[REVIEW] Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX

My Skin is Addictedimage

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.

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.

[REVIEW] Naruko 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer

Enhancers and Activators are quite an interesting skincare
category. I’m not even entirely convinced it’s a worthwhile product to use. By
complete unofficial definition, activators are products used before ANYTHING. I
mean like if you use a First Treatment Essence this would go even before
that!!! WOW! (See my skepticism of their worthwhileness?) They are supposed to help penetration and absorption
while providing some other mild benefits. However, this is formulated, feels, and even looks like a hydrating toner and can be used as such.

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Naruko’s 60 Actives Youth Activating whatever is one of two I’ve
thought to be worthy of testing. It being the cheaper of the two (Sulwhasoo’s
First Care Activating Serum was the ladder) I decided to give it a go after finding
little info except a rather helpful review from fiddysnails and this cosdna posting of the full ingredients.

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Naruko (this is pulled from their Malaysian website) touts 4 key factors of this enhancer. Hyaluronic Acid, vitamin C (in Ascorbyl Glucoside flavor), their ‘60 actives’ botanical blend, and Dimethyl Isosorbide. I don’t think the botanical blend has anything worth mentioning since the list is so lengthy it most likely does little to nothing. More on the nothing side.

Why do I get excited about Dimethyl Isosorbide? It’s because this and two other products (Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk & PTR 3% Retinoid) that use this ingredient absorb REALLY WELL! That’s really the purpose of this ingredient. It prevents ingredients from oxidizing, making that overwhelming list of extracts, and vitamin C safe for a while longer. It is listed higher than most of the ‘actives’ in this product and you can definitely tell by the slight oily texture.

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Its scent is also pretty nice. To me it’s ‘soapy rose’ but i’m sure that smell is more ideal than all of those extracts havin’ their own party.

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I rarely use this product at night as I have other actives I am using and waiting on, but I use this almost every morning. As a carrier of Ascorbyl Glucoside, I pair this with my vitamin C serum in the morning as my ‘actives’. The fresh cool feeling of hyaluronic acid and glycerin are usually welcomed as well as the relatively quick absorption without any type of residue. Just perfectly prepped. But is it prepped? Or is your youth activated? That’s none of my business.

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However, if you care about my business. I give this ‘enhancer’ a 6/10. It was also next to impossible to ship to america, I found it on ebay for an alright price but it’s nowhere to be found now.. It wasn’t my hopes and dreams of a product that’d make my face act like a literal sponge. But did it help product absorption? I think it did in the beginning steps, but over the course of the routine I can’t say I could feel a major difference.

Texture: 7/10 — a tad oily? but hydrating. Difficult is a good word.

Packaging: 5/10 — kinda weird, product builds up really easily in the cap and can get gross.

Scent: 8/10 — soapy rose… I think I love it ? But sometimes I’m not in the mood.

Performance: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

Mystery Grocery Store Masking [PART 3/?] : KAO Megurhythm Steam Hot Eye Mask

Warming eye masks have been a big buzz in ABeauty for a few months now. I feel bad that I’m just now writing a review on them because I’ve been FULLY enjoying them myself for about the same amount of time.

Warming eye masks are a bit of a different ‘skincare’ product, if you can even really classify them as a skincare product. There are no ingredients as they’re a dry eye mask that activates when you rip the package open and expose it to air. They were designed for pure relaxation while they do offer the benefit of depuffing and soothing irritation.

There’s a iron and moisture mixture inside of a patch inside of the eye mask that when exposed to air it produces steam. KAO claims the eye masks will produce heat for “10mins at 40º C”

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In real world usage, I get about 25-35 minutes of relaxing warmth on my eyes. But fair warning YMMV, I’ve had them last for a really really long time and I’ve also had them last about 10 minutes. But the general amount of time I’d say is riiiiight around a half hour of pure bliss.

I can’t really ‘prove’ a whole lot with these masks as there aren’t a ton of features. They are a product you should really just experience. But luckily, you can find packs of 5 or 14 in most asian markets that carry skincare. If not, amazon has them readily available some with prime shipping.

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They come in unscented, and 4 other scents. I’ve only tried the scented versions since they are for relaxation and I am a big believer that relaxation comes from the care of ALL senses.. But the smells may understandably be off putting for some. I’ve tried the lavender/sage and yuzu scented ones and really enjoyed the scent of both. But my favorite is Lavender. I think up next will be the rose but I definitely am going to try all of them. They’ve somehow found a way into my life (I think permanently…)

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I love whipping these out after a long day of work, if I have a headache, on a flight home, or even when I wake up! (Not every morning, but days off ya’know. I’m not that accomplished.) It is recommended to apply your eye products before using one as well as the steam will help with penetration/absorption!

You see why these are the buzz now, grab yourself a pack of 5 (shouldn’t cost more than $10, they were I believe $7.99 in store). take your relaxation game up a level.

[REVIEW] NEOGEN Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine

My sweet, sweet Neogen…

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I actually have worked with and played with the Bio-Peel in Lemon and was really interested in it. But I am really not a big fan of lemon products. It’s kinda the smell, sometimes they sting more than others, it reminds me of DIY lemon skincare products people make.., it’s also kinda the smell…… 

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note: because physics are a thing, the essence will eventually pool at the bottom of the jar, give it a couple shakes up and down, and you’ll be good to go again.

Neogen offers 3 types in total. Lemon, Wine, and Green Tea. (Neogen, if you’re reading this I would die to try these okay, I cried when I couldn’t get the green tea version to me for less than $27 at the time.) Offering slightly different benefits from each other. Lemon, carrying natural vitamin C will help fight pollutants and pigmentation. You could call this the brightening version, I guess. Then WINE!!! Added for its resveratrol content, and if there’s anything Caudalie taught me, it’s all the amazing anti-aging and skin-densifying benefits of resveratrol on the skin. Then finally Green Tea, for enlarged pores and soothing.

Wine extract is pretty amazing. Already containing resveratrol before it hits the barrel (caudalie uses it extracted from the plant itself) it goes through a sometimes lengthy process of fermentation. Some of our skincare brands biggest secrets are fermented products. It’s a great way to take something natural and make it “more powerful”. Resveratrol itself however is apart of a few ingredients that claim to improve skin’s density which is something we often don’t think about when it comes to our skin concerns. Also still being a polyphenol, it’s a great anti-ager providing the skin oodles of antioxidants for those hungry, hungry free radicals. (Did I have some wine?)

Neogen solved a personal dilemma of mine, sometimes I want to physically exfoliate just a couple areas but the rest of my face would prefer just a chemical exfoliation. You get 30 of these neat looking pads that are half gauze, half plush cotton. Use just one side, use both there’s no bathroom police!!!

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iPhone 7 comin thru with that gauze detail

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plush side for my lil cheeks

Directions for use are a little different than most exfoliating pads i’ve tried in the past. Biggest reason being, you have to rinse these off!

Directions from here

  • After cleansing, slip your fingers into the sleeve of the gauze peeling wine pad so that the criss-crossed gauze side is facing down.
  • Use gentle, circular motions all over a dry face and neck, working your way up to your forehead.
  • Rotate the pad so that the gauze side is facing up and the soft, quilted side is facing down.
  • Swipe the softer side across the face to pick up the remaining debris.
  • Throw away pad and rinse with lukewarm water
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little skin debris from the 4th step?

I’ve been really enjoying these pads. I feel like the chemical exfoliation is strong enough on it’s own for my sensitive areas but I love adding a little more ‘umph’ with the gauze side on my nose and around my mouth. I really don’t see the need to have any other exfoliators on hand other than this guy and my treatment strength AHAs and BHAs.

Overall I would round up and give it a 9/10! From the juicy grape scent to the bright complexion I have afterwards. I will definitely repurchase, perhaps in the green tea flavor if it isn’t crazy priced to get it here.

Have you tried these or other Neogen products? I’m curious to hear people’s opinions on them!

Find them for purchase here! Neogen Gauze Bio-Peel: Wine $17.50USD

Post featured here 7/10/2017: https://www.neogenlab.us/blogs/news/neo-view-br-wine-bio-peel-gauze-peeling-br-review-by-zac-thayer

[REVIEW] Blithe Vital Treatment Essence – 5 Energy Roots

My ears perk when I hear ginseng mentioned. I love it internally and externally. So when I saw this Essence wasn’t ginseng reliant like many essences you can find but was still ~11% I was intrigued.

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I feel a lot of the times texture is something that improves with price. Have you ever felt AMOREPACIFIC moisturizers? They can make gels that feel like heaven and creams that melt like butter into your skin. You’ll find dimethicone on the ingredient list however, very low. You’ll also spot argan and olive oil to help provide some lipid nourishment and improve absorption. The 5 energy roots they’re talking about are Red Panax Ginseng, Grandiflorum Root Extract, Lanceolata Root Extract, Indian Lotus Leaf & Greater Burdock Root. These 5 work in perfect synergy to really make this essence stellar. 

Ginseng is top of the list and filled to the brim with all the good stuff vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One unique thing about ginseng it it’s stimulating properties that give you a great instant glow. Also ginseng is what is known as an adaptogenic, in natural medicine these are substances that are known for having a normalization effect on the skin. Wether it be stress, fatigue, pollutants; ginseng is said to help exert the bad and normalize the good. 

Grandiflorum Root: Helps brighten and reduce skin sensitivity

Lanceolata Root also reduces skin sensitivity, and also said to help speed up wound healing and promote skin cell turnover. 

Indian Lotus Leaf is full of vitamins C and B6 as well as minerals copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and manganese. Great for fighting acne, congestion, and texture. 

Greater Burdock Root is another great anti inflammatory and antioxidant .

However I do want to note you can ‘overdue’ this essence too. When I layer two essences under this one they are a 96.5% Galactomyces FTE that’s water consistency, then Benton Snail Bee essence that absorbs completely, THEN this beaut. No other order would has worked better so far. I’ve also had CosRx Whitening Power Essence not play entirely well with it. I suspect this to do with it being slightly thicker and tackier compared to others. 

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dewyyy

Overall, I am loving this Essence. After sampling it for a few weeks I knew I had to try a bottle out for myself. It’s consistency is key. In this case the consistency of the essence itself. By itself or layered with two other essences I always feel my face can absorb/dry really well and I always feel refreshed without a doubt after using this essence. 

I give it 8/10 I wish it was just a tad bit thinner at times, and I really wish it didn’t have as many emulsifiers added (this kinda runs back to the thinner part but y’know). But I would DEF repurchase this, if I got it for the price I did again! 

[REVIEW] CosRx Overnight Nourishing Rice Mask

I hate waking up in the morning. Unless I get on some outstanding sleep the night before. But this sleep mask always got me feelin’ some type of way so I had to get up and write about it. 

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Now the name is the key purpose of this mask, a sleeping mask; but you can also use it as a wash off mask but applying more, or as a cream by apply just a little less. For review purposes (but also personal purposes I guess) I’m using this solely as a sleeping mask. If you’ve never heard of a sleeping mask before I’ve made a post about them here

Okay but what did I wanna try THIS one?

Well I simply resonated with this part of the products advertisement so I thought it may be worth a go:

like seriously I DON’T need it anymore….

Let’s look at the ingredients: 

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Oryza sativa (rice) extract (65%), butylene glycol, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, betaine, niacinamide, dimethicone, 1,2-hexanediol, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, guineensis (palm) kernel oil, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, cetearyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, arginine, carbomer, allantoin, xanthan gum. 

Check out the CosDNA posting for more info on safety and acne triggers 

Also, if you wanna see the full obnoxious advertisement for this product from the brand, I posted it here!

nothing rates over a 2 which in my book is great. 

That’s a gorgeous amount of rice extract in here which is loaded with B vitamins to increase hydration and promote skin cell turn over but also other key components are skin loves like omega-6 (linolenic acid). But there’s not a ton of ingredients bolded because there aren’t a ton I’m head over heels about. But CosRx is very minimalist so there’s nothing in here that doesn’t need to be. 

However, I would like to see palm oil omitted because of it’s environmental impact. And those who worry about too much dimethicone, I haven’t ran into any issues with my problematic areas breaking out from this product. It most likely has a very small amount, especially due to rice extract being 65% before including butylene glycol and glycerin which also will take a decent amount of room up and it doesn’t really have any feeling reminiscent of it either. 

Most sleeping masks leave me feeling pretty ‘normal’ in the morning. Definitely not dry, but also not entirely moisturized either. Nothing out of the ordinary however this mask leaves you feeling just like how you did before you went to sleep. Dewy, hydrated and smooooooth. I’ve noticed with continued use of this mask I feel less and less inclined to wash my face in the morning. Usually it feels like a necessity. I need to get any dirt off and start rehydrating ASAP but with this guy, nope. I’ve just been running a quick miceller water over my face and feeling ready to go.

I haven’t noticed a lot of major results from this sleeping mask, however I don’t really expect to see a ton. I do love that I’ve been waking up still moisturized rather than feeling dry. And I love with a whopping 65% rice extract my skin’s clarity has really improved. 

I give this sleeping mask a 9.8/10 whaaaaaaaaat.

.2 marked off because I don’t think there’s a such thing as a perfect product. But if there was, this bad boy gets real close.

Winter Dryness

Since moving to Seattle from California my skin has been non stop dry. I can’t really tell where my skin has done better yet? It’s pretty terrible everyplace. One thing I can tell you about my skin since moving to Seattle is, it’s DRY in the cold weather.

So far I’ve kept a nice dew to my skin through the cold so far, but it hasn’t been easy! These are just a few of my tips for fighting the cold.

Sheet mask more

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Sheet masks offer a variety of skincare benefits, but at the end of the day they usually have two or three humectants in them like Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, Glycerin. Depending on the mask then you can also find even more moisturizing or hydrating ingredients. Three of my favorites:

Medi-Heal E.G.T TIMETOX Ampoule Mask is a superpowered repairing mask. Containing ingredients that can whip skin out of both dryness and dehydration. It contains Astaxanthin(super-antioxidant), Acetyl Hexapeptide-8(Peptide that reduces appearance of wrinkles), RH-Oilgopeptide-1(Epidermic Growth Factor)

The Face Shop The Solution Nourishing Face Mask is the soothing propolis flavor is a great option if you want some well rounded nutrition. What is propolis you may ask? It’s this honey like substance bees collect that they use as a disinfectant, and a glue! It’s antioxidant rich and can be used topically as a antiviral and antimicrobial. Super great for those who are acne prone or just want a super great nourishing mask. 

Bonvivant Botanical Mask Pack is another favorite, I was able to snag 40 masks from them @ $.50 a piece. They have a few different ones that would be great for dryness but I really love this Adenosine + Acai mask because it’s a sheet mask loaded with milk essence! So it’s a little bit more moisturizing than your regular runny clear essence sheet mask. 

Lipids, fat, and cholesterol, give me it all.

Hydrating is still very important in the winter time however I recommend to most of my clients to start incorporating at least one type of lipid based product into their routine at least once a day. Hydrating gets our skin pulling in humidity but doesn’t necessarily help it stay in there. In fact they do nothing for our epidermal lipids; Which keep all the good inside, and all the bad, out. With colder weather present is should be a no brainer as to why we want to keep this lipids in tact and replenished. Facial oils and occlusive moisturizers(we’ll see this later) are great ways to add these to your routine. 

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Korres Wild Rose Brightening Oil is a beast in beautiful package. (With real rose petals at the bottom!) It contains demethyl isosorbide, an ingredient that enhances penetration so for people who don’t really like the feeling of oil on their skin, this can be a great place to start. Not to mention it’s loaded with a SUPER stable form of vitamin C called SUPER C (or Ascorbyl Tretraisopamitate) which is supposed to be a highly stabilized vitamin C that is 10x better at absorbing as well. Bisabolol and ginger root are also found in this oil to help calm inflammation and irritation. 

For a customized approach. Tosowoong’s 100% Fermented Camellia Oil is a favorite. You can mix this into moisturizers, foundations, bb creams, or layer it before or even after moisturizer to add extra moisture and protection. This product being 100% such a heavy oil, is really best for spot application. It’s also very hard to spread, therefore taking some in your palms isn’t really easy either. 

Last but not least, Boscia’s Tsubaki Oil. Also loaded with camellia oil (that’s what tsubaki is) but features a few different types of oil to make the consistency much much more appealing. This is better for someone who may want all over application, or just something more viscous but still incredibly moisturizing. 

Baby your under-eyes

Your eyes suck. They may be pretty or w/e but they suck at producing moisture for themselves. So that leaves our eye area needing some extra attention. MIZON has made my only go-to option now to help fight the cold and dry. 

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MIZON Collagen Power Firming Eye Cream is packed with ~42% marine collagen, this puppy is mooooooisturizing. It’s ‘firming’ title comes from it’s nice array of great supporting ingredients. Main one being Copper Tripeptide-1, a power ingredient responsible for firming and lifting. Also is said to reduce damage and crosslinked collagen (scarring tissue). To top it off you’ll also find, adenosine, argan oil, and hyaluronic acid. 

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y’all… look how thick it is.

Yes, you do want moisturizer twice a day. 

So many people I know only moisturize once a day. That can be totally fine sometimes, especially during the summer. But winter is one of those times again, where I try to encourage people to step their skin routine up. At least by swapping some of their lighter products out, or adding a hydrating step or two. Here are some moisturizers that I recommend and prefer for the colder times. They can be considered occlusive moisturizers because they help trap in our own natural production of moisture and protect it.

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Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream knocked my socks off. Containing no dimethicone, or heavy butters. This moisturizer is a phenomenal option for those who are oily to combo. Based with 64% snail secretion goodness, this will give your skin a boost of hydration as well as help aid in repair processing. Benton, being great and being benton, also loaded this with EGF, Hyaluronic Acid, Squalene and Niacinamide. 4 of my favorite things I’m not joking. 

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Yay for REN! This cream is a backbone in the brand and once you try it, you can see why. This superior protecting cream features a ‘Global Protection Complex’ that helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays, pollution and more. It’s repairing with triglycerides from calendula oil that repair the skin’s hydrolipidic film. Amazing for those with super dry and/or irritated skin because it contains chamomile and bisabolol (the component in chamomile that makes it anti-irritation anti-inflammatory, and anti-redness)

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Then we have this master line from Dr. Jart+. Who almost never does wrong in my book, here are two products from their (No, it’s not a ‘he!’ There’s a Dr. J but no “Dr. Jart”) Ceramidin line. Which is heavy on….. Ceramides! and also other supporting ingredients. Ceramides are the ‘building blocks of our moisture’. If you think of your skin cells as bricks, ceramides would be the mortar in between. Neat, huh? My favorite recommendation is the Ceramidin Liquid and Ceramidin Cream layered for the driest, saddest skin.  

Sleeping Packs are the cherry on top.

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If you wanna insure all that hard work you put into your routine absorbs, I recommend a Sleeping Pack/Mask These pictured are 3 more nourishing or occlusive type sleeping masks. 

Fresh’s Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask is a super rich mask that sports hyaluronic acid, peptides, and of course nutrient rich black tea ferment. A great one-and-done option for those with less steps in their routine, as it can be too thick for most with a long routine. 

CosRx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask: oh my god my partner sent me this I believe over a year ago of an advertisement for this mask so I’m actually not gonna say sh** about it and let this masterpiece do the talking.  

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Amazing..

I just wanna say after that… The last has sum banana in it and smells good. 

[REVIEW] Fresh Soy Face Cleansing Milk

The Cleanser Authority Returnsimage

Before I talk about this new cleansing milk I wanted to give the Seaberry Cleansing Oil a shoutout. MUAs already have their favorite cleansing oils, and let’s face it, this is a slightly expensive albeit, luxurious cleansing oil based with grape seed oil. It’s not very popular but it’s a goodie. I love natural oil based cleansing oils because they’re multitasking! Mineral Oil makes for a good cleansing oil when followed with a water based cleanser. But natural oils leave the skin soft and moisturized and in this case protected and nourished as well.

But onto the new goodness…

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What it is: Versatile cleansing milk that can be used as a one step softening cleanse or as a makeup removing cleanse before a water based (Foaming) cleanser. Rich in soy amino acids to help support and protect collagen and elastin.

What I like about it: So, Fresh has a signature cucumber scent most people love. I do love it myself, every time I smell Soy Face Cleanser it brings a smile to my face. This cucumber scent is present, however it smells like the sunomono (japanese pickled cucumbers) my grandma would make for dinner with katsudon NGL. But I love it oddly enough. A nice change from the regular ‘cucumber’. I also love how ******* soft my skin is after cleansing with it. I’ve tried this in the morning with no double cleanse a few times now and I’m always so shocked with how soft my skin is left afterwards.

(Brow Wiz in Taupe being removed by Seaberry Oil (left) and Soy Face Milk (right) 

What I don’t like about it: It’s makeup removing power isn’t quite as strong as I would hope for. This formula’s consistency really reminded me of the discontinued Soy Face Eye Makeup Remover (and I feel like this is SFEMR 2.0) but it didn’t seem to REALLY break down those heavy pigments quite as quickly. It still thoroughly removed but required more emulsifying than the oil did in comparison. But I feel like this is part of the trade off for having a milk vs oil. It’s easier to use but just ever so slightly less cleansing.

I give it a 7/10 my favorite cleansing milk to date, but I wish it broke down makeup with a little less work.