Category Archives: Masks

A Week of Repairing Skincare

When I just returned from my trip to Switzerland, MY HEART WAS FULL (´ ▽`).。o♡ but MY SKIN WAS TERRIBLE (⌣_⌣”).

Despite taking a small army of skincare items, plus protective gear like hats and sunglasses with me, I still suffered from redness (a combination of the cold, sunburns and windburns) and the feeling of skin dryness and tightening is almost constant. So when I returned, it was an uphill battle to get my skin back to the pink of health.

Here are a few things I did to get my skin to calm the F down.

The ceramidin mask is pretty awesom. It is also the most expensive mask that I have ever repurchased. 😦

1. Masking, masking, masking

A huge problem I had was the inability to retain moisture. As soon as I stepped out of the shower, there was an uncomfortable tautness in the skin. The answer to that, I found, was using a mask every single day. Be it regular glycerin-propylene glycol-hyaluronic acid type of mask or the high end ones that claims to do everything under the sun, it is the consistency that counts the most.

I have been enjoying the JAYJUN Baby Pure Shining MaskDr Morita Hyaluronic Acid Essence Face Mask, and my absolute fave by far DR. JART+ Ceramidin Mask (review), a mask full of watery and oily goodness.

As for the mornings, I have no time or patience for masks, but I was sure to use Chifure Essence (review) or any other hydrating essences.

Repairing Skincare 02

Some high end stuff in the mix!

2. Mositurise

Following the mask, I moisturise immediately. Without a layer of emollients as well as occlusives to keep the water in, I find that my skin returns to the previous state of uncomfortable tautness. In mere minutes I can feel my skin shriveling up like an old man, seriously.

I have been enjoying: HABA Squalane (review), which isn’t occlusive enough to replace a face cream, Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Intensive Care Cream (review) absolute fave, Hanyul Seo Ri Tae Skin Refining Cream (review) for the day time under sunscreen, and SK-II RNA Power Cream.

On the first few days, I’ve also worn the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (review) on top of the cream as yet another layer of occlusive.

I had to take a photo with these alliums (basically flowering onions, I think?) I love having fun with the styling of the photos on this blog XP

3. Careful with the AHAs

I packed a BHA along with me for the trip, because AHAs can lead to sun sensitivity and I don’t want it to be a problem, even though I touch up on skin screen almost religiously. But as I have normal to dry skin, AHAs always made a lot more difference to my skin than BHAs ever did, so I was happy to be back home and reunited with the Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power Liquid.

The thing is, AHAs have kinda stung for my entire life. Even after 5 years of regularly using AHAs, it hasn’t gotten any better and it is something that I’ve come to accept and anticipate with any AHA usage. With my skin in a highly sensitised state, I only applied the AHA once in the week, and left it at that. Gradually, it went back to 3 times a week, which is how I normally use it.

Really short routine, but this is exactly what I used for the first 2 nights when my skin was at my worst.

4. Bring out all the anti-oxidants

I think everybody has a favourite serum for, you know, general anti-aging. If not, I wish you loads of luck and you can click through my Serums and Skin Treatment reviews for ideas. For me, my one true love has to be Estée Lauder ANR, which is my oldest cosmetic love. I don’t exactly know what is working for me, maybe it is the Vitamin A, but I always have a 100ml on hand, even though most of the time I’m trying out other serums. But during this period, I have turned to those that have consistently worked well for me.

Serums that I’m using now: Estée Lauder ANR and Melano CC Medicated Intensive Spot Correcting Serum (review). If you have dabbled in skincare for a while now you’d have your own faves too, just make sure you stick real close to those tried and tested formulas, rather than popping yet another serum that you’ve never tried open.

What I Used To Do

I’ve actually had loads of experience with dryness and sensitivity, and I’ve mostly stuck to the routine.

Back in 2014, I’ve tried a hell lot more, as seen in my post, A State of Emergency. Some things include:

  • Manuka honey mask – which I most commonly use when I have both sensitive skin and pimples, I cannot vouch for its efficacy, but it is a delicious mask 😉
  • Manuka honey + cinnamon mask – Again, delicious mask, does it do anything at all? ><
  • EPO, flaxseed oil, vitamin supplements – Nope, haven’t done any supplements in a while now, but I’m a lot healthier than I was back in 2014 (exercise & eating well. I’m still not getting enough sleep).

You can go to my old post and have a laugh (but seriously its not TOO bad) =.=

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Another Winner: DR. JART+ Ceramidin Mask

I hardly do single sheet mask reviews, because most of the time sheet masks have the fairly standard formulas of propylene glycol, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and unless the packaging is exceptional, like these L’Herboflore masks from 2014, masks are products that I’m just plain lazy to review.

However, I’ve met a mask that I love so much that it deserves a separate post by itself.🙆🏻

DR. JART+ Ceramidin™ Skin-Friendly Nanoskin Sheet Mask (what a mouthful) is based on the ingredient ceramide, which I talked about in detail here, as part of my review of Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules.

Ingredients List

The key ingredient, ceramide 3 i.e. ceramide NP is quite far down in the ingredients list, but there is a healthy list of oils as well.

Water, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Methylpropanediol, Dipropylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trehalose, Betaine, Erythritol, Glyceryl Stearate, Sorbitan Stearate, Ceramide NP, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tocopherol, Bixa Orellana Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Algae Extract, Pueraria Thunbergiana Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Dextrin, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tromethamine, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Caramel, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol.

To summarise, the interesting ingredients are as follows:
  • Ceramide: Ceramide NP
  • Moisturisers: Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Trehalose
  • Oils: Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Bixa Orellana Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil,
  • Other Emollients: Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Palmitic Acid

You can obviously see why I like it, with normal to dehydrated skin type, I’m all about those comforting emollients in skincare. Prior to this mask, I was only able to get the oils from creams, facial oils and sleeping packs, but with the Ceramidin Mask, it is a whole new world 😀

How It Fared

The texture of the serum is like a creamy, thick coconut cream. Aside from the artificial scent, it looks like it belong in a soup or a laksa.

Maybe because the mask it heavy on oils, it lasted a long time, like 30 to 40 minutes. Even when I removed it, I squeezed out the remaining serum and rubbed it all over my arms. I hardly do that with other masks. Its so comforting.

So when you first remove the mask, there will be plenty of the white coconut cream still sticking to your face, and you may freak yourself out because you look like a ghost from the Asian horror films. But don’t worry, massage the rest of the serum it, or bring it down to your neck, whatever. When the serum is gone you will find your face to be GLOWING. Like a light bulb. And your face will feel SO SMOOTH like a baby’s butt. 😉

Tread Carefully If…

You don’t handle oils well. Seriously, just get 1 mask to try out, don’t buy a bloody box. Wear it when you’re prepared to stay at home for the next day or two, NEVER try a new product before your first date. With so much oils, I can see it ending badly.

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask

I actually wrote this post in April this year 0__0 But I conveniently forgot to post it in between work and exams (hurhur yes I had no life for the whole month of April / May this year).

But here we go!

My relationship with K beauty is weird. Sometimes I think they’re the best thing that happened (aside from newborn kittens). Other times I find that there too many weird shit going into skincare that shouldn’t really belong there.

cosrx-rice-mask-01

The COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask is, thankfully, free of ingredients like animal dairy, snake venom and gold flakes. In fact, its ingredients list is really short and efficient (apparently, all of its skincare items have efficient ingredients lists).

Ingredients

I will direct you to the trusty CosDNA database for the full list.

What it claims to do

The product claims to to brighten, nourish, and hydrate overnight. Personally, I don’t expect much brightening effect, because while rice has traditionally been used in various parts of Asia for brightening, it is not a well researched cosmetics ingredient, so I will stick to the various forms of vitamin C for that.

cosrx-rice-mask-02

The product does not come with a spatula, reuse the free spatula from your other products if you don’t like to dig your fingers into the product directly

cosrx-rice-mask-03

This is the Hanyul spatula ❤ So ergonomic and elegant!

How I incorporate in my routine

The mask comes in a light gel-cream and melts easily into the skin without heaviness. A simplified night routine looks like this:

Mizon AHA/BHA Toner (Exfoliant) > Rhoto Melano CC (Vitamin C) > Sheet Mask > COSRX Night Mask

It is one of the simplest routines that I’ve had in my adult life, but it works really well. By morning, the dehydration lines on my forehead will be gone and my skin feels nourished and plump. (But I never kid myself because the lines will return amidst the grind of daily life).

Most of the effect I attribute to Mizon and Rhoto Melano CC, which I declare to be potential HG products. But COSRX is a simple and uncomplicated mask that compliments these star products. It only has one job, and it does the job really well.

I also find myself appreciating it as a temporary, “in-between” moisturizer. Essentially, when I want to remove the sunscreen and make up, but there is still a few more hours before I am due to take a shower and go all out on the skincare routine, I generally do my full double cleansing and toning routine, and apply a layer of sleep mask. Many sleep packs are too heavy duty to be used during the day time (read: Hanyul Optimizing Mask), the COSRX is light-weight and perfect for a few hours of moisture.

Verdict

Overall, I find the COSRX very similar to the Laneige Water Sleeping Pack, with the added benefit of no fragrance as well as being much more affordable. It doesn’t come close to the revitalizing effect of the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (review), but then again, there are days where you just want to KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”).

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.

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!