[REVIEW] iUNIK Beta-Glucan Daily Moisture Cream

Betta than your average Beta

Winter is really right around the corner here in the states. Usually it leaves me scrambling for locked away oils and thick occlusive moisturizers. iUNIK gave me a much better option than that.

iUNIK is a fairly…. unique brand. As lousy as that double entendre is, it’s the most accurate way to describe them. They started out as a eBay reseller Unique4u, dominated the relm and decided to create their own product line: iUNIK. Their formulas are based with effective natural ingredients and are focused on safety and restoring skin.

Beta-Glucan Daily Moisture doesn’t skimp on it’s key ingredient. 3,000mg of pure Beta Glucan makes this the key and star ingedient. Often times we see tiny ‘ppm’ amounts or ‘Parts Per Million’ meaning they are REALLY TINY amounts. Ingedients listed with PPM can still be effective however when we’re looking for a moisturizing component, more is more. It comes in tube packaging which is great at keeping germs out and the ingredients from oxidizing. It also has USDA Certified Organic ingredients as well as an extremely clean ingredient list from even the most conservative of standpoints.

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Let’s start from the top. (Or 3rd from the top) The ‘unsafest’ ingriedent in this product is cyclopentasilxoane which is a fancy silicone often used in place of dimethicone. As far as it’s direct link to humans there’s no real damning evidence saying it’s unsafe by any means. It has however been shown to be an endorine disruptor in ‘other’ animals at ‘moderate doses’ 1 ((probably nothing you will ever be exposed to)). I personally like cyclopentasixoane myself, it’s what gives Dr. Jart+ Water Drop and BRTC’s Waterful Sleeping Pack  it’s silky smooth application and weightless drydown.

Beta-Glucan is the first beneficial ingredient on the list. Beta Glucans are a really unique Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). Unlike humectants like Hyaluronic Acid or Glycerin that pull moisture from the air, Beta Glucan traps existing moisture like an occlusive. Beta Glucans also help reduce and protect against UV damage topically but have an overwhelming amount of effect internally. It’s even used subcutaneosly for treating skin tumors!

Other extracts contained all have very similar effects. But I like to see Hyaluronic Acid included for gaining moisture, Centella for it’s anti-inflammatory/anti-acne effects. Licorice root is there but literally the last ingredient so don’t count on it too much for it’s super anti-inflammatory effects.

The texture is a cream-like gel (not the other way around) and has no scent or fragrance added to it. It has a slightly moist finish and it’s breathable for the summer but still occlusive enough for layering in the winter.

Thank you to iUNIK for sending this cream for testing purposes. You can find the Beta-Glucan Daily Moisture Cream from their website for $11.99.

 

note: I'm so sorry my posts have slowed down, I just made a cross country move and had to find a new job, new apartment (basically a new life) but I'm back!

[REVIEW] 9Wishes Rice Powder Polish

Polish, don’t Scrub!

There’s nothing I like more than the feeling of a polish exfoliator. Chemical exfoliants are great treatments and can be gentle ways to remove dead skin. But sometimes you want to remove a little more. You could amp your chemical exfoliation up but often times you run into a ‘plateau’ effect unless you use a stronger chemical exfoliator. Or the worst, a patch of dead skin. This why I keep a physical exfoliant on hand.

I’m lovin’ 9Wishes. The innovative Korean naturals brand has been pumping out some really fantastic and multifunctional products. Just a few weeks ago I posted my review of their Sun Moisturizer SPF50+/PA+++ which is a nifty high protection SPF that’s moisturizing and has a beautiful refining effect.

Today, 9Wishes brings us their Rice Powder Polish. It’s a thick, creamy textured scrub that has a very fine rice powder suspended in it. It melts onto skin to provide a moisturizing buff. It’s scrub mechanism is more like that of a microdermabrasion exfoliation rather than a regular scrub. I am ALL about this.

 

When it comes to microdermabrasion in general, things can be rough. Literally. On dry and damp skin, these really fine particles can be pretty irritating. I love the end results of it more than regular scrubs, but sometimes I feel like I pay a price for that baby smooth skin. But not with this goop. It’s waxy base turns nearly into a milk cleanser when you start massaging it into dry skin. You’re left with perfectly exfoliated skin without feeling dry, or even worse, irritated.

The Rice Powder polish smells faintly of rice with no fragrance added. This works great on dry patches on the body as well. I’ve even successfully added this to foaming cleansers to add a bit of a ‘kick’. Once water hits this polish, it starts to emulsify nearly into a milk cleanser! This isn’t only multifunctional (use before foaming cleanser as an oil cleanser/exfoliant) but is seriously moisturizing!

9Wishes Rice Powder Polish blew my expectations out of the water. You can pick the Polish up on sale right now at BBCosmetic for only $17USD! You can also use the code ‘facequench8’ to get an extra 8% discount!

[REVIEW] Benton Papaya-D Sun Cream SPF38 / PA+++

the Dewiest of Them Allimage

Benton has been hard at work. They’ve recently launched their gorgeous Cacao Moist & Mild Cream and just launched their first sunscreen: Papaya-D Sun Cream. They’re even ramping up to launch their second sunscreen!

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But I came out of my hermit shell to tell you what’s up with Papaya-D. First, what’s with the D? It stands for DAILY! As you should be wearing sunscreen whenever you’re outside morning-evening. What’s nice about the SPF38 blend is lighter weight but strong baseline defense for everyday. Not to mention higher than most US sunscreens, including many [most] SPF50s are going to give you a weaker protection than this. Of course if you’re going to the beach you’d want to bring something a little heavier duty along. PA+++ is great as it’s nearly the highest protection we can get against UV(A)ging rays. The rays responsible for accelerated aging, hyperpigmentation, and dehydration. These are also the rays we still have to worry about indoors (unless you don’t have any substantial amount of artificial light on or windows open letting direct sunlight in.) so I like having something like this that’s comfortable to wear while I’m at the office that has a ton of bright HID lights and windows.

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I contacted Benton regarding the percentages of each sunscreen they have included in here but they were unwilling to share that information. Here in the US it’s mandatory for the Sunscreen actives to be labeled if they are SPF15+ and broad spectrum, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB. But they were willing to share that the major two sunscreens are Titanium Dioxide and Octinoxate both over 6% concentration. Tinosorb S and Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate are also present to help boost UVA protection.

Besides sunscreen, you can find 55% papaya water as the very first ingredient. Loaded with moisture retaining B vitamins, it plays hand in hand with the added Adenosine and Niacinamide. Papian the protease enzyme found in Papaya is also present to keep dead skin cells from accumulating.

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Upon application it does produce a slight white cast. I only get a slight iridescence from the Titanium Dioxide but deeper skin tones may want to look at something with less mineral. The finish is VERY moist. If you dig the dewy look this sunscreen will be your best friend. I do enjoy the finish myself as I have relatively dry skin but the texture wouldn’t be suitable for any prolonged time in the heat. Also warning if you are applying this to any area with hair, such as arms, back of neck, beard, etc. extra rubbing is required to blend.

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I love the scent of this sunscreen which is rare! No synthetic fragrance of course, but an intoxicating Lime scent lingers just for a minute before it fades away, leaving no Octinoxate smell.

Overall, I’m ‘alright’ with this sunscreen. It doesn’t ‘wow’ me in any way. It does slightly underperform in application, it’s a nice staple daily sunscreen. Big shoutout to Benton for providing this sunscreen for my honest review

If you want to give this suncream a try, pick it up at Amazon for $20USD.

[REVIEW] Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX

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It’s true, I’m addicted. I use too much. I justify it. I love it. This is one of Sulwhasoo’s finest.

I hate really dislike my new job. It has perks over my old one but I’ve been trying to get out of there almost since I started. I was moping around about having to work Saturday night (Not part of my regular schedule but I was doing it the entire month) After grocery shopping at HMart my partner and I went into AMOREPACIFIC because I actually wanted to get myself something. My partner was tired of it and asked what I was eyeing last time and that was Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum. I told him it was expensive and I don’t really need it, it’s ‘just another step’. He snatched a bottle up and put it on the counter before I could say anything else.

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Also included from the day’s shopping: Ryo Ginsengbo Conditioner for Normal/Dry Hair , Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask (5pc), Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, Happy Bath Peach & Orange Blossom Foaming Hand Soap (2) [gift w/ purchase!] , Sulwhasoo Basic Care Set 6pc [also gift!])

So to say the least, he did cheer me up. A L O T.

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Sulwhasoo products are really special to me. Once I moved away from such an intensive repairing regime I found myself bored and tired of my skincare routine. While results kept showing, my drive faded. Sulwhasoo brought a fresh take to my idea of skincare. Holistic skincare. Indulging all senses and not just applying product for results. Make your routine relaxing and beneficial inside and out. Textures irresistible to touch, scents that evoke emotion, and most importantly quality and well processed ingredients.

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What is First Care Activating Serum? It was the first product of it’s kind. First launched in 1997 it’s been a best seller in Korea, and now even the US. It’s described as a ‘booster’ or ‘activator’. You can find other products like it, though rare, from other brands such as Naruko 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer and Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule are some examples. What is a booster? Well, it’s a serum you apply before any treatment step, first essence (and sometimes toner) included. They all vary slightly on effects but the common theme is enhancing product absorption. First Care Serum promises to do this and more, such as provide a boost in firmness and hydration.

I started experimenting with where I wanted to use this product in my routine because in my routine, I apply actives before essences and above. I let them sit for 20 minutes before applying anything else. At night I use my Curology prescription. In the morning I use Dr. Dennis Gross’ C +Collagen serum. So i’ve applied this before actives and after my actives. I found over a month of testing this is how I like to apply it best:

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The last method with actives requires a bit of time, but it’s the only way I’m truly happy with how my products layer when I’m doing a full routine. Why I say a toner w/ denatured alcohol is because these make much better ‘prep’ toners. For you it may not be a toner with alcohol, Actually, the toner I use with alcohol is designed to increase treatment efficacy and product penetration! I feel like my regular alcohol free toners do not leave my skin feel freshly cleaned and First Care has a slower absorption rate. I use it before and after my actives, then use a refreshing treatment toner as my ‘toner’ step before First Treatment Essence. This is totally unnecessary and I skip it at times, but if you want the whole shebang.. there you go.

Now my favorite part, ingredients. Based with 5 ingredients that were hand picked out through a tedious process. First 3,000 Korean traditional medicinal herbs were studied, from this list 163 were selected. These 163 herbs went through intensive research and an even smaller list of 30 was created. Rigorous tests discover 5 ingredients poised to work harmoniously. These 5 ingredients makeup what is called the ‘JAUM’ balancing complex.

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Peony — Antioxidant powerhouse, anti-inflammatory, skin tone corrector

Sacred Lotus — Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

Solomon’s Seal —Anti-inflammatory, UV damage repair/protection

White Lily — powerful anti-inflammatory

Rehmannia —Anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, rich in repairing amino acids

Essentially, these 5 work together to soothe, balance, and protect. Sulwhasoo couldn’t just stop at hours of research to find the 5 perfect herbs. They then tested traditional brewing methods. The poje honey method is used to marry these ingredients with honey in earthen jars. To ensure maximum efficacy the ingredients were checked every 10 minutes when researching. They found no more, and no less than 18 hours was the perfect brewing time. With that the JAUM complex was born.

To read more about these complexes you can find out more from AMOREPACIFIC’s R&D: Here, here, and here

The JAUM Complex is the star of First Care but there’s a few other ingredients I like to see. Licorice Root is the second ingredient, my favorite anti-inflammatory. Betaine, Hyaluronic acid, and Natto Gum are great humectants to include.

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(not an exact comparison due to lighting differences but still noticeable!)

First few applications of the product I didn’t notice any substantial differences. But over time I started to crave the cooling/soothing feeling it left. I would notice days that I had to skip it in my routine; my skin would extremely lackluster compared to what I was getting used to. Once I added it back, immediately that glow was back. I can say with confidence this product has improved my skin’s circulation with its gang of anti-inflammatories.

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First Care Activating Serum throws a huge wrench in the ‘thinnest to thickest’ method of application extensive routines have. Instead of being the thinnest product first it’s actually this guy. Not essence. Not even toner. Like straight after washing your face you take 2-3 pumps of the serum and apply onto dry skin. I was super weirded out by this, especially for my cleansers that have a pH that requires a toner afterwards. I like to keep the brands whole product line in the back of my head when analyzing products. Sulwhasoo doesn’t make pH unbalanced cleansers. Their ‘Waters’ or toners are a cross between toner and essence so a very watery pH balancing toner isn’t a step in a Sulwhasoo only routine.

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First Care’s scent is so lovely. It carries a similar scent the rest of the ‘Essential’ line has, but isn’t excessive and fades quickly. Citrusy with prominent woodsy-hanbang notes, Sulwhasoo scents are part of what make their products unique and a holistic experience.

Overall, I found a new staple. I look forward to it the most in my routine, I can even spend a solid 5 minutes just rubbing this product in. From it’s soothing sensation to the long term circulation benefits I’ve noticed, it’s a keeper.

[REVIEW] Benton Cacao Moist & Mild Cream

Oh have I been busy, my apologies for the sporadic posting. It should mellow out very soon..

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My night time moisture can be a hard thing to get right in the summer. Compared to my skin during the winter, it’s a lot less forgiving. It can feel suffocated if I use something too heavy. Benton was kind enough so send me their newest moisturizer Cacao based moisturizer designed for this exact problem (or at least that’s all I could think of when I read about it) free for my honest review. It took some warming up to but it’s a keeper for sure.

Benton has become a long time favorite of mine. They’ve inspired the creation of this blog even, some of my earliest (and most viewed) posts are Benton products. They’ve changed the beauty industry internationally by contributing to setting a new standard of skincare. Cleaner, safer, affordable, effective products. Benton however continues to amaze me with things like USDA Organic labels, Snail and bee products that are cruelty free certified. If they are as true as they appear, they’re one of the best (of the best).

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http://www.cosdna.com/eng/cosmetic_7f2b294618.html

Cacao Mild and Moist aims at providing the ideal balance of oil:water. It’s based with a whopping 63% Cacao Extract. Moisturizing, softening and an antioxidant powerhouse, Cacao Extract makes a fine first ingredient. Unlike the butter, the extract is a so To provide lipid based moisture you’ll find 10% Cacao Seed Butter, sorbitan olivate, and beta-glucans. To provide humectant based hydration, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are used. I also want to note two other ingredients I am all about. First is Polygutamic Acid, a polypeptide penetration enhancer derived from Natto! While being ‘officially’ labelled as a film forming agent it has a lot of great benefits! While being lightly exfoliating, PGA also helps your skin’s own natural moisture production. Madecassoside is the other, a derivative from Centella. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-acne ingredient, making this friendly for even those who suffer from breakouts. Actually, this whole ingredient list is pretty acne friendly. Cacao Seed Butter gets a bad wrap and rates a 4/5 on the comedogenicity scale. However at only 10% without major film formers I would still feel very safe recommending this to the old acne ridden me.

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Moist is a really accurate word to describe the finish of this moisturizer. If you like the feeling of gel moisturizer you’ll like this. Once you dispense it, the product immediately starts melting onto your skin. No matter how much you use, it feels like it all absorbs. But a little goes a long way. It’s strong humectant base and just ‘touch’ of lipid is really the perfect bet for summer.

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You also may be shocked (good or bad), when you find out this cream is unscented! No chocolate scent, but that’s quite alright. Benton is great at removing fragrance and keeping their products free of any added scent too.

Interested in trying it out? Find it on Amazon for $16USD.

[REVIEW] AMOREPACIFIC Treatment Toner: the Next Generation Toner

WOW MY FIRST AMOREPACIFIC REVIEW WOW!

I’ve sold their products for years, I’ve used their products for even longer. But I am just now writing about ‘mother’. Amore isn’t just a brand, they are a cosmetics conglomerate of over 30 brands. They make some of the world’s favorite brands and most people are unsuspecting of such. Brands like Laneige, Mamonde, IOPE, Hera, Sulwhasoo, and Happy Bath, the list goes on (in all price ranges).

AMOREPACIFIC is the cream of the crop. With products that have price points that compete with ultra luxe wastes of money like La Prairie and 111Skin. (Of course there are exceptions. However, no skincare product will compete with procedures, put your $600 towards microneedling or something other than a bottle of 50% water) They are to be considered the pinnacle of Amore’s R&D. Most products don’t wander into the $200< mark unless they are apart of the ‘Time Renewal’ collection. The super super super #1. Sh*ts like $450 for green tea and bamboo, man.

The Treatment Toner is part of the basics so while it does take a blow to your wallet, nothing like above. While in many Korean skincare brands we’d expect to see essences somewhere in the product lineup. However, unlike the rest of the AMORE group brands, there’s not a single essence to be found. (until like a month ago, no joke it’s the Vintage Single Extract Essence, and yes I need it, and no I can’t ever afford it and the part that kills me is it’s technically a First Treatment Essence based with 100-day fermented green tea…. NO YOU’RE CRYING.) But in a normal Amore routine, Treatment Toner is your essence. But it’s still also your toner. It’s both. Instead of being just pH restoring and balancing like toner, or just a hydration step like essence this product does the job of both. Pretty well too!

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In typical Amore fashion, water is not the first ingredient. Instead they use Ginseng extract as the base. Before you close this tab and run to your nearest Amore reseller.. Calling the first ingredient ginseng doesn’t mean this product is filled to the brim with it. It’s still a water. & the word ‘extract’ can be stretched. Like in cooking, we call it, lets say “whatever” extract, but with propylene glycol and water added. But it’s still 100% “whatever” extract. So in a product we could list that as “whatever extract”. But nonetheless, something you can count on in this ingredient is the quality.

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Other ingredients to should note: Hyaluronic Acid(hydrator), Korean Red Pine extract (antioxidant powerhouse), Green Tea (also antioxidants), Theanine (green tea component), Ginger, Bamboo sap(hydrator), Water Lily (astringent), and last but not least Licorice Root(anti-inflammatory).

It’s great at calming my irritated skin down after exfoliating, replenishing moisture and pH. I also know it’s giving me a solid foundation to a great routine.

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Where does this toner go wrong though? Fragrance and unnecessary pigment. Why does it have to be pink? ((Attract the ‘US market’ client)) Red 33 and CI 15985 are what give this product it’s pale pink tint, not ginseng unfortunately.. The fragrance is definitely artificial. It’s not the best scent, but definitely not bad! It is not a herbal/natural smelling wonderland like Sulwhasoo products, it’s just a ‘good scent’.((Attract the ‘US market’ client)) I can smell it for step or two afterwards even with those products on top, but then it seems to go away.

Where this toner goes right all the way, is it’s texture. It’s as light as water but feels as hydrating as an essence with absolutely no residue. I can’t imagine someone not caring for it.

Find this toner at your local AMOREPACIFIC store or retailer for $50USD

[First Impressions] BRTC Jasmine Waterful Sleeping Pack

Can you own too many sleeping masks? If you said yes, YOU’RE WRONG. I have I think 5 currently, and one disposable… When Cupidrop announced this product to review I was stoked! How did they know I needed another hydrating sleeping mask?

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They didn’t. I got lucky.

BRTC is a clinical oriented KBeauty brand that stands for Bio Remedies Therapeutic Cosmetics. Their goal is to provide effective formulas based in nature. (Like a lot of brands!) They do however have two of their own patented ingredient complexes in this single product: Purple Vigor, and Blue Phyto Complex.

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http://www.cosdna.com/eng/cosmetic_c655293254.html

(I made a CosDNA account finally to track things that I input, not search!)

Humectants: Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Betaine, Xylitol

Notable Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane*, Niacinamide, Adenosine, Allantoin, Chamomile, Jasmine Water

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The Jasmine Waterful sleeping mask is described as dual function to assist with not only whitening (reducing dark spots), but anti-wrinkle as well. It has an extremely light Jasmine scent that I honestly, can’t really pick up unless my products have no scent whatsoever. Some people are more sensitive to it than others, but I really have to strain to pick up any jasmine scent. I do wish it was in a tube or a pump to prevent ingredient degradation and maintain sanitation.

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The texture is great. It’s described as ‘bursts with moist when rubbed in’ and it…. well… really does! Just like if you’ve tried Dr. Jart Water Drop moisturizer or similar, this will form lil’ water beads when you start to rub it in! Pretty novel, but it shows the formula is literally ‘bursting’ with hydration. Pretty cool stuff! It absorbs well and makes a fine last step at night (or even as a lightweight hydrating/priming moisturizer in the morning!)

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[REVIEW] 9Wishes Sun Moisturizer SPF50+ PA+++

We’re facing summer head on now! I’ve never been so excited for summer! Not just the warm weather (that I’ve missed since moving from CA), but also the new fresh textured products that roll out.

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One thing that’s new to me is 9Wishes! They’re a contemporary Korean brand that ‘wishes’ to provide natural, gentle, and safe products. There are actually 9 individual things they stand for, that I haven’t had translated yet! But google translate tried for me:

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nice

It’s hard finding sunscreens that are high coverage but have a nice texture, and have more than just a couple humectants thrown in as far as ‘extras’. You may not think your sunscreen needs anything more than just the sunscreen and a delivery system, but it’s definitely ideal for them to have some other benefits. The sun dehydrates our skin, with or without sunscreen. Certain sunscreen filters produce free radicals as a byproduct of converting the harmful UV rays into heat. For many, the sun and/or the activity of the filters can be irritating. In short, the sun is the devil and we can use help especially during prolonged exposure (longer than 80 minutes) and we’d need reapplication.

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9Wishes takes all of this into consideration with their Sun Moisturizer SPF50+ PA+++. With a patented ‘SM Calming Newplex-8’ ingredient complex, moisturizing and hydrating ingredients and a reapplication friendly, non-sticky finish, I found a Captain in my ‘Sunscreen Army’. Let’s take a look at these ingredients:

  • Humectants: Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Sorbitan sesquioleate, Allantoin, Aloe
  • Lipids: Jojoba, Shea, Cetearyl Olivate, Olive
  • Antioxidants: Korean Red Pine, White Mulberry, Licorice Root, White Tea (sounds like a Sulwhasoo product) Niacinamide, Honeysuckle (and more)

What’s great about these antioxidants is they all will play a slightly different role in aiding you against the sun. For instance, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate is an incredible anti-inflammatory that reduces the Tyrosinase activity (forming of dark spots). White Mulberry also suppresses Tyrosinase activity. Niacinamide helps skin maintain a healthy lipid layer. I mean, this thing is really made to kick UV rays in the ass. This is important to not only start with, but keep using throughout the day. Why wouldn’t you want these great antioxidants and humectants with your reapplication? It’s definitely priced to do so, guilt free.

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One thing that I’m less than thrilled about it how many types of sunscreen go in here. While I do like the inclusion of Tinosorb S and Uvinul t 150, if they used higher amounts of these and zinc, they wouldn’t need the other 3 estrogenic filters included. But overall, this is a small complaint and doesn’t outweigh the risk of damage from unprotected sun exposure.

The finish is really soft, almost like a pore perfecting primer, without the silicone slip feeling. It doesn’t have a cast on my fair skin, but a nice iridescence. (however deeper skin tones this may show up as slight white cast).

The fragrance is nice, it isn’t really strong and definitely cuts out the smell of the lengthy list of filters. After a while you don’t really smell it anymore either.

*Big thanks to BBCosmetic and 9Wishes for providing these products in exchange for my honest review. If you haven’t checked our BBCosmetic they’re a great place to get your KBeauty fix. Great prices and best yet, free shipping to the US! Also if you wanna try this sunscreen out (or somethin’ else) you can use this promo code: “facequench8″ for 8% off your order! You can catch the 9Wishes Sun Moisturizer on sale for $13.00 for a limited time!

Seattle Asian Beauty Shopping (Locations & More!)

When I moved here from the Bay Area, I had no expectations for any asian beauty market. Once I got my feet in the water, I realized there wasn’t really much in the realm of AB. Because of this it’s a dream of mine to open a skincare store here in Seattle, that focuses on bringing curated japanese, korean, and indie/innovative brands. There are officially (as of me writing this, June 2017) ZERO standalone Asian Beauty stores in Seattle and the surrounding area.  Like seriously, if you know of an investor in the area ~~hit cha boy up~~. (Probably not the most effective phrase to hook an investor)

Luckily, there are a few places that carry Korean and Japanese cosmetics! But what you’ll find here is extremely limited to the assortment you can find south of Washington. Portland to San Diego is what I like to consider the “American Asian Beauty Belt” At least over here on the West Coast. I can’t really speak much to the east coast selection. Especially in Southern California, AB shopping can literally be easier and more convenient than going to a big cosmetics store. (& you can walk out with a bag of products rather than one mediocre overpriced moisturizer from Sephora)

Here in the Seattle area, since nothing is standalone (or not just a cosmetic store) you see a lot of the same products. Not to say this doesn’t happen else where with AB (because it happens everywhere!) But if you’re near one, you probably won’t need to go to TOO many more to feel all your options out. Also, you won’t see as big of a gap in price ranges too, which I actually appreciate.

Uwajimaya (International District, Seattle, WA) 

This is definitely the most well known place to get your Asian Beauty fix. I live  walking distance from here too and do most of my grocery shopping here, so… Yeah I literally can’t grocery shop without being EXTREMELY TEMPTED.

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Here you’ll find debatably the largest selection of stuff. Doesn’t mean it’s the best price, doesn’t mean they have a good selection, it’s just a lot of stuff with not a ton of shelf organization in most places. They do have a larger hair and body product selection however, compared to some!

Brands worth mentioning: PureSmile(JP), LuLuLun(JP), My Beauty Diary(TW), Kikumasamune(JP), Loshi(JP), Naive(JP), Hada Labo(JP), Sana(JP) Kosé(JP), Bioré(JP), Shiseido(JP) [drug store & a counter w/ Cle De Peau]
‘Exclusives’: Well, I was able to find a LuLuLun gift set here that wasn’t available at any other store.
Overall: Not my favorite store to shop in, but their prices are spot on. They make a great place to start though, they have all the well known brands.

HMart (University District, Seattle, WA) NEW!

HOLY SH*T THIS PLACE IS INCREDIBLE!?

I took a trip here today actually to check it out. It’s been only open for a couple of weeks. When I walked up to the glistening white building on the Ave, I was shocked to see how tiny it was! But for the area, I’d say it’s probably the biggest it could be. BUT. They. Have. A. ROOM. of. SKINCARE. Not an Isle. Not a section. Like 25% of the store is dedicated to skincare. Also, there are a lot of featured brands unique to this location like Dr. Jart+, IPKN, and others. But I can definitely see why. This place is in University District. Where you have people my age (not at my skin education level, of course) coming in for a bottle of Soju, korean snacks, and some sheet masks for a kick ass friday night. At least that’s what I HOPE people are going for. (I mean the entire upstairs section is snacks/alcohol/skincare/household items…) Because if I actually had friends, you know that’d be my go-to night.

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With an entire section of Elizavecca! All at retail prices, note. Boxes (and boxes) of Jayjun, Oozoo, PapaRecipe, and MediHeal. Not your regular HMart selection, but a very wise selection. I couldn’t actually find the regular hoard of Biore, Hada, and Kose products most of the stores all carry.

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I didn’t get any photos of it.. but they have a nice selection of Korean household products too.

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Brands worth mentioning: Jayjun(KR), Oozoo(KR), PapaRecipe(KR), MediHeal(KR), IPKN(KR), Dr. Jart+(KR), Dewpiel(KR), Saturday Skin(KR) Dong Sung Pharm.(KR) (most well known products are their a.c.care line with snail and bee venom), Charmzone(KR)
‘Exclusives’: Most of these brands are going to only be found here in the state (probably).
Overall: Well, let’s just say this section is under construction until I finish digging. My one trip, was a no-buy even though I wanted it to be a haul. There’s a great selection of masks, and a unique selection of other products. I do wish there were more Japanese sheet masks, and more products than mainly sheet masks.

HMart (Lynnwood, WA)

MY BABY, MY LOVE, GETS SECTIONS

Out in Lynnwood there’s a huge HMart! Get your big bags of rice, wholesale pickled daikon, and really high quality, affordable produce. But as far as cosmetics goes, it can get complicated. Inside of HMart itself, you can find a slim selection of products. Like one Elizavecca product, there was Happy Bath(KR) for a minute, Nightingale(JP), Scinic(KR), and Mediental(KR). A few other things not really worth mentioning. But! Fear not. If you’re looking to do some serious Korean skincare shopping you have the two big dogs here AMORE & LG Care, and nowhere else as standalones. They sit on the outside mini ‘strip mall’ like C around the inside of HMart itself. If you wanted your regular Asian Market Japanese products, they do have a separate section kinda in the middle of everything?

AMOREPACIFIC | ARITAUM Store

I come here to get all the Amore products I possibly can. Ironically, you can’t buy actual AMOREPACIFIC products. Just their brands: Sulwhasoo, Aritaum, Ryo(Hair), Mamonde, Laneige, Hera, and IOPE. I always get great recommendations when I go in, it’s how I found my favorite emulsion! Don’t expect any higher or lower prices. Everything is spot on to resale price.

Note* There is another Aritaum location at Pal-Do World Market in Lakewood, WA.

O HUI | The Who  

Can’t lie, I’ve never been in here. It’s incredibly cramped and there’s always customers inside. Not their fault, I’ve also really had no overwhelming desire to go through their products quite yet. But I can speak some to their selection since you can see most of it from outside the store! From the outside I’ve spotted The History of Whoo(KR), O Hui(KR), Missha(KR), Tony Moly(KR), Oozoo(KR), and a couple indiscernible hangbangy lookin brands I’ve never heard/seen of before.

Overall: This is my personal go-to! It’s stock may not be what everyone is looking for. But I love supporting local businesses whenever I can, I have a soft spot for AMORE, and who doesn’t love getting all the free samples you could dream of when you spend a little bit of money? Last time I got an incredible 6pc Sulwhasoo deluxe travel kit! (each time before that I got a 3pc!). I also like the LG Care store carries more than just LG, unlike AMORE staying exclusive.

Asian Food Center (Seattle, WA)

Oh you. You bother me so much. But also appreciate you a lot too. The cosmetics are just a section in the front of the store towards the checkout. But what you will find is all the Japanese skincare (and MBD masks) you can dream of. Not as much makeup as Uwajimaya, but they definitely make up for it in how extensive the body and haircare is!

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Why does it bother me though? Well, if they have someone actually at customer service (the only place to checkout with cosmetics) they’re watching you like a hawk (happens in some places, not nearly as frequently or bad). To the point where I felt uncomfortable the first time I went in to get a feel for what they had. Also their stock doesn’t refresh really ever. They’ve been out of stock of Daisan CottonLabo CS Being cotton pads since March (it’s June), and they’re my favorite below the Shiseido pads 🙁 I’ve seen a ton of holes too, I don’t think they’ve been getting stock or SOMETHING. This may change, but for now they haven’t been worth the trip. However if you’re nearby or in the market for just Japanese products, here is a great place to go.

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They also have sales on masks box sets it seems like at random, but appreciated nonetheless!

While you’re here, you should stop at the Kiki Bakery (yup, named after the animated cat)

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bc buns

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post buns selfie

Overall: Eh, check it out if you can.

**My NOT Recommended**

These are places I wouldn’t really bother with unless there’s something specific at one of these places you want to see. Also big note. I LOVE supporting mom and pop skincare shops. I go to them whenever I possibly can and it sucks there aren’t many here. But places like the shops in the Lynnwood HMart are still privately owned with amazing people inside that work hard and deserve your $$ more than Sephora does.

Daiso (Seattle, WA) 

Most are familiar with Daiso, the well known “Japanese $1.50 store” as my family refers to it . This is the worst Daiso ever honestly. It’s very small, there’s no parking put reserved parking spots smack in front of the store, with very little. I only come here if I KNOW they’ll have it and I don’t want to drive to the the one North. I don’t think I’ve wanted to get anything here skincare related though except a horse fat hand cream.

Overall: No

Daiso (Roosevelt District,Seattle, WA)

Now this is a Daiso! Reminds me a lot of the ones I have back in the Bay Area. Spacious, empty travel bottles and cotton rounds galore! You can also find their infamous peel off mask here too. They have their own selection of cosmetics however fair warning, it’s all $1.50 for a reason. Check the cancer labels floating around the stores.. Yikes! However, I really enjoy their sheet mask packs and they don’t have anything in them I haven’t seen before, especially the CoQ10 ones!

Overall: If $1.50 is your thing! But i’d be wary and very selective.

Sephora

I recommend you DON’T do any KBeauty shopping here except squeeze them dry for samples if you need to. Dr. Jart+ is much cheaper at the new HMart, with a bigger selection! J.One products are $45-$50 instead of <$30 online. Beauty Water is $30 instead of $22. Belif is more LG Care, but IMO not worth the it’s US prices. If you need to, Bellevue will have the best selection, don’t bother in Seattle. Why spend more for no reason other than lining their pockets?

Urban Outfitters (Westlake , Seattle, WA)

Yeah they have overpriced Tony Moly and possibly some more overpriced Mizon or CosRx that’s been sitting for a year. Please don’t buy here like ever.

Ulta (Northgate Mall, Seattle, WA)

Well Ulta, I do have to say stepped their skincare game up with the leverage of affordable, effective KBeauty. Sort of. You can find brands like Goodall or Dr. G! If you’re in a KBeauty drought area, you may find something to quench your thirst here.

I hope this guide helps you navigate what Seattle has to offer for Asian Beauty. If I’m missing anything feel free to put it in the comments so I can add it! I hope one day I can bring a real Asian Beauty store to Seattle. But until then we can live with what’s around, right?

This is a post in progress for awhile! But I wanted to share the first version early! More pictures will hopefully come!

[REVIEW] SWANICOCO Beer Bubble Pack

ANOTHER ONE.

Another Swanicoco product coming at ya. The Beer Bubble Pack. This oxygenating mask is designed to help restore circulation and help maintain pores.

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When I first read about this product, I honestly wasn’t super stoked. It doesn’t really sound like a fit for me. While it helps restore circulation, it’s main focus is pores. Circulation improvement comes from the oxygenating effect of the mask, but the key ingredients such as Fennel and Hops are antibacterial and more suited for pore problems. I got big ones, but you can’t change your genetics!

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Other ‘key’ ingredients include betaine, arginine, and allantoin. All 3 will help the skin maintain moisture.

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Application is… well… fun! You take a few pumps of the fragrance-free gel and smooth it over your face evenly. I was hoping for some sort of earthy/spicy scent, but all SWANICOCO products I’ve tried are free of any fragrance.

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In about 5-7 minutes of enduring tickling cheeks, you’re left with a mountain of foam ready to be washed off.

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Washing this mask off is tedious, as with any bubble pack. They’ll just keep bubbling, and bubbling… until finally, 3 days later it’s off.

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You’re then left with soft, circulated skin. I love doing this as a morning mask, either before a shower (for easy rinse off) or if I have a spare hour when I wake up. I’m always glowing and not stripped.

My only complaint about this mask is, the lack of benefit for it’s price. Just a dollar short from $20, I could load myself up with a few beneficial, more versatile sheet masks for the same price.

Overall I give this mask a 5/10.

Bubbles: super well!

Removability: poor

Scent: None

Benefit: soft, temporarily well circulated, glowing skin.

As a bubble mask I give it an 8/10.