Having wasted precious time trying to find any kind of information about the so-called cult Sensai Premier line by Japanese potion-maker Kanebo, I am coming to the conclusion that the marketing department was trained by Carl Rove. Someone, somewhere at Kanebo HQ decreed that no one will ever know anything useful about its products, such as what exactly is in Sensai Premier The Cream for which I am expected to hand over $650. So far, it seems to have worked; this is as closely guarded as a state secret.

Consulting the Kanebo web site is utterly pointless. The FAQ section actually poses the question "what are the ingredients in Sensai products". But it is just a cruel tease that provides this answer: "Please refer to the complete ingredient list shown on the side of the product packaging". If I was going to give a prize for the least informative website, Kanebo would likely win. Just about the only thing it has to say about Sensai is that it was "inspired by the timeless beauty and mystique of the moon". Right...

Extensive foraging with Google search did throw up a few nuggets such as "it contains essential ingredients and innovative formulation". Kanebo seems to have used something called the Diamond Theory and Super Fibro Activator. I've given up trying to find out if there is anything remotely plausible behind the Diamond Theory, but I did discover that the Super Fibro thingy is a stable form of vitamin C.

Many searches later, I turned up seaweed. Seaweed! Now we're getting somewhere. And that's not all, the Sensai Premier eye cream has saffron, which supposedly "stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid". Apparently, the eye cream must be applied to the cheek bone, not the under-eye area because the solution moves upward. Well I never.

Oddly, there is slightly more information on the eye cream than there is on The Cream. Perhaps that's because it sells for a mere $320 and at such a snip warrants a thinner veil of secrecy. I have learned, for example, that it contains yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a small and ugly grapefruit. Actually, yuzu is worth keeping an eye out for. Korean researchers claim it has more vitamin C than other citrus fruits and it also contains hesperidin, a flavonoid anti-inflammatory that appears to be able to tackle dark under-eye circles.

By now, I seemed to be on a bit of a roll and came up with two more components of Kanebo's most secret of secret sauces: "koishimaru, a rare silk extract" and kakyoku. Koishimaru is a breed of silk worm and there isn't much that's rare about it (apparently one moth lays 400 eggs). Kakyoku, a plant, is supposed to be a skin brightener. I found one study to back that up - yep, sponsored by Kanebo. Still, its a piece of solid information that somehow made it into the public domain; perhaps Kanebo is about to embrace glasnost.