Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

I have been a long time AHA user. Having a normal to dry skin type, I am much more concerned with anti-aging, spot lightening, skin texture, all of which addressed by AHAs rather than BHAs, which are more helpful for oilier or combination skin types (By the way, if anyone is confused about the different types of chemical exfoliants, I’ve inserted some resources right at the bottom of the post). My favourite has always been Sue Devitt Beauty Microquatic Lactic Renewal Facial Peel, which is a lactic acid-based exfoliant, but I have since been unable to find it anywhere on the internet :'(. I’m guessing that the brand flopped or it has been discontinued.

Point is, since then, I have been unable to find an AHA that I like. Cosrx was all the rage a few years back, there is a consistent supply, and so I went for it.


If you are wondering about the weird lines on the bottle, I decorated by bottles with leftover coloured masking tape.


A short and sweet list. Sodium hydroxide may be an issue but various people on r/AsianBeauty have tested its pH to be below 4.0 so we’re safe.

Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Water, Niacinamide, Sodium Hydroxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol

How I use it in my routine

I use once every 2 to 3 days, after cleansing and toner / fermented essence. It is light and slippery liquid, not unlike Chifure Essence (review).

I am immune to any tingling or stinging by this point, but if you are new to acids, they hurt. Like hell. It is like the acid is burning your face off and if you touch your face it will melt off like goo. Also, some acids that are poorly formulated can cause a breakout. I experienced it personally with the Alpha Hydrox (Reviews). Some souls on the internet call this purging and advice you to push through this difficult period following which baby-like skin will follow. Nope. It is as good as telling someone suffering from food poisoning (with the whole shebang of diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps) to continue eating the contaminated food because “your body is undergoing detoxification”. Go ahead at your own risk.

Overall, I rely on AHAs a lot for the daily maintenance of my skin–texture refinement, spot lightening, preventing wrinkles. Cosrx has done a fine job so far. It has done everything that I want from an AHA, with the added bonus of being readily available and affordable.

Glycolic Acid

  • Alpha H Liquid Gold
  • Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask (Reviews)
  • Andalou Naturals BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask (Reviews)
  • Alpha Hydrox 10% Glycolic AHA Enhanced Cream (Reviews)

Lactic Acid

  • Sue Devitt Beauty Microquatic Lactic Renewal Facial Peel

Some Resources…

If you’re new to chemical exfoliants. There are tonnes of good resources out there so I shan’t bother writing my own version when I don’t have anything new to add on.

If you listen to podcasts on your commute or at the gym, the Snailcasts Episode 17 is a great introduction to chemical exfoliants without doing any reading. Hoojoo Beauty also has a great article here. I remembered Skin & Tonics had a science-y blog post, but I can’t find it anymore.


First Post of 2018: Intoxicated Skincare Routine

I’m generally not into drinks–I’m a closet homebody and I love holing up with a good read. But for one reason or another, I found myself drinking quite frequently recently. But alcohol drives my skin (plus my sleep cycle, my weight and my wits) absolutely bonkers. You know it your skin gets tired and sallow the next day. So with my 1-year experience, here is my guide to getting skincare done while you are at different stages of intoxication.

Japan Oils (m)

1. Cleanse, Double Cleanse

You’ve puked more times than you can count. In the cab, in the lift, you don’t know where else. Deep down you know you’ve been an utter embarrassment in front of everyone (you can’t be arsed to care). You’re still mostly upright. Leaning against the bathroom wall is a comfortable position. You don’t want to move (move).

You probably have layers of makeup and falsies (Ewwww). Get those off with a cleansing balm or oil. You probably forget how to emulsify oils properly. Just don’t fall asleep at your sink and don’t gouge your eyes out.

If you are still upright by the end, reach for that low pH cleanser. Don’t whine, you bought it for the convenience. Pump it once and the bubbles are readymade. Muck the foam around your face and wash it off.

Now you can fall into the puddle that you have made on the bathroom floor and go to sleep.

Be ready to mop off the mess of oils, foam and your tears of regret from the floor the next morning.

Estee Lauder ANR

2. Potent Anti-oxidant Serum

You’ve had four drinks. You made it home on your own in a cab. You almost puked (it is thanks to that terrible driver), but you kept your dinner in. But you had too much work and too little sleep in the past week (month, year, years) and you feel like you can sleep for 48 hours straight. You don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror because Asian flush is ugly and you’re already your worst judge.

Clean your face, you’ve done it when you were dead drunk, you can do it now.

As much as you love alcohol, your skin hates it. Apologise. Feed it the clinically tested and scientifically proven anti-oxidant serum. For goodness sake, remember to screw the cap tight afterwards. It is worth 8 hours of painstaking and sometimes mind-numbing work and you don’t want light and oxidation to get to it before it gets to your skin.

Important reminder: Stay away from any acid at this point. Can you trust yourself not to get any of the pH 3.8 stuff into your eyeballs? I don’t trust you when you say yes, because drunk people say yes to everything. Save it for the next morning when you open your eyes with a splitting headache.

Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Cream

3. Emollient Moisturiser

You’re still up? Good! Time to seal off the expensive serum. Get that jar of moisturiser that you’ve been buying on repeat this year. It is a jar of buttery goodness, and it reminds you of all the delicious, fatty food you’ve sworn off for the sake of your coronary arteries (it is your bloody figure, really, who are you kidding). Slap it on and let it melt into your skin like a piece of tender pork belly on your tongue. Arhhhhh.

Sulwhasoo Overnight Mask (m)

4. Sleeping Pack

If you’re at this step, you have only had two drinks, or the alcohol has worn off. You either feel terribly lonely or lightheaded from the lovely conversation. Either way, the sleeping pack fits because it is an additional layer of occlusive. It feels like another layer of warm blanky on your skin and you feel cocooned. The sleeping pack smells like ginseng, ginger and you find the medicinal smell comforting.

You can fall into bed and wrap yourself in the real warm blanky now.

And then maybe you can take out your phone and start writing crap on your WordPress app. ೕ(˃̵ᴗ˂̵ ๑)

(For clarification of doubt, Scenario 1 is imagined 😉

Quick Reviews: Melano CC Full Range

Just a quick update today. Life has been throwing curveballs at me and I can barely handle .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·. Had some pretty flowers at home and of course I have to whip out the most gaudy yellow skincare item I have in my arsenal for a photoshoot and some quick reviews.

Melano CC Vitamin White Mist

Do not expect any skin lightening or spot fading from this. This mist is essentially toner in a fancy bottle, with only the benefit of hydration and maybe a whee bit of pH adjusting effects.

The bottle delivers the toner in a fine spray, with a nice refreshing lemon scent. It absorbs particularly well on damp skin right after cleansing (like all other toners, use on damp skin, not when it is desert dry and cracking). My skin feels nice and refreshed, no irritation whatsoever, but that is about all that the mist does.

I’ve tried using mists as a mid-day refresher before, on top of make up and sunblock. I hated it so I will not experiment on your behalf. All on all, this satisfies that urge to get every damn thing in a collection, but I have not found a reason to repurchase this.

Melano CC Vitamin Essence Mask

Announcement: I have repurchased this because of a Black Friday cart coupon that Qoo10 was dishing out.

Each box of mask pack contain 20 sheets that you pull out like a tissue. The masks are not saturated with the essence like the individually packed masks, plus the fit isn’t fantastic, but it is good enough. The essence contains the same active ingredients as the Spot Essence (Review), but definitely at a much lower concentration, so don’t expect the mask to have any effect on your spots.

What I do like about it is how it leaves a weird, slightly greasy residue. HEAR ME OUT! These days I am just so short of time. I find myself committing multiple skincare sins, such as leaving a mask on for too long and sometimes forgetting to moisturise after the mask… The Melano CC Mask leaves an almost oily residue, so my skin does not dry out! It is perfect on busy days where I slap it on after shower and cleansing, and dive straight back to work :’D

Of course, there is also Melano CC Whitening Lotion mentioned in my empties post here, but I am dead tired and my bed beckons, so that is for another day!


Estée Lauder Micro Essence

Something that you must learn about me, I suffer from a case of brand loyalty–if I like just one product from a particular brand, I want to try EVERY SINGLE THING on their catalog because I have the niggling suspicion and everything from the brand is just as great. It is highly irrational, and I have to catch myself at the checkout sign all the time.

Sometimes, things slip through the cracks. That is how I ended up with not one, but two bottles of the Estée Lauder Micro Essence. Of course it started from all the years of straying and going back to ANR (reviewed here).

How to use it

Use it right after cleansing, before all your other skincare steps. The texture is slightly tacky so you can either apply it with a cotton pad, or pat onto your skin using your palms. Of course I did the latter because I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and I don’t poop gold.

I normally follow up with another active like AHA / BHA, or my regular serum, some of which mentioned here.

My thoughts

The most immediate thought is that it is very very hydrating, more so than any other fermented essences (IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning (review) and Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence (review)), and my dehydrated skin is very appreciative of it.

The follow up thought is unsexy: there is definitely more of the standard moisturising ingredients like glycols (pentylene glycol, butylene glycol, or propylene glycols) or the hyaluronates (hyaluronic acid or sodium hyalunate). Do not for one second believe there is anything special about the formulation, one thing CosDNA has taught me is that even the most luxurious formulas have humble backgrounds, and it is almost always those few standard ingredients.

What makes the essences “special” is only the single ingredient, in this case bifida ferment lysate. More studies are still needed on the effectiveness of bfl on skin, but let me just quote Paula’s Ingredients Dictionary here “Limited research has shown that yeast ferment filtrate (a compound different from bifida ferment lysate) offsets oxidative skin damage in the presence of UV light, but this research also showed that many other antioxidants have a similar effect.” (Source)

(So, yep, it seems like the bfl is not totally a fad)

The problem is, I had too high of an expectation for anything from Estée Lauder, following the wonders that is ANR and CPR (here), which made significant improvements to my skin. ME sounds really good on paper, but aside from the initial boost of hydration, I have not noticed any changes to my skin.

Estée Lauder says that ME is best paired with ANR, which is what I would normally do anyway. Whether it is the truth or it is a ploy to get you to spend more money on the brand by getting the whole set, you decide. (:

All in all, nope. It is not bad, but for its price, I’d rather splurge on another brown bottle.


Water/Aqua/Eau, Bifida Ferment Lysate, PEG-75, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, Betaine, Pentylene Glycol, Betaine, Pentylene Glycol, Lactobacillus Ferment, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Acetyl Glucosamine, Trehalose, Caffeine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate, Triomethmine, Disodium EDTA, Phexoxyethanol

(See, it is a very standard list)


UPDATE: Japan 2017 Haul

I am back home from Japan! (*≧▽≦)ノシ)) It is the first ever solo trip for me and surprisingly I am quite well adjusted to being alone with my thoughts. The only time where I hated being alone was at Aoikigahara, where I was hiking in deafening silence for 2 hours. (O∆O)

First up, some shocks:

  • I didn’t manage to get any Chifure products ‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )‧º·˚ I had far less time than I thought for shopping, and Chifure isn’t popular enough to be found in every drugstore
  • Outside of the cities, drugstores aren’t so commonplace after all. At least, it is not easy to get to it with walking and public transport
  • Best part of the trip was getting in touch with my nose again, and trying out the the slightly more niche perfumes at Isetan Shinjuku as well as Ginza
  • Fell in love with the Comme des Garçons Incense series (Kyoto, in particular, is a masterpiece to my nose)
  • I stuck closely to my shopping list; I am proud of myself!!  Have a look below:

Old Faves

My original shopping list!

I bought all of them except the Chifures.

Japanese Toners

  • Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion – Found it in a limited edition bottle so I couldn’t resist getting one.
  • Hada Labo Premium Lotion – The supposed more hydrating and plumping version of the original SHA Lotion, I got it on the very last day when it is clear that I don’t have time to look around for my favourite version of hyaluronic acid – Chifure Essence (Review).
  • Kanebo Dew Lotion – The Dew Lotion was recommended by a Japanese colleague who has beautiful skin.
  • Kikumasamune Moist Lotion

Cleansers & Sunscreens

No surprises in this department at all, I have tried and loved all of them:

  • Refill for Kose Softymo Light Cleansing Oil
  • Refill for Perfect Watery Oil
  • Biore UV Nobi Nobi SPF50/PA+++
  • Biore Perfect Milk SPF50/PA+++

Serge Lutens

I was very intent on getting Sa Majesté la Rose or Chergui when I walked into the Shinjuku store, but I ended up falling in love with La fille de Berlin (“The Girl from Berlin”) upon the very first sniff. Amber, rose, musk and woods reminded me of Amouage Lyric, which is one of my ultimate favorite perfume, ever (I wrote about how much I loved it three years ago here). While Lyric is a lady, LFdB is half a wild beast and half a Shakespearean tragedy.

(On the other hand, the first hour of Féminité du Bois is a massive turnoff. It is in the same scrubber league as the first 30 minutes of A La Nuit. Both are mostly universally loved but I cannot stand them O.o)


Brightening Skincare: Shiseido Haku Melanofocus 3D

Ladies and gents, I’ve realised that 2017 is the year of brightening skincare for me. I’m seriously going hard at all the sun spots. Today I’m going to review another product that I have given almost a year to test. (I popped it into the fridge immediately after getting it, and I forgot about it for a while フフフ)

Shiseido Haku Melanofocus 3D came to prominence around 10 years ago, and has gone through a number of reformulations. It claims to prevent the formation of melanin, improve uneven skin tone, fade freckles, acne marks and minimizes dark spots caused by sun exposure. It also claims to restore skin damage caused by UV, pollution or other environmental factors.

What is contains:

HAKU contains 2 active ingredients: 4MSK (potassium 4-methoxysalicylate) which is also used in other SHISEIDO brands. This includes SHISEIDO White Lucent range, Revital Whitening range and AUPRES range. It claims to work by diminishing the activity of enzyme tyrosinase to reduce melanin production. Another include Tranexamic acid is a well researched and effective skin brightening agent. (See the full ingredients list on CosDNA).

How I use it

I apply this day and night after cleansing and toning. It is a scentless, light cream gel which is thicker than most serums, but absorbs quickly into the skin. At night, I apply a second layer on my cheekbones where I have some sunspots and freckles.

It is a totally different breed from HABA White Lady (review) and SK-II GeneOptics Spot Essence (review), having different active ingredients, textures and all. But one thing is similar–you can barely notice any tingling or citrus smells commonly associated with brightening products. Also, the effect is barely noticeable in the short run, and most of the time they seem to do nothing at all. It is only with consistent use that one day, you wake up and notice glowing skin.

The one drawback that I notice is that it can get oily when used during the day, as the texture is thicker than most traditional serums. It has been relegated to only night time use.


All in all, I am very pleased with the HAKU for overall brightening and to get glowing skin. But for spot fading, it has not done much at all (so far, nothing did. HAHA). At the hefty price tag of ~¥7,000 (US$70), I am not going to repurchase this anytime soon.


Japan 2017: Shopping List

I’m due to head to the land of sushi and amazing drugstores in a few hours! This is my fourth time in the country but I am still so excited 😀

I am intending to stay really focused on what I am buying this time, so no more of the massive haul like the last time in 2015. We’ll see if I stick to the plan in a few weeks.

Without further ado, this is what I am intending to haul this time:

Old Faves

  1. Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (Review)
  2. Refills for Chifure Essence (Review), Essence W, Essence VC (Reviews)
  3. Shiseido Fino Hair Mask (Review)
  4. Makeup products:
    • Yuagari Suppin Powder
    • Canmake Cream Cheek in Various Shades
    • Heroine Make Super Liner
    • Kate Lasting Eyebrows W BR-3 and Kanebo Media Brow DB, because I can’t leave the house without my brows done

New Tries

  1. Japanese lotions / toners: One of my favorite things to buy in Japan are their lotions, a slightly thicker toner that truly helps with my dehydration lines or lotions that perform specific function. Going for:
    • Labo Labo Super Keana Lotion
    • Chifure Skin Lotion – I’ve enjoyed almost everything that Chifure had to offer so far, so I’m happy to dig a little deeper and try other things that the brand has to offer
    • Chifure Deep Moisture Lotion
    • Hada Labo Gokujyun Oil-in-Lotion – The new variety of the Hada Labo lotions which contains squalene oil

Sunscreens and cleansing oils – These are truly products that I use every single day, even if at home. I live in a tropical climate where the sun is brutal for most of the year. If I’m gonna have my window shades open for the day, I will need sunscreens. Cleansing oils go hand in hand with sunscreens as they are the best way to remove the overall gunk from my face. Going for:

  • Kose Softymo Light Cleansing Oil, a light, scentless version that does the job well.
  • Perfect Watery Oil also another one that I have bought re-fills for, it is scented but for a change I do like the scent.

A Serge Lutens perfume – Ever since Serge Lutens has been completed by Shiseido, I guess it is much easier to access these perfumes in Asia. I have visited the Shiseido Serge Lutens store previously and found a good selection of their perfumes, but it was short of Féminité du Bois, so I bought nothing.

  • Going for: Chergui, Majestic Rose or Fleurs d’Oranger, but Féminité du Bois is so elusive that I’ve yet to scent it, and I want to try it so bad before settling on one