[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] Skin79 Yum Yum Cleanser: Adlay

Yes that’s really the name of this cleanser.

Yum. Yum.

This cleanser is Skin79′s take on the ever popular Slowganic cleansers by RE:CIPE.

In the flavor Adlay. Or more commonly referred to as Job’s Tears, or simply Coix. Adlay has been used for centuries as a natural remedy all of the world. For anything from skin ailments, to menstrual cramps, to even cancer in the liver Job’s Tears has shown some signs of improvement in one study or another.

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But what does it do on the skin? Well, Albion answers that question better than I can, they formulate their Essential Skin Conditioner with adlay as well, but utilize it much more for it’s actual skin benefits.

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(source)

So we see it helps regulate our skin cell synthesis. Cool! It’s based with 66% Seed Water, specifically from the Bong-hwa area. The 6 types of plant extracts, and 15 types of plant oil really just give it a scent more than an actual effect on the skin. Because it’s just a cleanser, on to the more important things.

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The cleanser’s consistency is so unique. I’ve also never tried a unique cleanser consistency that i’ve really enjoyed more than regular liquid/cream to foam. It’s almost like a mousse; it has nice spreadability and it lathers beautifully, especially for a cleanser with a pH of only 5.

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Having such a low pH is great. It means we aren’t stripping our natural lipid barrier, and keeping our skin around it’s natural acidic state. But the reason we don’t see every cleanser with a pH of 5 like this, is because often times the cleanser won’t lather very well unless it was a bit more stripping. You can find this with soapless cleansers, or very acidic sulfate washes like Tosowoong’s Enzyme Wash (review)

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When washing the mousse, foam, whatever lathers up really well. You can feel a couple pieces of the crush adlay as well. They’re too far and few in between to provide any amount of exfoliation. When washed off, I can’t say my skin feels tight, because it doesn’t. But it also feels a bit drier than if I used my Skin Laundry Foaming Wash that’s a pH of 7. What gives?! Even though it’s less stripping, it can be cleansing better. There could be more cleansing agent. It also doesn’t have oodles of B-vitamins or other things to help the skin maintain moisture better. There are a lot of factors as to why. But it really doesn’t bother me, like it makes people toss this product. I feel like my skin is perfectly prepped for a long, nice skincare routine.

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The scent is really relaxing and it’s a way more fun cleansing experience than dabbing some gel into your hands. But with that being said, often times when I’m fidgeting with the jar trying to get it open I am wishing I was just globbing some gel into my palms.

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I found this cleanser at Marshalls for <$10! You can find it online for anywhere from $7-$23. It does come with an expiration date printed on the bottom of both the box and package so no need to worry about picking up an old one!

[REVIEW] SWANICOCO PHA 10% COCO PEELING CREAM

With a name like Swanicoco I wanna tell everyone about it. Just because Swanicoco is extremely fun to say outloud. The name, like many kbeauty brands, is a blend-word. Swan = beautiful Coco = botanical. The brand recently has launched a 10% PHA cream alongside other innovative kbeauty brands following this trend. This is the first product of a few that I will be reviewing over the following weeks.

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What is PHA?

Other than a headache for beauty consultants to explain I can imagine, is an exfoliating acid, similar to AHAs (think Glycolic Acid) but have a larger structure therefore work slower / are less sensitizing. They aren’t anything new, but it’s something to buzz about in the beauty industry.

I like Swanicoco includes 10% PHA which seems to be an effective amount compared to CosRx’s 3%. Of course the percentage doesn’t matter as much as the Free Acid Value.. But I’ll leave that explanation up to another day. But comparing Swanicoco to the sample I had of the Moisture Renewal from CosRx, they’re definitely designed for slightly different purposes (But I felt SWANICOCO was the superior option all around) But the Coco Peeling Cream definitely exfoliated more.

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Ingredient features were relatively hard to find since the product is almost entirely in korean so I looked to CosDNA hoping for an ingredient list. CosDNA ingredients thanks to Crazysnaillady

Blueberry extract is the first ingredient before Gluconolactone (one of the two PHAs featured), providing soothing benefits and protective antioxidants. Niacinamide is the next power ingredient on the list which is a powerful B vitamin that helps with everything from acne to rosacea to dehydrated skin. Centella, Camellia, and Witch Hazel are also found, great soothers, protectors and blemish fighters!

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Besides just being safe and clean of any real pore clogging ingredients, SWANICOCO leaves this product unfragranced to reduce irritants (and room for actual ingredients!)

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Silicone free, looks very glycerin heavy

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It’s texture feels silky initially but leaves a noticeable tack when layering products. It also can leave a glossy finish, on my skin it leaves a glass appearance if layered on top of a full night routine.

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((this is the first time I’ve ever been comfortable taking such a close up of the most damaged skin on my face!))

I was really impressed by this moisturizer. When I first tried it, I told myself I was only going to try it one night before I switched back to my current night time moisturizer, but I found myself reaching for it the next night like it was apart of my routine or something??? So I stuck with it and now I’m kinda addicted.

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I wanted to give SWANICOCO and May @ Swanicoco a shout out for providing this (and more to come) tailored specifically to my skin’s needs for review purposes. I’m seriously in love with this, especially that it feeds my skin moisture and antioxidants while lightly, but consistently exfoliating while I catch some zzz’s.

Last but not least, if you want an extra boost of hydration, or like waking up to extra soft bouncy skin, apply a sleeping pack over the top of this. I’ve tried both hydrating gel sleeping packs like Dior Hydra Life Sleeping Jelly Mask & more lipid-y cream sleeping packs like CosRx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Mask (my review of it here!).

 

Find it on YesStyle, the official distributor of SWANICOCO globally. Make sure to check all their products out! They have some really neat stuff I’ve been eyeing for (very) future posts!

[REVIEW] Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel (FEB 2017 REFORMULATION)

Comfortable and water resistant are like polar opposites. The more water resistant something is, generally the more it feels like you superglued a sheet mask to your face.

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Biore has reformulated their two best sellers this February and I’m here to tell you about the Watery Gel refomulation! Now it’s water/sweat resistant!

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After trying the Biore UV Bright Milk I knew I wanted that same coverage that saved me from the brutal California sun. However, the way it matte downs is just a little too much for my dry skin so the search was on for something with the same ultimate sun coverage but maybe sat a little nicer for everyday.

The two suspects I wanted to pull in for questioning were Biores own “watery Gel” and Shiseido’s Senka Aging Care UV. Shiseido was just as easy to get here and half the price, but it’s a much older formula. It’s very easy to find the previous version of the Watery Gel for about the same price of the Shiseido SPF.  I appreciate brands that have best sellers that they want to improve on! So unfortunately if you were looking for a comparison vs the old. I sadly cannot help you there. However ingredients wise, it’s nearly identical.

While it’s main purpose is to protect, it contains Hyaluronic Acid, Xylitol, and Royal Jelly to Hydrate and moisturize. Alcohol is the second ingredient to help absorption and you can faintly smell it. I’ve noticed some warmer days it leaves me reaching for my Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen Set & Refresh Mist for some moisture. It’s strange because you can tell the product is /trying/ to hydrate. But the uniqueness of the 2017 formula is that it is now sweat resistant it contains a few high performance polymers. The application doesn’t feel heavy, but you can feel it slightly for a few minutes. After the product has dried and flexed around some it’s texture is smooth and not matte or dewy. Just kinda the same!

One deal breaker for many, (but not ya boy who matches to like… NC.0000002) is the cast of this product. On Rakuten it’s states as a ‘optical correction powder’ but I got my money on it’s just the Titanium Dioxide. This makes me wonder how many names brands have marketed it as some sort of ‘glow’ or ‘correcting’ powder. One thing I’ve noticed with how the sunscreen applies, it really doesn’t like to go on top of gel moisturizers. I got a ever so slightly streaky application after waiting 10minutes before applying it on top of Primary Raw Azulene Gel and then on a separate occasion also with Erborian Bamboo Creme Frappe. This sucks because my morning routines have been very low maintenance for the sake of compatibility with high(er) performance sunscreens.  It seems to do better with something slightly creamier but not too rich. Think, Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet.

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There are a few things I enjoy about the sunscreen. Consistency is fluid (contrary to the speckled look) but not too liquidy application. It took some trial and error but I found I get the best application to take a small amount in my palms and apply it quickly swiping.

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That second ingredient, alcohol, comes through with a subtle cooling effect when applying. Most people scoff at this ingredient, especially being so high. But alcohol, has a great roll here. It helps dry the sunscreen to helps the filters absorb, polymers, acylates and friends to adsorb. Better than any other ingredient. But isn’t it bad for you? Well… Through my teachings and own research on the subject alcohol is really only ‘bad’ undiluted direct to skin, or in high concentrations applied to dry skin. (You use this sunscreen directly after washing your face with dish soap) For more info futurederm has some great credible information on SD Alcohol (cosmetic great denatured alcohol, that’s in here, I don’t think I mentioned that part)

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Does my hand look ‘Optically Corrected’? It does look dewy!

Did I find a new everyday sunscreen? Unfortunately, no. While it may work for many as such, and I’m fine using it as such, I have my issues with it. Hit or miss application aside, something that bothers me about many of these super sunscreens are the high(er) octinoxate amounts. I was unaware of the exact percentages of really anything before I purchased it. I don’t want to scare people out of the ingredient like most blogs try to do. I’m not chucking this sunscreen out the window and chanting cleansing rituals to rid myself of the potential cancer. But I did order a very awesome sounding sunscreen from Amazon.jp -> Buyee.jp -> me that does NOT contain Octinoxate but still provides SPF50+ PA++++. I actually had to ask the help of RatZilla of Ratzillacosme.com for help finding this sunscreen, the Queen of Sunscreens.

If you’re scratching your head to why I’m concerned about an extra + sign, PA rating is a easy to understand way to rate a sunscreen’s UVA(ging) protection. Still scratching? Start with my SPF 201 post to quickly learn the basics of sun protection. Well since the only thing available in the US markets are PA+++ I want that FULL UVA protection. While a very very few sunscreens in the US market exist that will actually rate a PA++++ when tested but stated as PA+++ to calm the FDA down, they are very few and not the best formulas regardless. In markets where PA++++ exists, they almost all contain Octinoxate. It’s documented as safe, it’s cheap, and it works well. OKAY BUT WHY DON’T I WANT IT? Octinoxate is a known endocrine disruptor and while isn’t proven to be unsafe long term. It has not been proven to be safe long term. One unique thing about this filter is that it accumulates in our system. That is the reason I personally want to be staying away from octinoxate on a daily basis. I will have ZERO issues slathering Watery Gel all over my body every 90 minutes (WOW, I also didn’t mention this bad boy is sized for face & body) while I’m at the beach! But do I feel good applying it everyday with what I know about it? Not so much. There are some brands that advertise full protection with just mineral SPF. But in order for mineral sunscreen to reach past the minimum rating it needs to be L O A D E D with mineral.

Take a look at this sunscreen simulator, I found you needed roughly (extremely) 40% mineral SPF when using the maximum amount of Zinc Oxide (25%) to achieve a high enough PPD rating it would produce a Japanese PA++++ rating based on the 2.0mg/cm application amount which is standard.

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That’s a lot of mineral on your face! Part of my goal in this quest for finding my perfect everyday sunscreen is to find one I feel is genuinely comfortable. My experiences with high mineral content has never been a ‘cosmetically elegant’ one.

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Back to Biore though, I do like this sunscreen. Maybe not as much as I hoped but instead of finding a spot in my everyday routine I think it may have found a place in my backpack for hiking.

 

[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.

Mystery Grocery Store Masking [PART 2/?]: Kikumasamune Sake Brewing Face Mask

Oh boy, I was excited for this segment when I first started it, now I’m not sure how I’m going to financially support this segment because I want to go to the grocery store every day to grab some more face masks LOL. 

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Today we have Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Face Masks. They make this version and then also a ‘Moist’ version that contains placental protein, ceramide, and licorice root extract, I’m very intrigued but wanted to start with this simple and sexy ingredient list so I was more than happy bringing the white ones home instead of the adorable pinks ones that would match the new Moist lotion I got! (Review to come, actual products get way more testing time compared to sheet masks)

I couldn’t decide on Kose or Kiku, but i’m real tired of babies on the front of my packages Kose, talk to Loshi about it.

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Why did I pick these up? Kiku-Masamune’s lotions and emulsions are incredibly popular. The brand itself is very interesting, they are also a sake brewing company as well! Not in the same way SK-II was ‘discovered’ at a brewery, I mean they boast concentrating 1,800mL of sake ferment filtrate in every bottle from their OWN brewery that is still in business. Kikumasamune is a brewing company first, their skin care is just an extra blessing. 

This same sake ferment makes it way into these sheet masks as the 3rd ingredient without propylene glycol to be found and her less problematic brother butylene glycol is found very very low on the list and is actually the only /potential/ acne trigger. That’s almost unheard of. Especially in a world of sheet masks where the top 3 ingredients 9/10 times are water, butylene and propylene. 

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(this is NOT the moist version therefore the ingredients are incorrect, Oceana USA needs to get their shit together)

The fit of this mask is awful. Incredibly small all the way around, and since it’s a japanese daily mask style they’re drier than most sheet masks so they can ALSO have a hard time sticking. My daiso silicone mask is the only reason I can even try these masks to be frank. This size sheet mask is common in daily sheet masks, they aren’t really made for the mass market as some of the korean big names are. But if you have a silicone mask holder you shouldn’t run into issues with these (or really any other sheet mask)

(the uncut eye and nose holes are good signs of a cheap sheet mask that won’t fit well but of course YMMV)

Overall I was impressed with these, especially all the concentrated amino acids present (all those words ending in ‘sine’), something you normally see in a Peter Thomas Roth serum, not a $1 sheet mask. I can’t wait to try the moist version out, but I feel like my Horse Oil masks are too similar for me to go out of my way to purchase them right now.

They get a 8/10

No issues here except the fit.

(I may have thrown one off my face in rage because it wasn’t cooperating)

[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