Vitamin B-3! Well specifically we’re talking about Niacinamide, like a lot of ‘actives’ in skincare are a form of a Vitamin (Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, Vitamin C we all know and love). Vitamin B3 is found present in all cells, like we’re literally made up of this stuff. It helps specifically with the cell reproduction and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it effective for acne and can even show signs of improvement in cases of rosacea, keratosis pilaris, and psoriasis. But Niacinamide doesn’t quit with just helping 4 common skin conditions it’s also a great anti-ager as well as hydrator. With the increased skin cell turnover helping reveal brighter, healthier skin Niacinamide also helps stimulate production of ceramides, a lipid our skin produces to protect against aggressors and maintain moisture. So this is why it’s been a major skin care ingredient in Asian beauty for so long. It’s results can be great and it’s suitable for sensitive skin so it’s kinda a no brainer ingredient.
Some bomb products I personally love that contain effective amounts of Niacinamide:
Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Pack
This lil’ fella smells very very similar to LUSH’s Twilight Bath Bomb if you’ve ever had a chance to smell it. It’s key ingredients are Niacinamide and White Mulberry to deliver a bright glowy complexion in the mornin’. It’s also packed with Trehalose, Hyaluronic and Glycerin; all three powerful humectants to keep your skin pulling in humidity for serious hydration.
(as you can see, I need to repurchase soon)
CosRx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence
While Galactomyces may be the power player in this product the assistance of Niacinamide really pushes this product into Holy Grail status. Read my full review of this here!
J.One Hana Cream
This cream does it all and it was designed to! J.One is founded by famous Korean actress Jiwon Ha is a capsulated cream packed with macademia nut oil, ceramides, and other powerful moisturizers and hydrators while it works to firm, lift, (Peptides) brighten & smooth (Niacinamide, Salicylic acid) and protect (Fullerene, Centella, B5)
I gotta say there’s a couple questions I get asked WAY more than a persons regular specific concern which is “How do I shrink my pores?!” People’s faces usually start to show disinterest as soon as I tell the basically “You can’t!” Now this isn’t 100% true every time and there’s different philosophies on how pores operate.
The ‘safe’ philosophy is to compare them to a trash bag. They start one size and they can hold xx amount of content. The pore can slightly stretch and snap back but can easily be stretched passed it’s original size and basically stay that size. This is why we see pores where we’ve picked get funky shapes often times looking like an oval or line. I have a few of these battle scars from when I was a teenager not having a drop of self restraint from picking at my sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous what? Sebaceous filaments are in my opinion one of the most annoying things but they’re so great. Basically these are like candle wicks that bring oil from inside the pore to the skin’s surface. However sometimes these ‘wicks’ need to be ‘trimmed’ yeah it’s a gross analogy but you’re picturing it correctly. They oxidize from their exposure to air and turn black, the same way a blackhead turns black, but these suckers are a skin function, not a temporary obstruction. So if you feel like you have recurring blackheads in the same spot they most likely are these guys instead. Blackheads generally are raised and much larger than the pore.
While detoxing we all know helps enlarged pores but there’s something that is actually MORE important! We need to make sure our skins properly hydrated (think water not oil) otherwise how can you expect your pores to be perky tight and firm?? Like a butt that hasn’t seen squats in a while our pores aren’t quite themselves when they’re dry. Most people see dramatic improvement with increased hydration over time.
So what do I recommend for congestion, sebaceous filaments, enlarged pores and everything in between? These are some of my favorites and some quick bits about them.
Salicylic Acid (and it’s various forms) – exfoliates also the inside of the pore (something manual exfoliation and AHAs do not do) think: dran-o for your skin.
Bentonite – Detox without the dryness. Bentonite cannot physically absorb water but it can absorb oil and impurities that come along with it.
Sulfur – Detox the sh*t out of your skin, can be considered an active ingredient. Can be drying. But effect for a quick purge. I like it for spot treatments the most.
Charcoal – Moderate detox; this is in toooooooooons of products, including many you’re going to read about. Not all that drying however can be.
Hyaluronic Acid – A humectant that our skin has present naturally that pulls in humidity into our skin.
Snail Secretion – Multi-function ingredient that actually contains hyaluronic acid, as well was copper peptides to help repair skin and a slew of other compounds.
(Scroll down to find out more and what products have these ingredients!)
CosRx Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser – Make sure to use a toner with this one! More stripping pH of 9. But a deeply cleansing ‘micro foam’ penetrates Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree deep to help liquify sebum and lead you to clear skin. I love these photos of explanation from the brand, the brand is phenomenal inside and out.
Caolion Pore Blackhead O2 Sparkling Soap – I like spot cleansing my nose every morning with this charcoal and sebum balancing bar soap. Leaves the skin squeaky clean but not totally stripped, if you’re into that typa thang.
Foreo Luna Sonic Cleansing Brush – While our cleansers can do a lot how we put them to work can be a total game changer. I prefer the Foreo over the Clarisonic for many reasons. But that doesn’t mean I’d tell you to toss the Clarisonic, I would just stick to the radiance and cashmere brush heads. (I’ll do a post one day as to why)
Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel – IT SMELLS LIKE SPRITE. Peeling gels are great gentle exfoliators, something that can be used more frequently than a scrub or intensive acid peel. I personally use this guy on my nose everyday and my forehead almost every day. These types of exfoliators stick on to dead skin cells and balls them up off your face. Gentle and effective, just how I like it. That’s him down there!
Perricone PRE:EMPT Exfoliating Pore Refiner – If you don’t dig the idea of rolling your dead skin up but want an everyday exfoliator still I highly recommend this bad boy. Hailing from Perricone, a brand extremely concerned about inflammation and irritation. The second ingredient is Betaine Salicylate a gentle form of Salicylic acid that’s just as effective. I have a full review of this product planned!
(not pictured) PTR Pumpkin Enzyme Mask -TRIPLE ACTION EXFOLIATOR BURN THAT SH*T OFF Mask should actually be its name. But it’s still on this list because it works and it works well. Not for everyone but it uses aluminum oxide to give you a nice microdermabrasion scrub (fine granules to buff, great for texture), AHAs to lift and Enzymes to eat it away those dead skin cells. While I like this more for texture; it’s a phenomenal prep step into clay masks and really any exfoliator is but, I like this one for its thoroughness.
PTR Irish Moor Mud Purifying Mask – Purifying but not stripping. But WARNING do this mask in the shower it is crazy thick and it’s very invigorating w/ your pores open. Using charcoal and peat (irish moor mud just the not frilly ~magical~ name for it.) Peat is basically mud that’s had a lot of decay in it for a lot of years so it’s very very nutrient rich. To top it off it has some hijiki seaweed to add some nourishment. You never feel stripped however sometimes sensitive if you leave it on for awhile. Absolutely my favorite mud mask, thickness and all.
Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding – I consider this the Irish Moor Mud lite. Similar effect comes from both white and black charcoals. While the ‘white charcoal’ side offers some more nourishing ingredients and helps with pore refinement. It has no real tingle or warmth.
Kate Somerville EradiKate Oxygenating Mask – For those looking for a serious detox to bring them a serious glow without the stripping effects. This is your guy. Oxygenating to help bring flush tone and a glow while containing just a smidge of sulfur to really flush your pores. Can leave your skin a little stinky if you don’t get it all off (or out of your hairline which is very hard to do with this bugger)
Admittedly, I haven’t tried very many pore serums. I’ve always been skeptical and seen lack of results but this was an exception:
Skinmiso Pore Corset Serum – This guy has been impressing me lately but it’s still too soon to tell for sure. I’m about 3 weeks in but I’ve definitely noticed my nose pores looking less and less noticeable. Now this is what makes me start to believe the second pore philosophy of Pores are like rubber bands they and stretch and snap back to the size they were but you can’t make them smaller. I know a lot of my enlarged pores are from sun damage and acne damage, so in theory that means my pores should be able to tighten up maybe not all the way back to normal but some since it’s not all genetics. Wishtrend has a lot of pictures and info on the product, it is a more ‘secretive’ product in the ingredient area. It does mention something about 20 minutes of pore tightening therapy which sounds awesome and probably has something to do with the cooling effect it imparts.
Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Cream – ugh, love you bae. I’m on my second jar of this and I don’t use it consistently. This lightweight gel cream has two forms of hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrated and stay that way all day long. To top it off there are enzymes like papain to smooth and brighten and brightening actives like the safer hydroquinone-derivative alpha-arbutin. A lot of makeup artists I know and work with swear by this for prep. But nonetheless a great hydrator to keep those pores lookin fuh-reshhhhh
Before I get into it can we just appreciate the english description “Real effect cleansing powder for keeping your healthy skin in the best condition” Like thanks for words that mean nothing. However the product speaks volumes about itself even if the english doesn’t. This is by far the best enzyme powder wash I’ve used. There’s some relatively similar to this one, from another very big Korean brand that you can get in the states for a cool $60 (Amore Pacific Enzyme Treatment Peel) or another version from a Japanese inspired American brand (Tatcha’s Rice Enzyme Powder) for $65 none of these really compare to my beloved Tosowoong.
What about it: Enzymatic exfoliators are awesome. They help shed dead skin by eating it away. How do enzymes ‘eat away dead skin’ though? A question I get about 9/10 times I talk about these with clients. “Enzymes are proteins folded into complex shapes that allow smaller molecules to fit into them. The place where these substrate molecules fit is called the active site.” -bbc.co.uk these smaller molecules being dead skin! If you’re looking to smooth out texture this is a great gentle way to do so omitting any harsh physical or chemical exfoliants.
What I don’t like about it: hard to rinse completely off without being in the shower (not a deal breaker for me) it is very concentrated so if you feel similar try using less! I’m still playing around with how much myself. Also takes some time to work into a lather. Comparing to above enzyme powders which later immediately, this takes some work to break down every last piece.
What I like about it: 5.5 pH balance, I’m not dry or stripped after cleansing. It helps exfoliate without totally skewing your skin’s natural synergy like a traditional peel might. (For people concerned about it containing SLS, the product is pH balanced still. Meaning there are hundreds of cleanser that are more aggressive that will advertise it’s gentle because it’s ‘sulfate-free’ when in reality the pH actually tells us how stripping this will be to our acid mantle and fortunately, it isn’t at all.) The smell, like old lady products but it doesn’t smell as strong in lather as it does inside the bottle. Lastly the price. Solid flakes of soap and enzymes shouldn’t ever cost $60 so that’s why Tosowoong, you earned another spot in my medicine cabinet.
I actually gave up sleep to open this package up and give it a smell and test. After finally taking a couple showers with it I feel like I can give it a fair review. Granted this isn’t an extended test like I generally do on products for face.
Now it’s actually super pale but it’s on a dark background. But the color shaken up looks like you poured WAY too much milk in your coffee
What it is: Body Wash/ Bubble Bath. It uses some great skin friendly extracts like Argan Oil and Olive Oil to deeply cleanse (this is part of the ‘froth’ on top, real beer, hops, and malt!
What I like: While still being a soap it cleanses well! I’ve never had the thought to be doing an oil cleanse (or double cleanse) on my body until I saw this, this will help purify those lipid layers in our skin soap cleansers either strip dry or leave behind. AND. THE. SMELL. oh my god. I was hesitant with the ‘original’ scent. I was fully expecting to smell like my great uncle who’s full blooded german on New Years Eve but I was pleasantly surprised to experience a spicy/woody scent with the essence of hops in the background. Happy Bath (the name makes me smile every time I see it) nailed it with this wash in my book and I can’t wait to try some of their other flavors like coffee stout!
What I don’t like: It’s 300ml and I want 30 gallons.
Price: $15!! (Due to the market this price fluxuates, I had a client try to purchase the set while being sold out it also said the price was now $17, still not bad at all) Benton has now had a price increase on the Snail Bee products in most online resellers incl their online store launching w/ retail prices. So these products of this update (Oct 14 2016) are listed w/ the products title below. CrystalCoveBeauty.com is a reseller however who has it listed closer to the old pricing at $13.50
Everything is full size, and everything is great.
Snail Bee High Content Essence ($20)
This is my bby Snail Bee High Content Essence, I’ve used this product for about 6 months now and I can’t get enough. My skincare routine isn’t complete without it. It leaves an incredibly fresh sensation which I love.
Ingredients wise, It’s jam packed full of ingredients while literally every single one is fantastic in its own way, but the two key ingredients are Snail Secretion and Bee Venom. The purpose of this line is to help heal any texture, underlying damage, hydrate, fight acne, then to top it off help brighten.
Now the ingredients backing up those claims:
Texture/Damage: Snail Secretion, Oligopeptides, Willow Bark (natural form of BHA [Drano for your pores]) Bacillus Ferment (enzymatic exfoliation)
From someone who’s as picky about skincare as I am, the person who rarely repurchases products, I will always always always have this in my cabinet.
Snail Bee High Content Lotion ($20)
The Snail Bee High Content Lotion is a new product for me. I actually really haven’t decided where/if I want it in my routine. The size of this is staggering, if you’re used to overpriced $100 1.7oz moisturizers. This is a whopping FIVE (5) F-I-V-E OZ.
Now the ingredient content has quite a few repeat ingredients. If you read my essence masterpost we know this product being called ‘lotion’ is about as helpful as when clients tell me they’re looking for a “good cream” without providing ANY other details. This lotion is very close to an Emulsion. Shiseido is a brand we see a LOT of these. Essentially a very liquidy but still moisturizing product. A few ingredients to note that are different in here are: Hyaluronic Acid (while Snail Secretion naturally contains this) and Niacinamide (effective B-Vitamin that’s anti-wrinkle and brightening.) In the Benton line this is to be used under their Steam Cream which is a thicker cream. I too like to use it this way, either with Steam Cream (I LOVE it) or with another moisturizer, it is an extra step for most but in a lengthy routine (skip steps you don’t follow) this would be used as following
It’s a tube spray! Very eco friendly I love it. Very simple product, a light spray you can use anytime, anywhere to help kill bacteria and hydrate, it can help reset makeup or is a great refresher if you’re feelin’ a little dry or tired. Key ingredients are tea tree and hyaluronic acid.
So, a few weeks ago I was searching for a new cleanser to replace my Nature Republic Snail Herb Foaming Cleanser, which I love AND I love it’s only like $3. But I don’t love the only place I know I can repurchase in the US is in LA and /possibly/ a small Asian Beauty store in Kent, MI where I stumbled upon it on a vacation.
What intrigued me about this cleanser was it’s ingredient list and price. It was $20 and doesn’t have a single synthetic ingredient in it. (I even had 2 of my co-workers to purchase it solely off the ingredients list after showing them)
Some things to note about this cleanser:
Second ingredient is fermented green tea leaves and you can see them steeping at the bottom of the bottle, nice reassurance you’re cleanser that’s already based with antioxidant-rich Camellia (green tea) water is even more antioxidant—y….
Rich in a handful of other ferments
Still backed with clinical ingredients like: Hyaluronic acid for water retention, enzymes for light exfoliation, I saw Panthenol and Allantoin in there as well as Niacinamide being listed as an active ingredient (which to note is weird and not normal.) These few ingredients are incredible at conditioning the skin in various ways as you may have read about in my other posts. But expect increased skin cell turnover leading you to a porcelain smooth complexion
So we have a cleanser packed full of potent ingredients, but how does it feel??? The cleanser rubs in great, creating a nice rich green tinted froth. The smell is subtle, but fresh and perfect to wake up to. It leaves the skin feeling very “matte” I have to say. Not the same as that nasty dry and tight feeling you get from using bar soap or another non-pH balanced cleanser but doesn’t leave a feeling of moisture behind say like an milk cleanser. Which isn’t really a complaint, just to note if you’re on the drier side like me.
Overall I’m really enjoying the cleaner, no irritation, dryness even with the overwhelming ingredient list.
Check it out on Sephora.com | Memebox.com | SokoGlam.com
What is an Essence? Essence is an ambiguous word. Like most names for things in skincare. A good example of this is how many products are called a ‘lotion’ we know (some of us may not and it’s very okay) that a lotion basically means any sort of topical product with a low viscosity. Ask Wikipedia she knows. But if we look at some different products that say lotion they can be complete opposites. Like SK-II’s Clear lotion is similar to a cleansing toner with a watery texture. Clinique’s oh-so famous Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion is a lightweight moisturizer. So before someone gets their panties in a bunch saying I am talking about some different types of products in this, well I am! But also take a step back from thinking there one way to do things and it has to be perfect. It’s a mindset I sometimes start to develop when researching products.
We’ll start with the DEFINITIVE points of an essence. Essence is usually your first step of treatment. (What about toner) Yes! Nowadays toner is usually a treatment step and could be considered an essence. It will provide a pre-moisturizing effect on the skin and help product absorption of whatever we are applying on top! Thats about as concrete Essences get.
First Treatment Essence (or FTE) is usually a yeast dominate product. Some containing as much as 97% yeast ferment. These are also usually watery essences feeling a lot like toner. They usually have some sort of humectant ingredient as well to help the product actually adhere and soak in (remember our skin is naturally hydrophobic!). Why yeast? Yeast ferment is loaded with b-vitamins and as they are amazing with supporting cell function inside of the body they are also pretty fantastic at it on the skin as well! We see a promotion of skin cell turnover with yeast ferments so it can help in correcting many issues. This is a reason why they’re so popular in the skincare world. Kinda like how retinol can help with sun damage, acne scarring, acne, wrinkles, etc by helping our skin turn skin cells over faster.
My favorite has to be SK-II’s First Treatment Essence. It’s the first of the first. Containing 90% yeast ferment, this ferment was discovered by accident in a Sake brewery quite some time ago! It’s also what Cate Blanchett says she owes her skin’s perfect aging too! It’s been heard she’s scared flight attendance wearing SK-II’s Facial Treatment masks (containing a concentrated version of their FTE) on flights. (Which is a totally awesome idea if I wouldn’t get questioned and looked at funny on a regular flight). Even though other FTE have been shown to do similar if not the same because they come from similar yeast ferments like SK-IIs Pitera. That’s the name of the yeast ferment if you were wondering. But I do also enjoy MISSHA’s FTE as well! Containing 80% yeast 10% skin friendly ingredients like niacinamide for brightening, licorice root for soothing. You can find the whole list of them on MISSHA’s website. Most opt for something like MISSHA’s because it has other ingredients that are super helpful as well as it not costing $99 for 2.5oz up to $290 for their jumbo 11ozer. (The bottles above are the regular MISSHA size of FTE and SK-II’s 2.5oz, I also paid 36 dollars for MISSHA’s on sale and I wouldn’t own SK-II’s period if it wasn’t a gift.)
Majority of essences that do not fall under the FTE category have a gel consistency and all have different key ingredients for different concerns. My personal favorite is Maycoop’s Raw Sauce. With a high content of maple water and a nice watery gel consistency you’re skin feels super dewy and hydrated with this guy alone. Some will use it as a light moisturizer because of it’s amazing hydrating properties.
Most of these will fall somewhere in-between the feeling of what would be just called a plain old ‘essence’ and FTE. This name definitely has more consistencies than others because it’s a more common american name, and americans do whatever the hell they want. Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Infusion Treatment Toner is actually loaded with a yeast ferment as well as some other goodies like Polysaccharides to help with smoothing the skin and Hyaluronic acid to help soak and seal the product in. Kenzoki’s Melt-In Moisturizing Lotion is technically a gel moisturizer with very little hydration but I love it as a essence since its glycerin heavy, a humectant like hylauronic to help it soak in (and whatever we put on top!)
Some things to remember when looking at purchasing an essence:
Don’t look at the type of product it describes it as, it can make it more confusing. Look for something that sounds like it would benefit your concerns and needs in your skincare!
No it’s not necessary! But can give you that boost you’ve been looking for!