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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Secret Key Snail Repairing Essence





How did a few months pass since my last update? ^_^  I definitely go through phases of disinterest towards trying new skincare goodies, especially when something temporarily takes priority (work, vacation, etc), but honestly I think I've just been lazy lately. =P

My usual research process of scouring internet reviews and investigating ingredients before deciding to try out a new product has felt too much like homework lately but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things with my thoughts on Secret Key's Snail Repairing Essence.

I go through my usual Benton Snail Bee Essence so quickly I have regular chances to consider trying others each time I finish a bottle.  However, so many essences don't come in sample sizes and it's not practical to just hope the foil sachets randomly turn up as free samples included with online purchases.  So I pretty much have to weigh how much money I want to gamble on a full-size product I could end up disliking.  Secret Key's Snail Repairing Essence was a no-brainer to try out because it's super cheap (<$5 + shipping on RoseRoseShop and $8 on eBay) so I knew I wouldn't lose out if it ended up being awful.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Review: 3M Nexcare Acne Patches vs Target up&up Hydrocolloid / Blister Bandages




I can't remember where I first read about using hydrocolloid bandages for breakouts but they've been a crucial part of my acne care routine for years.  The idea is that patching a blemish (especially a broken / picked one) overnight with these sticky products will allow the pus and other inflammatory junk to be absorbed out of the skin and into the bandage, calming things down and speeding up healing.  Best of all there's this mesmerizing & gross visual payoff in the morning when I hold the bandage patch to the light and see just how much gunk is extracted overnight!  (See pictures at end of post ^_^)

My first forays into acne patches were through completely transparent sticker-like sheets (think Missha Speedy Solution Anti Trouble Patch, Lioele AC Control Trouble Patch, etc).  They were pretty much worthless except for covering up spots and preventing me from scratching while sleeping.  Those pretty ads that promised I'd clear a blemish overnight were unfortunately untrue for me... BUT I did find another use for them (details to follow) so all was not lost! =)

Hydrocolloid bandages, on the other hand, really live up to their claims and the first type I ever tried was made by Nexcare, a major player in wound care products. They're under 3M, a company that makes "more than 55,000 products" according to Wikipedia and as American as they come.  Interestingly, though, I've always bought my Nexcare Acne Patches through Asian eBay sellers because I can find the smaller-sized patches I need from Taiwan but not so much here in the US.

Over time I started looking at different brands because I run through these acne patches fast & I wanted to find a cheaper alternative.  Google turned me onto Target's up&up brand of hydrocolloid bandages (called "Blister Bandages") and after using them for nearly a year I've some thoughts to share on how the two brands compare.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Review: ARITAUM Aloe No-Wash Cleansing Water





I've used plenty of aloe vera gels but ARITAUM's Aloe No-Wash Cleansing Water is the first micellar cleansing product I've used with this main ingredient.  Micelles are oil molecules suspended in water that pick up dirt/make-up/particles from your face and represent a lighter cleansing method (versus oil or foam cleansing, etc).  They're the active agent in cleansing waters that are used in one step only without needing to be washed off in a second step.  For dry types this is a huge positive because the skin won't be left stripped and there's a layer of moisture left behind (like a toner?) to prep for the next skincare product.

This is also the first ARITAUM item I've ever tried and I'm happy to say this is a Korean brand I'll be glad to use again in the future.  I'm not sure if this company provides more selection in Korea but international retailers currently feature more of their make-up than skincare products so I hope ARITAUM comes out with more items in the future!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: Curology (formerly Pocketderm)



In my last post I introduced Curology and rambled a bit on how the online telemedicine service works (read here if you're interested) so that this one could dive straight into the details (and gory pictures).

Each Curology lotion has 3 actives that the prescriber chooses and some inactives that stay the same.  With the first formula I received my NP took into account my general dryness and possible allergy to retinol so I ended up with 4% Azelaic Acid, 1% Clindamycin and 4% Niacinamide.

Azelaic acid was a new ingredient I hadn't encountered but was supposed to lighten hyperpigmentation and have "antibacterial, antifungal and pore-unclogging properties."  Clindamycin is an "antibiotic & anti-inflammatory with powerful effects against acne-causing bacteria" and the ever popular niacinamide was chosen to counter "acne, inflammation and hyperpigmentation."  I was iffy on the efficacy of the clindamycin given my previous lukewarm results but figured the azelaic acid sounded promising.  Plus, I was too scared to request anything with tretinoin and the NP let me know this formula was one of the mildest she could prescribe.  (She also recommended benzoyl peroxide facial wash, zinc pyrithione soap and spearmint but I only used those sporadically so this review won't cover them.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ramblings: Acne medications I've tried + Intro to Pocketderm / Curology


The first acne prescription I ever tried was Retin-A (tretinoin) and I got this prescribed through my university doctor.  I'd eagerly slathered it over my face, chest and upper back for 2 weeks before having to quit.  Literally over one night I developed a severe rash on my stomach that confused my doctor enough she had to pull in another colleague to stare at the large scabbing wounds all over my tummy. =(  They kept asking if I applied the Retin-A to that area but I don't get breakouts there so obviously no.  In the end, they couldn't rule out this itchy rash was a side effect of the retinol cream and we abandoned it for other topical medications.

Next came Differin (Adapalene), a once-a-night cream that I applied faithfully for a year before discarding as useless.  It never made a dent in my breakouts and towards the end I experimented with using it on only half my face to compare to the other untreated side.  Results?  Not much difference between the two halves! >_<

At one point I was prescribed an oral antibiotic, minocycline, but that lasted only 1-2 weeks because I was so hungry all the time!  The instructions stated I shouldn't eat 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking it but I eat every 2-3 hours because my blood sugar issues make me HANGRY if I don't.  I remember setting my watch alarm to tell me when I'd be allowed to eat and my friends thinking I was nuts.  I told the bemused nurse "I don't care if this works because I'm constantly starving!"  Who cares about smooth skin if I hangrily scare off my friends, too?  So the oral antibiotic route was no good.

Then came clindamycin, a topical antibiotic that I still feel neutral about.  I only spot-treated so didn't see a vast improvement in my overall breakouts but kept using it because I figured it could help heal picked skin faster.  In the end, I stopped because switching healthcare plans meant I had to pay over $100 for a small bottle and my cheapness won out.  When the pharmacist rung me up he said "that will be XXX.XX" and I asked if that was some medical code I didn't understand.  His response?  "Uh no, that's the dollar amount of your prescription."  X__X

So what next?


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: Tosowoong Propolis Natural Pure Mist Whitening Treatment





Even though I didn't fall for Tosowoong's Tea Tree Essence (reviewed here), I was still attracted to their Propolis Natural Pure Mist Whitening Treatment because 1) my skin has always been compatible with bee products, 2) I need all the whitening I can get for my acne marks and 3) I haven't tried many mists & need to change this stat! =)

I love Mizon's 12.5% propolis blemish cream (reviewed here) and find it effective for lightening acne marks so wanted to see if I could duplicate the success with another propolis product in a fun spray version.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Ramblings: It's 2016!


This past year flew by so fast I'm shocked this blog has been active for over a year now! =)  This started off as an online diary in college that I later erased because of inactivity and now it's evolved into a collection of skincare posts.  I guess I should change the title from "Ramblings" to something more skincare-centric but I kind of still like my current one!  ^___^

I haven't posted in 2 months but I'm actually still testing new products all the time.  My laziness comes from lack of inspiration because I've run into a string of neutral/mediocre products.  Reviews that gush praise for superstar items or pooh-pooh abject failures practically write themselves, no?  Whereas "yeah-it-was-alright-I-probably-won't-repurchase" is harder to make interesting.

So to break the cycle of "meh" and to try something different I'm going to write about a mistaken assumption my friends/family have about me and my blog.  Seeing that I maintain one devoted to skincare, you might think I really enjoy using such products every day.  That pampering my face and lovingly applying layer after layer of gel, cream, goo, etc represents valuable quality time spent on myself.

...And you would be wrong. 

I fall in love with skincare products from time to time when they really deliver on their claims but if asked whether I really like the actual act of applying them, waiting for absorption, remembering what to add next, etc then you've got it backwards.  My interest in skincare is borne out of necessity because I have dry, acne-prone, hyper-pigmented & congested skin.  Even though it's come a long way with the addition of low-pH cleansers & acids, my complexion is a work in progress.  When I go without BB cream and other make-up tricks my face pretty much resembles a war zone of new blemishes and old scars.

It's awesome when skincare devotees find it relaxing to unwind by layering products on their faces, gently pat-pat-patting their cheeks & massaging it all in via circular motions while contemplating the bountiful antioxidants and nutrients being delivered into their pores.  Unfortunately, I find it all a HUGE chore and I'm usually impatiently waiting to get everything loaded onto my face so I can get out of the house or go straight to bed.

My fantasy is that my skin condition one day improves to the point that I can leave my house wearing only moisturizer/sunscreen ^__^.  Laziness is a big driving force because I'd be thrilled to skip full-face foundation/concealer.  Being able to stop with the double-takes (O_O) when I see my bare face in mirrors is the goal.

To that end, I'm always testing new products, a long (and too often unrewarding) process that takes 4 or more weeks per item so I know I'm really giving each one a chance and not giving up too early.  Folks think I'm so dedicated and careful about the process of caring for my face/complexion when the reality is that I have ulterior motives.  I'm not spending my time/$ to prop up the skincare industry for fun.  This is not a random hobby.  I'm on a quest for solutions!  And I can put up with a lot as long as a product improves my breakouts or other skin problems.  Are you smelly?  Sticky?  Made from fermented snails & hybrid caterpillars?  Well, don't worry.  We can still be friends!  <insert crazy eyes> =D

So why blog?  


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid



I was pretty satisfied with my current BHA product (reviewed here), but that didn't stop me from recently giving into temptation and snagging a COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid from Jolse to see if I could duplicate the success via a cheaper version.  My skin had a love-at-first-sight reaction to Paula's Choice 2% BHA and I've never had dryness, irritation or adverse reactions from using it.  Within 2 weeks of starting this relationship the upper half of my face was blemish-free and only the stubborn lower half (the hormonal patches) remained unconquered.  I didn't set out to cheat on my BHA but I figured a break would be okay (^_^) and maybe COSRX's BHA version would deliver different (better?) results given its active ingredient was 4% betaine salicylate vs the tried and true 2% salicylic acid.  Yes, I'm superficial enough to consider the larger percentage more attractive!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Tosowoong Tea Tree Natural Pure Essence AC Control Treatment


 
I've been satisfied enough with my Benton Snail Bee Essence to accumulate several empties but lately my troubled skin has been angrier than ever so I've needed to branch out and find a more acne-targeted one.  Tea tree oil/extract, popular ingredients in acne skincare, have always scared me off with their strong plant smell, but a little online research led me to pick up Tosowoong's Tea Tree Natural Pure Essence, a product that promised to deliver "AC Control" without the overpowering tea tree odor.

Tosowoong is not a Korean brand I'm too familiar with but everything I've come across online gives it positive reviews so I was willing to take a chance on this essence.  It turns out they have many skincare lines centered around an active ingredient (like snail, green tea, propolis, aloe, etc.) and everything is reasonably priced so definitely not a bad way to start exploring beyond my usual snail goo.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Review: Mizon A.C. Care Solution Tea Tree Tock Blemish Spot



This blog might seem a bit biased towards Mizon products but I think my abundant reviews for this brand are more a testament to my love of free shipping than anything else! =D  RoseRoseShop, my favorite online retailer for Korean skincare, offers Mizon items with free shipping so I have the perfect excuse to continue buying, testing & reviewing their products on a regular basis.  This, of course, then gets translated to extra helpings of Mizon reviews sprinkled throughout my blog!

The Mizon A.C. Care Solution Tea Tree Tock Blemish Spot is a part of their Acence line that targets troubled skin.  ("Acence" = "Acne" + "Science?")  This is basically a spot treatment that uses tea tree leaf oil and extract as the active ingredient.  I found this blemish solution to be cutely packaged & fun to dispense/apply, but ultimately less than awesome in achieving its purpose.  However, instead of considering this a waste of $, I've actually re-purposed this product into a useful part of my night-time skincare routine, just not as the makers probably intended (more details to follow)..... ^__^


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: Mizon A.C. Care Solution Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot



I've previously commented on Mario Badescu's pink spot serum (reviewed here) but have since converted to another version: Mizon's A.C. Care Solution Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot (why do so many Korean products have ginormously long names?!), an acne treatment I've liked enough to re-purchase once already. =)

The gist of pink spot products is that the user dips a Q-tip past the yellow liquid, into the pink sediment, draws it out and then dabs it over the blemishes for overnight therapy.  Sulfur, an active ingredient of these pink spot products, has a rap for being potentially irritating and stinky.  The stinky part is right but I've found my skin responds well to sulfur if it's in a good formulation and I use in moderation.  Many traditional acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide don't seem to do much for my breakouts so I'm glad I have a fall-back product when I'm not trying out new acne ingredients. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Review: St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub + Mask



As much as I love my AHA/BHAs and the powerful chemical exfoliation they give me, I still enjoy using physical scrubs to buff away dry flakes and help other skincare products apply more easily.  My skin is acne prone so I'm wary of heavy duty scrubs but I've found gentler ones with smaller particles do just as well because I can adjust my scrub time and massage pressure depending on the dryness/flakiness of my skin condition to get the results I need.

St. Ives is a popular American drugstore brand and its Oatmeal Scrub + Mask is marketed as a gentle and nourishing exfoliating agent.  I picked up this item for its cheapness ($3 to 4 on Amazon!), positive reviews and its harmless-looking ingredient list (no acne triggers).  My purpose was to find a dependable scrub & not so much a mask (although I have a few comments on that).  After 2 months of 3-5x/week use I'm happy to say I made a good choice! =)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil (mini size)




I've been slowly reviewing various Josie Maran products ever since I was gifted a collection of her mini-sized skincare products (like the "infinity cream" and her famous pure argan oil).  Unfortunately, I haven't loved any of what I've tried because of bad smell, texture and/or price for performance.  I've given away many items in the kit (a lip product, sunscreen & hand lotion) and have zero plans to review them because I couldn't make myself continue using them beyond once or twice.  The last item I plan to review, her Argan Cleansing Oil, falls into that same "Fail" category for me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Etude House Sunprise Must Daily SPF 50+/PA+++





Until I became an acne-prone adult I never consistently used sun protection.  In my childhood photos my skin always appears toasty tan. =)  However, once I started developing breakouts and inevitable hyperpigmentation I discovered the importance of UV-blockage and its role in decreasing melanin production. I still rely on actives to whiten my scars, but a daily sunscreen is now an important part of my skincare routine because every little bit helps when you've got stubborn breakouts/pigmentation.  (The anti-aging aspect is also a plus but since I'm not too wrinkly yet I'm presently more focused on the skin lightening benefits. =)

My requirements for a sun product include decent SPF, minimal pale/white cast, easy application & absorption plus compatibility with other products that layer before & after it.  I purchased Etude House's Sunprise Must Daily SPF 50+/PA+++ without trying out samples because it was cheap, had a decent ingredient list and positive online reviews.  However, I'm glad I took a chance on this "gel type sun lotion" because it has definitely delivered on all of my criteria!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Review: Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive



After trying out snail filtrate & bee venom in my skincare routine I had no reservations about giving fermented products a go.  It was hardly intimidating given the weird things I've slapped onto my face in hopes of achieving healthier skin.  I used up several foil packet samples of Missha's Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence without any bad reactions and probably would've bought this original formulation had RoseRoseShop not had a sale on the newer version, The First Treatment Essence Intensive.  (So this review isn't a comparison between the two versions [sorry!] but only my impressions of the newer formula.)

Missha is a very popular Korean company for both skincare and cosmetics.  The first Asian beauty product I ever tried out, a BB cream, was created by Missha and to this day I still use their makeup faithfully.  Before joining the fermented club I'd never tried their skincare items beyond samples but I did regularly see many positive reviews online.  Since I didn't want to drop big $$ on the most well-known yeast product (SK-II Facial Treatment Essence), I opted for Missha's more affordable dupe.  The Time Revolution line also has serums, ampoules, toners, etc but I was only interested in the popular essence.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner

 

After cleansing my face I usually reach for my BHA/AHA products, but lately I've been wondering whether applying a toner first would increase their efficiency.  I've tried pretty decent ones before but have slacked lately because I'm lazy to apply in the morning when I'm rushing to get out of the house.  Good toners remove residue, bring down skin pH (especially important if using alkaline cleansers) and prep it for the next product to better absorb.  I personally don't worry much about leftover make-up or dirt after cleansing because I double cleanse really well and my BHA/AHA products are already pH-appropriate (I have my own pH strips for testing).  However, I'm always looking for an edge over my hormonal adult acne and figured why not give it a shot?

Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner has some pretty ecstatic positive reviews out there and since it's AHA ingredient is lactic acid (a "gentler" one) I figured it may be a good addition to my skincare lineup.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: BEAUSKIN Shea Butter Hand Cream - Jasmine



My interest in hand creams first came about a few years ago because my work involves a whole lot of hand-washing and, therefore, moisturizing.  At present, though, I think I'm just a hand cream addict =P  It's so easy for me to justify spending a few extra dollars on nice lotions/creams because they're fun items I can easily tote around.  They boost my mood with their delicious scents and envelop me in their fragrance, all while functioning as a protective emollient for my chapped hands.  I can easily share them with my friends and start conversations about skincare & interesting ingredients.  There's a never-ending assortment to try out and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Whenever I create online hauls of new skincare or beauty items I frequently add in a new hand cream I haven't tried.  Thankfully, I'm always able to find them on sale or at least at very low cost through the dependable RoseRoseShop.  My latest product for dry hands I've been using is BEAUSKIN Jasmine Shea Butter Hand Cream, also available in Rosemary flavor.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: Secret Key Berry Milk Hand Cream



Earlier this year I had an easy time finding excuses to slather my hands in Secret Key's Milk Whipping Hand Cream (reviewed here).  I shared my fun experience in an earlier blog post and it's clear other folks secretly enjoy donkey milk lotion, too, because it's now one of my most viewed posts! =P

I recently bought a different version, Secret Key's Berry Milk Hand Cream, which is pretty much identical in volume, ingredients, texture & performance.  The only difference is the flavor from 3 different berries and the red tube design instead of the baby blue.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Mizon Acence AC Care Solution Mark-X Blemish After Cream



Another Mizon product I got in a recent RoseRoseShop haul included this little item: the Acence AC Care Solution Mark-X Blemish After Cream.  The Acence line addresses acne concerns (I'm guessing "AC" = Acne Control") and this cream is designed to be used after a spot has erupted to promote healing.

I like how the product has its main ingredient, 12% propolis, very clearly labelled because so many brands list their ingredients but not the actual concentration.  Propolis is a bee-produced resin that's been used historically for its anti-bacterial/viral/fungal/inflammatory properties.  I personally take propolis supplements every day to keep my immune system running and hay fever at bay.  This is the first skincare product I've ever used with propolis as the main active ingredient and I'm pretty impressed.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum




Even after my disappointing experience with Paula's Choice AHA lotion (reviewed here), I still wanted to add an AHA product to my skincare routine to help even out hyperpigmentation and eliminate my whiteheads.  After reading some online reviews I opted to try a Korean brand that's slowly becoming a dependable staple of my skincare collection.  I first encountered Mizon for its eye creams (reviewed here and here) but have happily had a chance to try many more of their products since.  Roseroseshop is becoming my go-to retailer for its huge online inventory as well as current free shipping for all Mizon products (see image above).

My previous experience with the 5% AHA proved my skin isn't particular sensitive so I didn't feel shy about ordering a higher percent (8%).  The dropper included with Mizon's AHA 8% Peeling Serum sealed the deal because my biggest complaint about the Paula's Choice lotion was its thick texture & slow absorption.  My dry skin loves liquids/serums and soaks them up quickly, perfect for minimizing the time I spend on my lengthy and multi-layered skincare routine.  Seeing the serum would really be a fluid was the main reason I chose this AHA product.