Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hanyul Lineup Revamp

This morning I checked out the Hanyul website and wow, everything looks different, I can’t find any of my favorite products anymore! The brands has apparently gone on a lineup change. Gone is my ex-favorite Rich Effect Revitalizing Cream (read review), new favorite Rich Effect Cream (read review). In fact, the entire Rich Effect, Rich Effect Whitening and Hydrapeak lines are no more.

The products are now organized by a focal ingredient in each line:

1. Fermented red yeast rice

2. Black beans (서리태)

3. Shiitake mushrooms (백화고)

4. White chrysanthemums (흰감국)

5. Artemisia (어린쑥)

6. Ginseng (인삼)

Of these, only lines 4 and 6 look familiar. I’m pretty sure the White Chrysanthemum Powder Serum (link) is essentially the Rich Effect Whitening Powder Serum (link). The Optimizing Serum (read review) is still available, and that’s about all I can recognize.

While I mourn the loss of some of my favorite products, I’m also quite excited to try out the new ones. I am not sure if any of the ‘new products’ are actually the old ones in a new packaging. If anyone knows, or proficient in Korean, give me a shout out please, I’m dying to know here. I still notice some old products available on Gmarket, on the official Amore Pacific store (link) no less. Guess I’ll focus on reviewing the old Hanyul products before they really do become a part of history.


A Gorgeous Cut

Paperself Eyelashes 01

Paperself Eyelashes 01-1

I’ve seen Paperself Eyelashes on blogs from at least three years back, but was immediately put off by the $20 price tag. That much for pieces of paper that can only be used once? No thanks. I then mentally placed Paperself in the same category as La Mer and La Prairie, grossly priced and forever out of reach.

Some time back, though, I caught the eyelashes on sale at an online store. It was like 70 or 80% off, of course I had to snap a few up to try! They are all old collections, I think. Cannot imagine why they’d put new ones on sale. They are still mostly available on the official website though, so they can’t be too old.

I’ve yet to try them on, because formal dinner parties are still long-way off, and I don’t want to waste these. But you don’t need to wear them to appreciate them.

Paperself Eyelashes 04Paperself Eyelashes 02

Broken Hearts x Paperself Under the Sea (Small) are so far my favorite of the bunch. Featuring  corals, sea stars and sea horses, these are just the right size to be worn at the outer corners of the eyes. The regular sized Under the Sea lashes are a little too big for my eyes to be work comfortably, I imagine I can cut there up to make 3 pairs of smaller lashes.

Paperself Eyelashes 03

The Paperself Peonies (Small) are also pretty enough. Out of all the designs available, it looks like Chinese paper-cutting the most. I’ve noticed that Paperself has removed the “Chinese paper-cutting inspired” reference from its website, and instead replaced with something generic, like “the world’s leading wearable paper-art brand”. Aiming to go global then, that’s fine!

Has anyone tried these or seen cheaper dupes? Lemme know, I’m interested!

The Packaging Whore Confesses

Packaging Matters

Don’t judge a book by its cover, so they say. But darn it’s hard to do when beauty products are concerned. I never let the packaging influence my evaluation of a product. But there is definitely a correlation between packaging and my perception of quality before I buy it.

I know, I know, squeeze a $10 drugstore product in a Guerlain jar, splurge on some marketing and add a $250 price tag, people will still lap it up. Packaging, branding and price goes hand in hand in influencing perception, and has nothing to do with actual quality. But why am I still drawn to pretty packaging when ultimately it is the content that matters?

1. I’m a visual creature. Is it not genetically written in us to appreciate beauty? You can say “I look for qualities x, y and z in a partner, and looks does not matter”, and you are telling the truth. But a part of you still drool at supermodels, yes?

2. Beauty products form part of an on-going experience, not just to product an end result, so the jar matters too. The bottles of creams and serums on my vanity are not just there to give me better skin. They are part of my daily ritual of getting ready for work or for bed, and the process is almost meditative and zen-like. I am defining myself every time I get ready to face the world or retreat from it. A jar of Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask does not just promise better skin—it promises pampering and a touch of luxury in a (perhaps) otherwise dreary life.

3. Good packaging is often coherent with overall theme of product, line or brand. I like it when packaging clearly communicates attributes of the product, its concept or is consistent with brand image. I have to come back to the Guerlain Abeille Royale series (read review) to illustrate this. The packaging emphasize of use of royal jelly and honey in the product through the honeycomb inspired hexagonal packaging. Similarly, the Guerlain Aqua Allegoria perfume series uses a honeycomb lattice to remind us of bees busying around flowers, consistent with the central focus of floral notes in the series.

I do think that people need to cut through the marketing fog and form realistic expectations prior to a purchase. However, there is nothing wrong with quality packaging, branding and price. Don’t bash, you know (secretly) you go gaga for pretty things too.

AHA loves from Andalou Naturals

Andalou Naturals Masks

While my previous experience with  AHAs, the Alpha Hydrox (read review) was a disaster, I had luck with Andalou Naturals, both exfoliating masks give beautiful results!

Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask

Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask

“Organic pumpkin, rich in beta carotene, blended with Manuka honey and citrus glycolic AHA, gently dissolve and lift away dull surface cells, exfoliating and resurfacing for even tone and smooth texture, as Fruit Stem Cell Complex helps revitalize for a brighter, more luminous complexion.”  (from official website here)

I have already finished my first tub of Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask and I’m working my way through my second one. The color is similar to pumpkin purée; the smell is like pumpkin soup with loads  of spices. It stings every time I spread it on, but the tingling sensation will dissipate after five minutes. There is a numbing sensation that lasts for around half an hour after washing it off.

I have tried using the mask three times a week as instructed, but it is too much and my skin felt sensitive. It does however brighten and improve the skin texture. The effect is prominent when used once every two weeks. Right now I am slathering this quite enthusiastically, after the Guerlain Perfect White treatment (read review) has given me some discoloration.

I do wish the brand can provide more information, such as the percentage of glycolic acid and the pH of the product though. AHAs at different concentrations and pH have different cosmetic effects. It would be nice to know.

Repurchase? Yes. AHAs is the one area I’m most careful with, after the disaster that is Alpha Hydrox. It will taking me a lot of courage to try another product.

Andalou Naturals BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask

Andalou Naturals BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask

“Fruit Stem Cells, BioActive 8 Berry Complex, and Resveratrol Q10 create a potent portfolio of antioxidants to slow cellular damage and stimulate skin firming collagen and elastin, as fruit juice enzymes gently dissolve dull, dry surface cells to reveal skin’s vitality and ageless beauty.” (from official website here)

While the BioActive 8 Berry Fruit Enzyme Mask contains antioxidants like Resveratrol Q10 and Apple extracts, I’d still consider this an AHA exfoliant because of the the Papaya enzymes. It totally behaves like one, too. The mask comes in a pinkish gel, stickier than the Pumpkin mask. There is also a tingling sensation upon application but much more bearable than AHAs. There is an immediate brightening effect on the face.

There is not much to say about this one, it works just like the Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask on me, the same nitpicks (lack of information about pH and concentration). I’d be happy to repurchase this one. I’m don’t have a preference towards either one, actually.

Skincare Routine


I’m blessed with normal skin for most parts of the year, with occasional periods when I am affected by dehydration or severe dullness. Other concerns are listed in my beauty profile (read here), but for the most part I can try out products for both dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin without my face kicking a fuss.

Skincare routine entry will have to be updated every year, I guess. I’m still on constant search for cost-effective products so I don’t always re-purchase even the favorites. Hope this skincare routine can help you out!


Routine 01

CLEANSER—I’m not particular about cleansers and unwilling to splurge on them. Cetaphil Gentle Daily Skin Cleanser is a product that is frequently on discounts where I am and it works well enough.

Routine 03

(Optional) TONER—I don’t use toners anymore, because I felt it isn’t doing so much for my skin as compared to serums and moisturizers. If I have to choose, though, the answer would have to be IOPE Bio Essence (read review). It is basically one of the many Korean dupes for SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. An inexpensive alternative is  the Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner (read review) which is moisturizing, but lacks the revitalizing properties of the IOPE Bio Essence.

Routine 02

SERUM—A water-based serum that should help to improve overall appearance of the skin, or address any specific concern you might have. This is the one area I am most particular about, as this is supposed to supply the most restorative ingredients for the skin. I am still left with two weeks’ supply of Hanyul Optimizing Serum (read review), which works okay. If you have the budget, go for Estee Lauder ANR (read quick review), hands down the best serum that I’ve tried.

Routine 04

BB CREAMTechnically a makeup product, but sun protection is an important part of skincare too, I’m squeezing this in. I’ve been using Hanyul Rich Effect Revitalizing BB Cream for two months, and so far it has been great. It is almost sweat-proof, stays on throughout the day and has high UVA/UVB protection. On the downside, only two shades are available and the color has a heavy yellowish undertone. I will do a longer review after using this for another three months at least.


Routine 05

MAKEUP REMOVER—Bioderma Sensibio. This is fantastic, and nothing can compare to Bioderma when it comes to removing makeup and sunscreen. Everything just melts right off. When I’m out of this, I will just using plain Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is also acceptable (and dirt cheap and yummy). Beware of using oils if you have oily skin though. There are conflicting opinions on using the oil cleansing method for oily skin types, but just to be safe, I’d say micellar solution is one where you cannot go wrong.

CLEANSER & SERUM—Same as morning.

Routine 06

MOISTURIZER—I prefer emollient creams rather than gels moisturizers. Hanyul Rich Effect Revitalizing Cream (read review) has worked the best for me and I’ve already finished one tub. The Hanyul Rich Effect Cream I have just started using but skin’s been loving it so far. Both help to improve the appearance of dull skin and minimize faint dehydration lines. If they are difficult to get hold of, the La Roche-Posay Redermic C is great too (see below).

Routine 07

(Optional) EYE MOISTURIZER—I honestly don’t think it is necessary to have a separate eye moisturizer. I haven’t used one that is so spectacular that I want to purchase over and over again. The closest would have to be the La Roche-Posay Redermic C Eye (€29 for 15ml), but the full sized La Roche-Posay Redermic C has similar formulation, and is so much cheaper (€34 for 40ml).

Routine 08

(Optional) SLEEP MASK or GEL MOISTURIZER—This is purely for “bad-skin-days” when a single emollient moisturizer is not sufficient, and I experience a tautness in my face. Most sleep masks, plus gel moisturizers are formulated to supply moisture and do little else, i.e. no anti-oxidants or minimal skin-repair ingredients. The Laneige Water Sleeping Pack_EX is great. Many premium brands have hydration ranges, such as Guerlain Super Aqua, Biotherm Aquasource and Vichy Aqualia Thermal, but they work similarly for thrice the price, so there is no need to splurge on this category.

Weekly / Occasional Treatment

CLAY MASK—To reduce any shine in T-zone. The masks not really that different except for their prices and scent, any of these that I’ve reviewed (read reviews). A cheap clay powder like the Now Foods European Clay Powder work just as well.

SHEET MASK—L’Herboflore masks (read review) are Taiwanese treasures that are also total nightmares to get hold of. The Aritaum Fresh Essence masks, which you can find on Gmarket are also great.

If you have your own “skin saviors”, let me know! I love to experiment!

Review: Shiseidio Fino Premium Touch Hair Mask

Shiseidio Fino Premium Touch Hair Mask 01

Shiseidio Fino Premium Touch Hair Mask 02

My hair is naturally curly, but I normally straighten twice a year at a salon to keep it manageable. On a day to day basis, I don’t touch iron-curlers or straighteners, I don’t have the time. 😦 In addition, due to its fine texture, my hair gets tangled really easily, making hair treatments and conditioners a necessity.

Right now, all of my favorite hair care products are Japanese brands. And this hair mask is my long-time favorite! The mask is said to be formulated with royal jelly EX to moisturize, PCA (para-chloroamphetamine) to strengthen, and Lipidure EX to repair. Like all of my favorites, it does exactly what it claims!

After washing hair, I normally press dry with a towel, apply this and leave on for 5 minutes. Even when I wash it off immediately, after less than a minute, the softening effect is a lot better than any conditioner I have used before. It just makes my hair smooth and tangle free. I also have heard of people getting good results with this on chemically damaged and regularly dyed hair.

If you’re wish to try some Japanese hair care products, I doubt you can go wrong with this. You can find this on Rakuten (here).

The ingredients list below I typed out myself. There are other sets of lists on the internet, but they’re different from those on the product that I own, I don’t know if there is reformulation between batches, so if the ingredients list is important to you, do a little more research first!

Ingredients List: Water, hydrogenated rapeseed alcohol, glucamic acid, dimethicone, sorbitol, behentrimonium chloride, aminopropyl dimethicone, steartrimonium chloride, peg-90m, pca, hydrolyzed wheat protein, polyquaternium-64,  hydroxypropyl arginine lauryl/myristyl ether hcl, stearyl dihyroxypropyldimonium oligosaccharides, isopentyldiol, hydrolyzed wheat starch, royal jelly extract, isopropyl alcohol, trehalose, butylene glycol, squalane, phenoxyethanol, phytosteryl/octyldodecyl lauroyl glutamate, octyldodecanol, tocopherol, cetyl alcohol, alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate, fragrance, yellow 6