[REVIEW] Shiseido SUNMEDIC UV Medicated Day Protect Mild SPF 50+ PA++++

The review I’ve been waiting to write since I clicked the order button. If you read my last sunscreen post you would have read about my quest for the perfect daily sunscreen. To recap, biore watery gel was a bust. It’s a favorite for many, it sounded like the more ideal choice for me out of the two choices, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Partially because of it’s filter content.

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What exactly am I looking for in a sunscreen?

  • SPF 50+ PA++++, Prone to dark spots.
  • Bioaccumulative and estrogenic filter free/ Specifically Octinoxate free, this filter accumulates in your system and is widely used. Personal preference.
  • ‘Cosmetically elegant’, It needs to feel good
  • Somewhat durable throughout the day

SUNMEDIC UV’s Medicated Day Protect in Mild seemed to fit the bill. But it wasn’t easy to find. It was actually SO hard to find, I asked Ratzilla of http://www.ratzillacosme.com to help me out. She suggested a new Anessa SPF that was more for outdoorsy use and this one. Both made by Shiseido a leader in sunscreens, I felt pretty confident I would find something I like in either of them. But I leaned towards this because I was guessing it would feel a bit better throughout the day compared to the Anessa one.

Ingredients wise, this sunscreen fights with the big dogs. It definitely kicks every American sunscreen I’ve tried in the ass. Since it’s stated ‘medicated’ in japan, it’s what is known as a ‘Quasi Drug’. What’s a quasi drug you might ask? It’s a category of cosmetics that lighten and prevent hyperpigmentation. There are set active ingredients and amounts that can be used that make a product a functional whitening cosmetic. (Remember! Whitening just refers to the rapid brightening process, not necessarily skin bleaching) The active quasi drug ingredient is Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate. Paired with Xylitol, this dream team is irritated and sensitive skin’s best friend.  Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate is a salt derived from Licorice Root. It’s clinically proven to reduce redness and irritation, as well as atopic dermatitis (eczema). Xylitol is a Natural Moisturizing Factor so it helps our skin retain moisture and hyaluronic acid.

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Shiseido gives a lot of things, a lot of names and a lot of patents. Take that however you want. One things they patented is their ‘Light Stamina’ Technology. Which is said to release UV rays into heat offering a more stable protection. Wait… isn’t that EXACTLY how chemical filter sunscreens work??? So to tell you the truth, even after extensive googling I found nothing about light stamina and why it’s patented and if it’s different that the regular filters that are converting rays into heat as it is..

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SUNMEDIC promises this sunscreen is free of any potential irritants. It’s 1. paraben free (wasn’t specifically looking for this but less is less!) 2. alcohol free (nice! a lot of ABeauty sunscreens I’ve found contain alcohol to help dry. I just find sometimes it messes with layering products) 3. Mineral oil free, I don’t need this but mineral oil is cheap and doesn’t feel super cosmetically elegant. 4. Colorant free, some colorants are SUPER pore clogging so, cool! 5. Lastly Fragrance free, unpopular opinion I love smelling smells. Most shiseido products are LOADED with perfume but SUNMEDIC is not the brand for smelly smells.

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I don’t feel it on my face. But when I put it on my face feel a nice cool feeling, not the same cool feeling Biore Watery Gel gives from it’s high alcohol content. It’s that fresh feeling you get after patting the excess essence in from the sheet mask you just pulled off. My guess is it’s either the Licorice derivative or the xylitol is really workin’.

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UPDATE: I had to translate an ingredient list from japanese.. But I got all the ingredients to match actual ingredients so I think I got it.

It leaves me feeling radiant without any noticeable white cast. I think Shiseido needs to get this sunscreen formula into a broader range of products because it’s really somethin’!

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Look at that radiance.

Holding up through the day, you’ll want to reapply before going out again. It isn’t water/sweat resistant. For everyday use water/sweat resistant sunscreens aren’t really necessary and can make the product feel more like glue less like a nice moisturizer. But even through a day of work I can still notice that ‘radiance’ I pictured above so there’s still sunscreen on my face. But those invisible filters are the ones more likely to have worn off, and those are our super defence against UV(Aging) rays.

I purchased this product through Buyee.jp  on Amazon.jp. Buyee will purchase your favorite japanese items and then ship them anywhere in the world! Amazon is affiliated with them and while yes, you can purchase items directly through Amazon with AmazonGlobal, as a big boss company they won’t ship it since it is a prohibited item in the US. Those sunscreen filters (the super safe non-estrogenic ones, not Oxctinoxate the estrogenic one allowed in the US) make this product a no-go. Rakuten Global also does not ship this item. But when you’re browsing Amazon.co.jp you’ll want to either ‘search in english’ or search it’s japanese name. There’s way too many sunmedic sunscreens and it wasn’t coming up SO I had to find it’s name that was copy/pastable (no thanks to Ratzilla’s website 😐 )  ‘サンメディックUV 薬用デイプロテクト マイルド クリーム 顔・首用 25g SPF50+ PA++++ [医薬部外品]’ [Direct Link] (you’re welcome) But Buyee as of right now offers a solution around this. All for ~800JPY or ~7USD they will purchase it, ship it to themselves, inspect the package!!, repackage it up, and ship it off to your grabby hands. I highly recommend the service, it went so smoothly, I’ll definitely be using it next time to purchase more. But the more you spend, the more cost effective the service fees get, so gets some sheet masks too! I recommend these ones (if you’re feelin’ lux) or these by LuLuLun if you’re wanting to try daily masking or just more frequent masking if you can’t get them near you at an asian market. (They’re a lot cheaper than if you buy them in an asian market here too!!)

SO?

 

[Review] Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Fluid: Emulsion Elegance

As spring arrives and I’m daydreaming about summer, we often look to switch up parts of our routine needing less moisture, and/or more hydration. Emulsions have to face the tightrope of consistency. If they’re too thick, what’s the point of another moisturizer? If they’re too thin, what’s the point of your essence? Emulsions provide us a silky smooth transition from your treatment or hydration steps (I dunno your routine or how you want to categorize, boss.) into your moisturizing step(s). Necessary? No. Beneficial? Ya. How? Let’s find out!

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Sulwhasoo is like a 3 Michelin Star restaurant, a complete sensorial experience. Maybe in different ways, you’re not rubbing foie gras on your face. (I think foie gras would be too blasè for a 3 star restaurant tbh) But there’s a lot more to a product than good ingredients. First is the scent, with a sultry pine/ginseng hanbang-y smell it’s true Sulwhasoo. Second is texture. Sulwhasoo hits it on the head as far as consistency goes. Third is how they process their naturals using the Poje Method. There are 5 different treatments that can be done to the ingredients. Honey treatment (I am so excited to write more about this in another Sulwhasoo post 😉 ) Alcohol Treatment, Germinating Treatment, Steam Treatment, and Salt Treatment. Some of these treatments (like the Honey Treatment) are specific to certain key ingredients in other lines. In this emulsion we see the Salt Treatment used.

“The Salt Treatment involves baking ingredients in salt. Sulwhasoo Snowise line uses Salt Treatment. First, salt is dissolved in water. Then, logs of mulberry tree which is known as a strong whitening agent, is completely soaked in that water and baked. Salt not only clarifies the body and purifies the blood, but it also fortifies the Yin energy and detoxifies inflammation to clarify and brighten skin.

The Salt Treatment enhanced the skin detoxification efficacy of the mulberry tree and improved the power of the active ingredients.“

-eng.amorepacific.co.kr 

Snowise utilizes White Ginseng instead of Red Ginseng. Which isn’t a different root, it refers to the untreated ginseng root which is pale in color compared to the vibrant red steamed ginseng roots. Because of this Sulwhasoo saves time and money on NOT using their precious red ginseng extract that undergoes the Poje style Steam Treatment. But have no fear, you’re still getting the same top notch ginseng. It just may not have gone through the michelin star experience yet. It needs about another $100 tacked onto the price (see: Sulwhasoo Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum) if we were looking for that type of concentration in a product.

Wandering the ingredient list, I was stoked to see it wasn’t based with any silicones or cleansing agents. Even more stoked to see Squalane as the third ingredient. Squalane is a lovely skin replenishing ingredient that mimics our own lipid content. It sounds dramatic, but the proof in how much I love this brand is in the holes Sulwhasoo has made in my wallet. I purchase Sulwhasoo products over other maybe potentially more ‘active’ for the whole experience. The way this emulsion absorbs is like no other, but also when I put it on in, take a deep breath in and get a whiff.. It’s like a shot of relaxation. That to me is worth every cent of the price difference.

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Under the hood the Snowise Fluid has a killer brightening complex. I can’t describe it better than the people who made it:  “Snowise Tri-White Complex includes White Ginseng Saponin, which prevents melanin generation; White Cloud Grass™, a potent defense against light and heat; and White Ginseng Polysaccharides, which minimize sallowness in the skin—all of which help strengthen and protect the skin.”

Okay maybe I can describe it better in some ways than they did.. Starting with the White Ginseng Saponin, this is a component of ginseng. L O A D E D with antioxidants and provide soothing and protecting effects. White Cloud Grass unfortunately, I could not find what this name might relate to…. So that they can describe better than me I guess. Then White Ginseng Polysaccharides, another component of ginseng that is. Polysaccharides, being a NMF (natural moisturizing factor) and antioxidant carrier, and making up 10-20% of the root, makes it a no brainer for the formula.

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Some ingredients Sulwhasoo was too modest to brag about are: Two types of Licorice Root Extract, powerful soothing agents I love to see anywhere and everywhere. Ginkgo Biloba, an anti inflammatory ingredient that helps increase circulation.

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Is she brighter than me? Well she’s covered in silver highlighter head-to-toe…

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Does it brighten? Well.. if you’re speaking about dark spot suppression, not as much. There are specialized dark spot correcting products within the Snowise line. However, the fluid I believe is designed to be more of a multifunctional emulsion / soothing, tone restoring, antioxidant hug.

Why didn’t I go with the popular Essential Balancing Emulsion, when I said I loved it in an IG post? After a short conversation with my Sulwhasoo savvy Ajumma in the Amore boutique, she mentioned the Snowise fluid is more moisturizing. But when I applied them both on the back of my hand I felt like the Snowise absorbed much quicker. I also liked the products high Squalane content, something the Balancing Emulsion lacked.

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One perk of emulsions are finely tuning the amount of lipids, or moisture your skin gets. I would never be able to wear just a gel moisturizer, unless I was in the TROPICS. Unfortunately, Seattle is not the tropics last time I checked. My skin wants at least a little bit of lipids. With it being spring time, my skins doing great with emulsion and gel moisturizer in the morning, and sticking to emulsion, cream, and sleeping pack at night. No face oils have been necessary, luckily.

Overall, Sulwhasoo did it again. I feel like I could pick anything up from them and probably find something to love about it. But this emulsion made me fall in love with it inside and out.

 

 

[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

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!

[REVIEW] Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion #11

I think this is my first makeup post on here! But it’s still skincare, you will see. Look at this cushion! It’s not a new one, it’s not a lesser known one. It’s Sulwhasoo’s best selling, super dewy finish cushion the Perfecting Cushion. When I first discovered this cushion they didn’t actually make it in a color that matched me. But since those days Sulwhasoo now sells their Perfecting Cushion in 6 shades: #11 Pale Pink, #13 Light Pink (what I normally match to in other cushion brands), #21 Medium Pink, #23 Medium Beige, #25 Deep Beige, #33 Dark Beige.

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I actually got this cushion to celebrate a new job! It’s unfortunately (but not that unfortunate) not in skincare, but I’m hoping it’ll give me more creative freedom with this blog! I got a lot of privileges products from my old job that I review on here, so there will be a shift more into solely products I pick out with my own wallet and money! Less branded, overhyped junk you can buy at a cosmetics store, more hidden gems.

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Sulwhasoo is one of the brands I’m the most interested in that I don’t get to experience as much as I would want to. Mainly because the products are expensive, and hard(er) to find. Since they’re under AMOREPACIFIC you can often times find teeny tiny boutiques that carry it inside of asian markets. If you don’t have any around you, some Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom stores sell them as well. But it’s hard to find still, Seatte’s Nordstrom just started carrying Sulwhasoo a few months ago. I purchased this at the AMOREPACIFIC inside of the HMart shopping center in Lynnwood, WA because I love supporting local businesses, it’s the same price, and I got showered with love from the Ajummas who work there and samples from not only Sulwhasoo but from other AMORE brands like ARITAUM, IOPE, and Mamonde. Brands you won’t find anywhere other than a true K-beauty store.

If you know me, I want to be g l o w i n g 24/7. I’d like to think I do a pretty good job at this with just my skin routine, but during the day I like to amp it up some. I’ve gone back and forth between doing my whole face everyday to nothing to light makeup styles. Fine tuning my skin’s texture over time has had a lot to do with this. I could never settle on what I prefered the look of because my texture and tone were constantly changing. I’ve settled on cushions finally because I realize I will always want some tint and pore coverage on my nose and inner face. Those bad boys are at a genetic predisposition, thanks Dad.

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What is a cushion compact?

Magical skincare Photoshop sponges. Now you can get foundation, blush, highlighter, color corrector, pretty much anything in a cushion compact. But this is part of the OG first generation of AMOREPACIFIC cushion compacts. The idea of them is to be the next generation of on the go coverage and SPF in one. Brought to life by AMOREPACIFIC’s own R&D Team, the HERA UV Mist Cushion was the first launched in 2008! It was a long work in progress but it has already shaped the world’s cosmetic industry and will continue to do so.

Almost every brand has their own version of these compacts but AMOREPACIFIC has filed 114 patent applications and already registered 13 patents. The amount of time this company put into the product is staggering, but it’s definitely paying off for them. They state in 2014 alone, they sold a cushion every 1.2 seconds. This cushion albeit from their most luxe brand (if you don’t include amore themselves) cost me $65, $5 more than AMOREPAICIFC’s own Color Control Cushion Compact. I wanted to splurge for the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Intense Cushion but at $80 I couldn’t bring myself to pay $40 per sponge. Per sponge? Yup. They give you a refill cushion to use when you finish off the first one! It actually adds up to ~1oz of product which is smaller than a foundation but by less than half.

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The cushion has a unique film fixing polymer that gives it your skin an unrivaled dewy finish as well as a blurring effect. It also helps keep the product on and in place all day long. Sulwhasoo states that this should also insure long lasting coverage, up to 12 hours to be exact. That’s foundation strength wear! The color shown is #11 Pale Pink, comparing to other colors, I feel like it’s pretty dark for ‘11′. I feel like it’s just slightly lighter than Missha’s #21 in their Perfect Cover BB Cream.

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Pale pink isn’t quite pale enough for this pasty-paste.

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Blended in however you can see that gorgeous radiance and no orangey tone.

Part of Cushion benefits are SPF! Since these are hybrid on-the-go formulas they provide decent sun protection and make great SPF touch ups that doesn’t disturb other makeup. This compact sports an SPF 50+ and a PA+++, so maximum protection (in the US that is.) Lastly, I want to point out the quality. After owning a few other cushions I was really impressed with this one. I’ve never owned a legit Amore cushion, only cheap Missha ones. Those not only didn’t come with a refill, some things just feel off. The Sulwhasoo applicator sponge feels really high quality compared to them. I feel like I use a lot less product as well. It lays nicer, feels better. It’s just better.

What makes you really fall in love with the compact is the scent. It’s a signature Sulwhasoo Hanbang scent. Like a sexy ginseng root, this cushion gets a 10/10. I just might splurge (even though the $65 was a splurge) on the Intense Cushion next time, as it’s apart of their newest generation of cushions!

till next time!

Happy Bath Body Wash Showdown: Lessons in pH

Happy Bath is a brand under the king AmorePacific umbrella of brands. It’s their take of a simplistic and fun bath and body brand. Over the past 6 months I’ve been using exclusively Happy Bath soaps. You may have read my post of their beer soap which is still one of my favorites but today I’m here to talk about two of their core products!

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They may look similar but they are C O M P L E T E L Y different washes!

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Have you ever used a foaming cleanser that when mixed with water it gives you a lather that just. wont. quit? (Some examples I’ve used are: any Shiseido foaming cleanser, Nature Republic Fresh Herb foaming cleansers, CosRx Salicylic Exfoliating Cleanser.) Happy Bath’s Perfect Soap is essentially this style face wash for your body. This style of body wash is known by a few different names: whip soap, perfect whip, marshmallow soap, marshmallow whip, the list goes on. But the texture is like a marshmallow, soft and creamy. Also like a marshmallow though, these soaps aren’t the best idea for frequent use (or consumption)

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The pH of these have a tendency to be on higher side, if the pH was lower we probably wouldn’t get all this cool looking whip. This is the key difference of this cleanser. It’s cleansing power! pH is a key note because it’s higher pH it’s going to be tougher on grease buildup and oils. Our skin generally sits at about 5.5 This cleanser is relatively (but not chronically!) alkaline at a pH of ~8.

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But this means we are also stripping more of our natural moisture. I actually conditionally love this part about it, I ‘whip’ this soap out when I’m feeling extra grimy. (sorry) But truly, I love this stuff. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but if you need that deeper clean or just like that ‘clean’ feeling. Extracts to note are Soapwort. It gives it a great clean/fresh laundry scent and is actually one of the original plants saponins were extracted from! It’s pretty cool, you can take soapwort leaves, stems and roots and let them soak in water and you whala! you have a mild household cleanser. Lather and everything. Side note: it really does pair well with the 24H Shea Moisture body lotion.

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Then we got this dude. Happy Bath Relaxing Lavender Body Wash. This is a different vibe than the perfect soap. This body wash uses a combo of Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALS) along with Cocamidopropyl Betaine. These ingredients shed light on Happy Bath still being a lower priced brand. While being much more gentle than Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate these aren’t the most ideal ingredients. I am not an anti SLS person, I am an anti-high-pH person.

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Meaning I care more about the stripping power of the cleanser, not the deemed safe ingredients. Which is why the Perfect Soap leaves my skin feeling drier and stripped compared to this lil guy. Infused with lavender and rose it leaves you and your bathroom smelling like lavender fields for hours.

Perfect Soap – High Foam – High pH ~8 

Body Wash – Low Bubble – Low(er) pH 6

(neutral pH is 7, skin is 4.5~5.5)

[REVIEW] Meg. Cosmetics Two Step Jelly Mask

I am always down for an extra step in my mask. Especially with this one from Meg. I received this being apart of the second generation of Cupidrop’s Beautiful Pioneer Program in return for my honest opinion. (They also sent me some CosRx holiday stickers that I love too much to put on anything yet) Meg. Cosmetics is not a well known brand at all. Actually I had to do some digging myself to pull up some background on the brand.

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Meg. Cosmetics is a ‘k-beauty’ New York based company. What I get from that is Americans using korean formulations and manufacturing (the mask is made in Korea). The name Meg was chosen because of it being a common american name. They also use the same high end nail formulation that brands like Chanel and Dior use.

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This mask set is really awesome though. For $6USD you get a AHA peeling swab, or this jumbo Q-Tip soaked in Lactic Acid, a more gentle exfoliating acid, as well as BHA (pore care), Chamomile and Centella (soothing). You swab this over your face removing any unwanted dead skin buildup, debris, dirt, etc. & pave way for a perfect masking session; maximizing absorption. There’s a little bit of sting but no more than any other AHA swab i’ve tried. It came pretty saturated as well, but with no excess essence for ‘double dipping’

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The jelly mask itself is where the magic is. Containing A.M.F or Artificial Moisturizing Factors (a patented moisturizing factor said to be superior to Natural factors N.M.Fs) this helps skin retain moisture for up to a whopping 120hrs. Also you’ll find natural extracts such as jasmine for soothing and damask rose for soothing and hydrating. It has a soft fragrance accompanied but a subtle metallic scent? Maybe it was the packing, who knows. My favorite part of this mask is the adhesion! It wasn’t a problem for my facial hair and I felt like the essence absorbed better than many sheet masks i’ve used.

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Overall I give this sheet mask a 9/10 I just wish I could keep this on hand, but at $6 it’s not a mask I would do frequently.

& Thanks again to Cupidrop for the chance to share this mask!

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)

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.