Asian Beauty, Review

Empties & Mini Reviews [July 2017 – December 2017]

Brands Included: COSRX | Missha | TheFaceShop | the CREME shop | Hada Labo | SCINIC | Kikumasamune | Mamonde

1. COSRX

  • COSRX – AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
    • As somebody with oily, acne-prone skin, I found this product to work fine, but it did not seem to do quite as much as I would have hoped it would. It could be because the formulation is so gentle and I need a higher percentage of AHA/BHA, but this product would be ideal to those with sensitive skin. Will not repurchase. 4/5.
  • COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
    • When my skin was doing particularly bad, this was my absolute go-to product. It hydrates, heals, and soothes the skin very effectively. I think everybody should try a snail product at least once in their lifetime. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • COSRX – Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask
    • While COSRX tends to impress me more than disappoint, I was sad to find that this product did next to nothing for my skin. As an overnight mask, I expected it to act as an occlusive to seal in all of the hydration and moisture from the products I used underneath, but it felt like it would simply dissipate from my skin. I did love the texture of the actual product though. Will not repurchase. 2/5.

2. Missha

  • Missha – Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule
    • This is a holy grail item for me. With its long list of extracts I can always expect this product to hydrate my skin and make it look more radiant. And because it has a very small percentage of retinol, I can comfortably use it every night without irritating my skin but still see the benefits that retinol brings — lightening of acne scars, smoother skin texture, a more even skin tone, and less acne in general. Will repurchase. 5/5.
  • Missha – Near Skin Smart All-In-One Cream
    • I wanted to love this product so much. Its ingredient list might suggest that it could easily become a product loved by many, but for whatever reason this product did very little for me. I do not think that it truly functions as an all-in-one product, but rather, a slightly heavier gel-cream. That being said, it must be one of the very few products by Missha that had absolutely no fragrance. While it did not make my skin worse, it did seem to make it more oily and did not wear well under makeup. Will not repurchase. 2/5.

3. TheFaceShop

  • TheFaceShop – Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Mud Pack
    • Simply put, I found this product to be very drying (and ultimately damaging to my skin more than anything else). My skin is not particularly sensitive, but this product made it feel as though it was. Will not repurchase. 1/5.
  • TheFaceShop – Chia Seed Moisture Recharge Cream
    • After discovering that my holy grail Chia Seed Moisturizing Cream had been discontinued, I decided to give this newer formulation a try. I was pleasantly surprised. Just as the original cream, it soothed my skin, thoroughly moisturized my skin without turning it greasy, and worked well under my makeup. The only thing that gets me about this product is that its scent seems more artificial (more “perfume-like”) than natural. Their first formulation will always be superior, but this is an acceptable replacement. Will repurchase. 4.5/5.

4. the CREME shop

  • the CREME shop – Chia Seed Calming Spritz Toner
    • I thought I had stumbled onto an amazing dupe for my beloved Chia Seed Soothing Mist Toner by TheFaceShop, but unfortunately, I was very disappointed by this product. It burned my skin instead of soothing it, smelled strongly of perfume, and was drying rather than hydrating. I managed to finish the bottle by using it on my body. After only a few uses, I was reluctant to use this on my face. Will not repurchase. 0/5.

5. Hada Labo

  • Hada Labo – Gokujyun Lotion (Clear)
    • This is a perfectly light toner that effectively plumped up my skin, reducing the look of the fine lines on my forehead and under my eyes. I found that it was perfect for layering when I wanted that extra bit of hydration. Will not repurchase only because its main ingredient, hyaluronic acid, can be found in many Asian beauty products that provide additional benefits. 5/5.

6. SCINIC

  • SCINIC – Honey All In One Ampoule
    • Smells amazing, feels amazing, and simply is amazing. I loved how thick this product was while at the same time it felt light on the skin because of how well it absorbed. (Note that it will feel sticky until it does fully absorb.) It soothed my skin, improved my skin’s texture, was healing, and helped fade some post-acne scars. Will repurchase. 5/5.

7. Kikumasamune

  • Kikumasamune – High Moist Lotion
    • The most hydrating toner I have ever used to date. It delivers immediate hydration upon application due to the many ceramides it contains and improves the skin with its star ingredient, fermented sake. Perfect for layering. Smells of bananas and bubble gum. Will not repurchase only because of its controversial ingredient (horse placenta) and there is a dupe of this product. Still, I cannot deny that this is an amazing product. 5/5.

8. Mamonde

  • Mamonde – Rose Water Toner
    • The highest rose-containing product that I currently know of (90.98%) that smells of natural roses and not artificially perfumed. I love that I could use it effectively as an astringent toner to remove any makeup I might have missed with my cleanser and to prepare my skin for the following products I used on top of it. It made my skin smooth and helped reduce my acne. Will repurchase. 5/5.
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Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Clio – Kill Cover Highest Wear Pact SPF30/PA++ No.2-BP (”Lingerie,” Blooming Powder)

Packaging: The product comes in a black plastic compact (12g) with a little divider to house the puff. The packaging surprised me a lot in that it felt extremely cheap. And by looking at the photo of the puff you can see that my nails cause indentations just by holding it to apply the product. They do disappear after some time has passed, but either way, I would recommend to use a large fluffy brush to apply the product instead. While it is possible to blend out the circular rings left behind from the puff when you use it on your face, a fluffy brush applies much better (and evenly) without causing any stimulation to the face.

Price: I bought this on sale for about $22 USD on Jolse. With daily usage, this product should last three months at the very least. And considering that this product does not clog my pores, I think the price is right for what it is (but not as far as the case goes; the case still sucks).

Consistency: It feels so beautifully smooth. It surprised me, actually, because it felt a lot like a light translucent powder. I was expecting it to feel heavy on my skin because of its coverage, but it really feels like nothing is there. That is not to say there are not some downsides, however. As with most powders, I find that the powder will go on patchy if your skin is damp. It seems that the best time to use this is when your face is completely dry. You are able to build this product, but if you have oily skin, it is not advisable to layer the product later on in the day when your shine starts coming through because it is going to look patchy and cakey (even though it is so light). And if your skin is dry, or you have dry patches, it is going to cling – but not overwhelmingly so. As long as you have moisturized well and let your skin absorb everything first, it should go on just fine. It also looks great when applied over a BB cream because it does not darken your skin, but instead it adds to your coverage while at the same time removing any shine.

Scent: It has a somewhat light scent that is reminiscent of a kind of floral perfume. It also does seem to linger a bit, but it is not overwhelming.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that the only two ingredients to look out for is talc and dimethicone (emollient) – both of which only scored a 1 as acne triggers. Admittedly, as far as the ingredients go, there does not appear to be anything really special in this product aside from the fact that it is more pigmented than regular powders (and that was why I bought it). So, I do not have a lot to say in terms of the ingredients when it comes to this particular product, but I did decide to look into talc and silica, which appear in many powders.

According to the FDA:

Talc is an ingredient used in many cosmetics, from baby powder to blush…  [Its function is] to absorb moisture, to prevent caking, to make facial makeup opaque, or to improve the feel of a product.

Who knew? Talc tends to be portrayed as some kind of evil ingredient that should be avoided at all costs, but in actuality it is so helpful when you have oily skin like I do.

Silica (or silicon dioxide) is an ingredient that also seems to show up often in powders (this one included). I had no idea what use it had until I found a 2016 paper published by Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia (the Brazilian Society of Dermatology), which established that

silicon is important for optimal synthesis of collagen and for activating the hydroxylation enzymes, important in the formation of collagen network, improving skin strength and elasticity.

Overall Review: As you can see from my face photo above, this product is not full coverage by any means, but it effectively lessened the severity of my redness/pimples, made my tone appear even, effectively hid my pores, and removed all shine on my face. If I am to judge the actual product on its own, I would say that it is a great formula that provides ample coverage without clogging my pores/causing breakouts, but I do think it is a “high maintenance” sort of product. What I mean by this is that it seems as though it takes a lot of work to apply it perfectly. I would not want to use this on the go in fear that it might appear patchy if I used the puff. Even BB cushions require less work than this! The packaging is cheap and the puff it comes with is just useless, but still, I do like the powder itself. Will I be rushing to repurchase this product when it runs out though? Probably not. From my experience, it is better to use a BB cream/cushion for coverage, and then apply a translucent powder on top to control shine without getting cakey. 3/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Kikumasamune – High Moist Lotion

Packaging: The product comes in a large pink bottle (500ml) with a pump. This pump is notorious for its ability to shoot the product across the goddamned room. SO. I find it easiest to cup my hand and pump the product directly into it, but others have gone so far as to use different bottles altogether (but I like to live on the wild side, so it is still in its original bottle for me).

Price: I personally bought this in Canada for a hefty price of $30 CAD, but looking online on Amazon, it goes for $15 USD which is a great deal considering how much product you get out of it and how long it lasts (I have had mine for about five months now and as you can see from the photos above, it is nowhere near being finished).

Consistency: It is slightly more viscous than water, but is still very watery in general. When applied, it feels immediately hydrating upon the skin and is only slightly tacky. This product is perfect for when you want multiple light layers of hydration as it plays nicely with everything you put on top of it. (And remember, since this is a Japanese product, the word “lotion” actually means “toner” in this context, so be sure to use it before any serums, ampoules, etc.)

Scent: If you have ever gotten drunk off of sake, then this may be exactly what you smell when you put it on. Some people cannot stand this scent because it can be strange applying something that once made you sick when ingested (ha), but for those of us who have not had such an experience, the scent seems to vary between bubble gum to bananas (or in my case, a little of both). At any rate, you can expect the scent to be very different than your average toner. I happen to love it, but my husband says it smells like farty putty to him, so every opportunity I get, I chase him down with it all over my hands. 🙂

Ingredients: When this product first blew up all over the internet, people were in love. It is easily one of the best hydrating toners I have ever used; it is damn effective and amazingly priced. But once people started looking into its ingredients, it became highly controversial. But why? Take a look at the ingredient list:

Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamate, arginine, leucine, ceramide 3ceramide 6 IIplacenta extractarbutinglycyrrhizic acid, soy protein, maltitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydroxyethyl cellulose, alkyl styrene/acrylic acid copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance

(CosDNA Analysis)

If the bolded words were obvious enough, you should have come across the ingredient listed as “placenta extract.” Not only did this irk the vegans of the skincare world, but it also bothered everybody else, as you can probably imagine. Placenta? How in the hell was that sourced? Was it cruelty-free? Is it really even necessary? I bought this product before being aware of this ingredient because my eyes zoned in on the ceramides so high up on the list… and my point is, I am guilty for not taking a closer look at the ingredient list.

After doing some research, it turns out that the placenta extract is, in fact, a matter of ethical debate because it is derived from horses. In Japan, horse racing is big, hence the reason they have a high market for horse breeding which even cosmetic industries such as Kikumasamune partake in. One of the companies that sources the placenta extract adds that the expected functions of horse placenta may be one or more of the following:

– Internal use: strength liver & body, anti-fatigue, adjusting autonomic nerves, adjusting endocrine, and immunopotentiative action.
– External use: whitening effect, activating skin metabolism and etc.

(Source)

A redditor that took part in the discussion of Kikumasamune’s placenta ingredient was able to shed more light on the situation by mentioning:

Regardless, the thing is: we eat horse meat here. It’s not a staple meat, but you can find raw horse meat sushi in some restaurants and other horse meat products as delicacies. It sounds weird, but many Japanese feel the same about Americans eating deer, elk, bison, even goat and lamb meat. So these products could be byproducts of the horse meat industry, and the animals aren’t being slaughtered solely for the sake of their placentas!

(Full reddit post here, for those of you who are interested.)

Despite its controversial nature, I do wish to include the other beneficial ingredients of this product because had that one ingredient not been involved, I would easily call this a holy grail product due to how effective it is. I mentioned earlier that the product was the most hydrating toner I had ever used, but it also noticeably brightens the skin and fades any post-acne scars. Rice ferment filtrate (sake) contains kojic acid which is responsible for skin-lightening and is also a great source of antioxidants. Arbutin and glycyrrhizic acid (a derivative of licorice root) are another set of powerful skin-lightening agents. Arginine has healing and anti-aging effects, and the ceramides are responsible for repairing the moisture barrier and enhancing the overall health of your skin.

In my opinion, if you find a product with ceramides, especially if they are higher up on the ingredient list, it is definitely worth trying. When I get out of the shower, at times the skin on my face begins to flake because I basically boiled myself in there (I love hot showers, okay?), and once I use this product, all of the flakes seem to disappear and my skin no longer feels tight. That is the power of ceramides.

Overall Review: Sooo… truthfully speaking, I do intend to finish the product I bought, but still feel somewhat uncomfortable with the placenta ingredient. I looked for similar products (but without the horse placenta extract, obviously) and was able to find an almost-dupe that looks as though it should perform just as well as the Kikumasamune one: Cezanne – Ceramide Skin Conditioner High Moist (ingredient analysis here). However, I must say that Kikumasamune’s High Moist Lotion is a great product in itself. It lightens post-acne scars, deeply moisturizes and hydrates the skin, and in as little as a week, the quality of my skin never looked better. Ignoring the placenta ingredient, this is, without a doubt, a 5/5.

Asian Beauty, Review

BeautyBoxKorea Haul and Review

Okay, first of all… I have been waiting so long to write this post (I’ll get back to this in a moment) because I have finally completed my set of Missha’s MISA Geumsul line (pictured above) and look forward to using all of the products together. Secondly, I have been looking at the luxury brand Sum:37 for quite some time now. I got to try a sample packet of the Secret Programming Essence (one of their best-sellers of all time) and I just wanted more! So now I have the miniature gift set to play with and get a feel for more of their Secret Repair products.
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BeautyBoxKorea Review

Products Purchased:

1.) Su:m37 – Secret Repair Special Gift Set

  • Secret Repair Toner 20ml
  • Secret Repair Emulsion 20ml
  • Secret Repair Concentrated Cream 10ml
  • Secret Programming Essence 12ml
  • Secret Repair Concentrated Serum 8ml

2.) Missha – MISA Geumsul Special Set (II)

  • Geumsul Skin Toner 145ml
  • Geumsul Milky Emulsion 100ml
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Cream 50ml
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Essence 7ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Skin Toner 30ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Milky Emulsion 30ml (Miniature)
  • Geumsul Rejuvenating Cream 10ml (Miniature)

3.) Missha – MISA Geumsul Vitalizing Eye Cream ® 30ml

Thoughts on Pricing:

1.)  Su:m37 – Secret Repair Special Gift Set –  $23.65 USD

I bought this long before I decided to hop on Ebay and see how the prices might differ. Painfully gypped. I could have bought this same little set for a much lower price on Ebay.

2.)  Missha – MISA Geumsul Special Set (II)  – $59.53 USD

I personally think this was a great deal. It happened to be on sale during a 30% discount, but even without the discount it would have still been cheaper than buying straight off of MisshaUS for the pretty penny price of $110 USD.

3.)  Missha – MISA Geumsul Vitalizing Eye Cream ® 30ml – $31.14 USD

The original price for this on MisshaUS is $45 USD so while this was a decent price drop, it was still nothing compared to the discount I got on the MISA Geumsul Special Set (II).

Total amount USD 151.24 + Shipping USD 25.91 – Discount USD 44.92 = Order total USD 132.23

That shipping price… ouch 😦

Condition of Products Upon Arrival:

Everything was securely placed in an adequately sized box and wrapped with bubble wrap. No complaints here. There was a small dent in the small box of my Su:m37 Gift Set, but with the way the products were wrapped, I am led to believe it must have happened before it was even shipped. All of the products themselves were in mint condition upon arrival.

Arrival Time:

I made this order on June 20, 2017 and it arrived on July 27, 2017. It appeared to actually arrive in Canada a few days after it was shipped, but Canada Post sucks, so what can you do? My mom also ordered from BeautyBoxKorea and received it fairly quick (~two weeks) in the US.

Samples Received with Order:

I was disappointed by how few free samples (not pictured) I received with my order. Jolse tends to send more if you spend more, so imagine my shock when I only received a measly three samples from BeautyBoxKorea after having spent over a hundred dollars on their site!

Will I Purchase from BeautyBoxKorea Again?

I can easily imagine myself buying from BeautyBoxKorea again ONLY IF they have a product I am desperate for and cannot be found on any other site. But honestly? I do not plan on it.

Side note: Remember that I bought these products to have them sent to Canada, so shipping prices and arrival times may differ depending on where you live.

Asian Beauty, Review

Review: Missha – Super Aqua Ultra Waterful Active Toner

Packaging: The product comes in a sturdy, glass bottle (150ml) with a plastic twist-off cap. The deep blue color reminds me of the ocean.

Price: It goes for $20 USD on MisshaUS, but I got it for sale off of Jolse for $18 USD. This thing will last you many months. I have had mine for about two months now, and as you can see, I am only about a quarter through. In my opinion, it is a bit expensive for what it is, but I will get back to this point in a moment.

Consistency: It resembles a watery essence or serum in that it is too thick to be described as water-like, but too runny to be called anything else. It kind of reminds me of the viscosity of my Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion (Clear) that I reviewed in an earlier post. Upon application this product gives your skin a cooling sensation which I believe would make it a great product for the summer. It spreads easily and after it has absorbed, its finish is smooth and, thankfully, not at all tacky.

Scent: Because the bottle description adds that it has Australia Blue Mountain cave water in it, the scent immediately reminds me of mountains in the way that it seems so nice and fresh. It does not come off as strong to me like the majority of Missha products seem to, and it also does not linger at all.

Ingredients: A CosDNA analysis revealed that the only possible acne-triggering ingredients are the usual suspects: dimethicone (emollient) and butylene glycol (solvent + moisturizer), which are around the middle of the list. I know some people may want to avoid this product anyway because dimethicone is related to silicone, an ingredient known to cause clogged pores and acne in people with silicone-sensitive skin. Another possible culprit is mineral oil, which is the sixth ingredient on the list. As for me personally, this product has not broken me out at all.

Some ingredients stuck out to me when I first considered buying this product as they were high up on the list:

– Glycerin (second ingredient)
– Niacinamide (third ingredient)
– Seawater (seventh ingredient)

Glycerin, a glycerol-based emollient, attracts moisture from the air (i.e., a humectant), makes your skin feel smoother, and even promotes faster healing. Another interesting fact is that it makes other ingredients absorb more effectively than what you see with plain water or alcohol. A 2008 study mentioned that glycerol

is known to increase stratum corneum (SC) hydration, improve epidermal barrier function and decrease clinical signs of inflammation.

And as we already know, niacinamide promotes whiter, brighter-looking skin and helps fade post-acne scars.

Seawater, on the other hand, is something I have not seen before in any of my products. When I looked this up, there were numerous articles describing how seawater was beneficial in skin care, that it provided the skin with essential vitamins and minerals. It makes sense, I thought to myself, as to why this might be a rather good ingredient to include. But as I continued to research and look for actual studies involving topical usage of seawater, I found one study that took place in 2007 which painted a much different picture:

SW [seawater] immersion can cause time-dependent apoptosis [death of cells] and proliferation in the epidermis [skin], and the overall effect of SW immersion is injury to the epidermis.

I felt disheartened at first, but then I found a more recent study from 2013 that seemed conflicting when placed against the first study I mentioned:

Marine algae have gained much importance in cosmeceutical product development due to their rich bioactive compounds. […] The marine environment is enriched with a variety of organisms that harbor a wide range of biologically important compounds that are useful for the cosmeceutical benefit of humans.

From what I currently understand, algae is present in seawater; most of which come from seaweeds. So, this more recent study seems to trump the older one, in my opinion, only because the information provided as a whole was a lot more telling than the other, which involved hairless mice immersed in seawater for ridiculous amounts of time (3 hours, 6 hours, and 12 hours) – in other words, did not seem like the most reliable source to turn to in understanding how seawater might work in skin care products. The seawater is likely much less concentrated than pure seawater, and, being “immersed” for hours in it is a lot different than applying a small amount to the skin that absorbs in under a minute.

Overall Review: Despite the promising ingredients it contains, I found that the actual outcome of using this product for about two months was rather disappointing. As a hydrating toner, it only felt hydrating on my skin as I applied it, but would not have any long-lasting effects or make any crazy changes to the quality of my skin like other hydrating toners I have tried. But still, this toner is a simple one that would likely work well for all skin types and be a great starting point for those who are new to using hydrating toners. I find it basic in that it does help following products absorb better (like most toners are expected to do) and maintains the quality of my skin. 3.5/5.