Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Longing For A Scent

I am sitting in a train station, waiting for some friends who will be desperately late, and trying to pass the time typing away at my phone. That’s what people do when they want to appear busy yeah? So, let’s do something different today. So far, this blog has been all about things that I own, but there are things you don’t own that are worth writing about as well.

If you’re semi-interested in the world of perfume, you will know the Amouage brand as one that produces beautiful bottles and juice, at not-so-beautiful prices. Of all of the fragrances, their Lyric Woman has been haunting me for the longest time.

I first passed by the display at my airport while waiting for a flight. Being a skincare junkie, I’ve always spent the time browsing cosmetic shelves, dabbling products on and making mental lists. That day I spritzed Lyric on (because of the packaging, you know how I work), and it was simply the most dazzling thing that I’ve ever experienced.

It is an embodiment of everything I like in a perfume–warm, spicy, woody and creamy. I was literally stunned in front of the shelf. There was instantly a choir in my blood, singing “Get it, it’s yours!” But I retained by rationality when I saw the steep price tag. I departed for my holiday feeling bliss and a little regret. Later, hours into the flight, I woke with a stiff neck and parched lips, I sniffed at my wrist again, the base notes of sandalwood, vanilla and frankincense still linger. I then knew that my previous favorite, Guerlain Samsara will never satisfy me anymore.

From that point on, every single of my flights has been accompanied by Lyric. My latest brush with it left me a compliment from the lady sitting next to me.

Strangely, I have not felt the compulsion to purchase it again. Longing, yes, but not the urge. It is like greeting an old friend that you see several times a year, and the meeting brings comfort, joy and satisfaction. You miss her, but there is also comfort in knowing that you will meet again. So, there it is, my favorite scent is one that I don’t own.

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Review: Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ

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I got to know this product when I was reading Paula Begoun. I don’t agree with quite a number of her views (e.g. no to jar packaging, no to essential oils), so when I read her site, I take it with a pinch of salt. But if there’s one thing I really like about her website, is the comprehensive cosmetics ingredients list and their functions. It really does help to educate consumers and teach us to be more discerning. Last year, after reading so much about the benefits of anti-oxidants in skincare, I decided I want to try products with them to see how it works out. I zeroed in on the “Five Super Anti-Aging Antioxidants“:

  1. Vitamin E
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Resveratrol (found in red grapes and some berries)
  4. Retinol (a.k.a Vitamin A)
  5. Green Tea

After vitamin C, the easiest to get hold of is the Alpha Hydrox Retinol ResQ. It claims to contain vitamins A, C and E. The packaging has not been marked with the concentration of each ingredient. I can however guess that the concentration of vitamin C is very low, lower than the necessary 5% for it to do any change to the skin. When you open up the tube, there is a tiny trace of yellow residue near the opening, which is due to the oxidation of vitamin C. Compare this with the residue on La Roche-Posay Redermic C, which has 5% vitamin C, you can see the difference. Of course there should be allowance for different forms of vitamin C, but I guess in this case the difference is quite glaring.

I approached the product with caution after the horrible experience with the Alpha Hydrox AHA, and used the product for three nights along my neck, before I dared to apply it on my face. The product comes in a tube of scentless cream, which spreads and absorbs easily. I don’t find Retinol ResQ moisturizing enough on its own, so on days I wear this, I apply a layer of my regular moisturizer right before I go to bed.

I can’t pin point exact what it does to my face. The overall texture has improved, as well as the minor dehydration lines on my forehead, but then it may also be the effect of excellent moisturizers from Hanyul which I use more regularly than this. I don’t notice a “glow” or “reduction in pores” as some reviews have gushed. However, that may also be due to the fact that I only use it as an occasional treatment, used for several days in a row when I remember, rather than a daily moisturizer.

Will I repurchase this? It’s a little underwhelming, but if I cannot find another retinol product, then maybe I shall stick to this.

On reviewing samples vs. full sized products

So far I have refrained from reviewing products based on sample or travel-size products, for the simple fact that it is hard to gauge the effectiveness of a product from simply a week’s usage.

Some reviews are simple to do—breaking out into cystic acne after the first night indicates a product is a poor fit. But other are complicated than that. Some may seem totally ordinary, but take special circumstance to appreciate them like the IOPE Bio Essence (read review). Some doesn’t irritate the skin upon the first few usage, but over the long-term offers no benefits, like the Sooryehan Red Ginseng Juice Cream (read review). The main thing is—it takes time to see if a product is working, and to do a comprehensive review, and surely surviving on one or two samples isn’t the way to go?

The History of Whoo Travel Set

At this point, though, I am re-thinking my position, because of travel-sized sample that I can see almost an immediate effect with. I received these history of Whoo samples when I purchased a full-sized Myeong-Ui-Hyang Secret Court Cream last year. Recently, after switching to the Hanyul Rich Effect White Powder Serum, a few minor bumps appeared on my forehead and cheeks. It’s nothing major, but I did stop for a while to use up these samples, and you know what, they’re really good!

The history of Whoo In Yang Balancer: The texture is heavier, slightly closer to the Japanese-style of toners that need to be patted in rather than the Western, water-like toners that requires a cotton pad. The fragrance is strong, more like manufactured scent than natural herbs, but I like it. This is very very hydrating and I enjoyed using this in the mornings, right below a BB cream or primer.

The history of Whoo In Yang Lotion: The emulsion in this line. I’m not too fond of emulsions, which are between the textures of serums and creams. It’s such a “neither here nor there” product that I find it easy to eliminate from my skincare. If you are a fan of emulsions, you should like this one, but to my biased self there is nothing too spectacular about it.

The history of Whoo Gongjinhyang Qi & Jin Essence: The serum of this line, and my favorite product of this lot. It is excellent at hydration boosting and also giving the overall glow to my skin.

The history of Whoo Gongjinhyang Qi & Jin Eye Cream: Like emulsions, it is easy to eliminate eye creams from my routine. This is moisturizing for the under-eye area, but isn’t really worth the hassle of getting another tub.

Each product is used separately for around two week and my flare up have calmed down sufficiently for me to go for another try at the Hanyul serum. Excellent, excellent stuff.

Take my words with a pinch of salt, I honestly still think a week’s usage is not sufficient to get an overview of a product. For now my conclusion is that this is a line of products worth taking a closer look with a full-size.