Category Archives: Masks

Dud Alert: Hanyul Optimizing Mask

The first few weeks of February has been a crazy period for me. While I should be getting used to the peak season by now, it still shocks me when sometimes I get as little sleep as this:

I swear I age by 2 years every time I go through this ordeal. No amount of skincare products can reverse the damage caused by a serious lack of sleep. But if you have to push through a tough period like I have to, sleeping packs are here to help.

The Hanyul Optimizing Mask is an overnight cream mask which is to be used as the last step of your skincare routine, and claims that with just one night’s use, the skin will be visibly smooth and radiant. It is a sister product to the older and more well-loved Hanyul Optimizing Serum (my 2013 review).

Ingredients List

I will direct you to the trusty CosDNA for the full list of ingredients and the list of possible triggers (there’s quit a few). Some key ingredients of note:

  • The star ingredients niacinamide and squalane
  • Pinus Sylvestris Leaf Extract: Extract from the leaves of Scotch Pine
  • Morus Alba Leaf Extract: A skin conditioning agent extracted from the leaves of white mulberries
  • Tricholoma Matsutake Extract: A skin conditioning agent extracted from mushrooms
  • Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Extract: A skin conditioning agent extracted from kernels of apricots

The main selling point of this product is in its fermented brown pine needle extract which is supposed to soften and restore the skin. BUT to my horror, Pinus Sylvestris Leaf Extract is listed in the CosIng database as a “tonic”, which is defined as an ingredient that “produces a feeling of well-being on skin and hair”. Wait… it means there is no established research into the efficacy of the star ingredient? ლ(ಠ_ಠ ლ)

I mean, fine, a lack of research doesn’t bother me so much, because it doesn’t mean a product is not effective. In particular, I did see results with the Optimizing Serum and like it so much that I used up 2 bottles. So theoretically, I should like the mask as well.

hanyul-optimizing-mask-02

How it fared

The Optimizing Mask is stickier than any other sleeping packs that I have used before. Even my heavy duty favorite Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Pack (featured in my repurchases) eventually absorbs and settles into the skin, but the Hanyul forms a layer of slightly sticky film. So side-sleepers beware, you’ll need to take extra care of your pillowcases when you apply the Optimizing Mask. Even as a rather light sleeper I sometimes wake up with hair plastered all over one side of my face. Definitely not sexy.

A key feature in sleeping packs that I look out for is the “morning after glow”. I want plump, soft and moisturised skin, like you actually got eight hours of sleep. I got it in the Sulwhasoo, and in the old Hanyul Rich Effect Overnight Mask (my 2014 review), but sad to say, not in this. I really don’t see it. It’s not BAD per se, but it hasn’t done anything. 😦

Hanyul is my skincare bias, and I really really want to like it, but nope.

hanyul-optimizing-mask-03

A quick comparison with Sulwhasoo

I’d say the Sulwhasoo trumps the Hanyul in all areas that I can think of:

  • Texture: Sulwhasoo wins. Hanyul is lightly more tacky and forms a protective layer on top of the skin, while Sulwhasoo sinks in and is more like a thick moisturiser than a mask.
  • Packaging: The Sulwhasoo tube is definitely more hygienic and convenient, but I do like the luxurious packaging of Hanyul.
  • Scent: I imagine some will like the milder scent of Hanyul as compared to the ginger and ginseng scent of Sulwhasoo. For myself, I LOVE GINGER 😉

Verdict

Nope. Sorry Hanyul. 😦

Where I bought it

I bought it on my local Qoo10. You can find it at Qoo10 Global here.

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PM Skincare Routines (Part I): All Out Spa Night

The last time I wrote about my skincare routine was back in 2014!!! D: Going back to read it makes to rotfl because I used Cetaphil!!! Sorry, I’ve let this blog rot for far too long, an update is due.

Thing is, I don’t have a single routine. I have an entire range of products and I mix and match everyday. The routine can range from 10 products to 3 products, all depending on how much time I have and how vain I feel. So here’s a selection of some of the night time routines:

  1. The all out spa night routine (below)
  2. The lazy night routine (I’ll write later!)
  3. The zombie night routine (I’ll write later!)
  4. The sensitive emergency routine (I’ll write later!)

I’m only sticking to night time routines here, because they are more exciting. More time and do weird things to your face, and you can get away with layering more products. I might get around to write my morning routine eventually.

(Take note that the steps matter more than the featured products, because the products can easily change).

1. The All Out Spa Night Routine

Spa Routine Part 1

Steps: Oil Cleanser > Foaming Cleanser

  • Oil Cleanser: Can I confess that I have never tried cleansing balms before? I have nothing against them but I find that oil cleansers work well enough for me, and they come with pumps so I find them extra convenient. I’ve been sticking to the Senka Perfect Watery Oil because I have a few refills, but there are many other Japanese oil cleansers that work well. An oil cleanser is a must because I wear sunscreen daily
  • Foaming Cleanser: I still haven’t found a cleanser that I truly love. I am currently using up the Kose Softymo Washing Foam but I’m looking for other alternatives.

Steps: Exfoliating Toner > Fermented Essence > Eye Cream > Serum > Face Mask > Moisturiser > Sleeping Pack / Facial Oil > Lip Balm

Spa Routine Part 2

  • Exfoliating Toner: This step used to be an AHA mask or AHA treatment, but ever since Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner came along it has become AHA/BHA toner. I am currently feeling infinite affection for Mizon because the toner has treated me sooo well, and I have this urge to try more products from this brand. (But then again, I remember the mediocrity that was Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream…) I might try for an AHA/BHA treatment in this step in the future, but the toner is working splendidly right now.
  • Fermented Essence: Estée Lauder Micro Essence, a Western variation of SK-II FTE. Many cheaper alternatives are also available from many Korean brands, including Secret Key FTE (review), IOPE Bio Essence (review). I am unlikely to repurchase both the ME and FTE unless they are heavily discounted because I really want to try a hand at the numerous cheaper alternatives from Korean brands.
  • Eye Cream: SK-II RNA Power Eye Cream. I am still not very convinced on the formulation of eye creams. While we know that the skin around the eyes are thinner and that there are no sebum glands in the under-eyes, there is no consensus on how eye creams should be formulated to accommodate for the differences.
    For the past 3 years, I have not been using eye creams. My last one was actually Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye (review) back in 2014. Subsequently I have used my regular face cream on my under-eyes as well. A recent addition is Elizabeth Arden Eye Capsules (featured here), which is essentially too light to be a serum. I have been using SK-II for 2 weeks, and currently withhold my opinion.

Spa Routine Part 3

  • Serum: Varies, I have a number of serums in rotation and I’ll choose based on my concerns. Right now, I’m working on my second tube of Melano CC Serum (review).
  • Face Mask: Varies with what I have on hand. Been loving the Kracie Hadabisei 3D Face Mask (featured here), which fits GREAT.

  • Moisturiser: I am currently finishing up the Kose Moisture Repair Cream YAY! I do like the moisturiser but I’m really looking forward to trying other alternatives.
  • Sleeping Pack: COSRX Rice Mask is the lightest of the sleeping packs that I own, so it fits best in a routine as long as this.
  • Lip Balm: A tub of Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe. You can tell I’m not excited about lip balms.

That is all!

One last thing, if you wear eye make up, you should stick a separate eye makeup remover to the very beginning of the routine before oil cleanser. I haven’t been wearing eye make up for ages so I totally forgot about that step.

K Beauty Haul!

k-beauty-haul-s

 

2016 has been a dry year in terms of skincare. I worked hard and spent most of the year using up my formidable stash which is mostly stored in my fridge. Now that my fridge is mostly cleared, 2017 is where I go crazy with the new-shiny-things.

Its only been 3 months and I already have 2 hauls heading my way. One is dirt cheap / affordable Korean skincare haul, and another wallet denting high end skincare haul (See it here SK-II Haul!). Here’s my first impressions.

mizon-and-cosrx-m

Mizon is a potential HG while the COSRX is…

Mizon AHA&BHA Daily Clean Toner 150ml

A bit of history about me and acids first: I have normal to dry skin, and I have been a regular AHA user for more than five years. I have never felt the need for BHAs as acne and clogs has never been my concern. My previous foray into BHAs with the DHC Salicylic Acid Toner was a terrible experience, which had me gifting my two bottles away immediately. After listening to a Snailcast episode about acids recently, my heart started itching again and I bought the Mizon on Qoo10. Its been 2 weeks of nightly use and I can say it is a good fit for me. Look at the dent that I’ve already made! LOOK!

(CosDNA)

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence 100ml

This is firmly in the same hydrating essence category as my favorite Chifure Essence and Unitec Advanced Hydrating Essence. I have given it a few days of tries, and so far it has performed well, but it is nothing to write about. Though seriously, can you ever do something different with hydrating essences?

(CosDNA)

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask 50g

I bought this after the Japanology episode about how extracts from rice can help the skin’s ability to retain moisture. I already have a cream with rice extracts which I like, so its a sleep mask that I’m trying next.

(CosDNA)

Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Silky Skin Cream

I haven’t been able to find a cream that I love following the discontinuation of the Hanyul Rich Effect line. The closest that I have gotten was SK II Stempower Cream, but even that has been discontinued. So I find myself getting both the SK II RNA Power Cream and falling back into the Hanyul trap. Baek Hwa Goh literally translates to the “White Flower Mushroom” i.e. Shiitake mushroom, and is also said to include hydrolyzed ginseng saponins, ginseng root extract and angelica root extract.

(CosDNA)

Hanyul Optimizing Mask

I have loved the Hanyul Optimizing Serum (review) and Hanyul Rich Effect Overnight Mask (review), so I’m guessing I should be at least okay with a marriage between the two.

(CosDNA)

Where I bought them: COSRX, Mizon on Qoo10 Global, Hanyul on Qoo10 Global

In Rotation: Serums and Treatments

I made it a New Year’s resolution to update this blog regularly and my friends are holding me accountable, so here we go.

The beginning of the year is always crazy busy for me, but even then we all need to treat ourselves like the queens that we are 😉 Here’s what I’m using to pamper my skin.

in-rotation-serums

Estée Lauder Micro Essence (125ml) – I will not talk about Estée Lauder ANR anymore, you guys know it is HG. ME is relatively new in my skincare repertoire, this one being my second bottle. I want to talk about this in detail together with SK II and about treatment essences in general, but overall I can do without it in my rotation.

Chifure Beauty Essence (30ml) and UNITEC Advanced Hydrating Essence (30ml) – These beauties are excellent hydrating serums and are very similar. I last wrote about them in 2015 (here), I think I have gone through close to 10 refills of both combined. They are excellent as morning serums as they stay put and never cake under layers of sunblocks and make ups. Chifure has a slight edge as it is S$6 per refill, but it is hard to get hold of outside of Japan. UNITEC comes in a pump tube so the content is not oxidized before using, but it is S$20 a tube and there is no refill option.

Kanebo Kracie Hadabisei 3D Super Moist Mask – My favorite new find from Japanese drugstores! They have been around for quite some time but I haven’t gotten around to using it. They come in only 4 pieces per box and you can use them up pretty fast. The great thing is that the masks don’t dry out easily and contours to every crevice of your face. Seriously, it has the best fit to my face compared to most other masks I’ve tried (and I’ve tried SK II lol).

elizabeth-arden-ceramide-capsules

Elizabeth Arden Capsules for Face & Eye – The official names are Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum and Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Eye Serum which is a mouthful, so lets just call them capsules shall we. A set contains 30 eye capsules which are smaller and transparent, and 30 face capsules which are larger and opaque. Each capsule contains far more serum than needed for one time use, unless you use in on your neck and décolleté as well.

I cannot recommend this item enough for normal to dry skin types. It goes on with the texture of a thin face oil, but absorbs quickly without a hint of greasiness. Within minutes you see an improvement in dehydration lines and rough patches.

The capsule packaging is great to prevent oxidation of the serum which can happen in a traditional dropper packaging, but since I break a capsule in the morning and finish it with a second use at night, that benefit is mostly lost on me.

So here it is, cheers and hope everyone sticks with their resolutions!

The Top 5 Repurchases

It’s been a year since my last post, and since I’ve taken this blog offline. At one point last year there were too many things going on in my life. Mind you, my skincare habit has not wavered one bit. Its just that it took too much energy to keep the words and pictures going. Things were much simpler when I took to writing snippets for myself, with no regard for grammar, vocabulary and pictures.

Earlier this year while at lunch with a friend, the topic moved on to skincare at one point. The said friend commented that my eye literally light up when I talk about skincare. I don’t even do that when I talk about my job. And I like my job.

That is when I thought maybe I don’t just like skincare. Maybe a better word is I love it? I’m even passionate about it?

And then, here it is, back to blogging and nurturing this passion of mine. I don’t know how things will go yet. I can’t wait. 😀

 ♪└|゚皿゚ |┐♪└| ゚皿゚ |┘♪┌| ゚皿゚|┘♪

Over the past year, I still like to be the guinea pig and constantly try new products. But through trial and error I found a few that I return to time and time again. So today I’m bringing you my favorite 5 beauty repurchases.
Estee Lauder ANR (m)

1. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair

This is the second and third jumbo-sized brown bottle put to action. ANR has been written and raved about so thoroughly that I guess I have nothing original to add. It is not a miracle worker, but it is good for improving skin texture and firmness. For radiance, spots and wrinkles, I’d suggest using another specialized serum on top of this. Chifure Essence (m)

2. Chifure Beauty Essence

Okay, I am cheating here, this is not technically a repurchase. I’ve been using this product for only a month since I returned from Japan, but I can really foresee myself staying madly in love with it for the rest of my life. Three refill packs is already testament to that, right? Its place in my routine is pretty simple, its just a hydrating serum to boost the moisture level and reduce dehydration lines. It is similar to UNITEC Advanced Hydrating Essence in terms of texture and function, slightly thicker than the Hada Labo Lotion that many rave about, but the price is unbeatable for what it does. Sulwhasoo Overnight Mask (m)

3. Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask

The replacement for my beloved Hanyul Overnight Mask which got discontinued. The fragrance is not as pleasant and with far less ginseng, but it works equally well. On days when I have to work past midnight, my routine is 1. ANR 2. CPR 3. Sulwhasoo, and it works out great.

On a side note, I find myself trusting brands based on traditional medicine, such as Sulwhasoo and Hanyul almost blindly. I mean, when a brand talks about employing ingredients like “peony, Solomon’s seal, East Indian lotus, white lily and adhesive rehmannia to counter the effects of dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, diminished elasticity and dullness”, I cannot dismiss it as marketing hogwash. The products work like magic, even though it has not been supported by research.

Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel (m)

4. Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel

This sunscreen has a lightweight texture, leaves no white-cast and stickiness. However, it does dry down with a light shine that some may mistake for oiliness, but I don’t mind since I go over the sunscreen with foundation anyway.

The downside is that it contains alcohol, so a hydrating serum under the sunscreen is a must. Moreover, there isn’t that much active ingredients for UV protection. I will use it on my body and face when it is cloudy, but during full days out in the sun, this one stays on the shelf.

Fino Hair Mask 01 (m)

5. Shiseido Fino Premium Touch Penetrating Hair Mask

Earlier this year had to crop my hair shoulder-length due the damage that I had wrecked, and I decided to keep further chemical treatment to a minimal.

In addition, I picked up this hair mask again to give my tresses an extra nutritional boost. After washing my hair, I’d lightly towel dry, before combing about a dollop in my hair ends and wait for five minutes. Even on days when I wash the mask off immediately after lightly massaging the hair roots without leaving it on for too long, my hair feels looks shiny and feels soft.

 

 

And there you go! My top 5 repurchases, and possible my favorites at the moment. And darn its so fun to play around with a proper camera. 😀

The Weekend Masks

The Weekend Masks

At this time of the year work is so busy that I regularly reach home at 3 in the morning and drop straight into a coma. Often times only with a barely-cleansed face, and sometimes without washing my hair for the day (eww). I am hoping these additional steps in my skincare routine on weekends can make up for my laziness during the week.

The Kose Seikisho Mask White is a peel-off mask that help clear the visible white-heads. It is a rather well-known product which has been around for quite some time. It does help to remove white heads, but the effect is only observable when used very occasionally. Following exfoliation, I’ll move on to hydration with Elizabeth Arden Hydrating Mask, which is surprisingly affordable, considering the brand name. In fact, it is the cheapest of all options here. I like it, despite the tingling and cooling sensation that reminds me of menthol (is there menthol inside? I am pretty sure). The Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask is an old purchase and newfound love (read my emergency skincare here). Great for sensitive, dehydrated or damaged skin. Lastly, the Hanyul Rich Effect Overnight Mask, and so far I can’t for the life of me decide what is the difference between the mask and a moisturizer in the Rich Effect series. It may be my sleep deprivation that is making me overlook some potentially visible differences in the morning. I’ll give it more time to settle into my routine.

The Orchid Royalty

Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask 01

I purchased the Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask for my lovely Mom when it was on sale, but she had problem finishing it. Naturally I had to help out. I should stop buying her skincare stuff, even though she’s happy to start using them, I always end up having the finish all the products since she loses interest halfway.

The product claims are pretty tempting: The skin looks smooth and radiant, as if filled with energy; it is plump and elastic. The complexion is even-toned and velvet-soft.”

The application guideline is very ritualistic and enjoyable:

  1. Apply the product in circular movements (the mask came with a brush, but I have misplaced it and now rely on a spatular)
  2. Smooth your fingertips from the forehead to the ears. Perform3 smoothing movements from the corners of the lips to the nose, ears and to the jawline.
  3. Press down 3 times on the muscle attachment points indicated.
  4. Gently smooth the backs of your fingers along the contours of the face. Smooth the entire forehead. 3 times.

Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask 02

The product claims to contain orchid butter and Imperial Orchid Molecular Extract, to deliver anti-aging benefits. I can only say, the mask feels like money. It’s highly emollient and rich, and I can imagine it being fantastic for people with dry skin. There’s a slight brightening effect immediately after application, but I’m pretty sure the effect is cosmetic. My skin responded well to the product over a month of usage, but it didn’t work out for my Mom, as she popped out whiteheads every time she uses it.

It does improve the texture of the skin, diminishing the appearance of my dehydration lines i.e. pre-wrinkles. For my Mom’s wrinkles, it didn’t do anything at all.

Of all the Guerlain products that I have tried, I like this the most. I’d probably repurchase if I have money to throw around, but I don’t, so bye-bye it is.