Samples Part 2

In part 1, I wanted to see what the cost savings for buying samples in place of full size products were. In short, it’s a lot.

In my day job I have a good amount of experience with variability control and wanted to know if the sample packages live up to their advertised volume of product. I had my doubts and was somewhat hoping to write a juicy post about large corporations depriving us of microliters of face cream, but no such exposé will be written. If the samples I tested are representative of the market, it seems samples packages contain at least the amount of product advertised or more.


My methodology is sadly much clumsier than I would have liked. However, I feel like the margin of error skewed towards underestimating rather than overestimating.

First I tried measuring the WEIGHT of each packet. The scale I borrowed could measure weight down to a tenth of a gram. This did show some weight variability from packet to packet but was not sensitive enough to determine how much. For example, every History of Whoo Jin & Qi cream weighed in at either 1.6 grams or 1.7 grams, but due to rounding, 1.6 grams could be anywhere from 1.55 grams to 1.64 grams, and 1.7 could be anywhere from 1.66 to 1.74 grams. This means the range of variability is huge, anywhere from 1% to 12%. Also, I figured there is also probably variability in the weight of the packaging of the product. All in all, trying to weigh the samples was not working.

Next, I tried measuring the VOLUME. Again, lack of measuring instruments that were sensitive enough posed a problem. However, when you order samples they usually come in packs of 10 (or more). It would have been nearly impossible to measure 1 ml of product, but 10 ml is much more doable. I dug through my kitchen and found a measuring cup that could measure increments of 5 mls. While trying to transfer the product from the sample packets into the measuring cup, a few things occurred to me:

  1. Antioxidants are light and air sensitive. You’re not even supposed to keep them in jars. The time spent transferring the product from sample packages to any other container (or in my case from packet to measuring cup to travel container) probably isn’t great.
  2. It is extremely difficult to squeeze all the product out of the packets, not to mention tedious and painful (my fingers were red from all the squeezing after 20 or so packets). Another point for keeping them in their sample packaging.
  3. Creams are easier to transfer than liquids (i.e. toners, essences). I thought it would be the other way around, but liquids are messy and likely to spill.


    Measuring cup on the right. Containers and some container filling tools from Muji.

Difficulties aside, this method proved fairly sufficient in demonstrating that the sample packets do contain at least their advertised volume, probably even more.

The products I did this with were (creams in blue, liquids in yellow):

  • History of Whoo Kong Jin Hyang Qi & Jin Cream
  • History of Whoo Kong Jin Hyang SOO Soo Yeon Essence
  • Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner
  • Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Eye Cream
  • Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence
  • Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream


Yes, the Soo Yeon Essence should be in purple. I thought maybe RRS sent me the wrong product, but the packaging says essence on it even though it looks like a cream.

Packaging says essence.

Looks like a cream but packaging says essence.

This is not the most robust sample size, but of the products tested the results were promising, especially for the cream samples, which all yielded more product than expected. DSC00515_1The liquid samples appeared to be less generous but I also feel like my measurements of the liquid samples was a lot less accurate. Not only were the liquids prone to spillage, they also had difficulty with the measuring cup. The image below shows the contents of 5 X 1ml packages of the Whamisa organic flowers toner. The measuring cup show the contents as being just shy of a solid 5ml, but notice the liquid in the right bottom corner of the measuring cup. That’s toner that dripped through. My gut tells me if I could magically transfer all the toner from the sample packages and measure them with no error, the quantity would have been sufficient.


However, I do feel like the difficulties I experienced with the liquid sample packages points is a valid consideration. Even if I use the liquid samples directly from their packages, they were still more likely to spill and I’m likely to lose some product. I wonder if the apparent generosity of the cream packages is intentional. Perhaps cosmetic companies build in some room for error. After all, the sample packages are to entice potential consumers to try these products.


In case anyone is interested, here are a few quick reviews / first impressions of these products. DISCLAIMER: I have not used these products consistently and definitely not long enough to fully judge their effectiveness. I’ve mostly been using these samples while travelling or at the gym.

  • History of Whoo Kong Jin Hyang Qi & Jin Cream – Smells exactly like my Missha massage cream (review soon!), which I am pretty indifferent to. Cream is a good thickness, feels very soothing, and overall seems like a decent cream. For something that retails for $100 for 50ml, this is underwhelming.
  • History of Whoo Kong Jin Hyang SOO Soo Yeon Essence – The fragrance is not unpleasant but it is stronger than I prefer.
  • Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner – I usually do not have sensitive skin, but the extra winter dryness has made it more sensitive than usual. This toner, along with the Whamisa water cream with natto (full review coming) that this toner came with mildly irritated my skin upon application.
  • Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Eye Cream – So far, this stuff is seriously amazing. Plumps out all the area around my eyes and makes me look alert and awake when I’m tired and sleep deprived. Considering smearing this on all over my face to see what happens.
  • Su:m37 Secret Programming Essence – I prefer my essences (and most cosmetics) scent-free. No visible short-term effect to my skin. I did stock up on these sample packages to give them a bit more time.
  • Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream – I bought a ton of these awhile ago while testing snail creams. My skin loves everything about this cream but it does smell a little like men’s deodorant to me.

Lastly, I would like to repeat that light and air are no good for antioxidants. My makeshift solution? Covering my travel bottles in black duct tape. It’s not cute (like at all) but puts my mind at ease.

4 thoughts on “Samples Part 2

  1. Cathy says:

    Well , your project has reaffirmed my conclusion: buy the samples but just keep them in their packets and use them accordingly.Thanks for your dedicated experiments.


    • Vanity Rex says:

      Yeah, it’s cheap and easy. Also, a lot of these expensive creams come in jar packaging (which is bad for antioxidants) so it might actually be an advantage in quality in purchasing samples!


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