Category Archives: cleansing


January Empties

Here is my assortment of empties this month from left to right:

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Ippin -New Japanese E-Commerce Site- Introduction and Window Shopping

When Ippin reached out to me back in November, I was super stoked for a few reasons. For example,

  • Their selection of products looked really interesting. They have FlowFushi, Kate, Acseine, which are all brands I recognize from the Cosme best-of lists but have never tried
  • Their prices seemed very competitive for the few items I was familiar with. For example,  they have the Canmake stay on balm rouges with no markup AND with free shipping
  • They use Paypal

But most of all I was excited to have another player trying to make Japanese skincare and makeup accessible abroad. While Korean beauty products have gone very mainstream in the past couple of years, Japanese products still have a ways to go towards achieving mass accessibility.


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PSA/Rant: Do NOT trust Muji Ingredient Stickers

Awhile ago, I posted about the Muji sensitive skin cleansing oil, still one of my favorites. Since then, I have gone through three different bottles of it (in various sizes) and have noticed that there are (at least) two versions. After cross-referencing the English ingredients (provided on stickers applied to the bottles), it seemed that the key difference was that one version contains octyl palmitate, and the other contains ethylhexyl palmitate. The version I preferred (thicker, darker in color, heavier olive oil scent, cleanses & washes off better) had an octyl palmitate sticker and so I made a mental note to check the stickers and buy that one in the future. I also told everyone else (on reddit, instagram, who knows where else) to do the same.

However, when I was at Muji earlier this week, I noticed ALL of the bottles had the same ingredient stickers, which made me realize trusting the stickers was a mistake. UGH.

L to R: 70ML, 200ML, 400ML

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Astalift Cleansing Oil review

Astalift Cleansing Oil Review

For the longest time, all I wanted was a cleansing oil that worked. Something that removed all my makeup, didn’t leave any residue on my face, and didn’t break me out. After a comically long struggle, I found one, and I still think it’s the best no-nonsense, super functional, great value, oil cleanser out there.


But as they say, if you give your mouse a cookie, she’s going to ask for an even fancier oil cleanser that smells like rose red tea and has the same golden orange color as salmon caviar, which is what this cleanser is.

Product Name
Fujifilm Astalift Cleansing Oil Continue reading

mochitto awadate irazu face wash

Mochitto Mochi Mochi Awadate-Irazu Face Wash Without Bubbling Review

A few years ago, I worked in a building that had a newly open self-serve frozen yogurt shop on its ground floor. One of my coworkers and I figured out quickly that while the yogurt itself was terrible, there were other benefits to be had and so, in the afternoon, two or three times a week, we would make our way to the shop. She would get a cup and fill up with gummy bears and I would do the same but with mochi and cheesecake chunks.

The moral of that story is I freaking LOVE mochi. I love mochi filled with azuki beans, I love mochi covered in teriyaki sauce, I love mochi filled with ice cream, and baked mochi by itself!


Taken at Mochi Cream in Torrance, aka my main mochi dealer. I’m partial to the Raspberry Mille Feuille flavor, but honestly they are all magical.

So naturally, I had to have this mochi mochi cleanser the minute I laid my eyes on it. Luckily, it’s actually a really good cleanser because of course it is! Mochi would never fail me like that. All hail mochi! Continue reading

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March and April Empties

I haven’t done an empties post since February, so there are lots of items in this post!

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Muji Sensitive Skin Cleansing Oil

Previously reviewed. This is the best cleansing oil I’ve ever used! Continue reading


Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser Review

For those that don’t know, Glossier is a beauty brand borne out of Emily Weiss’s blog, Into the Gloss, which features close looks at the beauty routines of beautiful people. This blog frustrates me for the same reason it fascinates me – regardless of what I put on my face, I’m never going to look like any of these women. I also suspect if Jourdan Dunn ditched her expensive, luxury routine for her old clean and clear cleanser, she’d still have perfect skin. Essentially, I read Into the Gloss as an aspirational source of distraction (and also because I love Emily), not as an actual source of skincare knowledge. Continue reading

acwell cleanser

Acwell Bubble-Free pH Balancing Cleanser Review

I’ve been agonizing over this review for quite some time now because, well, do you guys remember this song?

When I shop for second cleansers, I have a list of deal breakers and pitfalls, such as having a high pH, producing foam, sodium lauryl sulfate or papain, because my skin doesn’t tolerate those things well. This cleanser avoids every single one of those, and trust me, not many cleansers do. Yet, I still don’t like this cleanser. I mean, what’s my problem right?

acwell cleanser.jpg

I’m not sure why I swatched this on my bare hand, maybe to showcase the texture? The texture is actually really nice. It’s thin, spreads easily, and can be move around on the skin with very little friction.

At a Glance

Size: 150ML
Price: $20 at Memebox, $22 at MelodyCosme, and $24 at ViaSeoul
Packaging: White, plastic pump bottle
Fragrance: Fresh, astringent smell. I think it’s supposed to smell like Yuzu but it reminds me of toothpaste. Not a fan.
Color: Cloudy / sheer
Texture: Soft gel
pH: Claims to be 5.5. My pH strips test closer to 5.0.


Acne Triggers & Irritants
: Triethanolamine (2) flagged as an acne trigger
Full IngredientsPurified Water, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethanol, PEG-11 Methyl Ether Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel Extract), Dehydroacetic Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Disodium EDTA, Glycyrrhiz Glbra (Licorice Root Extract), Paeonia Lactiflora Bark / Sap Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Extract, Cimicifuga Dahurica Root Extract, Cimicifuga Racemosa Root Extract, Cimicifuga Simplex Root Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Farnesyl Acetate, Farnesol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Fragrance


This cleanser can be used as both a first cleanser, by applying to dry skin, and second cleanser, by applying to wet skin.

What’s good about it is that it is effective. As a first cleanser, it will take off pretty much all of your makeup and sunscreen. The texture has a lot of slip, so you can work it into and around your skin with very little physical tugging. Also, one of the reasons I was so keen on trying this Acwell bubble free cleanser is because it’s been reported on more than one occasion to delodge grits from congested pores. I’ve not been able to replicate this effect (but I’ve never really been able to extract grits because my skin is stubborn like that), but it contains salicylic acid (a oil-soluble chemical exfoliant) and feels very deeply cleansing, so I don’t doubt it’s skin decongesting powers.

Even as a second cleanser, I feel like my skin gets a thorough cleaning. If my skin were able to handle this cleanser better, it would be exactly the kind of cleanser I would want to use after hitting the gym or for hot, sweaty summer months.


Let’s give the swatching thing another try! I have Kevyn Aucoin foundation, Lioele and Tosowoong eye liners, Innisfree concealer, and Memebox X Pony lipstick on my hand. The cleanser takes everything off, but as you can see leaves my skin a little reddened.

Unfortunately, this cleanser is unexpectedly harsh. It’s weird, because the cleanser is not drying – my skin does not feel tight after using it – but it is nonetheless stripping. After use, my skin feels raw and rubbery, as if I’ve been vigorously scrubbing at it. Also, depending on how long I’ve had the cleanser on my face, it makes my skin noticeably redder. In the pictures above, you can even see the reddening effect on my hand from leaving the cleanser on for too long.

The suspected culprits? Ethanol and/or triethanolamine. My skin actually tolerates alcohol pretty well – most of the sunscreens I use contain it- but during cleansing, the skin is at a particularly vulnerable state, and at the 4th ingredient this cleanser likely contains a generous amount of ethanol. Triethanolamine, on the other hand, is a compound that could function as an emulsifier, pH adjuster (triethanolamine has a high pH), and/or surfactant.

The Takeaway

This is probably a perfectly good cleanser for most skin types. Unfortunately, my skin is either too dry or too sensitive to use this.



Disclaimer: This product was purchased by me. This post contains an affiliate links. Purchasing an item through an affiliate link does not add any cost to the customer but does help support this site’s upkeep.


Muji Sensitive Skin Cleansing Oil

I used to live with a girl who was manically obsessed with cleansiness and organization and who, following a trip to Italy, came back with a suitcase full of not only cashmere tights and Schoko-Bons, but also pens, containers, and storage tools she had purchased from a “Japanese, brand-less store” called Muji. This was my first introduction to Muji, a few years before Muji opened their first US flagship store in SF, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.


Muji is what I want to be when I grow up. I’m totally convinced that by buying their functional yet minimalist goodies, I will somehow turn into someone who has all her shit together in the most tasteful manner. Yet, it’s taken me years to finally give their skincare line I try. I guess because my skin is so problematic, I was worried Muji’s products would prove ill-suited for my skin, and I’d have to face the fact that Muji is less perfect than I had built it up to be in my head.

A few months ago, I spotted this cleansing oil while shopping for furniture, considered how unhappy I was with the cleanser I was then using, and figured why not? The rest is, as they say, history.

At a Glance

Size: 200ML, but also available in travel size (50ml) and extra large (400ml)
Price: $15.50 at Muji stores and online.
Packaging: Transparent, plastic pump bottle
Fragrance: Smells like olive oil
Color: Pale yellow
Texture: Thick, viscous oil

UPDATE: There are multiple versions of the sensitive skin cleansing oil and Muji makes it extremely difficult and confusing to figure out which is which. Read more here.
Acne Triggers & Irritants
: Olive oil (2), Octyl Palmitate (4), Sorbitan Oleate (3), Tocopherol (2), and Butylene Glycol (1) flagged as acne triggers; Octyl Palmitate (1) and Tocopherol (2) are potential irritants
Full Ingredients: Olive Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polysorbate, Sorbitan Oleate, Water, Pentylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Purslane (Portulaca Olearcea) Extract

Ingredients Overview

Somewhat unfortunately, this cleansing oil is a great example of how ingredients are only one variable in how well (or poorly) a product performs. At first glance, there are two major issues with the ingredients of this oil.

First, this cleansing oil contains quite a few acne triggers as identified by cosdna. Secondly, the main ingredient is olive oil, which despite the fact that it is all natural and edible, has somewhat of a challenged reputation in skincare. In particular, this study comparing the topical effects of olive oil and sunflower oil demonstrate that 4 weeks of applying olive oil topically caused a significant reduction in stratum corneum integrity and induced mild erythema in volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis.

And so, at first glance, we seem to have an oil that may cause/exacerbate acne and/or damage skin’s natural barrier. Yet, as someone with super dry, acneic, easily inflammed, and occassionally sensitive skin, I have not experienced any issues with this oil on either the acne or irritation front. I think there are two important thing to keep in mind when looking over these ingredients: Cosdna is NOT a perfect guide – I think I’ve mentioned before that my two main acne triggers both have a rating of 0 – and also in cleansers the effects of constituent ingredients are diminished because the product does not stay on your skin for long enough to do much of anything. If you have very acne-prone skin (and even if you don’t because there’s no telling what your skin might react to), patch test thoroughly and introduce this into your routine carefully. But as a whole, I think this is a fantastic oil, despite its ingredients.



Pic 1: hand with foundation, 2 types of eyeliner, lip crayon, and a bunch of eyeshadows. Pic 2: hand with makeup and a few drops of cleansing oil. Pic 3: oil cleansing has dissolved all makeup except a bit of eyeliner. Pic 4: hand after oil has been rinsed off. Notice the trace amounts of eyeliner from pic 3 has fully come off.

All I want from oil cleansers is for them to remove makeup thoroughly and rinse off cleanly without doing something bad to my skin, which sounds simple enough, right? The five cleansing oils I’ve tried prior to this one would either cause my skin to breakout, not remove makeup fully, leave behind cleanser residue after rinsing, or dry my skin out. By the time I had gotten around to trying this oil, my expectations for oil cleansers were basically nonexistent – if it didn’t break me out, I could live with it.

Happily, the Muji Gods are merciful and kind! This oil not only checks all of my requirements, but exceeds them!

Makeup comes off with remarkable ease. I don’t wear eyeliner frequently, but when I do I require one that can withstand my constant eye rubbing, which means they tend to be difficult to remove. The Muji oil can get all my eyeliner off with the gentlest of rubs, no tugging required!

Texturally, this oil does not feel like any other cleansing oil I’ve tried. It is thick and behaves and feels almost as a thick gel might behave. If you frequently struggle with oil dripping on your floors, running into your eyes, or just overall not staying in place, you must try this oil. It’s not so thick that it’s hard to apply – I actually use less of this oil than I do with most cleansing oils I’ve used if that is any indication – but once you’ve spread it around your face, it stays put pretty well.

Not only does this oil washes off fully, without leaving a trace of residue, and does so in such a lovely manner. Upon contact with water, this oil seems to BLOOM, becoming a bit thicker and creamier at first before giving way to a thinner milky, liquid texture. The whole experience of cleansing with this oil, from beginning to end, feels very luxurious!


The area of the (gross looking) oil X makeup mixture that is whitish is where it has come in contact with water. As mentioned, this oil turns milky when it emulsifies.

My only complaint with this oil is that it smells a bit like olive oil. I don’t mind the smell, but I also don’t love it, and I can’t help feeling this oil deserves to smell as remarkable as it performs. Other than this, this oil would be as close to reaching holy grail status as anything else I’ve ever tried. If you’ve read my blog a lot, you may have noticed I never use the phrase Holy Grail because to me, something labelled as such needs to be so perfect and impossible to improve upon that I declare my undying loyalty to it. I’m not quite there with this oil. There are two other cleansing oils I have my eye on before I’m willing to settle on this category, but it’s very, very close to that point.

The Takeaway

I love this oil. It’s a easy and pleasant to use cleansing oil that does everything a cleansing oil should.

Benton Honest TT Mist (3)

Disclaimer: Product purchased by me. No affiliate links are used.

Re:cipe Marine Mineral Cleansing Fluid Review

Re:cipe Marine Mineral Cleansing Fluid Review

This is the Ryan Reynolds of cleansing oils, ridiculously good looking but not what you would cast for a movie requiring more acting talent than the frat boy version of Freaky Friday. I wanted really, really badly to be a fan but I’m not. If you want to see some pretty(ish – my photograph skills are questionable at best) pictures though, keep scrolling!

Re:cipe Marine Mineral Cleansing Fluid Review

Packaging and Appearance

If it were up to me, this cleansing oil would have come in a lava lamp, complete with a few blobs of wax, so I could plug it in and watch this sparkle up and down all day. Instead, this comes in a very functional pump bottle, which has its merits too, I guess.

Recipe Cleansing Oil Review

Trying to photograph the sparkliness of this oil is so hard. 😦

The oil is a beautiful Spanish Viridian color. It reminds me of peacock feathers and is full of cosmic glitter. The photos don’t do this oil any justice at all.


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