[REVIEW] 9Wishes Rice Powder Polish

Polish, don’t Scrub!

There’s nothing I like more than the feeling of a polish exfoliator. Chemical exfoliants are great treatments and can be gentle ways to remove dead skin. But sometimes you want to remove a little more. You could amp your chemical exfoliation up but often times you run into a ‘plateau’ effect unless you use a stronger chemical exfoliator. Or the worst, a patch of dead skin. This why I keep a physical exfoliant on hand.

I’m lovin’ 9Wishes. The innovative Korean naturals brand has been pumping out some really fantastic and multifunctional products. Just a few weeks ago I posted my review of their Sun Moisturizer SPF50+/PA+++ which is a nifty high protection SPF that’s moisturizing and has a beautiful refining effect.

Today, 9Wishes brings us their Rice Powder Polish. It’s a thick, creamy textured scrub that has a very fine rice powder suspended in it. It melts onto skin to provide a moisturizing buff. It’s scrub mechanism is more like that of a microdermabrasion exfoliation rather than a regular scrub. I am ALL about this.

 

When it comes to microdermabrasion in general, things can be rough. Literally. On dry and damp skin, these really fine particles can be pretty irritating. I love the end results of it more than regular scrubs, but sometimes I feel like I pay a price for that baby smooth skin. But not with this goop. It’s waxy base turns nearly into a milk cleanser when you start massaging it into dry skin. You’re left with perfectly exfoliated skin without feeling dry, or even worse, irritated.

The Rice Powder polish smells faintly of rice with no fragrance added. This works great on dry patches on the body as well. I’ve even successfully added this to foaming cleansers to add a bit of a ‘kick’. Once water hits this polish, it starts to emulsify nearly into a milk cleanser! This isn’t only multifunctional (use before foaming cleanser as an oil cleanser/exfoliant) but is seriously moisturizing!

9Wishes Rice Powder Polish blew my expectations out of the water. You can pick the Polish up on sale right now at BBCosmetic for only $17USD! You can also use the code ‘facequench8’ to get an extra 8% discount!

[REVIEW] 9Wishes Sun Moisturizer SPF50+ PA+++

We’re facing summer head on now! I’ve never been so excited for summer! Not just the warm weather (that I’ve missed since moving from CA), but also the new fresh textured products that roll out.

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One thing that’s new to me is 9Wishes! They’re a contemporary Korean brand that ‘wishes’ to provide natural, gentle, and safe products. There are actually 9 individual things they stand for, that I haven’t had translated yet! But google translate tried for me:

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nice

It’s hard finding sunscreens that are high coverage but have a nice texture, and have more than just a couple humectants thrown in as far as ‘extras’. You may not think your sunscreen needs anything more than just the sunscreen and a delivery system, but it’s definitely ideal for them to have some other benefits. The sun dehydrates our skin, with or without sunscreen. Certain sunscreen filters produce free radicals as a byproduct of converting the harmful UV rays into heat. For many, the sun and/or the activity of the filters can be irritating. In short, the sun is the devil and we can use help especially during prolonged exposure (longer than 80 minutes) and we’d need reapplication.

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9Wishes takes all of this into consideration with their Sun Moisturizer SPF50+ PA+++. With a patented ‘SM Calming Newplex-8’ ingredient complex, moisturizing and hydrating ingredients and a reapplication friendly, non-sticky finish, I found a Captain in my ‘Sunscreen Army’. Let’s take a look at these ingredients:

  • Humectants: Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Sorbitan sesquioleate, Allantoin, Aloe
  • Lipids: Jojoba, Shea, Cetearyl Olivate, Olive
  • Antioxidants: Korean Red Pine, White Mulberry, Licorice Root, White Tea (sounds like a Sulwhasoo product) Niacinamide, Honeysuckle (and more)

What’s great about these antioxidants is they all will play a slightly different role in aiding you against the sun. For instance, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate is an incredible anti-inflammatory that reduces the Tyrosinase activity (forming of dark spots). White Mulberry also suppresses Tyrosinase activity. Niacinamide helps skin maintain a healthy lipid layer. I mean, this thing is really made to kick UV rays in the ass. This is important to not only start with, but keep using throughout the day. Why wouldn’t you want these great antioxidants and humectants with your reapplication? It’s definitely priced to do so, guilt free.

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One thing that I’m less than thrilled about it how many types of sunscreen go in here. While I do like the inclusion of Tinosorb S and Uvinul t 150, if they used higher amounts of these and zinc, they wouldn’t need the other 3 estrogenic filters included. But overall, this is a small complaint and doesn’t outweigh the risk of damage from unprotected sun exposure.

The finish is really soft, almost like a pore perfecting primer, without the silicone slip feeling. It doesn’t have a cast on my fair skin, but a nice iridescence. (however deeper skin tones this may show up as slight white cast).

The fragrance is nice, it isn’t really strong and definitely cuts out the smell of the lengthy list of filters. After a while you don’t really smell it anymore either.

*Big thanks to BBCosmetic and 9Wishes for providing these products in exchange for my honest review. If you haven’t checked our BBCosmetic they’re a great place to get your KBeauty fix. Great prices and best yet, free shipping to the US! Also if you wanna try this sunscreen out (or somethin’ else) you can use this promo code: “facequench8″ for 8% off your order! You can catch the 9Wishes Sun Moisturizer on sale for $13.00 for a limited time!

Seattle Asian Beauty Shopping (Locations & More!)

When I moved here from the Bay Area, I had no expectations for any asian beauty market. Once I got my feet in the water, I realized there wasn’t really much in the realm of AB. Because of this it’s a dream of mine to open a skincare store here in Seattle, that focuses on bringing curated japanese, korean, and indie/innovative brands. There are officially (as of me writing this, June 2017) ZERO standalone Asian Beauty stores in Seattle and the surrounding area.  Like seriously, if you know of an investor in the area ~~hit cha boy up~~. (Probably not the most effective phrase to hook an investor)

Luckily, there are a few places that carry Korean and Japanese cosmetics! But what you’ll find here is extremely limited to the assortment you can find south of Washington. Portland to San Diego is what I like to consider the “American Asian Beauty Belt” At least over here on the West Coast. I can’t really speak much to the east coast selection. Especially in Southern California, AB shopping can literally be easier and more convenient than going to a big cosmetics store. (& you can walk out with a bag of products rather than one mediocre overpriced moisturizer from Sephora)

Here in the Seattle area, since nothing is standalone (or not just a cosmetic store) you see a lot of the same products. Not to say this doesn’t happen else where with AB (because it happens everywhere!) But if you’re near one, you probably won’t need to go to TOO many more to feel all your options out. Also, you won’t see as big of a gap in price ranges too, which I actually appreciate.

Uwajimaya (International District, Seattle, WA) 

This is definitely the most well known place to get your Asian Beauty fix. I live  walking distance from here too and do most of my grocery shopping here, so… Yeah I literally can’t grocery shop without being EXTREMELY TEMPTED.

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Here you’ll find debatably the largest selection of stuff. Doesn’t mean it’s the best price, doesn’t mean they have a good selection, it’s just a lot of stuff with not a ton of shelf organization in most places. They do have a larger hair and body product selection however, compared to some!

Brands worth mentioning: PureSmile(JP), LuLuLun(JP), My Beauty Diary(TW), Kikumasamune(JP), Loshi(JP), Naive(JP), Hada Labo(JP), Sana(JP) Kosé(JP), Bioré(JP), Shiseido(JP) [drug store & a counter w/ Cle De Peau]
‘Exclusives’: Well, I was able to find a LuLuLun gift set here that wasn’t available at any other store.
Overall: Not my favorite store to shop in, but their prices are spot on. They make a great place to start though, they have all the well known brands.

HMart (University District, Seattle, WA) NEW!

HOLY SH*T THIS PLACE IS INCREDIBLE!?

I took a trip here today actually to check it out. It’s been only open for a couple of weeks. When I walked up to the glistening white building on the Ave, I was shocked to see how tiny it was! But for the area, I’d say it’s probably the biggest it could be. BUT. They. Have. A. ROOM. of. SKINCARE. Not an Isle. Not a section. Like 25% of the store is dedicated to skincare. Also, there are a lot of featured brands unique to this location like Dr. Jart+, IPKN, and others. But I can definitely see why. This place is in University District. Where you have people my age (not at my skin education level, of course) coming in for a bottle of Soju, korean snacks, and some sheet masks for a kick ass friday night. At least that’s what I HOPE people are going for. (I mean the entire upstairs section is snacks/alcohol/skincare/household items…) Because if I actually had friends, you know that’d be my go-to night.

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With an entire section of Elizavecca! All at retail prices, note. Boxes (and boxes) of Jayjun, Oozoo, PapaRecipe, and MediHeal. Not your regular HMart selection, but a very wise selection. I couldn’t actually find the regular hoard of Biore, Hada, and Kose products most of the stores all carry.

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I didn’t get any photos of it.. but they have a nice selection of Korean household products too.

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Brands worth mentioning: Jayjun(KR), Oozoo(KR), PapaRecipe(KR), MediHeal(KR), IPKN(KR), Dr. Jart+(KR), Dewpiel(KR), Saturday Skin(KR) Dong Sung Pharm.(KR) (most well known products are their a.c.care line with snail and bee venom), Charmzone(KR)
‘Exclusives’: Most of these brands are going to only be found here in the state (probably).
Overall: Well, let’s just say this section is under construction until I finish digging. My one trip, was a no-buy even though I wanted it to be a haul. There’s a great selection of masks, and a unique selection of other products. I do wish there were more Japanese sheet masks, and more products than mainly sheet masks.

HMart (Lynnwood, WA)

MY BABY, MY LOVE, GETS SECTIONS

Out in Lynnwood there’s a huge HMart! Get your big bags of rice, wholesale pickled daikon, and really high quality, affordable produce. But as far as cosmetics goes, it can get complicated. Inside of HMart itself, you can find a slim selection of products. Like one Elizavecca product, there was Happy Bath(KR) for a minute, Nightingale(JP), Scinic(KR), and Mediental(KR). A few other things not really worth mentioning. But! Fear not. If you’re looking to do some serious Korean skincare shopping you have the two big dogs here AMORE & LG Care, and nowhere else as standalones. They sit on the outside mini ‘strip mall’ like C around the inside of HMart itself. If you wanted your regular Asian Market Japanese products, they do have a separate section kinda in the middle of everything?

AMOREPACIFIC | ARITAUM Store

I come here to get all the Amore products I possibly can. Ironically, you can’t buy actual AMOREPACIFIC products. Just their brands: Sulwhasoo, Aritaum, Ryo(Hair), Mamonde, Laneige, Hera, and IOPE. I always get great recommendations when I go in, it’s how I found my favorite emulsion! Don’t expect any higher or lower prices. Everything is spot on to resale price.

Note* There is another Aritaum location at Pal-Do World Market in Lakewood, WA.

O HUI | The Who  

Can’t lie, I’ve never been in here. It’s incredibly cramped and there’s always customers inside. Not their fault, I’ve also really had no overwhelming desire to go through their products quite yet. But I can speak some to their selection since you can see most of it from outside the store! From the outside I’ve spotted The History of Whoo(KR), O Hui(KR), Missha(KR), Tony Moly(KR), Oozoo(KR), and a couple indiscernible hangbangy lookin brands I’ve never heard/seen of before.

Overall: This is my personal go-to! It’s stock may not be what everyone is looking for. But I love supporting local businesses whenever I can, I have a soft spot for AMORE, and who doesn’t love getting all the free samples you could dream of when you spend a little bit of money? Last time I got an incredible 6pc Sulwhasoo deluxe travel kit! (each time before that I got a 3pc!). I also like the LG Care store carries more than just LG, unlike AMORE staying exclusive.

Asian Food Center (Seattle, WA)

Oh you. You bother me so much. But also appreciate you a lot too. The cosmetics are just a section in the front of the store towards the checkout. But what you will find is all the Japanese skincare (and MBD masks) you can dream of. Not as much makeup as Uwajimaya, but they definitely make up for it in how extensive the body and haircare is!

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Why does it bother me though? Well, if they have someone actually at customer service (the only place to checkout with cosmetics) they’re watching you like a hawk (happens in some places, not nearly as frequently or bad). To the point where I felt uncomfortable the first time I went in to get a feel for what they had. Also their stock doesn’t refresh really ever. They’ve been out of stock of Daisan CottonLabo CS Being cotton pads since March (it’s June), and they’re my favorite below the Shiseido pads 🙁 I’ve seen a ton of holes too, I don’t think they’ve been getting stock or SOMETHING. This may change, but for now they haven’t been worth the trip. However if you’re nearby or in the market for just Japanese products, here is a great place to go.

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They also have sales on masks box sets it seems like at random, but appreciated nonetheless!

While you’re here, you should stop at the Kiki Bakery (yup, named after the animated cat)

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bc buns

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post buns selfie

Overall: Eh, check it out if you can.

**My NOT Recommended**

These are places I wouldn’t really bother with unless there’s something specific at one of these places you want to see. Also big note. I LOVE supporting mom and pop skincare shops. I go to them whenever I possibly can and it sucks there aren’t many here. But places like the shops in the Lynnwood HMart are still privately owned with amazing people inside that work hard and deserve your $$ more than Sephora does.

Daiso (Seattle, WA) 

Most are familiar with Daiso, the well known “Japanese $1.50 store” as my family refers to it . This is the worst Daiso ever honestly. It’s very small, there’s no parking put reserved parking spots smack in front of the store, with very little. I only come here if I KNOW they’ll have it and I don’t want to drive to the the one North. I don’t think I’ve wanted to get anything here skincare related though except a horse fat hand cream.

Overall: No

Daiso (Roosevelt District,Seattle, WA)

Now this is a Daiso! Reminds me a lot of the ones I have back in the Bay Area. Spacious, empty travel bottles and cotton rounds galore! You can also find their infamous peel off mask here too. They have their own selection of cosmetics however fair warning, it’s all $1.50 for a reason. Check the cancer labels floating around the stores.. Yikes! However, I really enjoy their sheet mask packs and they don’t have anything in them I haven’t seen before, especially the CoQ10 ones!

Overall: If $1.50 is your thing! But i’d be wary and very selective.

Sephora

I recommend you DON’T do any KBeauty shopping here except squeeze them dry for samples if you need to. Dr. Jart+ is much cheaper at the new HMart, with a bigger selection! J.One products are $45-$50 instead of <$30 online. Beauty Water is $30 instead of $22. Belif is more LG Care, but IMO not worth the it’s US prices. If you need to, Bellevue will have the best selection, don’t bother in Seattle. Why spend more for no reason other than lining their pockets?

Urban Outfitters (Westlake , Seattle, WA)

Yeah they have overpriced Tony Moly and possibly some more overpriced Mizon or CosRx that’s been sitting for a year. Please don’t buy here like ever.

Ulta (Northgate Mall, Seattle, WA)

Well Ulta, I do have to say stepped their skincare game up with the leverage of affordable, effective KBeauty. Sort of. You can find brands like Goodall or Dr. G! If you’re in a KBeauty drought area, you may find something to quench your thirst here.

I hope this guide helps you navigate what Seattle has to offer for Asian Beauty. If I’m missing anything feel free to put it in the comments so I can add it! I hope one day I can bring a real Asian Beauty store to Seattle. But until then we can live with what’s around, right?

This is a post in progress for awhile! But I wanted to share the first version early! More pictures will hopefully come!

[REVIEW] SWANICOCO Beer Bubble Pack

ANOTHER ONE.

Another Swanicoco product coming at ya. The Beer Bubble Pack. This oxygenating mask is designed to help restore circulation and help maintain pores.

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When I first read about this product, I honestly wasn’t super stoked. It doesn’t really sound like a fit for me. While it helps restore circulation, it’s main focus is pores. Circulation improvement comes from the oxygenating effect of the mask, but the key ingredients such as Fennel and Hops are antibacterial and more suited for pore problems. I got big ones, but you can’t change your genetics!

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Other ‘key’ ingredients include betaine, arginine, and allantoin. All 3 will help the skin maintain moisture.

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Application is… well… fun! You take a few pumps of the fragrance-free gel and smooth it over your face evenly. I was hoping for some sort of earthy/spicy scent, but all SWANICOCO products I’ve tried are free of any fragrance.

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In about 5-7 minutes of enduring tickling cheeks, you’re left with a mountain of foam ready to be washed off.

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Washing this mask off is tedious, as with any bubble pack. They’ll just keep bubbling, and bubbling… until finally, 3 days later it’s off.

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You’re then left with soft, circulated skin. I love doing this as a morning mask, either before a shower (for easy rinse off) or if I have a spare hour when I wake up. I’m always glowing and not stripped.

My only complaint about this mask is, the lack of benefit for it’s price. Just a dollar short from $20, I could load myself up with a few beneficial, more versatile sheet masks for the same price.

Overall I give this mask a 5/10.

Bubbles: super well!

Removability: poor

Scent: None

Benefit: soft, temporarily well circulated, glowing skin.

As a bubble mask I give it an 8/10.

[REVIEW] 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!

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* 

[REVIEW] Joseon Dynasty Cream

The Multi Functional Hanbang Cream

Here is a gummy cream moisturizer I’ve seen talked about for literally years but it wasn’t until the ‘discontinue’ scare that I finally tried it. From what I have gathered from many reddit posts and searching was that the cream was discontinued and memebox said they could not get the manufacturer to make anymore. But then, somehow magically they came back! Some people said this was just a last run, but then my like new favorite website find crystalcovebeauty.com stated in an instagram post they “have not heard that this is a last run production or that the cream has been discontinued.” So great news!

joseon dynasty cream

I love this packaging, unfortunately my box came damaged so I cannot share a great photo of it.

What it is: gel-cream-like Hanbang (korean natural medicine) multifunctional moisturizer. To help break down the benefits this cream delivers here are a few of them broken down:

Niacinamide(conditioning, balance oil:water, brightening), Hyaluronic Acid(humectant), Centella Asiatica Extract(soothing, good for acne, rosacea, eczema), Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil(Sea Buckthorn)(anti-aging/moisturizing antioxidant and omega rich), Human Oligopeptide-1(EpidermicGrowthFactor)(conditioning/restoring), Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil(Argan Oil), Ceramide 3(moisturizing, protective), Trehalose(Hydrating), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract(smoothing), Honey Extract(moisturizing, antibacterial), Panax Ginseng Root Extract(conditioning, hydrating, stimulating)

*bolded ingredients are some of my favorite key ingredients I find in products.

What I don’t like about it: There are a few acne triggers you can see in the CosDNA posting and I do believe it is the culprit for a few weeks of breakouts on my forehead which is very acne prone. However it was fine on the rest of my face, including other acne prone areas but my forehead has always proven to be the hardest to please. It is also ever so slightly tacky, In my routine this moisturizer isn’t the last step before SPF or BB Cream(day) or Sleeping Pack(night) so this feeling goes away for me.

What I like about it: For starters the packaging is pretty damn beautiful. The scent isn’t overpowering but it is a pleasant scent. I feel like my skin has been a little bit more luminous since starting this moisturizer and I get this nice temporary immediate glow too which I’m sure is from the higher Niacinamide content (it’s the 3rd ingredient after all).

UPDATE 1/27/17: I’ve now almost finished the entire jar. I’ve used the cream almost every day and every night. There’s something about the cream that keeps me coming back. Maybe it’s the gorgeous scent, or packaging. It could be how cool and refreshed my skin feels after. Or it may be I get thinking about all those great ingredients and feel like slathering it on. Anyways.

[REVIEW] TONY MOLY x POKEMON Foaming Cleansers

I impatiently waited for these to ship from Korea and I’ve now FINALLY used them enough to make a decent review on them. If I had an expendable budget I would have gotten all of them, but today we have:

Pikachu Moisture Foaming Cleanser

What about it: This is a more simple foaming cleanser designed to try to maintain your skin’s natural moisture levels. The description on the back states: 

“This moisture foam cleanser effectively removes impurities from skin with moisturizing foam containing olive leaf extract” 

and that’s pretty much it! If you have very dry skin I would not recommend this cleanser. Unfortunately the pH of the cleanser is still relatively stripping. But in comparison to the Pore cleanser it leaves the skin soft and just lightly moisturized still. The scent is described as ‘vanilla’ and it 100% in all honesty doesn’t even slightly smell like vanilla. It doesn’t foam as well as some other cleansers actually and it doesn’t really foam much more when rubbing it either. I’ve used it a few times with my clarisonic and it does foam up much more!

Overall I give it a 6/10 and most of these points are for it being Pikachu.

Bulbasaur Pore Foaming Cleanser

What about it: Now this guy actually is using two key ingredients, Albumin and Purslane! Albumn is a protein from egg white and is said it helps tighten pores and condition skin while Purslane (portulaca oleracea) is very soothing and helps skin retain moisture. This cleanser scent is described as ‘green tea’ while I can kinda get a green tea scent from it, it smells like a new hotel lobby… Idk… like really specifically if you’ve ever been to an ‘Aloft’ hotel. That’s what it smells like. You’re welcome. 

Overall it gets a 6/10 too, these cleansers are more alike than they are different. But you can definitely feel a difference which I appreciate. When it comes to some brand’s cleansers (shiseido is the first that comes to mind) their cleansers all feel exactly the same no matter what type of skin it’s for and ya know, that’s a little concerning. 

Would I recommend them to a friend? I wouldn’t tell them to go out of their way for it, but if you have a itch for pokemon products, they are definitely not bad choices!

Sunscreen 201

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:

UV(A)ging

UV(B)urning

UV©rispy [I made that one up but you’ll see why]

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(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)

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(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. 

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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.

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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.

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(credit: futurederm.com)

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!

美容护肤