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] Kate Somerville +Retinol Firming Eye Cream

Move over Peter Thomas Roth, I got a new favorite retinol eye cream. You may remember my rave post about PTR’s 1% Retinol PM Fusion eye cream, I’ve since tried 2 more retinol eye creams and Kate’s has won my heart over.

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When ingredient hunting down the list, the first ingredient that caught my eye was Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, the second active ingredient in this product right behind Retinol itself. Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is like ‘Retinol 2.0′ is shows very similar results to Tretinoin (commonly referred to as ‘prescription’ retinol) with little to no irritation compared to retinol itself. Next is Bakuchiol, pronounced ba-koo-chee-all. (I love saying it to people and watching their face) It is considered to be an alternative to retinol as it shows similar reparative and acne fighting properties. Three great actives making one powerhouse of an eye cream. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin is also present to help water retention and give a ever so slight cooling effect.

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But why a retinol eye cream? If you’ve noticed you’re a little too late to the eye cream party, or have had bad luck with your under-eyes, Retinol can oftentimes be your savior in an antioxidant. Retinol is responsible for encouraging cell renewal. Because it helps our skin speed up how fast it is produced and disposed, it makes it a great treatment for just about any common major concern. Fine lines and wrinkles, retexturize(for eyes, reducing millia!) dark spots, and even loss of firmness. As a kid I never wore sunglasses or sunscreen and I spent a substantial amount of time outside, so when first starting retinol under my eyes I noticed great improvement all around.

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Supporting ingredients are also pretty interesting. The first to note is Lime Pearl extract or Microcitrus Australasica. I have only seen this ingredient in one other product and that is Sunday Riley’s C.E.O vitamin C moisturizer. Lime Pearl isn’t a new thing but definitely isn’t commonly used. I found a great information sheet on it by one of the manufacturers. The main reason I found Lime Pearl so interesting is that it shows signs of moderate exfoliation without any irritation.

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Sporting a gorgeous gold flexible applicator, it stays cool to the touch to encourage depuffing. When I first saw that the applicator I was a little confused since I was assuming it was just for PM use. However that is not the case! Kate recommends AM and PM application. It absorbs quickly making it great under my concealer. The finishing touch is a light diffusing optic to help blur any imperfections, and to remind you, you can use this twice a day!

[REVIEW] Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen serum

Vitamin C & Niacinamide: a Potential Love Story

There’s always a new fancy type of vitamin C that’ll gain buzz for a few months. Sunday Riley is currently touting THD or Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate in their C.E.O line, Korres has ‘Super C’ or Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, some brands prefer the tried and true L-Ascorbic or pure form of vitamin C. But Dr. Dennis Gross has recently launched his newest vitamin C serum focused on brightening skin tone and supporting collagen production sporting 3-0-C, or Ethyl Ascorbic Acid.

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Vitamin C is a great ingredient. Arguably one of the most anti-aging non invasive ingredients you can slather on. But being an active ingredient it does have a vitamin it doesn’t like to mingle with. Niacinamide! (or vitamin B3) All forms of vitamin C eventually metabolize into L-Ascorbic Acid, the raw form of vitamin C. Some take longer, but it’s generally deemed safe to use Niacinamide and other forms other than L-AA together. When Niacinamide and L-AA mix they can potentially form what is known as a ‘1:1 complex’ and render each other useless. No vitamin C, no Niacinamide. This is still a grey area for cosmetics and cosmetic formulators. Some believe you should have the two used at separate times (such as morning and night). When mixed they produce a substance called nicotonic acid which can cause skin flushing, and irritation. However it’s said it could be as, or more effective than Niacinamide on it’s own. This usually is not the case again, with forms of vitamin C other than L-AA. Some brands, like Dr. Dennis Gross are using them side by side. If you’re interested in all of the interactions with vitamin c and niacinamide I would recommend checking out this post by KindOfStephen it’s super informative, and he goes over the in’s and out’s of it and what nicotinic acid is.

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3-0-C has a small list of benefits it touts over other forms of vitamin C. The biggest one is that it is both oil and water soluble, allowing for maximum absorption. It shows great improvement in hyperpigmentation/dark spots by inhibiting Tyrosinase activity therefore slowing down Melanin synthesis. It’s also a great antioxidant and is shown to be very stable in formulations. To read more aout 3-0-C this is a relatively easy to understand study on it check it out here.

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One of my biggest complaints about vitamin C serums is the consistency. SO MANY are tacky, or leave a less than desirable feeling. While I unfortunately can’t tell you this could be an exception, it still feels a little like a sticky vitamin C serum. It isn’t nearly as tacky as say, OST 20, but not great. No weird smells, or gimmicks just a quick absorbing well formulated vitamin C.

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To make sure you’re getting more than just your anti-aging/brightening effects with the Niacinamide and vitamin C team, you can also find Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) a lesser known Skin Identical ingredient (something found naturally occurring in our skin) that inhibits oxidation. Hexylresorcinol, a UV protectant and potentially a skin brightening ingredient. Lastly to note, Collagen amino acids, a favorite of mine to provide moisture and building blocks for collagen production.

 

[REVIEW] CosRx Overnight Nourishing Rice Mask

I hate waking up in the morning. Unless I get on some outstanding sleep the night before. But this sleep mask always got me feelin’ some type of way so I had to get up and write about it. 

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Now the name is the key purpose of this mask, a sleeping mask; but you can also use it as a wash off mask but applying more, or as a cream by apply just a little less. For review purposes (but also personal purposes I guess) I’m using this solely as a sleeping mask. If you’ve never heard of a sleeping mask before I’ve made a post about them here

Okay but what did I wanna try THIS one?

Well I simply resonated with this part of the products advertisement so I thought it may be worth a go:

like seriously I DON’T need it anymore….

Let’s look at the ingredients: 

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Oryza sativa (rice) extract (65%), butylene glycol, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, betaine, niacinamide, dimethicone, 1,2-hexanediol, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, guineensis (palm) kernel oil, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, cetearyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, arginine, carbomer, allantoin, xanthan gum. 

Check out the CosDNA posting for more info on safety and acne triggers 

Also, if you wanna see the full obnoxious advertisement for this product from the brand, I posted it here!

nothing rates over a 2 which in my book is great. 

That’s a gorgeous amount of rice extract in here which is loaded with B vitamins to increase hydration and promote skin cell turn over but also other key components are skin loves like omega-6 (linolenic acid). But there’s not a ton of ingredients bolded because there aren’t a ton I’m head over heels about. But CosRx is very minimalist so there’s nothing in here that doesn’t need to be. 

However, I would like to see palm oil omitted because of it’s environmental impact. And those who worry about too much dimethicone, I haven’t ran into any issues with my problematic areas breaking out from this product. It most likely has a very small amount, especially due to rice extract being 65% before including butylene glycol and glycerin which also will take a decent amount of room up and it doesn’t really have any feeling reminiscent of it either. 

Most sleeping masks leave me feeling pretty ‘normal’ in the morning. Definitely not dry, but also not entirely moisturized either. Nothing out of the ordinary however this mask leaves you feeling just like how you did before you went to sleep. Dewy, hydrated and smooooooth. I’ve noticed with continued use of this mask I feel less and less inclined to wash my face in the morning. Usually it feels like a necessity. I need to get any dirt off and start rehydrating ASAP but with this guy, nope. I’ve just been running a quick miceller water over my face and feeling ready to go.

I haven’t noticed a lot of major results from this sleeping mask, however I don’t really expect to see a ton. I do love that I’ve been waking up still moisturized rather than feeling dry. And I love with a whopping 65% rice extract my skin’s clarity has really improved. 

I give this sleeping mask a 9.8/10 whaaaaaaaaat.

.2 marked off because I don’t think there’s a such thing as a perfect product. But if there was, this bad boy gets real close.

[REVIEW] Fresh Soy Face Cleansing Milk

The Cleanser Authority Returnsimage

Before I talk about this new cleansing milk I wanted to give the Seaberry Cleansing Oil a shoutout. MUAs already have their favorite cleansing oils, and let’s face it, this is a slightly expensive albeit, luxurious cleansing oil based with grape seed oil. It’s not very popular but it’s a goodie. I love natural oil based cleansing oils because they’re multitasking! Mineral Oil makes for a good cleansing oil when followed with a water based cleanser. But natural oils leave the skin soft and moisturized and in this case protected and nourished as well.

But onto the new goodness…

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What it is: Versatile cleansing milk that can be used as a one step softening cleanse or as a makeup removing cleanse before a water based (Foaming) cleanser. Rich in soy amino acids to help support and protect collagen and elastin.

What I like about it: So, Fresh has a signature cucumber scent most people love. I do love it myself, every time I smell Soy Face Cleanser it brings a smile to my face. This cucumber scent is present, however it smells like the sunomono (japanese pickled cucumbers) my grandma would make for dinner with katsudon NGL. But I love it oddly enough. A nice change from the regular ‘cucumber’. I also love how ******* soft my skin is after cleansing with it. I’ve tried this in the morning with no double cleanse a few times now and I’m always so shocked with how soft my skin is left afterwards.

(Brow Wiz in Taupe being removed by Seaberry Oil (left) and Soy Face Milk (right) 

What I don’t like about it: It’s makeup removing power isn’t quite as strong as I would hope for. This formula’s consistency really reminded me of the discontinued Soy Face Eye Makeup Remover (and I feel like this is SFEMR 2.0) but it didn’t seem to REALLY break down those heavy pigments quite as quickly. It still thoroughly removed but required more emulsifying than the oil did in comparison. But I feel like this is part of the trade off for having a milk vs oil. It’s easier to use but just ever so slightly less cleansing.

I give it a 7/10 my favorite cleansing milk to date, but I wish it broke down makeup with a little less work.

[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

[REVIEW] Tony Moly Mango Mild Sun Block SPF50+ PA+++

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(It’s wearin sunglasses bc it knows it’s cool AF) 

After a trip back home to the Bay Area I may have spent substantially more money than anticipated on skin care in Japantown. But this was my favorite purchase so it gets reviewed first! However, I purchased it for WAY more than I needed to! At the time of this post, Amazon is selling it for ~$10, I purchased it from an official Tony Moly reseller called K-Beauty for ~$21 (the same on Tony Moly USA’s website).

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My partner is pretty finicky about what he puts on his face. Not quite in the same way I am though, I can live with a product I don’t like the feeling/smell of as long as it’s a good product. He however…. is more concerned about feeling and smell. We’ve had a couple everyday sunscreens he’s tried: Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Defense (20% Zinc Oxide mineral based sunscreen) and Supergoop!’s City Serum Sunscreen (lightweight chemical filter sunscreen) and while the Supergoop wasn’t a total bust the ‘sunscreen’ smell lost him. It’s safe to say he is in love with this as much as I am. 

What about it: This magical mango sunscreen is over 60% a hydrating base which leaves an incredible supple feeling without feeling too greasy or matting down too much. It uses chemical filter sunscreens that instead of bouncing harmful UV(B)urn and UV(A)ging rays it filters these rays out and actually causes a chemical reaction that changes them into heat which is then released from the skin. There are a ton of different chemical sunscreens and they all work differently from each other, some instead of absorbing the rays will actually scatter the light. For more information on the differences of sunscreens I highly recommend this chart by skinacea It’s designed to be a super universal non-oily/fluid lightweight sunscreen, using chemical filter sunscreens means this product won’t give you a white cast, or a ‘penny smell’ like some physical sunscreens. It can be worn alone or under makeup without disturbing application.

What I like about it: It f*cking smells like MANGO. Like I mean to each their own but if I catch a whiff of mango while walkin to the store on a sunday in sweatpants I’m not complaining. The smell is pretty prevalent however it does dissipate especially with makeup application. I also love the protection without sacrificing comfortability SPF 50+ (This is rating protection against UVB rays, remember B for burn, these are the ones that leave us pink and sore after a day at the beach) and PA+++ (Rating UVA protection, out of a possible quadruple plus ratting, however most sunscreens today offer 1-3 pluses. These rays are responsible for (UV)Aging our skin.) Holy parenthesis batman. It leaves me feeling fresh all day, something sunscreens have a problem with delivering and I can put on a full face, light bb cream or just some concealer and not run into any problems. 

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(leaves a slight dewy finish as you can see immediately after application)

Overall take: Lightweight, smells great, full sun protection I can’t ask for much more. However I would love to see more good for you ingredients but reiterating the price point of under $10 I’m not going to say it’s a deal breaker whatsoever. 

F*** ENLARGED PORES AMIRITE???

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.

INGREDIENTS

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!) 

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CLEANSERS:

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. 

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(Credit: Wishtrend.com)

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)

EXFOLIATORS:

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! 

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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.

MASKS:

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)

SERUMS:

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. 

HYDRATORS:

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

Mizon Intensive Snail Repair AmpouleRead in depth about it here!

CosRx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence Read in depth about it here!

(other notable and strong recommendation that I haven’t though have had a chance to try is the Mizon 100 Hyaluronic Ampoule for obvious reasons.)

REVIEW: Benton Bestsellers MEMEBOX Set

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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)

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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)

Acne: Snail Secretion, Bee Venom!, Willow Bark

Hydration: Snail Secretion, Oligopeptides, Aloe, Glycerin 

Brightening: Adenosine, Panthenol, Arbutin, Bacillus Ferment

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) 

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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

Cleanser(s) – Toner – Actives – First Treatment Essence – Essence – Serum – Lotion/Emulsion – Moisturizer – Sunscreen/Sleep Mask

Honest TT Mist ($11)

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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.