Category Archives: ceramides


Yuri Pibu Cucu Maronza (Black Truffle) Serum Review

Following the success I had with the Yuri Pibu Artichoke Power Essence, I wanted to try more things from the brand so I did some research and zeroed in on this truffle serum. Like the artichoke essence, the truffle serum contains a cool mix of ceramides and cholesterol. Unlike the artichoke essence, it comes in packaging that isn’t frustratingly stupid. Unfortunately, the packaging was the only thing about this serum that I liked better than the Artichoke essence. Let’s take a closer look.

Product Name
Yuri Pibu Cucu Maronza Serum Continue reading


Swanicoco Fermentation Care Collection Review

In 2016, one of my favorite product discoveries was the Swanicoco Fermentation Snail Care Emulsion. I was blown away with not only its killer ingredient list but also its luxurious, silky texture. That’s why when Swanicoco reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in testing and reviewing some other products, I immediately said yes! After some discussion on their different lines and my skin type, they recommended the Fermentation Care line, which I will be reviewing today!

This is a kind of super long review, so I set up a table of contents to make for easier navigation.

Table of Contents

Continue reading


Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Ampoule Review

Mizon is one of the first brands that completely blew my mind when I first discovered the world of Korean Beauty. I remember coming back from a desert camping trip that was a lot of fun, but left my skin feeling and looking parched and worn out. I had a sample sachet of the Mizon all in one snail repair cream, slathered it on, and it completely revitalized my skin. Unfortunately, during that time I was too distracted by every new skincare product ever and kind of lost sight/interest of Mizon and haven’t really given many of their products a chance.

Fast forward a year and BumblingWombat on r/AB points out that Mizon’s peptide ampoule is a possible dupe for NIOD CAIS. I’ve never used NIOD CAIS but I am enamored with the idea of copper peptides and so was intrigued! Turns out, the hyaluronic acid ampoule also has copper peptides, in addition to beta glucan and ceramides. I grabbed it and have been obsessed with it ever since!

Product Name
Mizon Original Skin Energy Hyaluronic Acid 100 Ampoule Continue reading

dearpacker mascream review

Dearpacker Moisture MasCream Review

As much as I love summer, it doesn’t make for interesting skincare, at least for my dry skin yup, I’m going to go ahead and blame the neglect of this blog the past couple of months on summer and now that autumn is upon us, I’m finally getting my act together and am busily stockpiling new products to get me through Los Angeles’s frigid winter months.


One of my recent acquisitions is this Dearpacker MasCream. I’ve been oogling Dearpacker’s whimsically packaged and delicious sounding products for literally over a year after first spotting them on a Korean beauty blog, so it’s about time I finally got around to trying their goods!

Product Name
Dearpacker Moisture MasCream Continue reading

aromatica calendula juicy cream

Aromatica Calendula Juicy Cream Review

While laying in bed the other night, unable to sleep, it occurred to me that the rise of Korean beauty might not have been possible without Kim Kardashian. Just hear me out! To the casual observer, a 10-step beauty routine may seem excessive, but it hardly compares to Kim. Kim Kardashian is the ultimate 10-step everything. After all, the woman waist-trains and wears double spanx, has a 50-step day time makeup routine, and for when she feels up to it, a 50-step contouring technique.

kim kardashian

She’s the antithesis of the effortless, je ne sais quoi, #wokeuplikethis girl. As far as I can gather, Kim Kardashian helped normalize multi-step rituals dedicated to self-beautification. She made it OK to admit to working hard to look nice, which is a nice change from the cool French girl obsession that really just celebrates beautiful people for doing nothing to maintain their beauty.

If French beauty is about simplicity, Korean beauty, like Kim Kardashian, is all about maximalism. It’s about recognizing and individually addressing each and every need, and constantly adjusting as needed. It’s the opposite of the one-step-fits-all approach and as such, through the K-beauty obsession, I’ve been able to find a crazy variety of products, including many dupes of Western products that suit my skin better than the originals.

This cream from Aromatica is one such product. The reason for that long-winded introduction is to try to explain why I’m so fond of this cream that is otherwise really boring. In a nutshell, this is a mineral-oil-free dupe for those French multi-tasking moisturizer creams (ie Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, Avene Cicalfate, Ducray Ictyane) at a more affordable price point. Mineral oil isn’t a bad ingredient, broadly speaking, but it gives me cystic breakouts and every single French cream seems to have it. -_-

Onwards to the review!

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

Product Name
Aromatica Calendula Juicy Cream Continue reading

swanicoco 1

Swanicoco Skin Expert One Step Fermentation Snail Care Emulsion Review

If companies were graded on their ingredient lists, Swanicoco would be class valedictorian. Every single one of their products is chock-full of amazing sounding ferments, peptides, extracts, and other droll-worthy ingredients. Unfortunately, their products are not the easiest to come by (yet! hopefully) in the States so when this emulsion popped up on Testerkorea, I jumped at the chance to give it a try!


swanicoco 1.jpg

Size: 120ML aka HUGE. This will last awhile.
Price: $14.26 on Testerkorea
Packaging: Plastic, cylindrical pump bottle
Fragrance: Fresh, fermented Rose / Jasmine scent. It is of medium intensity but very pleasant.
Color: White
Fragrance: Thin, watery (Western) creamy lotion.

Acne Triggers & Irritants: Butylene Glycol (1) and stearic acid(2) are flagged as acne triggers; carbomer (1) is a potential irritant
Full IngredientsWater, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Water, Aspergillus/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Snail Secretion Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Stearic Acid, Lactobacillus/Bambusa Vulgaris Shoot Extract/Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract/Luffa Cylindrica Fruit Extract/Morus Alba Root Extract/Pueraria Lobata Root Extract Ferment Filtrate, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cultured Wild Ginseng Root Extract, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Saussurea Involucrata Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polysorbate 60, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Ceramide 1, Carbomer, Arginine, Saccharomyces/Lycium Chinense Fruit/Rehmannia Glutinosa Root/Cuscuta Chinensis Fruit/Cistanche Deserticola/Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit/Chrysanthemum Morifolium Fruit/Poria Cocos/ Cinnamomum Cassia Ferment, Rosa Centifolia Flower Oil, Magnolia Kobus Bark Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Thujopsis Dolabrata Branch Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Leaf Extract


Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Water
This emulsion may have snail in the title, but licorice was the ingredient I was most interested in! Licorice is an ingredient common to traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine and is known for its anti-inflammatory, lung-repairing, and general rejuvenating properties. I’ve also heard mumblings of its effective yet minimally irritating melanin-dispersing abilities, which I was definitely interested in. Fun fact, licorice also might reduce liver damage when drinking. Something to keep in mind!

Fermented Ingredients (in purple) 
The emulsion definitely delivers on the fermentation part of its name. It’s got everything from fermented rice and bamboo to mistletoe. The theory behind fermentation is that the ingredients are broken down such that the nutrients they contain are made more easily available for the skin to absorb. In addition, some of the ingredients used to faciliate fermentation are beneficial to skin in their own right. For example, saccharomyces (a type of yeast), has skin brightening and anti-oxidant properties.

Snail Secretion Filtrate
I’ve used my fair share of snail products, and for good reason. It is full of bioactive materials, helps the skin take up and hold water better, and has skin healing properties.

Glycerin & Sodium Hyaluronate
By now, glycerin and sodium hyaluronate (the salt form of hyaluronic acid) may seem like ubiquitous, boring ingredients, but they are both powerful humectants and I’m glad to see them included.

Ceramide 1
Ceramides are a key structural component of your skin’s outer layer, and they aid with water retention and barrier repair. There’s probably not a ton of ceramides in this emulsion, but nevertheless I am glad to see it make an appearance!


There are a few things I really like about this emulsion. Out of the bottle, the emulsion looks firms enough to hold its shape, but it actually packs a good dose of hydration! As soon as I start rubbing the emulsion into my skin, it melts quickly and feels very wet. It glides very easily over my skin and has a lovely, silky texture that I am a huge fan of. The texture is one of my favorite things. It makes the emulsion super fast to apply without tugging at my skin at all! Also, it leaves no stickiness and has a scent that I quite like. It smells like rose to me with undertones of something fermented, but not in a bad way.

It took me awhile to figure out where this product goes in my routine. If you look at any Korean beauty how-to guide, emulsions go right before a moisturizing cream. Logically, this makes sense and follows the thin-to-thick rule, but I just don’t enjoy using it this way. This emulsion absorbs easily for something of its texture, but it does leave more residue than an essence or toner would do. I don’t really like applying cream over it because I feel like the creams do not absorb as well.

swanicoco 2 swatch

Instead, I find myself skipping cream when I use this emulsion and either follow up with a face oil, to make sure my skin is adequately moisturized, or I will mix some face oil into this emulsion itself. I imagine if you have oily skin and find traditional moisturizing creams to be too heavy, this emulsion might be a good alternative.

It’s a little difficult to explain why I like this emulsion so much. It doesn’t have any drastic brightening or plumping effects on my skin, nor is it hydrating enough for my skin on its own, but it’s become a skincare staple over the past two months I’ve been using it. It layers extremely well with essences, toners, ampoules, and oils, so it’s easy for me to use, and the fact that it is so easy to apply and has no tug when being spread not only makes it very pleasant to use, but also helps prevent potential irritation. During this winter season, my skin, which is usually not very sensitive, has required a lot of baby-ing. A lot of products that previously worked fine for my skin suddenly fell to the sidelines because they would cause some sort of redness or burning, uncomfortable tingling, burning, or itching sensation when applied. This emulsion didn’t do any of that and actually feels very soothing on my skin, and at the moment that matters more to me than finding products that can brighten my skintone or even out my post-acne hyperpigmentation.

The Takeaway

Very soothing emulsion, containing a high concentration of licorice and fermented ingredients, with a pleasant silky texture and lovely, natural, rose-like scent. Not super moisturizing on its own, but easy to layer with most other products.

Benton Honest TT Mist (1)


Disclaimer: I purchased this. There are no affiliate links.


Chosungah22 Mineral Toning Essence Review

The problem with shopping for things from Korea is sometimes I don’t realize how much stuff I’ve ordered until I receive everything. This is how I ended up with all these Chosungah22 products. I’m usually very cautious about ordering too many things from a single brand, especially one I have ZERO experience with, because things can go south quickly!


The wonders (Juice and Milk) of the Chosungah world + the Mineral Toning Essence (MTE). Not pictured: Chosungah22 Mint Sun Essence

Luckily this hasn’t been the case with Chosungah22 for the most part.

Packaging & Appearance

This “essence” comes in a simple but stylish plastic bottle. All of Chosungah’s products come in plastic, even though some of it looks like glass. This is actually a very good thing if you think about it. Glass things get easily shattered in cross-oceanic transit. I LOVE the design of this bottle. It’s minimal and looks like it could belong in either a laboratory or a Scandinavian kitchen.

This essence is clear and very fluid, only a tiny bit thicker than water. It is not sticky at all and has a very faint fragrance that I love! To me, it smells of cleansiness with a hint of lavender.

chosungah22 MTE 2 swatch


I honestly don’t think the folks at Chosungah22 know what an essence is. First of all, they named this product the confusing name of “toning essence.” In addition, they also categorize Wonder Juice as an essence, but seems to be, from my experience, a pretty straightforward hydrating toner. MTE to me is a toner. It is, after all, composed primarily of onsen-sui (spa water), and water.

I apply this MTE after my second cleanser, either on a cotton square or by patting it on my face with my hands. It is not a powerhouse hydrator nor does it contain a significant concentration of active ingredients, but my skin does react positively to it. After cleansing, I tend to have a lot of redness around my nose and on my cheeks. MTE is just soothing and hydrating enough to make my skin feel normal again, removing any tightness, if any, and noticeably reducing some of the redness.

chosungah22 MTE 1

I also like to use MTE to prime my skin before applying serums and ampoules. It makes ampoules easier to apply and allows me to use less product. This is particularly useful for sticky ampoules like the Scinic AIO honey ampoule, because using less product means that my face is less sticky after application.

The full ingredients are below. Cosdna identifies butylene glycol (1) as the only acne trigger.

Onsen-Sui, Water, Glycerin, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Mesembryanthemum Crystallinum Extract, Betula Alba Juice, Ceramide 3, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot Fruit Oil), Geranium Maculatum Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Commiphora Myrrha Oil, Styrax Benzoin Gum, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin

The Takeaway

This is a good, basic, non-irritating toning product. That doesn’t sound super exciting, but like cleansers, finding a toner that doesn’t suck sometimes takes a lot of effort. However, I won’t be repurchasing this because at the end of the day, this product just doesn’t excite me.

I purchased this from Koreadepart. It is also available on Chosungah22’s website but for a lot more. 

Final Score (2)

Disclosures: This product was purchased by me. There are no affiliate links in this post. 


neogen dual layer ceramide oil

Neogen Dermatology Dual Layer Ceramide Oil Review

I feel like this is THE product for people who think they’re missing out. For example, if you’ve heard about the wonders of horse oil but can’t get over the idea of dead horses, this is a decent, vegan (there’s no horse, but there is snail) alternative. If you find the texture of lotion or cream to be gross but have dry skin, this is definitely the moisturizer for you. If you want to start exploring the world of face oils but find the idea of putting oil on your face confusing / scary / grease-ifying, this is a great, grease-free oil product. Lastly, if you feel like you can’t keep up with all of the cool, exotic ingredients that the Korean-Beauty-Gods keep sticking in skincare products, this is a one-stop-shop to get a lot of those ingredients in your routine. Intrigued yet? You should be because I absolutely LOVE this product!

Packaging + Appearance

This is a cool looking oil that consists of two distinct layers. The top layer is “essence,” which consists of the many many extracts and miscellaneous active ingredients, and the bottom layer is a blend of oils. To use, you take the bottle, shake vigorously for a few seconds so the two layers combine, and then use the dropper top to extract the oil for use.

neogen dual layer ceramide oil

The two layers actually mix very easily. In fact, it took 2 days after I received this in the mail for the layers to separate enough for me to take this picture.


After the layers are mixed together, they form a watery but milky colored liquid that I will be referring to as an essence-oil, or EO for short. This liquid is very fluid, has great slip, and sinks into my skin really quickly. Even though the EO comprises a significant amount of oil, it is more similar in texture to an emulsion than an oil and happily avoids common complications that a face oil might pose, such as leaving behind a visible, oily layer.

neogen dermatology dual layer ceramide oil

To use, I load up the dropper cap, squeeze the EO onto my hands, rub my hands together to warm up the EO, then pat all over my face. At first, I was careful to only use the suggested 4 drops, but quickly learned that I can use A LOT more than that and it will still sink into my skin cleanly. The EO has a dewy but not greasy finish. If you’re ok with the amount of dewiness you get from an Iope bb cushion, you shouldn’t have any issues with this oil. 

neogen dermatology swatch

I have been using this EO in place of a moisturizing cream and I love it! It is easier to apply than a cream, effectively seals in moisture, and absorbs into my skin better. In fact, the way that this essence-oil sinks into my skin is reminds me of how horse oil products seem to melt into my skin, and I love me some horse oil


This oil gets a whole section for ingredients because it contains everything. Seriously, it’s pretty wild. This is what the list looks like, in its entirety:

water, butylene glycol, canola oil, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, glycerin, niacinamide, 1,2-hexanediol, octyldodecanol, caprylic / capric triglycerides, ceramide 3, hydrogenated lecithin, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, moringa oleifera seed oil, camellia sinensis seed oil, honey extract, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter extract, adansonia digitata leaf extract, persea gratissima (avocado) fruit extract, trehalose, human oligopeptide-1, hydrolyzed collagen, acetyl glucosamine, brassica campestris (rapeseed) oil, linum usitatissimum (linseed) seed oil, juglans regia (walnut) seed oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil, argania spinosa kernel oil, propolis extract, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl palmitate, snail secretion filtrate, allium sativum (garlic) bulb extract, euterpe oleracea fruit extract, morus alba fruit extract, rubus coreanus fruit extract, sambucus nigra fruit extract, black sugar extract, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, charcoal powder, solanum melongena (eggplant) fruit extract, sepia, porphyra tenera extract, polygonum fagopyrum (buckweed seed) extract, vitis vinifera (grape) fruit extract, coffea arabica fruit extract, inonotus obliquus (mushroom) extract, cassia obtusifolia seed extract, corthellus shiitake (mushroom) extract, mirabilis jalapa seed extract, piper nigrum (pepper) seed extract, fagus sylvatica seed extract, aronia melanocarpa fruit extract, dictyopteris membranacea extract, rose extract, cinnamomum cassia bark extract, anona cherimolia fruit extract, rhus semialata gall extract, prunus mume fruit extract, cellulose gum, adenosine, bifida ferment lysate, artemisia annua extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, symphytum officinale leaf extract, helichrysum italicum (everlasting) extract, azadirachta indica leaf extract, zanthoxylum piperitum fruit extract, pulsatilla koreana extract, usnea barbata (lichen) extract, melissa offinalis flower/leaf/stem water, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower water, calenula officinalis flower water, rosa damascena flower water, triticum spelta seed water, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf extract, cetearyl alcohol, hydrogenated vegetable oil, behenyl alcohol, stearic acid, polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, glyceryl stearate SE, methyl glucose sesquistearate, dimethicone, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, safflower yellow, gardenia red, fragrance

To make this easier to read, I’ve broken the ingredients into a few different categories: oils, extracts, miscellaneous interesting ingredients, and other.

neogen dermatology

The bad thing about having a product with a huge list of extracts is that the amount of each extract is necessarily tiny. If you’re specifically interested in adding a Vitamin C product to your skincare routine, this is not going to suffice, even though it contains magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a Vitamin C derivative. The good thing about having a product with a huge list of extracts and ingredients is that collectively, something is probably happening. Some skincare experts think that with antioxidants, for example, more is better. 

A potential risk in using a product with so many ingredients is that if you have sensitive or acne prone skin, one or more of the extracts may trigger acne. The acne triggers that cosdna analysis flags are butylene glycol (1), jojoba oil (2), soybean oil (3), retinyl palmitate (2), cetearyl alcohol (2), hydrogenated vegetable oil (3), stearic acid (2), glyceryl stearate SE (3), and dimethicone (1). Personally, cosdna ratings have never been a great predicator for what will and will not trigger acne for me (which is one of the reasons I’ve started to move away from using cosdna analysis in my reviews). For example, my skin is bulletproof against highly comedogenic oils such as coconut oil and cocoa butter (both rated 4), but will break out badly to papain, which cosdna does not even flag as an acne trigger. For what it’s worth, but I have not had any issues with acne or irritation with this product.

The Takeaway

This product has an overachieving ingredient list, absorbs beautifully into my skin, and does a fantastic job keeping my skin hydrated. Highly recommend to anyone unless you have very acne-prone skin, in which case the ingredient list can prove to be problematic.

I bought this from ebay on a whim for $24. It’s also available on Koreadepart for a few dollars more.

Neogen oil

Disclosure: Product paid for by me. Affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.