Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: Mini Review

This may be a bit of a reheat, as according to Innisfree it’s their #3 seller, but Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is a winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Sorry to cut to the chase there, but that’s what you’re here for, right? Here’s why: Continue reading “Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask: Mini Review”

The Pimple Patch: A Hydrocolloid Answer to Acne Sufferers’ Prayers

Ahhhhh, acne. My faithful companion through adulthood, we met sometime early on in college. I had been blissfully free of acne throughout junior high and high school, but thanks to hormones, stress, and just plain adulting, my face has been somewhat of a war zone since then. My mom has always been in the “you need to pop that thing” camp (vs. the “never touch your acne, it will scar” camp across the lake), to the point she would about chase a person down to pop their pimple herself. So, rather than being chased down, I began to do the dirty work myself. Which yes, always led to a long-lasting red spot on my face that no amount of vitamin C or glycolic acid ever seemed to tone down. Now though, enter the pimple patch. What’s a pimple patch, you say? Well, on its surface it’s just a hydrocolloid bandaid that’s been manufactured in pimple size. But for anybody with an angry red volcano brewing on their face, the pimple patch is about the most amazing advancement in treating active acne, ever.

Continue reading “The Pimple Patch: A Hydrocolloid Answer to Acne Sufferers’ Prayers”

My March Klog Box: It’s Here! (What’s a Klog Box?)

I decided to take the plunge and order a Klog Box this month. A what? A Klog Box is a curated one-time box (vs. a subscription) from the Korean beauty online shop, Soko Glam. I don’t know how often they do these, but this was my first time ordering from the shop. I was on the fence; the box is $50 including free shipping (the value of the items is close to $100 I believe) because it contained a non-waterproof version of a Missha sunscreen that I had tried before and not liked (kind of unfair of me, comparing apples to oranges, right?). But it had a trial size of Neogen peel pads that had been on my radar for about a zillion years so I broke down and ordered.

My thoughts on the retailer (Soko Glam)

If you are new to K-beauty, or even to skincare, this shop stands out from its competitors because everything is broken down, explained and reviewed. The owner is also a licensed esthetician, and she seems to curate what she offers from current trends in Korea. There are lots of reviews, recommended products, and collections (several products sold in a bundle, for a bit of a discount) addressing several skin concerns for people not sure where to start.

The company is U.S.-based, so American customers won’t be waiting for things to be shipped from Korea. They offer free shipping at $35, and they have a corresponding blog, or Klog, with more information.

Downsides: not always, but often other k-beauty retailers can beat the pricing (not by a lot though I would say). Also, if you’re a sample junkie **raises hand** I got just one sample with this Klog Box, a Missha BB cream packet (I actually use and really like this product). A lot of retailers will include a few to even a handful of them. Probably not a deal breaker, though.

Thoughts on the Klog Box Itself

It was shipped in a large (Stitch Fix sized) sturdy box, and made it to my APO address in Japan in about a week, which is as fast as anything gets here. The box was shipped quickly after I ordered it as well so A+ from me there.

Klog Box
Voila! My exciting mail day.

Inside was the Klog Box itself. Do you love packaging? Do you love reusing nice boxes? You will love this. It’s super sturdy and sleek and on the inside of the front (magnetic!) flap, a little funny face.

klog box march
It’s so pretty inside!

From the  website (links below are to the retailer’s reviews on each of these products).

March Klog Box
Everything (but the sample) from March’s box.
Final Thoughts On My Klog Box Purchase

I’ll (probably) review each of the items later, but for now I’m happy I ordered the box. I haven’t tried any of these before now, and the retailer was great to order from. How the package arrived and was packed surpassed my expectations (anybody that’s had an APO/FPO box can share some stories). I would recommend it to people just starting to read about K-beauty, and really anybody wanting to try out a bunch of different top-rated Korean skincare products.

FYI none of these links are affiliate links and all the opinions are my own.

Hado Labo Gokujyun and Erborian Yuza Double Lotion: Same But Different

If you’re new to Asian skincare, the term lotion may be confusing as in the West, the term lotion has equated moisturizer for a long time. In Asian skincare, a lotion is a lightweight moisturizing layer, sandwiched between your toner/essence and serum/ampoule/oil/moisturizer. They come in various consistencies, from a very liquid, essence-like quality, to more viscous and can utilize any number of active ingredients to try and tackle, well, whatever it is you want your skincare doing for you.

Case in point: Hada Labo Gokujyun is a very popular (and in the West, a cult classic) lotion from the drugstore in Japan. It prominently features hyaluronic acid as its active ingredient of choice. Erborian Yuza Double Lotion is from Korea, and features the yuza fruit, which is a citrus fruit, from Jeju island. Both are called lotion, but vary in how they look and feel (and of course, what they claim to do).

Note: I have only used the Hada Labo lotion in the ‘premium‘ variety as, for an extra 100 yen or so (less than $1 USD) I could upgrade to five (5!) different types (molecular weights) of hyaluronic acid. How could I say no?

lotion
Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium and Erborian Yuza Double Lotion — such sunny packaging!
How each lotion looks/feels on the skin

The Hada Labo lotion is clear and has an interesting slip to it. I don’t notice any scent in mine (mine is from here in Japan, so I don’t know if that’s the same for exports). It takes about 3 drops, which come out of the bottle easily, and it absorbs quickly into my skin, and my skin doesn’t feel sticky afterwards. Like most Japanese products I’ve tried, it doesn’t leave an emollient or greasy feeling to my skin once it’s absorbed.

The Erborian Yuza lotion is a two-part lotion; it contains oil, and needs to be shaken before using it to emulsify everything. It has a light, citrusy scent that I personally enjoy, and which goes away pretty quickly. It is more watery feeling than the Hada Labo and is opaque and white. In fact, it comes out of the bottle quite fast, maybe because of the thinness of the formula, and is tricky to not go overboard with. Once on the skin, it absorbs quickly, and maybe because of the oil, leaves the skin with a slicker feeling than the Hada Labo lotion (it feels like you’ve applied a beauty oil, if that makes sense).

Ingredients and Claims

Here is a link to Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium lotion’s ingredient deck (in English). It uses glycerin and, like stated before, five different hyaluronic acid ingredients. Hyaluronic acid is used for moisturizing, but specifically it’s a humectant. That means it pulls water out of the air and delivers it, ever so gently, to your skin. If you live in a humid climate (like, you know, all of Asia), this is a really, really fantastic thing. If you live in Siberia and it’s winter, the amount of water in the air is pretty negligible, making it a rather useless product. Also, if you’re a paraben avoider, listed last in the Hada Labo ingredient deck is methylparaben.

Here is a link to Erborian Yuza Double Lotion’s ingredient deck. It uses oils to hydrate the skin and the yuza extract (plus a couple others) to brighten. No parabens, but fragrance is listed for avoiders of those.

My personal thoughts on the lotions

The Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium runs around $10 USD and is readily available in Japan (like, grocery store, drug store, pretty much everywhere with a roof and a cash register will carry it). It is lightweight and doesn’t make me feel greasy. I don’t personally get the “WOW” cult classic status of it, but I think it will be a very useful product in my skincare arsenal, especially when summer rolls around.

The Erborian Yuza Double Lotion costs $36 from Sephora. It’s definitely not as readily available here in Japan. I really love this product. It plumps my skin and makes it feel very moisturized, but also doesn’t make it greasy-feeling or looking. I enjoy the scent quite a bit. If I still lived in Alaska, this would be in heavy rotation year-round for me.

Final thoughts; I like both products, and they both moisturize, but in very different ways. And they are both called lotion. So let that be a lesson learned. In skincare, particularly in Asian skincare with the seventeen billion steps and products, don’t let the product’s label be your guide.

Note: The following may be affiliate links, which don’t cost you anything but can send money my way.

 

I Did The Thing: Ultra Premium Korean Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream, On The Cheap

If you’ve ever looked into Korean skincare, also known as k beauty, you have for sure heard of Amore Pacific’s ultra premium brand, Sulwhasoo. Sulwhasoo is the shit. Their ingredient decks are impeccable and amazing, the Ivy league of ingredient decks. Their products are also amazingly priced. And by amazingly, I mean ridiculously. This beautiful, magical beast here, the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewal Cream, costs a mere $220 on Sulwhasoo’s U.S. website. For 60 ml (about 2 oz.).

To quote a random Frenchman in Siem Reap, “ooh la la!”

I’m vain AF but, frankly, NO. I can’t justify that price tag personally,  no matter how much unicorn blood it contains. To be totally fair (and balanced!), if you can/do spend these kind of sums, more power to you. Seriously. I am not judging, but merely mentioning that $220 for one jar of goo is not in my own particular budget.

What’s a vain, product junkie to do when faced with this gold-plated, ginseng infused carrot dangled in front of their nose? Instagram knows — you buy a shit ton of samples on eBay and squirt them into your own container.

Ghetto? Probably. Cost effective? For sure.

My Sulwhasoo samples purchased from eBay, about to head to their new home.

Having never tried this cream, I didn’t really want to buy a full 60 ml in case it was a hot mess for me, so I ordered 20-1 ml packets from a Korean eBayer, for about $12 including shipping. I used my Japanese mailing address and had the packets in about a week, give or take.

The Math on decanting the Sulwhasoo ginseng cream

In case math isn’t your jam, I’ll break down why I decided to try this somewhat ghetto operation: Regular Sulwhasoo.com price from the states (this is not available locally to me in Japan): $3.67 per ml, or $73 for the 20 ml I ordered. I paid .60 per ml, saving me $61.

One down, just 19 more to go

I used an empty skin cream jar that I ran through the dishwasher prior to re-using. And yes, you will lose a small amount by nature of moving the product from the packet to the jar. For me, it ended up being my patch test, as I used the tiny bit that stuck to the packet opening on my neck and back of hands. Needless to say, my neck and the back of my hands were gloriously moisturized that day.

Results

Did I feel like a major weirdo? Honestly, yes. For me, it was worth it as a. I wanted to try this super amazing sounding product and b. $61. Also, I had been itching (not literally) to try ginseng as an active ingredient as I had read it was helpful for both acne and dark circles (yes I have both, and no, I’m not bitter. At all).

“Help me, I’m poor.”

So … the discerning reader may be wondering … WHY? Why would a cream cost $220? Why would this crazy-ass lady squeeze all these tiny-ass packets into a jar?

Beyond the reviews (because let’s be honest, people buying luxury products often get some placebo affect from the luxury pricepoint and packaging alone), the ingredient list of this Sulwhasoo cream is super intoxicatingly intriguing: three different forms of ginseng (five year old ginseng!) which is purported to be anti-aging and skin brightening, squalane (not only moisturizing, it also can help treat eczema and a host of other skin conditions), and a shit ton of other high quality anti-aging ingredients. It’s a real kitchen sink product, which has it’s up and downsides.

First Impressions on Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream

This is not a moisturizer for a very oily skin, at least at my first use and impression. I also, having combo skin, would not use this during the day, mostly for time constraints. It did fully absorb, but it took around a half hour before I didn’t feel greasy.

The scent smells exactly like ginseng, which if you aren’t familiar with the scent of ginseng, smells exactly like what putting raw burdock into your vitamix smells like. No? OK–It’s similar to fresh ginger root, but a bit mustier.

What’s amazing is, like many Asian food and beauty products, the shnozzberries taste like shnozzberries. What I mean is, even at a humble McDonald’s in Japan, a strawberry milkshake tastes like real, fresh strawberries (versus in the U.S. where it tastes like “artificial strawberry flavoring” and “Red 30” or whatever). So of course, when you ratchet up the price point from McD’s to a $220 face cream from Sulwhasoo, it’s definitely going to smell exactly like what is in it. Which shouldn’t be impressive, but being from the land of Red 30, it is.

And on my skin: so far, excellent hydration and short-term brightening effects, no breakouts or skin irritations (my skin runs a bit sensitive and very acne-prone). Definitely worth $12 and ten minutes so far. I’ll update as I use the product more.