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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’ve probably heard of them if you fancy Korean sheet masks. They are one of the leaders…………….(i’m sorry) in my ABSOLUTE favorite style of sheet mask. The hydrogel.
If you have not heard of Leaders, they are a clinical level skincare brand founded by South Korea’s #1 university, Seoul National University. Damn. They started with clinics for facials and such, but moved into the skincare market when clients were asking for at home versions of their treatments. They are now also the #1 mask seller in the world.
But hey guess who hasn’t tried anything from them, ever. This guy! Until now!
I started with their 7 Wonders Caribbean Coconut Calming Mask Because their hydrogel is made of 100% fermented (yeah, you read that right) coconut water. So without any essence this mask is going to deliver amino acids, or skin building blocks. +1
But the ingredient list is just as heavenly as the name. Every key ingredient is promoting calmness. Including Witch Hazel, and Portulaca Oleracea. Witch Hazel is also great at decongesting as well without being an acne or ‘purge’ trigger. Another ingredient note is ‘Hottuynia Cordata’ or more commonly referred to as ‘Dokudami’ commercially. This ingredient is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It has a long history of many uses. But topically, we also see it’s also antibacterial. You see Ceramide 3 for moisture, Licorice Root for soothing, and vitamins A C and E for conditioning.
The fit is great. No issues sticking to my face or my stubtle! Hydrogel masks are designed to give a second skin level adhesion, this has no issues delivering. I’ve done other hydrogel masks that are just really slippery. The mask is sandwiched in between two protective sheets (I’ve had sheet masks made out of the material they protect the gels with…) I literally just spent $6 at my local Asian market for another hydrogel masks that was super thick and didn’t stick as all. I also didn’t feel like my skin could ‘breathe’ as it can with this one.
While you relax you can take in the very subtle scent and cooling sensation. I rarely want to keep a mask on as long as they last, but I let this mask dry completely out on my face before removing it.
(seriously…. second skin)
Once removed, I wasn’t left with any residue or extreme tack. I felt ready to move on to the next steps in my routine without worrying about absorption.
After having such a good experience with these I’m reassured I can get them readily available as Ulta sells them in store and online! The hydrogel masks are a steal too at only $6, other bio-cellulose coconut gel masks I’ve used have ran upward of $8-$25!!!
Overall I give their hydrogels a 10/10, for their value, effect, and cosmetically pleasing formulas I never have to pay more than $10 for in a hydrogel. LEADERS, thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me share these with my readers; my unsatisfied craving for a good hydrogel has temporarily stopped.
But their sheet mask game doesn’t stop there. If you were looking for more practical/frequent sheet masks their Daily Wonders line offers some effective solutions in cotton sheet masks.
I got to try Too Much Fun in the Sun, which I was super excited about. My skin dehydrates pretty rapidly out in the sun. This premium cotton mask is soaked with soothers such as Chamomile and Portulaca Oleracea. Hydrating with Hyaluronic and Glycerin. While slightly underwhelming when compared to the 7 Wonders sheet masks I got to experience they definitely make more practical options for everyday use but still ensuring effective LEADERS solutions.
The cotton sticks well and this mask also has a slight relaxing fragrance to it. There’s definitely a lot more essence but that also gives you more time with the mask. I got about 20 minutes with the hydrogel while I got over 30 minutes with this Daily Wonders masks. I give this cotton mask an 8/10 considering price and value.
I have been so excited to share this toner but I wanted to give it a decent amount of time under testing. But from my first impression I’ve liked this product and my love for it just keeps growing every day I use it.
Galactomy Clearnskin Toner is a pH balancing toner that is hydrating, mildly exfoliating, and infused with the muti-functional powerhouse Galactomyces ferment filtrate. (what? find out here)
Manyo Factory is a lesser known but still relatively popular Korean brand that delivers high quality, simple, effective, concentrated, natural products. They don’t formulate with a lot of common irritants and always load up on key ingredients.
I love this stuff because well… It’s so gentle! So gentle I can remove heavy duty chemical exfoliators with it and it’s still incredibly soothing. My favorite part has to be the consistency. Many hydrating toners I’ve tried leave my skin sticky don’t leave it feeling entirely clean. This is based with Mineral water and Galacta so it’s perfect. It feels just like water. I also like that it’s in a spray, I can either spritz onto cotton pads or all over then wipe. Whichever way, the spray bottle works the best.
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…
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.
Yeah it’s sunscreen 201 not 101 because I’m givin’ you to some higher sunscreen knowledge.
First let’s talk about the types of damage our skin faces from the sun. They say that sun damage is the #1 cause of age on the skin. Even ahead of free-radical (pollution) damage. UV rays are the culprits for this, there are 3 different types of UV rays:
(credit: coola.com) (they make some bomb sunscreens too btw)
As we can see UVA rays penetrate the deepest, because of this these rays are the ones responsible for what is known as photo-damage. Photo-damage can come in the form of: dark spots, uneven skin tone, dehydrated skin; and worst of all, accelerated aging. These are actually the most prominent rays making up 95% of radiation from the sun that penetrates the OZone layer. These are also emitted from traditional indoor lighting sources too. (Yeah your lamp might be aging you I’m not even shitting you) LED lighting is said to produce no harmful amount of these rays. (HOWEVER ENOUGH TO ATTRACT MOTHS TO THE LIGHT STILL THANKS GUYS)
(This is Bill McElligot, a truck driver for over 30 yrs showing increased UVA damage, car windows block 100% UVB rays but don’t do much when it comes to the sleeper UV rays)
UVB rays don’t always reach the epidermis, and frankly we don’t want them reaching us at all. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, pink arms, and all the unpleasant sensations that come along with “too much sun”
Then we have UVC rays, which I will explain even though it’s irrelevant to most of the world. These are the strongest, most intense rays from the sun, and they actually cannot penetrate the OZone layer. However, since we’ve caused a couple holes in the southern hemisphere there are areas which you can be exposed to these rays. But hypothetically speaking, any prolonged exposure to UVC rays will cause much more damage than the other two.
Now we know what sun damage is and what causes it, lets talk about SPF. Spf stand for Sun Protection Factor and this is the measuring system used to tell us how well the sunscreen can protect against UVB rays. Specifically speaking, SPF will tell you how much longer before you would start to burn. SPF 20 is 20 times longer. 35 is 35 times longer. But this is frankly a useless way to look at SPF in my opinion since reapplication, formula, percentage, quality, etc are all factors. SPF can range from 10 all the way to ‘50+’. SPF is also not a linear rating system so SPF 20 isn’t double the protection of SPF 10. Here’s a chart of protection:
SPF 0: 0% SPF 10: 90%
SPF 15: 93% SPF 30: 97%
SPF 50+: 99%
No there’s nothing higher than SPF 50 no matter what neutrogena tries to tell you! There’s no 100% protection from the sun unless you’re just not being exposed to it. Most brands now, and any brand with integrity simply state ‘SPF 50+’ as an indicator there may be a temporary effect of a ‘higher spf’. Everyday use is recommend of course but a minimum of 15 should be worn everyday, while an SPF 30-50 is more suitable for going to the beach, etc. Some sunscreens can have a less pleasant texture when delivering more protection.
Now there’s also another rating system we see sometimes on sunscreens called PA. This stands for “Protection of uvA” The PA rating can This is actually a conversion from how the rest of the world rates sunscreen for UVA (remember aging!) Ratings range from PA+ to PA++++ of course the more pluses the more protection.
Sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB are called ‘broad spectrum’. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase at least once in your life.
Now that you know the Sun is the devil, we’ll move on to the different types of sunscreen. Physical vs. Chemical.
Physical sunscreens are minerals that block and reflect harmful UV rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are currently The only two physical sunscreens. Both happen to be broad-spectrum sunscreens, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Because of how these sunscreens work they can often times leave a sick and uncomfortable feelings.Physical sunscreens interact less with the skin compared to chemical sunscreens, making them more ideal for sensitive skin. These minerals are naturally white, therefore they can meet a white cast for streaking if not tinted. Considered to be the safest sunscreen option by most however there’s a lot of controversy over their saftey and the possibility of nano sized particles of these known carcinogens absorbing through our skin into our blood stream. I’m not frankly worried about it and don’t think you should be either. But hey, that’s just me.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Defense (Left) VS Tony Moly Mild Mango Block (Right)
The drunk elephant sunscreen is 20% zinc oxide, no fragrance so it smells like… mineral sunscreen.. or aka pennies. But this is to show the ‘white cast’ effect. Which in this physical sunscreen it’s minimized since there’s color correcting pigment added.
Chemical sunscreens are also known as organic sunscreens. Reason being they are generally derived from carbon. Chemical sunscreens generally work by causing a chemical reaction that converts the harmful UV rays into heat which then leaves our skin. These can cause irritation to some sensitive skin. Benefit over physical sunscreens is the increased UVA protection.These do take up to 20 minutes to activate. Some chemical filters can generate free radicals so we see many of them packed with an antioxidant boost to cancel out that effect. Some filters like avobenzone are very unstable, however it is one of the filters that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Filter sunscreens have a tendency to be light weight compared to physical sunscreens, they also do not produce a white cast making them in a great choice for any skin tone.
While there are a slew of different chemical sunscreens and they all have their own pros and cons. Many sunscreens actually aren’t sold in the US but can be purchased overseas in countries more conscious about their skin darkening. The US FDA is very slow at approving things (but also very slow and banning things it doesn’t make sense)
I hope this helps you navigate your next sunscreen purchase!
I actually gave up sleep to open this package up and give it a smell and test. After finally taking a couple showers with it I feel like I can give it a fair review. Granted this isn’t an extended test like I generally do on products for face.
Now it’s actually super pale but it’s on a dark background. But the color shaken up looks like you poured WAY too much milk in your coffee
What it is: Body Wash/ Bubble Bath. It uses some great skin friendly extracts like Argan Oil and Olive Oil to deeply cleanse (this is part of the ‘froth’ on top, real beer, hops, and malt!
What I like: While still being a soap it cleanses well! I’ve never had the thought to be doing an oil cleanse (or double cleanse) on my body until I saw this, this will help purify those lipid layers in our skin soap cleansers either strip dry or leave behind. AND. THE. SMELL. oh my god. I was hesitant with the ‘original’ scent. I was fully expecting to smell like my great uncle who’s full blooded german on New Years Eve but I was pleasantly surprised to experience a spicy/woody scent with the essence of hops in the background. Happy Bath (the name makes me smile every time I see it) nailed it with this wash in my book and I can’t wait to try some of their other flavors like coffee stout!
What I don’t like: It’s 300ml and I want 30 gallons.
Okay this is KEY. This product has been my most effective treatment I’ve used to date. Also what’s neat about it is, it’s also one of the cheapest products I’ve ever purchased coming in just under $19 USD.
However the first ingredient is 95% of the product (it’s not a typo and it’s not water!) And it’s the saaaaame prized ingredient SK-II has dubbed ‘Pitera’. It’s known as Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate and it is a yeast ferment generally occurring in the sake making process. But instead of paying $205 USD for it from SK-II at 90% with 10% preservative why not try it for $19 at a 5% higher concentration and the added brightening effect and antioxidant boost of Niacinamide? This is the Cosrx Galactomyces Whitening Power Essence (it used to be called White Power Essence before LMAO oops)
Here’s the OVERWHELMINGLY LONG AND SCARY INGREDIENT LIST:
Yeah dude, that’s it. These are also EXTREMELY safe and ‘clean’ ingredients as well. Cosrx is a near perfect brand and that is a title I thought would virtually never exist. But if we look at the sub ingredients they’re things we’ve seeing carry great benefit before like Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid) are humectants to help absorption and hydration. Adenosine and Allantoin are conditioning as well.
The reason people love first treatment essences (what’s that? read my blog post about the different types here) formulated with Galactomyces is the increased skin cell turnover. We see all around improvement not just individualized results for just one concern like wrinkles or dark spots. We are essentially dealing with all types of damage our skin deals with from existing damage to preemptive protection! This ferment is naturally loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and NMF (natural moisture factors) all that work synergistically to improve skin as a whole.
A study was done by SK-II (read about it here) on 100 women over 10 years with ‘Pitera’ aka THE SAME INGREDIENT! and all the women showed improvement in their skin in one way or another and increased hydration across the board.
This essence is a little different than your regular FTE because of it’s consistency. Most, including SK-IIs are very watery, however this is just slightly more viscous but I prefer this as it helps application and speed of absorption. The results are incredible, especially paired with a powerful serum (remember increased cell turnover means more room for increased results!) and seriously would recommend it to everyone and anyone. Especially for it’s price point E V E R Y O N E can benefit from this essence.
Peter Thomas Roth has always been a favorite of mine. With super effective, tried and true ingredients combined with some great innovation. Peter Thomas Roth has found his way into many people’s beauty drawer. But these are two new kick ass eye products that I can personally vouch for!
I started this blog a few months ago but haven’t posted much since the beginning and I’m going to change that! (It may be shorter posts but it’ll keep me posting!) But the main reason I haven’t had time to write is because I’ve been relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, Washington. Being my first move, it’s been tough! But because of this move I’ve had a lot of late nights, or draining days with not enough sleep in-between it really started to take a toll on my eyes. Well, my whole body but my dark undereye circles turned into basically two black eyes. Peter Thomas Roth came to my rescue and just in time. In just a few weeks my eyes were looking better than honestly I could remember.
I’m gonna start with the newly appointed king retinol eye cream, Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Eye Cream. Retinol is considered to be one of the best anti-aging ingredients out there. Commonly prescribed from Dermatologists to clients coming in with anything from acne to wrinkles, this ingredient is great at smoothing texture (all my fellow friends with milia hello!!), improve skin tone, and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles micro encapsulated at a smooth 1% to be released over 8 hours. This is the new age of beauty sleep!
(okay but not the most luxurious packaging ever?)
Now I could rattle off just a couple more ingredients that are helpful but I mean seriously this this is FILLED with them. Here’s a helpful list:
Caffeine – depuff
Vitamins A, C, E – antioxidant protection/ conditioning
Hyaluronic Acid – hydrating humectant
Squalene – moisturizing
Echinacea & Camellia – superior antioxidant protection
Like, guys there’s more but I didn’t feel like going any further. Let’s talk about texture. It’s a fairly thick cream and it dries down completely. I actually notice a bit of ‘hold’ like the same feeling you get with a heavy duty under eye concealer. I was told by a brand representative that this is to help the absorption of the ingredients with the eye area having smaller pores it can be a little more difficult.
Then my guilty pleasure are the 24k Gold Lift&Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patches. If you can’t get your 8 hours these will make you not only look but feel like you did.
Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin – hydrating and plumping humectants
I’ve never had as many astonished faces after taking these off clients compared to any other product I’ve used in consultations. These are crazy fast acting, and not to mention super relaxing. Whether you’re not feeling it when you wake up or have to look your best for a night out these lil guys will always have your back for puffiness, dark circles and dehydrated/tired eyes
I didn’t mention the gold found in these on purpose, it’s something many people believe has no/little effect on the skin topically and can be relatively gimmicky at times like how many people advertise collagen as a ‘unwrinkle’ ingredient but in reality it is beneficial as it’s very soothing/moisturizing but we don’t see much documented evidence it helps with firmness and elasticity and we know for sure it does not ‘add’ or ‘synthesize’ collagen production.
I know I said i was going to make these smaller probably and looking at the size of this, I’ll start with the next one.
I often get asked by friend and clients, so what EXACTLY do you do every morning and every night? And I can tell you my routine isn’t as strenuous as some. I had a fantastic coworker from China who told me she masked every. single. night. If I only had that time.. But here are my steps. (give or take a couple depending on how much time I have) The products for them are changing out here and there so I’ll just give example products I may use for that particular step. So here are my AM routine steps:
Cleanser: while we’re sleeping our body goes into a ‘maintenance’ mode replenishing cells throughout the body. We’ll want to shed any of those excess off that we accumulated overnight WITH . — JuJu Bar by Drunk Elephant ($28) would be a great fit here, it’s exfoliating, yet pH balanced so we aren’t overstripping our skin in the morning.
Essence: since we didn’t use a deep cleaning cleanser we won’t need to rebalance our pH with toner. This is going to start the hydration processes for our skin. Think of a sponge, a dry sponge cannot absorb liquid very well. But if that sponge is just a little damp it can pick it right up. Think of your skin like that sponge! —SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($99-$205) is the holy grail essence. Increasing skin cell turnover and improving texture and increasing hydration.
Serum: I prefer to use some sort of serum (part of our treatment steps) that’ll help with firming or radiance of the skin in the morning. Mainly because these generally have some sort of instant gratification that you’ll get to show off during the day as well as those important long term results. — Fresh Black Tea Firming Serum ($75) or SK-II Cellumination Aurabright ($160-$235) are great for those long term and instant results. Fresh’s Black Tea serum has a string of peptides that work synergistically to lift and firm the face for a ‘corset like effect’ was the key phrase from a Fresh Representative and I couldn’t agree more with it. SK-II’s Aurabright, while pricey has Niacinamide a super powerful ingredient that helps even skin tone out as well as actual light optics in colors red, green, and blue to give the appearance of your skin emitting an ‘aura’.
Moisturizer: I use a lightweight cream or gel base moisturizer in the morning so I don’t have any complexion products I use sliding off my face. — Erborian Creme Frappee ($43) is the perfect texture to me. Absorbs well, it’s cooling, acts like a makeup base, but still provides hydration and amino acids from bamboo.
Protect: Oh something I usually get from my color products… MISSHA’s Magic Cushion($19) or Perfect Cover($22) If I ever just was to wear SPF I would wear a nice chemical fluid. While I haven’t dived into the supposedly amazing South Korean brand sunscreens other than in color. I do love Shiseido’s Urban Environment Fluid($32) absorbs well, doesn’t leave the mineral cast, but is a little brightening