Another Swanicoco product coming at ya. The Beer Bubble Pack. This oxygenating mask is designed to help restore circulation and help maintain pores.
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!
Other ‘key’ ingredients include betaine, arginine, and allantoin. All 3 will help the skin maintain moisture.
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.
In about 5-7 minutes of enduring tickling cheeks, you’re left with a mountain of foam ready to be washed off.
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.
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!
Benefit: soft, temporarily well circulated, glowing skin.
Oh boy, I was excited for this segment when I first started it, now I’m not sure how I’m going to financially support this segment because I want to go to the grocery store every day to grab some more face masks LOL.
Today we have Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Face Masks. They make this version and then also a ‘Moist’ version that contains placental protein, ceramide, and licorice root extract, I’m very intrigued but wanted to start with this simple and sexy ingredient list so I was more than happy bringing the white ones home instead of the adorable pinks ones that would match the new Moist lotion I got! (Review to come, actual products get way more testing time compared to sheet masks)
I couldn’t decide on Kose or Kiku, but i’m real tired of babies on the front of my packages Kose, talk to Loshi about it.
Why did I pick these up? Kiku-Masamune’s lotions and emulsions are incredibly popular. The brand itself is very interesting, they are also a sake brewing company as well! Not in the same way SK-II was ‘discovered’ at a brewery, I mean they boast concentrating 1,800mL of sake ferment filtrate in every bottle from their OWN brewery that is still in business. Kikumasamune is a brewing company first, their skin care is just an extra blessing.
This same sake ferment makes it way into these sheet masks as the 3rd ingredient without propylene glycol to be found and her less problematic brother butylene glycol is found very very low on the list and is actually the only /potential/ acne trigger. That’s almost unheard of. Especially in a world of sheet masks where the top 3 ingredients 9/10 times are water, butylene and propylene.
(this is NOT the moist version therefore the ingredients are incorrect, Oceana USA needs to get their shit together)
The fit of this mask is awful. Incredibly small all the way around, and since it’s a japanese daily mask style they’re drier than most sheet masks so they can ALSO have a hard time sticking. My daiso silicone mask is the only reason I can even try these masks to be frank. This size sheet mask is common in daily sheet masks, they aren’t really made for the mass market as some of the korean big names are. But if you have a silicone mask holder you shouldn’t run into issues with these (or really any other sheet mask)
(the uncut eye and nose holes are good signs of a cheap sheet mask that won’t fit well but of course YMMV)
Overall I was impressed with these, especially all the concentrated amino acids present (all those words ending in ‘sine’), something you normally see in a Peter Thomas Roth serum, not a $1 sheet mask. I can’t wait to try the moist version out, but I feel like my Horse Oil masks are too similar for me to go out of my way to purchase them right now.
They get a 8/10
No issues here except the fit.
(I may have thrown one off my face in rage because it wasn’t cooperating)
I’m starting a new segment dedicated to some of the lesser known gems I’ve been coming across actually from my local asian markets! Both stores Uwajimaya and HMart have plenty of masks to choose from however, Uwajimaya has quite a few I’ve never seen before currently. Last time I went looking for skin care there I left disappointed, however I think the surge in stock is because of the holidays. HMart carries more well known brands like Medi-Heal and Mediental but I’ll try to stay away from brands like this as much as I can to bring you some hidden gems to the surface.
Today I am starting it off with Loshi Horse Oil Moisture Face Mask.
I bought these at Uwajimaya in Seattle $8 for 7. You can grab them here for $12 I actually didn’t think much of these when I picked them up. Other than the baby is really irrelevant (it’s for rough skin/texture but like, ??? sass baby instead)
I was more stressed about the fact I stumbled upon the motherload of PureSmile masks for their appropriate price of $1.50 (they were $3+ in Portland!) These also don’t get any love or reviews so maybe they’ll be next.
I love masks that come in resealable packs especially because they’re usually pretty affordable and they’ve never disappointed. One thing to note is masks in this style are usually referred to as ‘daily sheet masks’ because they aren’t DRENCHED in essence like single use masks commonly are, especially like My Scheming masks that give you enough for 17 sheet masks in one pack. (These get most of the hype from the grocery stores unfortunately) Loshi is a japanese brand and they are most famous for their Horse Oil cream.
The ingredients really impressed me, the ingredients featured on the package are of course Horse Oil, it states that horse oil is similar to human fat and because of this it’ll be supremely moisturizing. Partially true, the lipids found in horse fat will definitely moisturize and protect, but there’s nothing ‘superior’ about using it over another lipid other than the fact the only real studies done show horse oil being only more similar when compared to other animal fats. So unless you’re currently rubbing pig fat on you, horse oil will reign in that category. The information I’ve found on the subject is slim, just a few studies done in the 50′s speaking to the linoleic content and some other stuff that isn’t really interesting. If you care to read up more (please tell me what you learn!) you can read about it here, here and here
But just one key ingredient wouldn’t get me writing a review, you also spot placenta (nutrition and moisture), royal jelly (moisture), vitamin C (antioxidant, brightening) Collagen (moisture), Glycosphingolipids (superior moisture/N.M.F Natural Moisturizing Factors ) and a few different forms of Hyaluronic acid (hydration) so we see a theme here.
me fully enjoying soaking in the horse fat and placenta protein.
(I took the time to type in all the ingredients into cosDNA for the world, you’re welcome internet)
I really enjoyed this mask after just one use, I can’t wait to try it again tomorrow! There isn’t any scent and my skin feels perfect after application. It leaves you feeling moisturized but not tacky or slimy. My only complaint is the fit is a little off, it’s huge in the cheeks and very narrow everywhere else? Not a deal breaker especially since most sheet masks don’t fit my face well. I’ll definitely be picking another pack up to hold on to next time I’m over there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
*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
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
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.
Hi! Recently I went on a ‘staycation’ here in the Bay Area (actually also Point Reyes) while my partner visited. I’ll post em’ all here and as I try them out I’ll be posting lil reviews on them. (And yeah that one down there is a placenta mask.)
But here I wanna take a second to give an (unsolicited) shout out to Candy Doll Beauty in Japantown, San Francisco CA. They carry a lot of popular and great Asian Beauty products you can only find in a small handful of places in the US like MEDIHEAL, Too Cool For School, PureSmile, ETUDE HOUSE, Dolly Wink, I even came across a couple Missha products. Also their markup is very very small. I was paying $3.00 for a product online directly from Korea that is $2.30.