[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.

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.

LEADERS: My Hydrogel Fantasies

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

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

LEADERS made me a believer in LEADERS

until next time!

My 16-Step Night Time Routine & Why the Hell I Would do That to Myself

If I would have asked myself even 2 years ago if I would have a 16 step routine at night I would straight up laugh. But it also didn’t start that long. I remember when I thought doing 5 steps was lengthy and I was #skingod. Slowly but surely it’s grown into what it is now. A lot of clients ask me what my routine is and are shocked by how long it is. But I like to actually explain a lengthy routine like a car’s transmission.

In a standard car transmission there are a set number of gears. These gears are sized smallest 1st to largest. Many common older transmissions are 4-speeds while newer cars can come standard with 5,6,7,8 and even 9 speeds. Now if you want more control over the application of the car’s power to the wheels we would want a little bit more than just 4 speeds. To better explain this; my first car was a 97′ (it was pretty gnarly I loved it) it had a 4 speed automatic transmission. On the freeway if I needed to pass someone the car would need to downshift to 3rd gear in order to produce enough power to pass. But because there’s only 4 speeds. the difference between 4th and 3rd was the difference of my car puttering along on the freeway and screaming bloody murder trying to squeeze every ounce of the engine. But on my new car which is a ‘16 I it has 6 speeds (it’s a slightly older transmission for the year of the car, but it shifts faster than humanly possible with a manual so u know, car person reasons) so this means if I need to pass someone and I’m cruising on the freeway the jump in the 4 speed to 3rd would be similar to me shifting from 6th to 3rd my new car! But all I need is just a little bump in the 5th gear to successfully pass and my engine isn’t maxed out compensating. This is because each gear has more common ground with the next one. Like in my 97′ you can actually drive the car completely in 3rd gear.. BUT in comparison 1st gear will max out at about 21mph but in 2nd you can drive it as slow as 10mph but it’ll let me go all the way to say, 45mph. In 3rd In my new car the gears have more ‘middle ground’ or areas where you could be in a few different gears without them letting the engine bog down or over do it. That analogy probably won’t make sence but hey I tried. Let me try breaking it down more..

In a sense this applies to our skin. Me breaking my routine up into many steps provides more thoroughness and fine-tunability. Taking something like cleansing (since it’s the first step let’s say it’s first gear), and having it be 3 steps instead of 1 allows for a lot more fine tuning. For instance, I have a client who initially told me she wanted one cleanser that she could use daytime and night and it would remove her makeup, gives a deep clean, not be stripping, doesn’t clog pores. While this is asking for a lot, there are brands that claim their cleansers can do such, and some may do, to an extent. Now I could recommend a popular cleanser like Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser but I know in the back of my mind she could run into even more issues with things like her concern of blemishes, or giving a deep clean. But if she was willing to be able to split her cleansing routine into two steps instead of one, she could have a great oil cleanse that’s providing her that deep clean and makeup removal but then pair it with a gentle foaming cleanser she could use to tick off the non-stripping and clear pores points. The best thing about this is that she now has the versatility to use just her foaming cleanser in the morning but also maybe if she didn’t wear makeup that day, skip the oil cleanse if she so chose. So in my mind I see this as, the Soy Face cleanser is like the 4 speed transmission’s first gear. Or in my routine, my cleansing steps are actually my first 3 gears. 

It’s fun to think about our routines as a puzzle. Bigger puzzle pieces make the puzzle much easier but if a piece doesn’t perfectly fit, it can leave a bigger hole and leaving more work to be done. Another thing I hear a lot from people are these crazy horror stories of certain products they wanted to try that would cause super severe reactions like flakey dry skin, or acne. I’m not mentioning this to point them out as bogus or anything, believe me I see it. I’m mentioning it because when that happens to me it happens much less severely. Say my moisturizer may not be moisturizing enough, I just switched to a gel based one but not all of my lipids are from my one moisturizer, I am also getting them from things like my emulsion, possibly my serum, if I’m using an oil, etc. So my skin isn’t going from lipids to no lipids with a switch of a moisturizer like they would be if I only had one moisturizing step in my routine.

Another point I like with this ideology is that you can essentially break your routine into categories and then add and subtract from there. Feeling congested? Amp up the cleansing steps, maybe add a clay mask in before moving on to your treatment category. Or maybe you’re feeling dehydrated? Add in a hydrating essence to provide a hydration boost until the concerns have subsided.

So now the part you’ve been waiting for, my routine. (I need fireworks going off) This is my routine as of the posting date but it’s very slowly, but constantly changing.

Oil Cleanse

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Currently I am using Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm, I love this because it is mineral oil free, however it fully breaks up my sunscreen, bb cream or whatever I have on my face for the day. It’s also fairly moisturizing in this dry cold winter and you can leave it on for awhile as a moisturizing mask as well.

Foaming Cleanse

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My foaming cleanser rotates out between a few depending on how deep of a clean I need. Currently it’s been consistently Huangjisoo Pure Daily Foaming Cleanser since trehalose is the second ingredient and it’s pH balanced and formulated with only gentle ≤2 EWG rated ingredients.

Tone (Optional)

I put optional because if I am using a pH balanced cleanser, such as right now I do not need to rebalance my pH before using pH sensitive acids next.

BHA

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Currently I am in search of a new BHA exfoliator to use but in the meantime I’ve been using my trusty Perricone Exfoliating Pore Refiner with it’s gentle betaine salicylic acid. I will occasionally use this as a cotton pad spot sheet mask for a couple of minutes to give my pores a serious flushing (however not recommended) It has a great antioxidant complex containing some of my favorites such as turmeric and green tea.

AHA

PapaRecipe gives my wallet a break with their White Flower Clear Up 8% AHA Gel it uses Glycolic and Lactic acids to gently exfoliate while it can also be considered a treatment since it’s also loaded with niacinamide and fights breakouts with centella and chamomile. It smells funky and stings a bit but I love that this is meant to be followed with toner so there is no sticky residue left behind (like using a leave on glycolic serum can oftentimes be very tacky)

Tone

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Currently I’ve been using Perricone’s Facial Firming Toner or occasionally if I feel extra dry, I will use Benton Snail Bee Skin which is a soothing toner with snail secretion, B vitamins, and an array of premium botanicals. The Facial Firming Toner however is quite the opposite, it’s an astringent toner with alcohol and glycolic acid to prep the skin for treatment; but it’s also loaded with Perricone’s DMAE, a clinically proven firming ingredient.

Other Actives

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Currently I am on a Curology subscription so my current prescription is all anti-acne. You can read part 1 of my experience with it here

-20 Minutes-

When using highly active ingredients you want to make sure you give them ampoule time to absorb and/or ‘deactivate’ before moving on to the next step. We also want to reduce potential negative interactions with other ingredients as well.

First Treatment Essence

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As I am dwindling down on two essences, My CosRx Galactomyces Whitening Power Essence and Tony Moly 96.5% Galactomyces essence are about exhausted. I am excited to replace these soon with what I believe to be a superior option for my skin: Benton’s Fermentation Essence, it contains my beloved galactomyces ferment as well as Bifida Ferment (popular in Lancome’s Genifique, Estee Lauder’s ANR, and Dior’s Capture XP serums) with a few other supporting ingredients like Ceramide 3 to start lipid additions as we go deeper into the routine.

Essence(s)

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Currently I am using Benton’s Snail Bee Essence paired with Blithe’s 5 Energy Roots essence to seal in deep hydration. Since Blithe’s contains dimethicone I prefer to use it after the very light formulation of the snail-bee essence. (Even though it is a gel, and the Vital Treatment essence is actually less viscous.

Benton Snail Bee Essence Review

Blithe Vital Treatment Essence 5 Energy Roots Review

Serum/Ampoule

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Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk has been impressing me thoroughly. I chose it initially because it’s slightly moisturizing and L O A D E D with great ingredients such as hydroxypinacolone retinoate (a derivative of retinol that isn’t as irritating as standard retinol, and claims superior absorption. It’s found in PTR’s 3% retinoid and Philosophy’s HPR products and it’s definitely my favorite form of vitamin A i’ve used) and strings of peptides to help retexturize and firm. But the slightly moisturizing part is the great part for me. To be able to get treatment incorporating squalane, sphingolipids, phospholipids and collagen amino acids. Definitely worth the $65 price tag.

Sheet Mask (Optional)

Depending on my mood and current skin state this is where I give myself some creative freedom. I am not the type of person who has a different routine everyday as I believe ingredients take time and repeated, consistent use.

Emulsion/Lotion

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This is where the lipids start to creep in heavier. I haven’t had the chance to use many products in this watery lotion/lotion category as it’s the newest major step I’ve added to my routine! I’ve been using this step since the beginning of summer and I’ve been amazed at how much it improves my transition from serum to moisturizer. Benton’s trusty Snail Bee line shows up again in it’s lotion form to provide snail secretion, niacinamide, glycerin and oligopeptides!

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Oil (Optional)

I love oils conditionally. Since my routine is what it is (extensive and thorough) I really don’t need an oil with the rest of my routine. But since moving to the cold my skin has been welcoming this step at night with RENs Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil. It’s a lighter weight oil with essential omega acids our skin loves. It contains rice oil, camelina oil, and soothing bisabolol.

Eye Cream

*to the tune of oh Christmas Tree* Oh millia, oh millia, why do I have to deal with you. Regularly I would just want an eye cream that fits the description of firming and extremely moisturizing but Peter Thomas Roth has me covered in the dermal exfoliation department. The Retinol PM Fusion Eye Cream is incredible in my book. Slowly but surely it always shows improvements in my under eyes. It has 1% microencapsulated retinol that is released over a period of 8 hours. To read more I have a full review here

Occlusive/Moisturizer

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This is generally where I get the majority of my lipids. Currently I am using two different moisturizers. However I am using Joseon Dynasty Cream which is slightly more on the hydrating side of the spectrum. But still contains oligopeptides as well as ceramide 3 and argan oil. (I also use Benton Steam Cream for my problematic areas) Full review here

Sleeping Mask

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Last but surely not least a product to seal all my hard work in. I’ve tried many and two stand out. But the one that’s been leaving me dewy in the morning is CosRx Nourishing Rice Sleeping Pack. It’s 65% rice extract with niacinamide and a moisturizing feeling left behind. This lil guy also has a review you can read. For many people who want to keep a simple routine but need a little ‘boost’ once in awhile generally enjoy sleeping masks as they provide this without being time consuming like a mask or sheet mask.

[REVIEW] SKIN FOOD Rice Wash Off Mask

Guys, this was a dud. Sorry. 

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(like I’m not even gonna take updated photos of it)

I’ve seen so many reviews raving about this mask. I see it in almost every asian beauty store I go to and it’s just like ??? why ??? to me now. The first time I tried it I thought I initially liked it. Over a few uses I grew really tired of it. I didn’t really notice anything except my face feeling pretty smooth afterwards. But then when I started ingredient digging I started to grow less and less fond of it. 

Let’s take a look:

WATER, CETYL ETHYLHEXANOATE, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, CETYL ALCOHOL, GLYCERIN, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, ORYZA SATIVA (RICE) BRAN WATER, STEARIC ACID, POLYSORBATE 80, HYDROGENATED JOJOBA OIL, GLYCERYL STEARATE, PEG-100 STEARATE, SORBITAN STEARATE, CARBOMER, DIMETHICONE, TRIETHANOLAMINE, SODIUM ACRYLATES COPOLYMER, SUCROSE COCOATE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, DISODIUM EDTA, METHYLPARABEN, IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, BUTYLPARABEN, FRAGRANCE

Just one measly quality ingredient callout. It’s really just the product is imbalanced. It’s not very exfoliating at all, i’m assuming it uses jojoba beads as hydrogenated jojoba oil is included but I don’t see any other potential exfoliant on the list. It has a few mild acne triggers as well as most of the “moisturized” feeling will be coming from the film forming ingredients like sucrose cocoate, and silicone ingredients like dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. 

After leaving this mask on for 10-15 minutes you rinse and carry on with your routine. However still feeling a light film, I go over my face with some toner on cotton pads to remove it. 

I really don’t have a lot more to say about it other than, I wouldn’t waste my money on it again. It just didn’t do anything well. Brightening? No more than washing my face. Exfoliating? Barely Moisturizing? Not in my book.

Rating 2/10 

*mouth fart* 

Sleeping ______

Have you ever heard of a sleeping mask? Like every other product in skincare these fellas are also very ambiguous going by names like sleeping cap, sleeping pack, sleep-in facial, etc. The list goes on. Here I’m gonna talk about 3 of them. 

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First, what is a sleeping mask?

Generally, these masks are loaded with specialized ingredients and have a ‘sealant’ like effect to help increase absorption of the mask (and everything we’ve applied underneath) Great for overnight while we aren’t doing anything. There are also different consistencies too. Gel like ones may be more suited for normal to oily skin, while they have more nutritional/lipid based ones as well for normal to drier skin.

MIZON Special Solutions Good Night White Sleeping Pack has to be one of my favorites. Niacinamide is the name of the game with this mask. One of my favorite ingredients for brightening. Niacinamide unlike some brightening ingredients is a B-vitamin that’s great at suppressing the excess melanin (the pigment of our skin, the deeper the color the more melanin is present.) but is especially good for those who may not apply sunscreen regularly or at all. Some people may know this all over brightening effect marketed as ‘radiance’.  Contains Natto Gum (fermented soy protein) and Placenta (yes!!!) to help ‘feed’ the skin nutrients and protect against oxidative damage. Doesn’t require to be washed off in the morning as well, however I will always recommend to do so and follow with a morning routine. If you’re in a pinch you won’t have to worry about this causing any little white heads from leaving it on!

Dr. Jart+ Water-Max Sleeping Mask is another goodie. (Also an oldie to my routine; it was the first sleeping mask I ever tried and fell in love.) This is one that mentions in the directions to wash it off in the morning. Containing Hyaluronic Acid Macromolecule a super tiny (or should I say ‘macro’) size of this amazing ingredient that acts like a water reservoir for our skin. Skin can have a hard time absorbing things depending on the size of the molecule it’s trying to absorb. The smaller the molecule the better. Many brands have been starting to use Micromolecules of this ingredient but Dr. Jart+ steps it up by adding it one step smaller. You can also find Olive Leaf for increasing skin barrier and a surprisingly small ingredient list filled with other supporting protecting ingredients. They have also added some relaxing botanicals like lavender to help relax and lull you to sleep. 

Fresh’s Black Tea Overnight Firming Mask may be my least favorite out of the bunch that I’ve tried. It may be the best smelling with a scent signature to Fresh’s Back Tea line. But it’s very thick, tacky, and initially uncomfortable. It absorbs fully overnight leaving you in awe with how soft your skin is in the morning, but I recommend getting a sample of this one from Nieman or Sephora before taking home the $94.00 mask over the others. But comfortability aside, this mask is still loaded with some great ingredients. Contains Hyaluronic like the Dr. Jart one however just regular ol’ hyalo. Some peptides are added to the mix for firming, lifting, toning, contouring, all that jazz. Belle De Nuit extract is a power player for this mask, great at soothing and softening, but also gives this mask a great relaxing twist on the already great Black Tea fragrance. This flower in french literally means “Flower of the night” as it only blooms at night! It’s said this flower is a very potent aphrodisiac as well. 

Whatever sleeping mask you end up with, whether it be one of these or another, remember to find one you’re comfortable with. I have many clients who want to like the Fresh one but can’t stand the feeling of it. Check out the consistencies of these below. Mizon’s actually start to absorb and dry in the the time it took me to take the photo.

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MASK HAUL! MASK HAUL! MASK HAUL! MAS—

Hi! Recently I went on a ‘staycation’ here in the Bay Area (actually also Point Reyes) while my partner visited. I’ll post em’ all here and as I try them out I’ll be posting lil reviews on them. (And yeah that one down there is a placenta mask.)

But here I wanna take a second to give an (unsolicited) shout out to Candy Doll Beauty in Japantown, San Francisco CA. They carry a lot of popular and great Asian Beauty products you can only find in a small handful of places in the US like MEDIHEAL, Too Cool For School, PureSmile, ETUDE HOUSE, Dolly Wink, I even came across a couple Missha products. Also their markup is very very small. I was paying $3.00 for a product online directly from Korea that is $2.30.