[Review] Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Fluid: Emulsion Elegance

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

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

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

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

-eng.amorepacific.co.kr 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

[REVIEW] Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel (FEB 2017 REFORMULATION)

Comfortable and water resistant are like polar opposites. The more water resistant something is, generally the more it feels like you superglued a sheet mask to your face.

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Biore has reformulated their two best sellers this February and I’m here to tell you about the Watery Gel refomulation! Now it’s water/sweat resistant!

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After trying the Biore UV Bright Milk I knew I wanted that same coverage that saved me from the brutal California sun. However, the way it matte downs is just a little too much for my dry skin so the search was on for something with the same ultimate sun coverage but maybe sat a little nicer for everyday.

The two suspects I wanted to pull in for questioning were Biores own “watery Gel” and Shiseido’s Senka Aging Care UV. Shiseido was just as easy to get here and half the price, but it’s a much older formula. It’s very easy to find the previous version of the Watery Gel for about the same price of the Shiseido SPF.  I appreciate brands that have best sellers that they want to improve on! So unfortunately if you were looking for a comparison vs the old. I sadly cannot help you there. However ingredients wise, it’s nearly identical.

While it’s main purpose is to protect, it contains Hyaluronic Acid, Xylitol, and Royal Jelly to Hydrate and moisturize. Alcohol is the second ingredient to help absorption and you can faintly smell it. I’ve noticed some warmer days it leaves me reaching for my Dr. Dennis Gross C + Collagen Set & Refresh Mist for some moisture. It’s strange because you can tell the product is /trying/ to hydrate. But the uniqueness of the 2017 formula is that it is now sweat resistant it contains a few high performance polymers. The application doesn’t feel heavy, but you can feel it slightly for a few minutes. After the product has dried and flexed around some it’s texture is smooth and not matte or dewy. Just kinda the same!

One deal breaker for many, (but not ya boy who matches to like… NC.0000002) is the cast of this product. On Rakuten it’s states as a ‘optical correction powder’ but I got my money on it’s just the Titanium Dioxide. This makes me wonder how many names brands have marketed it as some sort of ‘glow’ or ‘correcting’ powder. One thing I’ve noticed with how the sunscreen applies, it really doesn’t like to go on top of gel moisturizers. I got a ever so slightly streaky application after waiting 10minutes before applying it on top of Primary Raw Azulene Gel and then on a separate occasion also with Erborian Bamboo Creme Frappe. This sucks because my morning routines have been very low maintenance for the sake of compatibility with high(er) performance sunscreens.  It seems to do better with something slightly creamier but not too rich. Think, Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet.

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There are a few things I enjoy about the sunscreen. Consistency is fluid (contrary to the speckled look) but not too liquidy application. It took some trial and error but I found I get the best application to take a small amount in my palms and apply it quickly swiping.

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That second ingredient, alcohol, comes through with a subtle cooling effect when applying. Most people scoff at this ingredient, especially being so high. But alcohol, has a great roll here. It helps dry the sunscreen to helps the filters absorb, polymers, acylates and friends to adsorb. Better than any other ingredient. But isn’t it bad for you? Well… Through my teachings and own research on the subject alcohol is really only ‘bad’ undiluted direct to skin, or in high concentrations applied to dry skin. (You use this sunscreen directly after washing your face with dish soap) For more info futurederm has some great credible information on SD Alcohol (cosmetic great denatured alcohol, that’s in here, I don’t think I mentioned that part)

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Does my hand look ‘Optically Corrected’? It does look dewy!

Did I find a new everyday sunscreen? Unfortunately, no. While it may work for many as such, and I’m fine using it as such, I have my issues with it. Hit or miss application aside, something that bothers me about many of these super sunscreens are the high(er) octinoxate amounts. I was unaware of the exact percentages of really anything before I purchased it. I don’t want to scare people out of the ingredient like most blogs try to do. I’m not chucking this sunscreen out the window and chanting cleansing rituals to rid myself of the potential cancer. But I did order a very awesome sounding sunscreen from Amazon.jp -> Buyee.jp -> me that does NOT contain Octinoxate but still provides SPF50+ PA++++. I actually had to ask the help of RatZilla of Ratzillacosme.com for help finding this sunscreen, the Queen of Sunscreens.

If you’re scratching your head to why I’m concerned about an extra + sign, PA rating is a easy to understand way to rate a sunscreen’s UVA(ging) protection. Still scratching? Start with my SPF 201 post to quickly learn the basics of sun protection. Well since the only thing available in the US markets are PA+++ I want that FULL UVA protection. While a very very few sunscreens in the US market exist that will actually rate a PA++++ when tested but stated as PA+++ to calm the FDA down, they are very few and not the best formulas regardless. In markets where PA++++ exists, they almost all contain Octinoxate. It’s documented as safe, it’s cheap, and it works well. OKAY BUT WHY DON’T I WANT IT? Octinoxate is a known endocrine disruptor and while isn’t proven to be unsafe long term. It has not been proven to be safe long term. One unique thing about this filter is that it accumulates in our system. That is the reason I personally want to be staying away from octinoxate on a daily basis. I will have ZERO issues slathering Watery Gel all over my body every 90 minutes (WOW, I also didn’t mention this bad boy is sized for face & body) while I’m at the beach! But do I feel good applying it everyday with what I know about it? Not so much. There are some brands that advertise full protection with just mineral SPF. But in order for mineral sunscreen to reach past the minimum rating it needs to be L O A D E D with mineral.

Take a look at this sunscreen simulator, I found you needed roughly (extremely) 40% mineral SPF when using the maximum amount of Zinc Oxide (25%) to achieve a high enough PPD rating it would produce a Japanese PA++++ rating based on the 2.0mg/cm application amount which is standard.

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That’s a lot of mineral on your face! Part of my goal in this quest for finding my perfect everyday sunscreen is to find one I feel is genuinely comfortable. My experiences with high mineral content has never been a ‘cosmetically elegant’ one.

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Back to Biore though, I do like this sunscreen. Maybe not as much as I hoped but instead of finding a spot in my everyday routine I think it may have found a place in my backpack for hiking.

 

[REVIEW] Naruko 60 Actives Youth Activating Enhancer

Enhancers and Activators are quite an interesting skincare
category. I’m not even entirely convinced it’s a worthwhile product to use. By
complete unofficial definition, activators are products used before ANYTHING. I
mean like if you use a First Treatment Essence this would go even before
that!!! WOW! (See my skepticism of their worthwhileness?) They are supposed to help penetration and absorption
while providing some other mild benefits. However, this is formulated, feels, and even looks like a hydrating toner and can be used as such.

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Naruko’s 60 Actives Youth Activating whatever is one of two I’ve
thought to be worthy of testing. It being the cheaper of the two (Sulwhasoo’s
First Care Activating Serum was the ladder) I decided to give it a go after finding
little info except a rather helpful review from fiddysnails and this cosdna posting of the full ingredients.

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Naruko (this is pulled from their Malaysian website) touts 4 key factors of this enhancer. Hyaluronic Acid, vitamin C (in Ascorbyl Glucoside flavor), their ‘60 actives’ botanical blend, and Dimethyl Isosorbide. I don’t think the botanical blend has anything worth mentioning since the list is so lengthy it most likely does little to nothing. More on the nothing side.

Why do I get excited about Dimethyl Isosorbide? It’s because this and two other products (Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk & PTR 3% Retinoid) that use this ingredient absorb REALLY WELL! That’s really the purpose of this ingredient. It prevents ingredients from oxidizing, making that overwhelming list of extracts, and vitamin C safe for a while longer. It is listed higher than most of the ‘actives’ in this product and you can definitely tell by the slight oily texture.

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Its scent is also pretty nice. To me it’s ‘soapy rose’ but i’m sure that smell is more ideal than all of those extracts havin’ their own party.

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I rarely use this product at night as I have other actives I am using and waiting on, but I use this almost every morning. As a carrier of Ascorbyl Glucoside, I pair this with my vitamin C serum in the morning as my ‘actives’. The fresh cool feeling of hyaluronic acid and glycerin are usually welcomed as well as the relatively quick absorption without any type of residue. Just perfectly prepped. But is it prepped? Or is your youth activated? That’s none of my business.

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However, if you care about my business. I give this ‘enhancer’ a 6/10. It was also next to impossible to ship to america, I found it on ebay for an alright price but it’s nowhere to be found now.. It wasn’t my hopes and dreams of a product that’d make my face act like a literal sponge. But did it help product absorption? I think it did in the beginning steps, but over the course of the routine I can’t say I could feel a major difference.

Texture: 7/10 — a tad oily? but hydrating. Difficult is a good word.

Packaging: 5/10 — kinda weird, product builds up really easily in the cap and can get gross.

Scent: 8/10 — soapy rose… I think I love it ? But sometimes I’m not in the mood.

Performance: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

Mystery Grocery Store Masking [PART 3/?] : KAO Megurhythm Steam Hot Eye Mask

Warming eye masks have been a big buzz in ABeauty for a few months now. I feel bad that I’m just now writing a review on them because I’ve been FULLY enjoying them myself for about the same amount of time.

Warming eye masks are a bit of a different ‘skincare’ product, if you can even really classify them as a skincare product. There are no ingredients as they’re a dry eye mask that activates when you rip the package open and expose it to air. They were designed for pure relaxation while they do offer the benefit of depuffing and soothing irritation.

There’s a iron and moisture mixture inside of a patch inside of the eye mask that when exposed to air it produces steam. KAO claims the eye masks will produce heat for “10mins at 40º C”

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In real world usage, I get about 25-35 minutes of relaxing warmth on my eyes. But fair warning YMMV, I’ve had them last for a really really long time and I’ve also had them last about 10 minutes. But the general amount of time I’d say is riiiiight around a half hour of pure bliss.

I can’t really ‘prove’ a whole lot with these masks as there aren’t a ton of features. They are a product you should really just experience. But luckily, you can find packs of 5 or 14 in most asian markets that carry skincare. If not, amazon has them readily available some with prime shipping.

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They come in unscented, and 4 other scents. I’ve only tried the scented versions since they are for relaxation and I am a big believer that relaxation comes from the care of ALL senses.. But the smells may understandably be off putting for some. I’ve tried the lavender/sage and yuzu scented ones and really enjoyed the scent of both. But my favorite is Lavender. I think up next will be the rose but I definitely am going to try all of them. They’ve somehow found a way into my life (I think permanently…)

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I love whipping these out after a long day of work, if I have a headache, on a flight home, or even when I wake up! (Not every morning, but days off ya’know. I’m not that accomplished.) It is recommended to apply your eye products before using one as well as the steam will help with penetration/absorption!

You see why these are the buzz now, grab yourself a pack of 5 (shouldn’t cost more than $10, they were I believe $7.99 in store). take your relaxation game up a level.

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] Bioré UV Perfect Bright Face Milk SPF 50+ PA++++

Biore vs. the California Heat

If you follow my instagram (@facequench) you may have saw I was recently off back to California for a wedding! My outfit was a disaster but my skincare of course, was on point. My SPF choice was without a doubt the most important choice I had to make. I get little sunlight compared to when I lived in the Bay. When I found out I was going to be in an outside wedding, out in the ‘Wine Country’ area I panicked a little bit.

My skin has never done well with the sun. Some filter sunscreens can cause uncomfortable sensations in my skin, too much physical causes my skin to itch. This makes sunscreen shopping difficult at times, but my biggest issue is dehydrating skin, which also leads to burning quicker.

Since I discovered them, I’ve wanted to try a PA++++ sunscreen. They are not legally sold in the States since they contain active sunscreen filters that are not approved by the FDA. Before you get too disinterested, the filters aren’t approved but they also aren’t disapproved. THEY JUST HAVEN’T TESTED THEM.

These filters include Mexoryl SX, Mexoryl XL, 4-MBC, Uvinul A Plus, Uvinul T 150 and Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M. The craziest part is these filters often show less potential safety and irritation issues compared to other sunscreens. For more information on sunscreens, both physical and chemical, check out my sunscreen 201 post here. I’m pretty bitter about the FDA being slow approving these sunscreens but a lot of americans don’t really want or look for this type of high protection. Most of my clients are looking for an SPF 20 for everyday use. (Which if you’re reading this and scoff, calm down please and refer to the link post above.) So you can also see why it hasn’t necessarily been a priority. But for folks who burn just thinking about the sun, like me, may need to look to Japan for their everyday wants.

That’s where Biore comes in, one of the largest carriers of PA++++ sunscreens. I chose the Bright Milk to try as my first quad PA product since it has a slight pink tone to it, which I can always use with my sallow complexion.

It doubles as a makeup primer/base and it’s also now waterproof since 2015! I literally couldn’t find anything unappealing about it. Best part was I could order it from Amazon (ps. sometimes you can see PA++++’s sneak into prime options but they always disappear, you gotta wait for snail mail)

The packaging is well, drug store packaging. But it’s practical and honestly, less wasteful than some of the extra packages that I come across.

Application can be a little tricky with how fluid the product is but it lays really well making a great canvas for cushion, foundation, or really whatever I’m in the mood for.

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The ingredient list is pretty fine too. Generally speaking, since sunscreens adsorb instead of absorb they can have more acne triggers in them.

This is a similarly priced US ‘for babies’ sunscreen:

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(note: CosDNA shows filter strengths in both spectrums which is helpful to see what your SPF is protecting you against most)

Safety is something I wanted to touch on briefly too. Oxybenzone is a filter sunscreen I would recommend to stay far away from. Especially if you are a female. This is also one of the filters that irritates my skin. Filter sunscreens work by converting harmful UV rays into heat, often times that process can cause a slight sensation, however for some reason Oxybenzone is just not my jam, but I’m not really worried about it.

After spending the entire morning till mid afternoon outside, in California, in actual sun, I was pretty worried about being a little pink at the end of the day. But once I got home and cooled off, I took my foundation off to reveal my skin was still white as a ghost without a hint of flamingo anywhere except a tiny strip on my neck.

On a day to day basis I found that the Bright Face Milk was just a little too matte for my liking. But surprisingly comfortable on my dry skin as a matte finish. But for the less than ideal environment, it worked out perfectly. There are a number of finishes in the Biore sunscreen line including gel and essence. Next I’ll be trying the new Biore 2017 reformulation of the watery gel since it is the most ‘moist’ finish for a more everyday sunscreen. But Bright Milk, you delivered. Even with my lack of reapplication except some cushion blots on my cheeks before photos.

[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!

[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!

Clarisonic vs Foreo: an Unbiased and Thorough Comparison

Lets just start with setting the background of my experiences of both:

I have owned a Clarisonic Mia 2 for over 5 years! I have owned a Foreo Luna Normal/Sensitive for a little over a year now.

I get asked at least on a weekly basis, which is ‘better’ Clarisonic or Foreo? Some people ask me coming from bad Clarisonic experiences if the Foreo is better. Some people ask me coming into the cleansing tool realm which one to get. Others just ask because they want to see if they should switch from one to the other.

But in reality, neither of them are better. Each of them have their own pros and cons when you’re comparing them. Since I have both, I use both! There’s obviously a lot they both do the same, but each has certain things it either does better, that are more customizable, or just slightly different from each other.

Let’s start with the Clarisonic. Now right off the bat there are some big(ger) differences between devices across the range. The retail range currently is: the Mia 1, 2, and Smart Profile and then also their new ‘Fit’ device.

Mia 1 has just a single ‘speed’ that is called ‘Universal’ it’s designed to work across most skin types.

Mia 2 also has the Universal speed, but also has a ‘Delicate’ speed which oscillates slower for a more gentle cleanse.

Smart Profile has a total of 4 speeds. The two from the Mia two as well as a ‘Makeup Removal’ speed that was also on the Mia 3 when it was sold, and a higher brush speed as well as a ‘TURBO’ button. The best way to describe that is it’s like the cold shot button on your blow dryer. There’s a few ‘smart’ features that allow the brush head to switch speeds when it comes time to delicate area cleansing. This is also the only clarisonic that can use the body and pedi brush heads as well.

Last, and newest is the Fit which offers two cleansing ‘settings’ and when I questioned a clarisonic representative on the difference I was told the settings are kind of a mesh in between the speeds so they are just called the ‘Delicate’ and ‘PowerCleanse’ settings.

I am comparing from a Mia 2, which I got back in 2012, that one my sister currently has but it’s still working! When I bought it, it was $129 they’ve since bumped the price (twice) to $169.

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One point I like to note about Clarisonic devices is their patents. There are a few patents that really set them apart. These brush heads are a lot different than the 360 rotating devices you see from other brands. Those are essentially destructive to skin. No matter how much your friend who gets $10 when they refer you to buy one tries to convince you they are not, they are. Even Clarisonics can be destructive if used improperly (i.e applying pressure when cleansing, using too harsh of a brush head) A big note Clarisonic wants you to know about their devices is they are not exfoliating. “They remove the daily buildup of excess skin cells” I mean it sounds legit but that also sounds kinda like exfoliating to me, boss. While I think it’s important to note that is may still be potentially exfoliating, if used properly it’s safe for 1-2x daily use. As there are many safe gentle daily exfoliators out there!

Brush heads also make a huge difference. I have had a few people tell me they’ve used a clarisonic in the past and still have it, but stopped using it because it’s exfoliating or because it got irritating after awhile but fall in love with it again because they switch to a brush head more suitable for their skin type. The brush heads listed from most gentle, to least: Cashmere (like obv not exfoliating), Radiance, Acne, Delicate, Sensitive, Alpha, Deep Pore. Most people with acne or oily skin immediately dive for the deep pore brush. I admit, guilty of this in 2012 and have either some short lived success, moderate success, or irritated skin. But the acne brush head is called that for a reason. It’s designed to not irritate inflamed breakouts as well as still provide slightly more resistance than the radiance brush head which is the most gentle regular bristled brush. Which on that note, go Clarisonic for now shipping devices with the radiance brush head as standard! I’ve always thought they should start people with a softer brush head than they were because the Normal, now known as Alpha, is pretty aggressive in my opinion.

The brush heads are one major point I like (but also hate) about my clarisonic. I can change my brush head to my needs. I have a sensitive brush head and a radiance brush head, I use my radiance brush head for regular daily cleansing, but if I want to bump it up some I find the sensitive brush head to be perfect. However, Clarisonic recommends replacing your brush head every 3 months. They say this isn’t for sanitary purposes, that if you thoroughly clean your brush head properly that every 3 months the bristles will be worn down and need replacing. This is a lot more apparent in the softer bristled brushes. They can even form knots deeper in the brush head and cause the patented motion of the bristles; flexing of the pore/flushing with fluids to decrease in efficacy. So this means I gotta shell out either $27 for a single or $44 for a twin pack.

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radiance brush head

 

(Sensitive brush head, this actually has more uses on it than the radiance! But the stiffer bristles hold up better. ) Battery life isn’t great however. You get just over 20 minutes of sonic cleansing before your device will need a very long recharge. Also, it requires a specific break in charging period to make sure the battery will work/last. This really sucks.

Now let’s talk about the Foreo Luna. Coming from a swedish design this thing is spunky looking. Instead of having a brush head. Foreo uses what is known as silicone touch points. Depending on which device you buy, these touch points will have a different shape, size and thickness. Some have alternating bristle patterns as well. Mine is the Normal/Sensitive type.

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Since it has the silicone tips instead of bristles they virtually never have to be replaced, but this also restricts you to the one brush type. But for many people with clarisonic’s, they prefer only one brush type.

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One cool thing about the Foreo devices is how many uses you can get out of a single charge. Over 450 cleansing and anti aging routines on a single charge is incredible. Also no break in period for your device. win/win

Foreo’s cleansing results are a bit different than the clarisonic’s in my opinion. While Foreo Luna’s have an ‘anti-aging’ mode that utilizes the back’s design to act as a firming facial massage. The same effect is supposedly the same when cleansing with a clarisonic brush. You hold the Luna device on areas of concern such as elevens and crows feet until the timer tells you to move on with a few pulses. It’s actual cleansing speeds are broken up into 8 speeds! Not saying these speeds are anymore gentle or more aggressive than the clarisonic’s 4. It’s nice to have a smoother grade right?

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One interesting note is, Foreo, whose device is definitely easier on the skin comparing to the Clarisonic with really any brush head except the most gentle few, states their device is exfoliating! Probably because they remove dead skin cells with the silicone tips/therefore exfoliating! Yes, it’s very very gentle exfoliating, some wouldn’t consider such as exfoliating just by feel, but it is!

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The tips of the foreo are relatively short (they have made them 20% longer in the Luna 2!) so they don’t provide as much movement as the bristles do. Nor are they oscillating rapidly like the Clarisonic brush head. Getting soaps to lather effectively can be slightly more difficult, but also you aren’t replacing that head in 3 months. (But you also lose the option of customized cleansing)

Lastly, let’s talk about cleansing of the two. For comparison purposes I’ll be using the same two cleansers on each. One will be an easy foaming cleanser. The other will be sulfate free/pH balanced/ difficult to get a nice lather going.

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We are starting with Tony Moly x Pokemon Pikachu Moisture Foaming Cleanser. This is a high foaming wash. You want to dispense a pea size amount of cleanser onto the foreo or by doting across the face. The Clarisonic brush has a convenient reservoir for you to dollop the cleanser into.

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Great lather from the Luna.

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Oodles of it from the Mia 2.

Then we have Skin Laundry Gentle Foaming Wash for our second test cleanser. This is a sulfate free, pH balanced gentle cleanser so we can expect lather to be more difficult to produce.

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*Mouthfart* the Luna’s bristles don’t do a great job at lathering this up. The Luna 2 in my expierence does do better, the tips are 20% longer, but still nothing like a brush. As we can see with how well the Mia 2 did with lathering up:

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I think by now I may have gotten the point across there is no one superior device. But some things people may prefer in one over the other. So ultimately, I prefer the value of the Luna but overall prefer ease of the cleanse and brush head customization from the Mia 2.

If you found this post helpful in your cleansing tool search, consider purchasing your device through one of my affiliate links!

Clarisonic Mia 1

Clarisonic Mia 2 

Clarisonic Fit

Foreo Luna

Foreo Luna 2 

[REVIEW] Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

I have a bad habit of moving directly on to another moisturizer after finishing (or growing tired) of my current one. But Sunday Riley has made the FIRST moisturizer I had to come back for more of. 

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Tidal claims to be hydrating and brightening. It hydrating with 2 forms of Hyaluronic Acid, a low molecular weight HA to penetrate deeply and hydrate over time, as well as your regular HMW-HA to give surface hydration. You find Jojoba Esters as the seconds ingredient providing moisture very similar to human sebum without feeling like an oil or heavy butter. So we know with this moisturizer we are getting both some hydration and also some moisture (without the weight!) 

Tidal’s brightening effects I feel like are actually a bit understated. Papain, or papaya enzymes help lightly exfoliate, which in my use have helped cut down how frequently I exfoliate noticeably. 1% Alpha-Arbutin is the power ingredient however, which is up to 20x more effective than Beta-Arbutin or commonly known as just ‘Arbutin’. While Arbutin is a natural ingredient (you can find it in Bearberry extract) Alpha-Arbutin is a biosynthetic powder that is manufactured and MUCH more expensive than it’s Beta brother. What is arbutin? It is a brightening ingredient that is related to hydroquinone but is much less harsh and doesn’t have nearly as many safety risks included. Another point to note is the cool use of papaya enzymes, generally we see them in powder washes like Tosowoong’s (Review here!) or AMOREPACIFIC’s enzyme peel. Some have concerns of these washes not actually exfoliating much, if at all because the enzymes are not left on long enough/ are not strong enough. Since the enzymes are being left on they have a chance to exfoliate to visibly smooth and retexturize over the course of a few uses. 

This is my second jar now of this gel-cream. It has a subtle floral/earthy scent with zero added fragrance and a beautiful light teal color with a subtle iridescence. Tidal isn’t you’re average hydrating moisturizer, it’s actually a very active treatment as well. I recommend this for clients who often times want an all-in-one moisturizer, but they actually want it to show results. 

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I don’t pick favorites, but if I were to this may be it. No complaints here, man.