a regular table, it is worth paying for the comfort in winter. We use a low rectangular kotatsu that we got from Nitori. When the weather gets warm, we just remove the kotatsu blanket and use it as a regular blanket. If low tables are not your thing, there are also regular high tables or study tables these days.
If you're not keen on getting a new table, you can just convert your existing table into a kotatsu with one of these Table Heaters.
Keeping moist in winter is just as important as keeping warm. In winter, our room humidity drops as low as 40%. We like to keep it at a comfortable 55 to 60% plus skin and body care products to keep our skin soft and moist.
Here are some recommended items to get to stay comfy in winter:
For the House
For our apartment, we use Nitori's Ultrasonic Humidifier. M-sized so we don't need to refill constantly. For it's price of below 3,000 yen, it does it's job really well. It's quiet, the light has a dim setting so it doesn't get annoying shining in the dark, comes with an aroma slot, and has three power settings (low, med, high) to suit our needs. With the M-size, it can last the whole night on low or med.
The only issue I have is refilling it. When removing the tank, the area around can get a bit wet. Also, cleaning can be difficult. We use a toothbrush to get into the tight corners and spots to clean out the pink mold. We usually do a proper clean before keeping it away when winter ends.
For the Office
My office blasts the heater all day during winter. This is fine as it keeps it warm and cozy inside but the air is super duper dry, not to mention stale which makes it hard to breath. I brought my own mini humidifier and desktop fan (for air circulation) which works wonders.
This is the tabletop mini humidifier I use. It's USB powered and really easy to refill, just twist the top off. It is also really really quiet, sometimes I don't even notice it's out of water until the air gets uncomfortably dry. At 360ml, it can last 8 hours on the lowest power setting. I refill it first thing in the morning, give it 1 hour's break when I leave my desk for lunch, then let it do it's thing till I leave work for the day.
BodyShop Sugar Scrub
Exfoliating is often overlooked but it is especially important during winter. By removing the dead skin cells on your body, it relieves skin dryness and improves the effectiveness of moisturizers.
I recommend Body Shop's Sugar Scrub, specifically the shea butter one. I use it once a month or so in warmer months just because I like how it makes my skin baby soft and smells amazing. In winter, I use it every two weeks or whenever I feel particularly dry. Do note that it is oil-based. This means 2 things; one, it not only exfoliates but also moisturizers you immediately, two, it'll leave an oily after-feel no matter how much you rinse it off. I quite like that sensation as that's what makes me super soft and smooth but Pancake quite dislikes it as it feels dirty (it's clean!).
As a cheaper alternative to Body Shop, we tried Botanist's Botanical Sugar & Butter Scrub. We tried Cassis Rose as it was the cheaper option on Amazon. Compared to Body Shop's Shea Sugar Scrub, it does not leave behind an oily sensation whilst still moisturizing the skin.
The most troublesome issue I faced in winter, not just in Japan but UK, was keeping my hypersensitive skin dry. My body was fine when taking the measures mentioned above, but my face was a huge problem. Even before the Coronavirus, I would wear a mask to protect my cheeks from the harsh dry winter air and wind but still skin flaking and itchiness was inevitable. Even sensitive skincare brands like Kao's Curel did not work for me.
What did it for me was Avène from France that is also available here. This brand was actually recommended to me by my dermatologist. Avène is targeted towards people with sensitive skin. They actually products targeted at two kinds of skin sensitivity - sensitive and hypersensitive.
Why is Avène so good? It uses thermal spring waters from a natural source in France. The water contains lots of minerals that are great for the skin. It's quite an expensive brand though which was why I tried to find cheaper alternatives...
By the way, the toner is basically a bottle of the thermal spring water. At first I was super skeptical about it, "It's just a bottle of onsen water". I tried using other brands but the results weren't as good. Having hypersensitive skin is such a pain.
Although Avène is available in drug stores, we get the parallel import versions from Amazon which is way cheaper. For the best value, we wait for the price to drop and buy several in one go. The toner, Eau Thermale Spring Water, you can get the smaller travel version and bring it with you on the go. Just spray it over your face if you're feeling dry.
Until next time~ 🎄