Category Archives: serum

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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

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Nov & Dec Empties

Happy 2017 everyone! These are my empties from November and December of 2016:

Benton Honest TT Mist
My 4th or 5th bottle? Honestly at this point I’ve lost track. Continue reading

Skin Deva CE Ferulic Serum

Skin Deva 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum Review

If I were soon to be stranded on a desert island and could only bring 3 items with me, they would be sunscreen, an oil cleanser, and Vitamin C. If you’re not already using a REAL Vitamin C serum (ie NOT this one), you should be. Lately, I’ve been using a few different serums in my rotation. This review is going to be about the one I’ve been really liking: Skin Deva’s 20% Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum.

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The L’Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C Serums I’ve been using: Drunk Elephant C Firma Day Serum, Skin Deva 20% Vitamin C+E+Ferulic Acid Serum, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%.

Product Name
Skin Deva 20% Vitamin C+E + Ferulic Acid Serum Continue reading

manyo factory bifida ferment complex review

Manyo Factory Bifida Complex Review

There are some brands I become obsessed with before I even try any of their products. This is not one of those brands. Manyo Factory, with it’s weird name and Paula’s-Choice-esque (aka boring) packaging, didn’t really interest me at all until Margaret, Joan, and seemingly everyone on Instagram started raving about their Galactomyces 10X The First Treatment Wrap Masks. And you know what? They were right. Those masks are awesome, easily my favorite hydrogel to date, but that’s a review for another day.

Today, let me direct your attention to the Bifida Complex. It’s full of pumpkin (IT’S PUMPKIN PIE SEASON!!) and, thanks to its 6 month shelf-life, I’ve been using pretty much twice a day, most days, for the past 4 weeks so I’ve got thoughts on it to share!

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Product Name
Manyo Factory Bifida Ferment Complex Continue reading

mizon-hyaluronic-acid-ampoule-review

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

let's cure pH adjusting toner whamisa organic flowers toner rosehip oil komenuka bijin komeyu serum lookatme jelly sunscreen

July Empties, Failed Empties, and New Additions

It’s the start of a new months so it’s time for another (really long) empties post! Is anyone else upset about how quickly summer is slipping away?


Items I Used Up


Let’s Cure Pure Skin Basic Skin Exfoliator – Will Repurchase
Full review here. This is a simple but functional pH adjusting toner with just enough hydrating properties to make my skin feel normal again after cleansing. I purchased the CosRX AHA/BHA toner as a replacement because I was curious about it, but I’m missing the Let’s Cure one already.
Purchased through Avecko. It is also available on Memebox. 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

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2Sol Elixir Propolis Serum Review

In the forth grade, my two best friends and I decided we were going to be witches. This mostly entailed shaving crayons into pixie dust and throwing them at our unsuspecting classmates to curse them (and occasionally at a guy to cast a love spell). This, I think, makes me somewhat of an authority on witches, and I’ve noticed that in a way, skincare is kind of like witchcraft. After all, witches are a little obsessed with youth, and how different really are anti-aging products from longevity potions?

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Witches and Asian Beauty enthusiasts. We’re all just after that chok chok skin!

Despite this, I still can’t help but roll my eyes a little at the naming of this “elixir” serum. It’s particularly funny, IMO, because in every other way 2Sol is such a no-nonsense, function-first brand. In any case, propolis with a dash of magic is a lot to live up to!

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AT A GLANCE

The Claim
프로폴리스추출물(10%), 베타글루칸, 마데카소사이드 등 피부 진정 성분들과 히알루론산 등 보습성분을 함유하여 윤기있고 촉촉한 피부로 만들어주는 세럼입니다.
Rough translation: Propolis Extract (10%), Beta-Glucan, and Madecassoside soothes sensitive skin and hyaluronic acid makes skin moist.

Where does it fit in your routine?
This should be used after the watery steps (essence, toner) in your routine and before creams.

Size and Price
This bottle contains 50ml of product. I purchased this using Koreanbuddy‘s forwarding service for something like $8.50 (plus commission and shipping). It is also available on Ebay for $16 or Testerkorea for ~$10.50.

Packaging
This comes in a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. Packaging is straightforward and functional. No complaints here.

Fragrance
There’s definitely a medicinal scent here. If you’ve ever been into one of those Chinese dried herb pharmacies, that’s what this serum smells like. It’s not a strong scent, but I’m not a huge fan.

Color and texture
This serum has a gel-like texture and is a light yellow in color.

What’s in it?

  • 10% PROPOLIS EXTRACT
    Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources to be used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the beehive. In skincare, it is used to heal wounds and possesses anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. One of the constituents of propolis is beeswax, a wax ester that can create a protective, non-allergenic layer over the skin.
  • MADECASSOSIDE 
    This is actually the ingredient I was most excited for! This is one of the four primary active compounds in centella asiatica. When taken orally, madecassoside has antioxidant properties and is effective in promoting the healing of wounds and collagen systhesis. When applied topically in conjunction with Vit C, it results in a significant improvement in skin firmness, elasticity and skin hydration. Essentially, madecassoside is to centella asiatica what vitamin C is to an orange. It’s the good stuff. This serum is serious about its active ingredients!
  • PALMITOYL TRIPEPTIDE-1, PALMITOYL TETRAPEPTIDE-3 
    Peptides are strings of amino acids that function as cell-communicating agents. I assumed these were included as a buzz-ingredient, but it looks like there is actually some science behind it. In particular, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 is a key ingredient in matrixyl 3000 and is believed to work by reducing molecules that would otherwise promote inflammation.
  • TREMELLA FUCIFORMIS EXTRACT, AVENA SATIVA KERNEL EXTRACT, CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT, BUDDLEJA DAVIDII EXTRACT, THYMUS VULGARIS EXTRACT
    The choice of extracts here all seem to be focused on antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin soothing properties.
  • BETA-GLUCAN
    This is a polysaccharide derived from cereal, yeast, bacteria, or fungus. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties as well.
  • SODIUM HYALURONATE
    The salt form of hyaluronic acid, which is a humectant that can hold 1000X its weight in water.

I really like this ingredient list because it is focused. Instead of throwing in every ingredient and extract to plump its ingredient list, 2Sol seems to have carefully chosen every component of this serum specifically to have anti-inflammatory or skin-soothing effects.

Acne Triggers & Irritants
Cosdna identifies Butylene Glycol (1) as an acne trigger and carbomer (1) as a potential irritant.

Full Ingredients
Water, Propolis Extract(10%),  Glycerin,   1,2-Hexanediol , Madecassoside, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7,  Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract , Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract,  Centella Asiatica Extract, Buddleja Davidii Extract,  Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract,  Beta-Glucan,  Allantoin , Sodium Hyaluronate,  Hydroxyethylcellulose, Genistein,  Arginine, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20 , Carbomer 

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PERFORMANCE

This product is meant to soothe, and soothe it does. I do not notice an immediate anti-reddening effect, but I do notice that with regular use, my skin seems to be less easily irritated. Of the propolis serum-type products I’ve used, this is the most soothing on my skin.

Most of the time, I use this as a serum, after all of my toners and before I use an emulsion and cream. Sometimes, when my skin needs some extra babying, I also like to slather this serum on and slap a sheet mask over it. I’ve also noticed that if I mix half a pump of this serum into my foundation, I get an insane glow that lasts for a few hours.

That said, I’m not in love with this product. Angela from Beautyandthecat frequently refers to the “joy factor” in her review of products and Graceful face stresses the importance of finding pleasure in applying products, and the more skincare products I try the more I tend to agree with these two ladies. This is one of four 2Sol products I purchased through Koreanbuddy because I was so convinced that I would love 2Sol. Turns out, while I do not dislike 2Sol, but I don’t exactly find myself excited to use these products, ever. While I generally appreciate a function-first mentality with skincare products, a little cosmetic elegance –having a silky finish or an intoxicating scent– is often the determining factor in how often I actually use a product. I don’t take issue with this serum as much as I do with some of 2Sol’s other things (ahem deep silky moisture, but that’s a review for another day), but the user experience leaves something to be desired.

In a nutshell, I don’t like the stickiness of this serum and I don’t like the way it smells. Scinic Honey AIO is stickier (the main reason I’ve never repurchased it) but it also provides hydration (this 2Sol serum is not hydrating) and smells better. Let’s Cure Honeybunny Ampoule has a stronger smell, but one I personally find more tolerable, plus it is significantly less sticky and provides a good dose of hydration.

If this serum were the first propolis product I used and not the third, I think I would be a lot more impressed, but as it currently stands it meets but does not exceed my higher expectations.

THE TAKEAWAY

This serum has a killer ingredient list and nice skin-soothing properties. However, it won’t do much for hydration and smells a bit medicinal.

CosRX snail essence (1)


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.

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February Empties

See my January empties here.

I just wrapped up part 1 of a project at work that has completely taken over my life the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping to make some progress on the backlog of posts I have in my draft file, but in the meantime, here is a quick rundown of the things that I emptied in February!

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NIP + FAB GLYCOLIC FIX PADS – These were a sample from the Target January 2016 Refresh Beauty Box and I actually quite like them. I have not been using chemical exfoliants since starting tretinoin a few months ago but it’s been something I’ve been wanting to reintroduce. They have a good amount of alcohol, which I don’t love, but the exfoliating action is mild enough for me to use in conjunction with tretinoin. I’m planning to give Pixi Glow Tonic a try next, but if those don’t work out I may give the full size of these pads a try.

MIZON SEA WEED JELLY SCRUB – I usually stay away from physical exfoliants because when I use them, I end up compulsively sanding my skin into submission, which leaves my skin soft but is so, so irritating. This scrub, made of seaweed jelly and konjac pieces, is extremely gentle and seems proofed against users like me. I use this by applying on dry skin, moving it around my skin, and then jumping in the shower to rinse it off.

SULWHASOO EVERFAIR PERFECTING CUSHION REFILL (housed in an Etude House Sand Cat Cushion) – I’m a NC25, which is slightly too dark for most Korean cushions. This cushion in #25 is a pretty good fit and when used in conjunction with a beauty blender, makes for an incredible finish – thin and natural looking but with decent coverage.

KLAIRS JUICY DROP – This is an ascorbic-acid based Vitamin C serum that is suitable for sensitive skin. To be honest, I don’t really notice much of an effect, good or bad, with this serum and was determined to finish it mostly so I can go back to using my HG Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum.

FROM NATURE AGE TREATMENT ESSENCE This is my favorite first essence to date! It is intensely hydrating and makes my skin smooth and glowy. Of all the items I finished in February, this is probably the one that I will repurchase.

 

What products did you guys finish in February?

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Klairs Juicy Drop Review

This product was provided to me for review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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I live in Los Angeles and think it’s the greatest place on earth, but it’s not the kindest climate for skin. It’s very sunny (which we should all know by now is the largest contributor to aging) and has a minor issue with air pollution

Other than sunscreen, Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients to protect against both of these problems. I’ve previously talked about my love for the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum, but between winter and tretinoin usage, I recently found myself in need of something gentler. Around the same time, Wishtrend asked me if I was interested in testing this serum. Since Klairs is known for making products for sensitive skin and I was in need of a new Vitamin C product, I figured why not?  

I’ve been using this product since November. It’s not quite what I expected it to be, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

At a Glance

Product Name: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

Size: 35 ml

Price: $23 on Wishtrend and Sokoglam

Packaging: Transparent, plastic dropper bottle. Transparent bottles are usually not ideal for LAA products because LAA is unstable and prone to oxidation, but even after two months, my serum shows no signs of oxidation.

Fragrance: Slight metallic smell

Texture: Runny, a little viscous, and a little oily

Color: Completely clear.

pH: 7

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I love the holographic bottle on the box.

Ingredients Review

Active Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid (5%), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (unknown percentage)

Acne Triggers and Irritants: Butylene Glycol (1) as an acne trigger

Other Notable Ingredients: Centella Asiatica Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Illicium Verum (Anise) Fruit Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Chaenomeles Sinensis Fruit Extract, Orange Oil Brazil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Camellia Sinensis Callus Culture Extract, Larix Europaea Wood Extract, Chrysanthellum Indicum Extract, Rheum Palmatum Root Extract, Asarum Sieboldi Root Extract, Quercus Mongolia Leaf Extract, Persicaria Hydropiper Extract, Corydalis Turtschaninovii Root Extract, Coptis Chinensis Root Extract, Magnolia Obovata Bark Extract, Lysine Proline, Acetyl Methionine, Theanine, Lecithin, Acetyl Glutamine, SH-Olgopeptide-1, SH-Olgopeptide-2, SH-Polypeptide-1, SH-Polypeptide-9, SH-Polypeptide-11, Bacillus/Soybean/Folic Acid Ferment Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate

See cosdna for full ingredients.

L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA) is the purest form of Vitamin C. It is known for being photo-protective against both UVA and UVB raysincreasing collagen production, improving hydration, brightening /lightening  hyper pigmentation, and increasing skin density while decreasing skin furrows. Unfortunately, LAA is most effective at a pH below 3.5 and this serum has a pH of 7, so I don’t know how many of these benefits are still at play. 

Fortunately, this serum is jam packed with dozens of extracts in addition to amino acids and peptides. In fact, I would say it is more accurately categorized as a broad-spectrum antioxidant serum with Vitamin C, as opposed to a Vitamin C serum.

Performance

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I’m always a little unsure of how to review a Vit C / anti-oxidant serum because the main benefits are preventative. I use vitamin C mostly as an extra layer of protection against photo-damage and environmental damage because I know that in theory it is effective, but it’s not something I can see working until years later.

I will say that my skin does seem to have a healthier glow to it when I use this serum consistently, but the effect is very subtle. Also, I haven’t seen any brightening effects, but I’ve never really seen brightening effects from any of the Vitamin C serums I’ve used, so it wasn’t anything I was expecting.

What I do like about this serum is that it absolutely lives up to its claims of being non-irritating. It does not cause flushing or burning, dry out my skin, or cause any amount of flaking! If you have sensitive skin and have trouble finding a gentle enough Vitamin C product, this serum is worth giving a try.

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What I dislike most about this serum is its texture. Even though it appears light and runny, it is unexpectedly viscous and even a little oily when I first apply it to my skin. The oiliness does disappear after a few minutes, but because I am frequently in a rush in the morning and don’t frequently have a few minutes to spare, I do find the initial oiliness to be bothersome.

The Takeaway

This is not the most effectively formulated Vitamin C serum but it does contain many beneficial extracts, peptides, and amino acids and (most importantly) seems suitable for sensitive skin. I’m hoping after I finish this bottle, my skin will have recovered enough from its winter bashing such that I can use a more aggressive Vit C serum, but in the meantime I am happy to have found this one.

Final Score


Disclosure: Wishtrend provided me with this product for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link. See here for my full disclosure policy.